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Letter of Duncan McDonald to John Ellis, November 17, 1859


Letter of Duncan McDonald to John Ellis, November 17, 1859


The letter written by McDonald to Governor Ellis reflects the early sentiment of the need for a militia in North Carolina after the John Brown raid. He provides a perspective from Edenton, North Carolina, the fifth most populated town in Northeast North Carolina.


Tolbert, Noble


Duncan McDonald to John Ellis, Edenton, November 17, 1859, in




Hammond, Andrew




Edenton, Chowan County

Original Format



I am in want of 25 commissions for this County.
For the purpose of giving new life to our wretched military
sistem, now almost entirely neglected ; the importance of having
a well drilled militia, since the outbrake at Harpers Ferry is
very essential, and I am endeavouring to have the Division under
my command, officered and organized, to meet any emergency
that may occur. To give your Excellency some idea of the Division, I have the
honor to command, there is no Brigadier General, in the first
Brigade nor an officer, in either of the Counties of Perquimmons
Pasquotank, Camden or Currituck, principally owing to the Law
of the Legislature, saying no person over 35 years of age, should perform military duty.
I cannot git persons to take commissions, in the different
companies, to command so small number of men in our small
Counties. The Harpers Ferry insurrection is of considerable benefit to this section of the State, all persons seem very anxious now
to have a well organized militia and I am endeavouring to second their wishes. We have been admonished by the Farther of our
Country, to prepare for War, in time of peace and wish to profit
by his advice.


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Tolbert, Noble, Letter of Duncan McDonald to John Ellis, November 17, 1859, Civil War Era NC, accessed April 14, 2024,