The Pension Hearing
The elderly country gentleman stepped off the wagon as his son tied the horses to the hitching post in front of the county court house. He was dressed in his Sunday best, clothes which were well worn and sagged on his thin frame. His eyes were remarkable, a clear sky blue that had a youthful gleam making him seem much younger than his years. He walked steadily on a hickory cane he had whittled himself from a branch found by the banks of the Catawba on his farm.
The gentleman called to his son "James, hurry up now or we'll be late for court, and you know them judges don't like people bein' late. And this is the last time I'll be talking to these folk, God willing. It's been more than 50 years and I still ain't received my war pension liked they promised me after it was cut off last time."
The courtroom was empty save the two men and the three witnesses that accompanied them, as it was July 4th and most of the town was gathered in the main square celebrating the countrys' independence sixty years earlier.
Three jurors presided in the courtroom and they looked up as the party entered the room. A baliff spoke to the elderly gentlemen, then walked to the jurors and handed them a document. The judges considered the party a moment and then the eldest of them said, "Mr. Samuel Patton?"
"Yes, sir. That's me," the elderly gentleman replied.
"I understand that you are here today on this day July 4, 1836 to have a second review of your pension which you claim from service rendered to the United States during the War of Independence to obtain the benefits enacted by the Act of Congress on June 7, 1832?"
"Yes sir. That's right. I have with me several witnesses, Sir, who will testify to my character and can tell you that what I have told about my service is all true."
"Well Mr. Patton. This is somewhat a dificult case as your previous benefits were cut off ten years ago by the War Department and no official records of your enlistment in the North Carolina Militia seem to exist. Can you provide us some evidence that will assist us in this matter?"
"Sir, the best evidence I can give is my recollections of the battles and officers I served under and the events I witnessed. So I believe it's best if I tell you my story and let you judge it."
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Battle of Briar Creek