Captain John Rhem, on behalf of himself and fellow members of the Craven County militia, "appeals to the Justice and Gratitude of this Country, for Indemnity against the pecuniary portion of their sufferings" stemming from wounds received while on patrol. During the summer of 1821 "a number of negroes were collected together in arms, and were going about the counties of Craven, Carteret, Onslow, and Jones Counties committing thefts, and alarming the inhabitants of said Counties. The outrages of these villains became so frequent and daring that ... it was thought necessary to adopt measures either to arrest or to disperse them." On 10 August, Craven county officials ordered the militia regiment to patrol the county and to "arrest all negroes whom he should meet armed or traveling under suspicious circumstances." After midnight on 21 August 1821 Rhem and eight of his men encountered five armed men on the Street's Bridge across the Neuse River. Rhem called out to the men to identify themselves. The men responded with gunshots. Rhem was shot through the right lung, and his arm was shattered. Alexander Taylor was shot through the head and his other officers received various wounds. The two armed parties then retreated, waiting for daylight to learn the size of the opposing force. The next morning Rhem discovered that it was not armed blacks whom he had engaged the night before but rather a group of nervous whites who lived in the area and "had turned out to patrol from the same alarm which had brought your petitioners party into service, and who ignorant of your petitioners station had mistaken his party for blacks and had fired under that mistake." Considering they "were on a duty which put at hazard their own lives, to preserve the peace and dignity of the State," the petitioners, "probably disabled for life," seek restitution for medical expenses and financial assistance.
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Repository: North Carolina Department of Archives and History, Raleigh, North Carolina