General Robert Howe


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General Robert HoweHowe, ROBERT, military officer; born in Brunswick county, North Carolina, in 1732; was in the legislature in 1773; was one of the earliest and most uncompromising of the patriots of the Cape Fear region, and was honored with an exception, together with Cornelius Harnett, when royal clemency was offered to the rebels by Sir Henry Clinton, in 1776. He was appointed colonel of the 1st North Carolina Regiment, and with his command went early into the field of Revolutionary strife. In December, 1775, he joined Woodford at Norfolk, in opposition to Lord Dunmore and his motley army. For his gallantry during this campaign, Congress, on February 29, 1776, appointed him one of five brigadier-generals in the Continental army, and ordered him to Virginia. In the spring of 1776, British spite towards General Howe was exhibited by Sir Henry Clinton, who sent Cornwallis, with 900 men, to ravage his plantation near old Brunswick village. He was placed in chief command of the Southern troops in 1778, and was unsuccessful in an expedition against Florida and in the defense of Savannah. His conduct was censured, but without just cause. Among others whose voices were raised against him was Christopher Gadsden, of Charleston. Howe required him to deny or retract. Gadsden would do neither, and a duel ensued. They met at Cannonsburg, and all the damage either sustained was a scratch upon the ear of Gadsden by Howe's ball. Howe died November 12, 1785.

In retaliation for incursions from FLORIDA, General Howe, at the head of 2,000 Americans, mostly militia of South Carolina and Georgia, attempted the capture of St. Augustine. He met with very little opposition before he reached the St. Mary River, where the British had erected a fort, called Tonyn, in compliment to the governor of the province. On the approach of Howe they destroyed the fort; and, after some slight skirmishing, retreated towards St. Augustine. But the Americans were driven back from Florida by a fever which swept away nearly one-fourth of their number, and rendered their retreat absolutely necessary.



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