William Coffin & Priscilla Paddock: 1781 Patriot

(Coastal Families/ Coffin branch)

* William COFFIN was born on 4 Nov 1720 in Nantucket, MA; died on 10 Nov 1803 in New Garden, Guilford, NC; buried in New Garden M.H. Burying Ground, Guilford, NC.

William COFFIN married Priscilla PADDOCK on 8 Nov 1740 in Nantucket, MA. They had the following children: Deborah COFFIN (b. 31 Mar 1743), Libni COFFIN (b. 7 Oct 1745), William COFFIN Jr. (b. 5 Sep 1747), Samuel COFFIN (b. 8 Oct 1749), Barnabas COFFIN (b. 25 Oct 1751), Matthew COFFIN (b. 23 Feb 1754), Bethuel COFFIN (b. 6 Feb 1756), ♥ Abijah COFFIN (b. 22 May 1760), Levi COFFIN (b. 10 Oct 1763), Priscilla COFFIN (b. 21 Oct 1765).

MARRIAGE: At age 20 years, William, son of Samuel and Miriam Coffin, married Priscilla Paddock, daughter of Nathanial and Ann on 8 Nov 1740.{D3}

TRAVEL: “On 8 april 1773 the William Coffin family would remove from the Nantucket Monthly Meeting to join the 1771-1774 migration to New Garden, Guilford Co., NC.”{D5}
In 1773, William (age 53) and Priscilla settled in Guilford County, North Carolina.{D2}

HOME: William’s home was located about 4 miles west of The New Garden Quaker Meeting House on the East Fork of Deep River. Trying to compare an 18th Century Documentation Map with a 1986 Dept. of Transportation Map of Guilford Co., NC, it appears that where William Coffin’s house once stood, there is now the immediate SE corner of the intersection of US Hwy. #73 and Joseph Bryon Blvd. (?) The highway cloverleaf complex is on what was over 220 years ago, the William Coffin farm.
About 4 miles SW of the William Coffin residence lived another ancestor, the Nicholite, ♥ Paris (Perez) Chipman.{D6} See the Genealogy/Perez Chipman and ♥ William Horney posts for  further information and the location of their farms in Deep River area of Guilford Co., NC.
[Image above: New Garden Quaker Meeting House, Guilford County, NC]

HISTORICAL NOTE: The great-grandchildren (my paternal 2G- grandparents, Harmon Anderson & Margaret Horney) of William Coffin and his neighbor, Perez Chipman, would meet and marry in Ohio about 60 years later.

MILITARY: “COFFIN Wm., born 4 Nov 1720, died 10 Nov 1803, m Priscilla Paddock, Patriotic Service, NC.” {D1} “William Coffin was a Quaker…He was near the Friends’ Meeting House during the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, and his house was used for wounded officers. He and his family aided in the care of the soldiers…”{D2}

EVENT: During March 1781 Lord Charles Cornwallis moved his British troops into Guilford County, NC as he and his Colonial opponent General Nathanial Greene maneuvered for military position and advantage. A series of skirmishes were fought between the two armies at the New Garden Meeting House before the great Battle of Guilford Courthouse. On Thursday 15 Mar 1781, during the Battle of Guilford Courthouse and for several days afterwards, William Coffin performed a public service for the Continental Army. “At the time of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse William Coffin opened his home for the wounded American officers. He was also one of the trustees of the New Garden Meeting House at that place, gave his consent to use the meeting building as a hospital for the care of wounded American and British Privates. For this service he gained special recognition from the Continental Congress.”{D1}{D7}

HISTORICAL NOTE: A drawing of the original New Garden Friends Meeting House shows a rather large, two-story, cracker box-shaped, white wood frame building on a brick foundation. The building which existed from 1757 to 1872, stood in a stately oak forest. In the 1990s, the site with its more modern church, is located across New Garden Road from Guilford College.

