I wondered where I could learn more about the Mecklenburg County militia. I had seen several men from Mecklenburg referred to in court records with the titles of military officers, but could not find them in the United States Army rosters or muster rolls. One example is an ancestor of mine named David Dortch. Several men who gave depositions in a certain chancery case referred to him as “Major Dortch.”
This week I looked through a few Mecklenburg County order books to see what more I could learn about David and his brother Newman Dortch. FamilySearch has early ‘order’ books online in digitized microfilm format. Viewing digitized microfilm is similar to viewing a scanned book. These microfilms of the order books are currently unindexed, but there are handwritten indexes in the front of each book. I wrote down the page numbers for any Dortch entries in the handwritten index. While scrolling forward to the page number I wanted, my eye caught the word “militia”. I enlarged the image to read it better and was amazed to see a list of officers for two revolutionary war battalions from Mecklenburg! The order book states that the names were first presented to the county court, then the names were submitted to the governor of Virginia. The order book also records that the listed officers took their oath of office. This image is from Mecklenburg Court order book 4, page 374. Film number 008190598, (image # 211/563)
David Dortch was not listed as an officer on this list, so I began checking later order books. I found an entry in order book 7, page 416, (film 008098391 image 619/766) which says “Frederick Collier as Captain, and David Dortch as Ensign in the militia of this county, took the oath required by law.” dated 13 July 1789, after the war was over. I now suppose that David was likely a major in the militia during the War of 1812. I will continue to look for more information about militia officers during that time period.
Order books contain the kinds of things you might expect a judge to say, “by order of the court.” For example, when a will was proved, or an estate inventory was done, it was ordered to be recorded in other books kept at the court house, such as deed and will books. Another thing I’ve seen recorded in order books are notations about men taking an oath of office; such as to be an under sheriff, clerk of the court or a militia officer. If you look at the full page image above (that shows the 1777 militia officers), there is a notation at the very bottom that says “Ordered that Benjamin Whitehead be recommended to his Excellency the Governor as a proper person for Coroner of this County.” Each separate court item is typically separated by a line in the left margin of each page.
This is my transcription of the militia officers from Mecklenburg listed in the order book. The transcription will also be added to and kept on the Mecklenburg veterans page. Do you have a picture or information that can be added to the veteran page?
Date of record: 13 October 1777
The Order of the last Court recommending militia Officers to his excellency the Governor is set aside & It is Ordered that the following persons be recommended in [illegible-consideration?] to his excellency the Governor as proper for Officers to fill up the two battalions of militia in this County to wit.
In the first Battalion
Lewis Burwell esq. Colonel; Thacker Burwell esq. Lieutenant Colonel, and James Anderson esq. Major
John Murray, first Captain; Robert Smith, first Lieutenant; Thomas Carleton, second Lieutenant; & Thomas Neal, ensign.
Charles Clay, second Captain; Richard Epperson, first lieutenant; John Clay Sr. second lieutenant; Harman Thompson, ensign.
Henry Walker, third Captain; William Neal, first lieutenant; Thomas Jones, second lieutenant; John Winn, ensign.
George Tarry, fourth Captain; Drury Smith, first lieutenant; Baxter Davis, second lieutenant; Elijah Graves, ensign.
William Green, fifth Captain; Richard Willon, first lieutenant, Edward Goode, second lieutenant; Thomas Pettus junr. ensign.
James Hester, sixth Captain; Joseph Royster, first lieutenant; Clausel Clausel, second lieutenant; Caleb Johnson, ensign.
Asa Oliver, seventh Captain; Robert Smith, first lieutenant; Thomas Carleton, second lieutenant; Thomas Neal, ensign.
James Hall, eighth Captain; Charles Royster, first lieutenant; John Hudson , second lieutenant; Richard Winn, ensign.
Howell Taylor, ninth Captain; Thomas Greenwood, first lieutenant; William Hundley, second lieutenant; Daniel Marrow, ensign.
In the Second Battalion
Bennett Goode, esq. Col.; William Lucas, esq. Lieut. Colonel; John Burton, esq Major.
Reuben Vaughan, first Captain; Josiah Dailey, first lieutenant; Charles Hutcheson, second lieutenant; Richard Hutcheson, ensign.
William Leigh, second Captain; William Roffe, first lieutenant; Thomas Shipp second lieutenant; James Wilson ensign.
James Lewis, third Captain; John Kendrick, first lieutenant; Hardaway Davis, second lieutenant; George Freeman, ensign.
Stephen Mabry, fourth Captain; Goodwyn Taylor, first lieutenant; John Holmes, second lieutenant; Thomas Tanner, ensign.
John Brown, fifth Captain; Jesse Taylor, first lieutenant; Peter Thomas, second lieutenant; William Jones, ensign.
Samuel Marshall, sixth Captain; Isaac Johnson, first lieutenant; Peter Winfield, second lieutenant; William Drumright, ensign.
Lewis Parham, seventh Captain; Samuel Holmes Sr. first lieutenant; John Farrar, second lieutenant; William Lucas Sr. ensign.
Benjamin Ferrell, eighth Captain; James Ferrell, first lieutenant; John Baskerville, second lieutenant; Jacob Bugg, ensign.
Richard Swepson, ninth Captain; Tingal Jones Sr., first lieutenant; William Eastland, second lieutenant; James Toone, ensign.