Carolina Observer (Fayetteville NC) Thursday, March 12, 1829
From the Cape Fear Recorder

Transcribed and Posted by Myrtle Bridges  November 05, 2009
The massacre at the Eight Mile House, situated east of the town of Wilmington, in New Hanover County, 
on the road leading to Newbern, is an oft-told story, the relation of which, some years ago, stirred 
up whole families into ebullition: but the feeling elicited at this day, by the recapitulation of its 
incidents, is a faint and transient emotion, which subsides almost as soon as it is awakened. Time has 
assuaged the grief of injured relatives; and submission to the will of Providence, has over powered 
the vindictive passions.

In 1781, when Wilmington was a garrison, many incursions were made into the surrounding country, under 
the general order of that stern commander, CRAIG, to refuse entry. Many of them were marked by an 
inhumanity, which accorded with the spirit, in which they originated, but none were noted for such 
deliberate nefariousness of purpose or such cold-blooded butchery, as that, the particulars of which, 
we are about to relate; nor were any so widely extended in their heart-rending consequences-consequences 
which are felt, even at the present day, by the descendents of the sufferers, many of whom, reduced to 
penury, by the fate of parents and other relatives, are scattered over the country.

COLONEL THOMAS BLUDWORTH ordered out a detachment of militia, to collect the cattle near the British lines 
and drive them out of the way of the hostile forces. The detachment having succeeded in their exertions, 
had reached the Eight Mile House, which was the rendezvous, and intended remaining there till morning; but 
at night, when Colonel Bludworth was about forming a guard, a dissatisfaction arose among the men, several 
of whom, objected to serving that night. MAJOR JOHN A. CAMPBELL, urged the commanding officer to enforce 
his authority; but the mutinous party, were unfortunately headed by CAPTAIN JAMES LOVE, a man of daring 
spirit and obstinate temper. To control such a character, would have required, under the militia system, 
an energy which very few possess; and a stretch of authority, such as still fewer would be willing to hazard. 
Many of the men, persisted in remaining with LOVE, but BLUDWORTH resolved to move on, which he did for nearly 
a quarter of a mile, on the main road leading towards the British lines, and there left the road, fixing his 
quarters for the night, under cover of the woods, near Eight Mile House. Anxious however, for the security of 
the men he had left there, he sent CAPTAIN ANTHONY MILFORD, to persuade them into obedience; and if necessary, 
to threaten them with punishment in case of the continuance of their mutinous spirit. Unhappily, they heeded 
neither entreaties nor arguments, and persisted in their opposition under the mistaken idea, it is believed, 
that COL. BLUDWORTH'S force was between them and the enemy. There was too, it would seem, a fatality, which 
doomed them to destruction. The sentry posted by Col Bludworth, did not obey the orders of his commander by 
firing. Had he done this, they might have had time to escape, while the British officers were forming their 

It was a clear frosty night in February. LOVE had been drinking freely; and some of the privates, were in a 
similar predicament. Love retired to rest in the upper story of the house. Three of the party, namely, RICHARD 
EARLE, STEPHEN RITCHIE AND JAMES EARLE, went into the barn, for the same purpose. Of those who stayed in the 
hall, or common room below, some had begun to play cards; others, sitting in chairs and leaning forward with 
their heads resting on their hands, were asleep. They were in this situation, when WILLIAM NICHOLS, who had 
gone into the piazza, (porch) discovered the enemy approaching, gave the alarm, and eluding notice by throwing 
himself among some weeds near the house, escaped. PETER McCLAMMY, who was advancing to the door to open it was 
shot dead before he could lift up the latch, and the house was instantaneously surrounded. Consternation over-
whelmed the whole party. They who were at cards, implored for mercy. They who had been sleeping, when awakened 
by the noise, were so panic struck, that they did not move, but submitted as if in the unconscious of a deep 
lethargy. THOMAS WILSON who was mistaken for BLUDWORTH, feigned sickness, but this only served to whet the 
appetite for his blood. He was horribly mangled while begging for quarter; and as if nothing should be wanting 
to complete the spectacle of savage ferocity, the assailants steeped their handkerchiefs in his blood. STOKELY 
BISHOP, who was in the upper part of the house, jumped from a window and was made prisoner. After receiving 13 
bayonets in his body, and being shot in the head, he was left at the kitchen door, under guard who dispatched 
him. THOMAS HILL saved himself by crying out, that he was a "prisoner taken that day by the Americans." JOHN 
FERRELL a patrol, was dragged out of his bed and butchered; and his body was cast into the yard. His wife and 
child were with him; and the former on the point of being bayoneted, was rescued by the interposition of one 
of the enemy, whose heart for a moment, relented at the cries of a woman Some of the enemy then proceeded to 
the barn. RICHARD EARLE, who was lying in a profound sleep, was pierced in the heart in an instant, and expired 
with out a struggle or a groan. STEPHEN RITCHIE was murdered almost as expeditiously. JAMES EARLE made desperate 
efforts to elude the foe and to parry his assaults; and owing to the accidental circumstance, of his having a 
buckskin jacket next to his body, he escaped any vital wound; but his arms were cut in a shocking manner. (He 
afterwards took the small pox; recovered from that disease and subsequently died of his wounds.) Another who had 
got on the roof of the house, and who was making efforts to conceal himself, was shot dead. During the heat and 
fury of the carnage, Col. BLUDWORTH heard the firing and the supplicating appeals of the sufferers. Unable however 
to calculate the force of the enemy, he could not approach the scene of action, without incurring the risque of 
sharing their fate.

