Two hundred and thirty-three years ago, July 4, 1776, our country proclaimed its freedom from England and today, as we celebrate this event and I thought it fitting to relate a family story about my 5G Grandfather, William Murrill and an action he was involved in during our Revolutionary War. This event was passed down through the family and recorded in the diary of a 3G Uncle of mine, James Buckner “Buck” Barry. Years after Buck wrote his diary, it was copyrighted and published as “Buck Barry, Texas Ranger And Frontiersman”. I have used family history and this book as my references.


Heavy gunfire erupted on the other side of the large pond and the twenty, man detail of Colonial Militia from Onslow County, North Carolina, started sprinting toward the shots. “Tony stay here and guard the pack horses,” William Murrill shouted as he ran past Tony, a family slave who served with William for the duration of the war. Tony was assisting the small unit that was on a prolonged scout along the coast for prisoners, rations and supplies.

The firing grew in intensity and was sustained for, to Tony, it seemed hours, when he saw two British Redcoats enter the water and swim towards him and the prize of horses and supplies that he was guarding. Thinking that William’s unit had been wiped out, he quickly hid behind a tree and kept a close watch on the enemy soldiers. When they came within gunshot range of the camp and saw the horses, they ducked behind a log in the water and tried to hide.

Tony breathed a sigh of relief when William and his victorious unit returned with no prisoners, but they carried the booty from the British camp, booty that included whiskey! William’s brother, my 5G Uncle, Kemp Murrill and another trooper, proceeded to get themselves drunk on the spoils. Tony told William about the Redcoats hiding behind the log in the pond. William immediately ordered them to come in with their hands over their heads.

As they were coming into camp, Kemp and the other drunk were going to shoot the prisoners, but William took their guns away and prevented a killing. Years later, Tony told Buck Barry, then a young boy, that they kept the prisoners for two days but he never saw them after that.

Feelings were real hard back then!