WILL: In his Will, William left a large sum of money to his ten-year old granddaughter, Priscilla Coffin, daughter of his deceased son, Abijah. This portion of his Will states; “8. I give unto my granddaughter Priscilla Coffin daughter of my son Abijah Coffin, dec’d, 150 pounds of the currency aforesaid if she lives to the age of 20 years or marriage, but if she should die in minority or without heir of body, then for it to devolve to my son Libni’s son Abijah and if he should die without heir of body then for it to be as a residue of my estate.” {D4}

BURIAL: William was buried in the New Garden Meeting House Burying Ground. His marker states, “William Coffin. Born in Nantucket 1720. Died 1803”. [Photo, right]

DOCUMENTS:
1. DAR Patriot Index, Vol. 1, Washington, 1966, p. 142. See also Genealogical Records, Misc. Material 1949-1950, Vol. 1, NC Page 144.
2. Daughters of the American Revolution, 1911, Vol. 88, p.215, National No.87704.
3. Coffin Family by Louis Coffin, 1962, Nantucket Historical Society, Nantucket, MA., p. 266.
4. Will of William Coffin, recorded in Will Book A, p. 52, File .059, Guilford County Court House, Greensboro, NC.
5. Jethro Coffin House Chronology: 1686-1986 by Helen Winslow Chase, Published by Nantucket Historical Association, Nantucket, MA 02554, 1986.
6. “18th Century Historical Documentation Map” of Guilford County, NC. from the Eastern National Park & Monument Assoc., Guilford Courthouse Natl. Military Park, Post Office Box 9806, Greensboro, North Carolina 27429-0806
7. An account of one of the Colonial and British skirmishes at the New Garden Meeting House and a drawing of the Quaker meeting house can be found in, The Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution, by B.J. Lossing, 1859 two volumes, published by Harper Brothers, NY.

Individual source: The Colonial Genealogist, pages 195-198.

Individual source: Jethro Coffin House Chronology: 1686-1986 by Helen Winslow Chase, Published by Nantucket Historical Association, Nantucket, MA 02554, 1986.

* Priscilla PADDOCK was born on 18 Sep 1722 in Nantucket, MA, daughter of Nathanial and Ann Bunker Paddock; died on 15 Jul 1803 in New Garden, Guilford, NC; buried in Guilford, NC.

MARRIAGE: Pricilla was married at 18 years of age and produced 10 children in her long marriage to William Coffin.

EVENT: William and Priscilla’s grandson, Levi Coffin, would in the antebellum period gain fame and notoriety as President of the Underground Railroad.{D1}

RELIGION: Priscilla was a Quaker.

* Priscilla (Paddock) Coffin’s pedigree descended from English royalty and aristocracy. See the post: Genealogy/Old World/From Royal Grace to frontier colonist

DOCUMENTS:
1. Jethro Coffin House Chronology: 1686-1986 by Helen Winslow Chase, Published by Nantucket Historical Association, Nantucket, MA 02554, 1986.
* Individual source: The Colonial Genealogist, pages 195-198.
*Individual source: Jethro Coffin House Chronology: 1686-1986 by Helen Winslow Chase, Published by Nantucket Historical Association, Nantucket, MA 02554, 1986.

Historical Account of the Revolutionary War Campaign
In Guilford County, North Carolina, 1781