JAMES LOVE, whose contumacious resistance, brought upon his friends, such an accumulation of horror was the only 
one whose undaunted spirit and athletic frame were equal to the conflict. He was aroused from sleep, as soon as 
firing commenced. Brave to desperation, and with a presence of mind, which never deserted him, he resolved to sell 
his life dearly. Grasping a saddle in his left and a sword in his right hand, he fought his way into the yard, using 
the saddle as a shield, while with his sword, he made his enemies feel the effects of his prowess. The foe which had 
been so ruthless, to the unresisting, daunted by the fury with which he dealt his blows, besought him to receive quarter. 
He disdained to listen to their entreaties and continued to fight desperately, until overposered by numbers, he fell, 
pierced with seventeen bayonets, the victim of an impetuous and unconquerable spirit; and expiated by his death, that 
contumacy and indiscretion, which had involved his comrades in destruction and entailed distress on their families.

A young officer (the late DAVID JONES, Esq. of New Hanover County) a lieutenant in the continental line, who was on a 
recruiting expedition, came to the place after the enemy had left it. It was not yet day break. In the yard, about forty 
paces from the house, he stumbled over the dead body of LOVE, which was in a recumbent position; the head leaning against 
a mulberry tree; the sword yet clinched; and the saddle held fast in the grasp of death; and the evidences of mutilated 
foes scattered around the corpse. The lieutenant entered the door, and found the widow and child of FERRELL, shivering by 
a small fire, which afforded just light enough to disclose the horrors of the past night. The bodies of the unfortunate 
victims were lying in various positions, as they fell or struggled in the agonies of expiring …. Some of them had already 
been stripped of their habiliments, by marauding Negroes. The awful stillness of the scene was now and then interrupted by 
a groan from JAMES EARLE, who was still alive.

The miscreants who were engaged in the expedition were never ascertained. It was uniformly asserted, without contradiction, 
they were masked during the night of the massacre. Certain it is that they were either ashamed of their participation in the 
deeds of that night; or dreaded the infamy which would follow the exposure of their names, in connection with a proceeding 
so revolting to humanity. Rumour, pointed out MAJOR MANSON as the leader of the obnoxious party; and went so far as to allege, 
that LORD CORNWALLIS reprimanded him and took away his sword; but restored it, on his exculpating himself, by pleading the 
impossibility of restraining the privates.

At this distant period, we shall hardly be suspected, of an intention to revive that animosity against the parent-state, 
which formerly contributed, so much to exasperate the fury of party collision. We are now happily free from national predilections 
and aversions; and in an enviable freedom from their influence we have ventured to relate the particulars of an affair which is 
calculated to fix an indelible stain on the British arms, and which in this part of the country, provoked more aspersions on the 
British name, than any of those numerous atrocities, which were perpetrated, during the long period of our revolution. In accordance 
with the popular phraseology, we had styled it, "The Massacre at the Eight Mile House;" but we do not conceive, that its murderous 
atrocities needs any circumstance of treachery to aggravate its guilt; and certainly, there could be none, calculated to increase 
the sentiment of pity, for the victims, or the sensation of horror, towards the actors in this scene of cruelty.

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