James Hogun Homesite

A General Dies with His Troops

Location


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Coordinates: 36.0399, -77.4134.

Type: Stop
Tour: Rebellion
County: Halifax

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Approach the coordinates from Hopgood, to the south on NC 125. Just north of the state highway marker for James Hogun, you will find a wide shoulder with a good view of his homesite.
 

Mug saying, "Do Whig Out!" on a parchment scroll

 
Man in a white tee shirt that says, "Just a Regulator Guy"

 

Description

Lithograph with POW camp in background
Haddrell’s Point, site of a Revolutionary War POW camp outside of Charleston

If dedication to one’s soldiers is the mark of a great leader, James Hogun was the ultimate leader. When or why James Hogun of Ireland moved to the colonies is unknown, but he married in Halifax County in October 1751. For reasons explained below, nothing is known of his activities from then until the war. But he must have become a successful landowner, because that was true of everyone elected to the N.C. Provincial Congress in 1774. This gathering of representatives from across the colony first challenged the royal governor, and then became the first colonial congress to declare independence in April 1776, in Halifax.

Hogun helped form the Halifax County part-time defense force (“militia”) for the new state. Then in November 1776, he became a colonel in the regular Continental Army, guiding the N.C. Seventh Regiment under Gen. George Washington at battles including Brandywine and Germantown (Penn.). Hogun was described as leading with “‘distinguished intrepidity.’”[1]

He was sent back to North Carolina to recruit a new regiment, which he then took north in 1778 to build defenses in West Point, N.Y., where the famous military academy is now. On the way, they stopped in Carlisle, Penn., to get the new smallpox vaccine.[a] Starting in January 1779, the regiment served guard duty in Philadelphia under Maj. Gen. Benedict Arnold, the same month Hogun was named a brigadier general by the Continental Congress. The state assembly recommended someone else, but N.C. Congressman Thomas Burke pushed Hogun as a reward for his conduct in battle. Hogun took over command of Philadelphia from Arnold, 18 months before Arnold turned traitor. When draftees finished their enlistments the next month, he reported to Gen. Washington he had only 165 men to cover 82 guard posts, barely allowing one change of guard![2]

Hogun remained in that role until ordered with the N.C. brigade to Charleston in August. Interrupted by a long pause at the army’s winter camp in Morristown, N.J., as events unfolded to the south, plus a difficult march, they did not arrive until March.[3] Captured when the Continental forces at Charleston were forced to surrender in May 1780, Hogun chose to suffer along with his men at the Haddrel’s Point (S.C.) prison camp rather than accept a parole to live with other officers in Charleston. He also stayed to keep them from taking British offers of freedom and money to switch sides, with the agreement they would fight in the West Indies, not the U.S. (Up to 500 Americans may have accepted.)[4]

Hogun’s decision proved fatal: He died of natural causes on Thursday, January 4, 1781. He was not alone in his fate. Of 1,800 North Carolinians interned there, 1,100 died.[5] Hogun was buried among his men, and his grave is lost to history.

What to See

Look at the state historical marker, and trace a line with your eyes about 60 yards behind it—a little over half an American football field.

Hogun’s house was toward the back of the modern farm field, near the small stream running behind the trees you see today. In 1775 at least four enslaved people—Ceaser (sic), Sam, Hannah, “and old Bridge”—lived here as well. Control of them was passed to his wife Ruth during her lifetime and then his only son Lemuel, according to his will.[6]

Photo of a farm field with trees in back
(AmRevNC photograph)

The house was still standing by the Civil War in the 1860s, though owned by another family. Union troops reportedly confiscated or destroyed Hogun’s papers here, which is why so little is known today about one of only five North Carolina generals in the Continental Army.[7]

More Information


[1] Rankin 1988.

[2] Hogun 1779.

[3] Dacus.

[4] Rankin 1971.

[5] Clark 1892.

[6] GENi.

[7] Ibid.

[a] Rankin 1971.

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