The first week of March brought the war back to Guilford Co. again. Cornwallis had moved westward from Hillsborough and positioned his army very close to the Regulator battlefield just inside the Alamance Co. line. Greene had moved his army down Country Line Creek to High Rock Ford in SE Rockingham Co., He did not tarry there long, however. With Otho William’s Light Brigade marching ahead and screening his army, Greene suddenly struck southward on the night of March 1st and took position on the “uper side of Little Alamance Creek, ten miles from Guilford Courthouse on the road leading to that place from Hillsborough.
Greene was now dangerously close to the lurking enemy to the east. An offensive skirmish between light troops of both armies occurred the next day at Clapp’s Farm (just inside Alamance line on Beaver Creek) perhaps as a means of covering Greene’s withdrawal to Buffalo Creek. He drew back a further four miles to Boyd’s Mill on March 4th. A couple of skirmishes near the important Alamance road junction took place during this time.
Covered by ground fog and an early morning misting rain, Cornwallis made a sudden dash northward on March 6th. His object was either to destroy Williams or to bring on a major battle before Greene could be reinforced. Col. Williams was warned just in time and a race on parallel roads ensued with the objective of being Weitzel’s mill. The main army at Boyd’s Mill was notified and may have marched to the northeast to succor the light troops. Greene heard the firing at the mill three or four miles away according to one witness. The army was then turned toward Troublesome Creek Iron works in present day Rockingham Co.
The fighting around the ford at Weitzel’s Mill was short but desperate. Heavily outnumbered, Williams would hold until the enemy threatened to lap his flanks, then an orderly retreat was ordered. Pursuit by the British was of short duration and their tired army encamped near the mill for the night. The militia had become quite disgusted with their front line battle role and sacrifices of the past weeks. They left the army in droves. Unfortunately for the rebel cause, the staff officers of the Continental Army did not understand or know how to handle militia; the feeling of mistrust was mutual. Brig General Morgan may have made a difference, but he had left the army one month earlier.
Over the next several days, Lord Cornwallis hooked his way north then back south again. His movements on the northern side of Reedy Fork threatened the rebel lines of communication so Greene had to retreat lest he find the British within striking distance. Cornwallis, for his part, could not subsist his army in this sparsely settled area so he moved into the area between Reedy Fork and Buffalo Creek. On March 9th, he moved to Ralph Gorrell’s plantation to the southeast of Buffalo Creek and remained there to days. On March 11th, the British marched past the southern watershed of Buffalo Creek then camped at McCuiston’s plantation and Dillio’s Mill on the North Buffalo. According to rebel intelligence reports, the British headquarters was 2-1/2 miles from Guilford Courthouse and 1-1/2 miles from Dillon’s Mill. While the British were searching for food and forage, the American army was being heavily reinforced. Green was now ready for battle if only Cornwallis would only quit his present location so that the American general could position his force at Guilford Courthouse—an area whose terrain he knew well.
Lord Cornwallis obliged his enemy and decamped to the south on the 13th, his rear guard being aggressively attacked by their old nemesis, Lee’s Legion, as they were crossing a branch of Deep River. The British encamped at Deep River Friends Meeting House. On March 14th, General Greene moved his army to Guilford Courthouse. The next day, Cornwallis advanced to attack him.
A series of skirmishes were fought at the New Garden Meeting House between Lee and Tarleton as a prelude to the great battle. (It may very well be that Continental officers, wounded in these skirmishes were taken by ancestor William Coffin into his home three miles to the west, while William’s consent as a trustee of the New Garden Meeting House allowed the building to be turned into a hospital for the treatment of wounded American and British Privates.)

The area between Guilford Courthouse and Jamestown, including the New Garden and Deep River settlements were chiefly inhabited by Quakers, the most of them originally from Nantucket and vicinity. As they do not own slaves, nor employ slave labor, except when a servant is working to purchase his freedom, the land and the dwellings presented an aspect of thrift not visible in most of the agricultural districts in the upper county of the Carolinas.
The venerable New Garden Meeting House was still standing in 1859, within the stately oak forest where Lee and Tarleton met. It was a wood frame building with brick foundation.

At the Quaker Meeting House,
“I was introduced to Nathan Hunt, the patriarch of ninety one year’s…He remembered well when the New Garden Meeting House was built, and resided in the neighborhood when the wounded and dying, from the field of Guilford, were brought there.
The vigilant Lee, with his legion, was near New Garden Meeting House on the morning of March 15th as Lord Cornwallis advanced toward Guilford. Leading the British army was a van consisting of cavalry, some light infantry and yager, under Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton.
Desirous of drawing them as far from the royal army, and as near General Greene as possible, Lee ordered a slow retreat. Tarleton, hoping to produce a route had his cavalry press forward on Lee’s rear. Tarleton’s cavalry made a second charge and emptied their pistols. Lee’s troops suddenly wheeled about and in close column advanced on Tarleton. The moment Tarleton saw Lee’s entire cavalry pressing on him he sounded a retreat. Only one front section of the British cavalry met the shock and these were dismounted. Some of the dragoons were killed, and others made prisoner. The Americans lost neither man nor horse. Tarleton with his corps withdrew in great haste toward the main army, but was cut off by Lee in the midst of the lofty oaks at the New Garden Meeting House. The British gave Lee’s cavalry a terrible volley. Lee ordered a retreat when his infantry came running up, and delivered well-directed fire. A general action ensued for a few minutes. When Lee perceived that the main body of the British army was approaching, he ordered a retreat; his cavalry falling in the rear to cover the infantry and riflemen.
During the skirmish, General Greene prepared for battle.

At dawn on Thursday, March 15th, Lord Cornwallis marched to Guilford Courthouse. Soon after midday, his army met advanced rebel troops in thick woods and drove them back quickly to their main lines, formed in long ranks across open fields in front of Guilford Courthouse.
The battle was short-only an hour and a half-but it was fantastically, even fatally, expensive. The British advanced under cover, and under the attack, of heavy artillery fire. Then it was Bunker Hill all over again: repeated bayonet charges despite appalling casualties; great holes carved by rebel shooting in the ranks; orderly withdrawal for reforming; then into the attack again over the bodies of the dead.
At a crucial moment, the advancing Coldstream Guards were attacked by rebel cavalry. According to one account, which does not actually conflict with Cornwallis’ report, the general gave orders for his cannon to open fire with grape on the enemy dragoons, even though they were in close combat with the elite regiment of his infantry.
The colonel of the guards, wounded earlier and near the Earl begged him to countermand the order-since the British guns would be killing his men as well as the rebel horsemen-but Cornwallis, convinced it was vital at that moment to throw back the cavalry, refused to change his orders. The gunners opened fire, spraying metal into the melee of men and screaming horses.
Cornwallis gained a technical victory-the rebels were fought into flight and their guns captured-but the price was more than 500 British casualties, nearly 1 in 3 of Cornwall’s already depleted force. It was far too dear. Because of the care of our wounded and total want of provisions in an exhausted country”, Cornwallis wrote, the British could not even pursue Greene’s troops who moved north 18 miles to the Iron Works on Troublesome Creek.
Lord Cornwallis remained on the gloomy field of battle until Sunday, March 18th when he began his retreat to Wilmington. The American army broke camp on Tuesday, March 20th and proceeded to Guilford Courthouse and New Garden.
Both armies then proceeded in a parallel southern direction out of the county, thus bringing to an end the North Carolina campaign.

Sources:
• Those Damn Rebels © 1972 Michall Pearson, published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, N.Y.
• “Historical Documentation Map: 18th Century Map of Guilford County and a narrative entitled, Battle of Guilford County, by Kenneth R. Haynes © 1980, Custom House.
• Genealogical records-Misc. materials 1949-1950, Vol. I. N.C., page 144.
• National Society: Sons of the American Revolution, National Number #118597—the genealogical line from William Coffin to my father, Robert Francis Pierce,



Ancestors living near Guilford Courthouse during the battle and their involvement in the American Revolutionary War

During March 1781, Lord Charles Cornwallis moved his British troops into Guilford County, North Carolina as he and his Colonial opponent General Nathanial Greene maneuvered for military position and advantage. In the middle of the month, the British were at the Deep River Meeting House where they bivouacked for two days: Tuesday March 13th and March 14th.

At this time, living on their farm, three miles west of the Meeting House were ancestors William and Hannah (Chipman) Horney. William Horney, a Nicholite by faith, had in January 1781, just finished serving as a Private in the Continental Army, 6th Maryland Regiment, Captain Rie Cup’s company. William and his brother John, having served as soldiers in the Revolutionary War, broke the pacifist tenets of the family’s Quaker like religion. As a result of their enlistment, their father, Jeffrey Horney Jr. in 1779 made his last Will, giving his plantation and property to his other children, stipulating, “I give unto son William Horney Ten Pounds current money to be taken and levied out of my estate and no more.”, brother John received the same.

D.A.R. Patriot Index © 1967, pages 343: “Horney, Wm., born ca. 1750/1, died 1829, married Hannah Chipman, Pvt., MD.”

At the same time, living three miles northwest of the Deep River Meeting House was another of the family line, Perez and Margaret (Manlove) Chipman, the parents of William Horney’s wife Hannah Chipman. Perez and son-in-law William had served together in the American Revolution.

Also concurrently, living on their farm, four miles north of the Deep River Meeting House and three miles west of the New Garden Meeting House were ancestors William and Priscilla Paddock Coffin.
On Thursday, March 15th 1781, during the Battle of Guilford Courthouse and for several days afterward, William Coffin performed a public service for the Continental Army.
I quote,
“At the time of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse William Coffin opened his home for the wounded American Officers. He was also one of the Trustees of the New Garden Meeting House at that place, gave his consent to use the meeting-house building as a hospital for the care of wounded American and British Privates. For this service he gained special recognition from the Continental Congress”.
“The said William Coffin is the ancestor who assisted on establishing American Independence while acting in the capacity of Public Services Patriot.”

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