Charles Elms

This information is contributed by Janie Elms Matthews

ELMS, Charles

A Veteran of the Revolution Born 1757 or 1758 - Died 6 January 1836

The following obituary appeared in the "Raleigh Register" on Feb. 2, 1836 (microfilm RRw #13, 
State Archives): In Mecklenburg county, 6th inst. Mr. Charles Elms, sen., a soldier of the 
Revolution during the whole struggle for Independence, and participated in many of the important 
engagements, as several honorable scars will testify--in the 78th year of his age.
In one long sentence, the Raleigh Register summed up the military service and the loss of an eye 
during the Revolution by Charles Elms who is listed as Charles Elloms, Elumms, Ellums, or Elms 
in various records. However, it takes many sentences to provide the background for the assertions 
in Charles' obituary.

The most dramatic record of his "honorable scars" comes from a granddaughter. Just like stories of 
the War Between the States that are passed down through the families today, the Revolution had 
its share of stories of bravery and hardships that made history come alive. On June 3, 1914, Mrs. 
Margaret Elms Britton was accepted for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution 
under the service of her grandfather, Charles Elms. Her application [#109359] provides an account 
of her grandfather’s injury during the Battle of Eutaw Springs. She writes: "Charles Elms fought in 
under Greene at the Battle of Eutaw South Carolina September 8, 1781 - Greene’s army was 
opposed by Stewarts. At that battle my Grandfather was shot in the eye and left as dead upon 
the Battlefield. While lying there, surrounded by dying and dead comrades an English soldier gave 
him a shake saying, ‘we got this one,' but true to that bravery so characteristic of our patriot of that 
distressing time, young Elms did not make much of his personal misfortune and replied, ‘it’s no 
great get.' " This remark is the closest we get to knowing the man whose descendants share the 
same droll sense of humor.

The earliest record of Charles is from a military roll of Cap. Clement Hall's Company in the 2nd NC 
Battalion, commanded by Col. John Patton. Charles Ellumms appears on the roll taken in White 
Plains on 9 Sept 1778. It states that he enlisted on 28 Oct 1776 for a period of 2 1/2 years. (Card 
#37450017; microfilm at Rowan County Library, Salisbury, NC and also recorded in North Carolina 
State and Colonial Records, Vol. 13, p507.) He again enlisted in April 1781 for a period of 12 months 
in Captain Rhodes 10th Regiment. ( NC State and Colonial Records, Vol. 16, p1053.) This second 
term might have been spent as a substitute for another man. On July 3, 1781, William Beasley was 
issued a certificate in Oxford, North Carolina for having produced a substitute named Charles Ellums 
to serve in the military in his place. (NC Genealogical Society Historical Journal, p154, August 

Charles began a series of applications for bounty land and a pension. In 1802, an affidavit was filed 
in Rowan County stating the following facts: ‘I do hereby certify that Charles Ellums served as a 
soldier in the continental line in this state, during part of the last war, that he served under the 
command of Capt. Jacob Turner, to whose company I was Lieutenant, that Cap.t TURNER was 
killed & the said Charles Ellums was wounded with loss of his eye whilst in the service of the 
United States. Given from under my hand this 19th Mar 1802.’ (Unsigned) On Reverse: Affidavits 
Mar Term 1802. It was signed by six men. (Rowan County CRX -Miscellaneous Records-Pension 
Records, 1802 - File #, Box 68-NC Archives).

Several other sources refer to Charles' loss of an eye during the war. In an 1820 letter to Dr. 
Hendersen entreating him to buy Charles' certificate for 228 acres of bounty land as soon as it 
was issued, Calvin Jones mentions that Charles lost an eye in the war. [Military File #137 of Charles 
Elloms in NC Archives.) In 1873, John Rosser of Memphis, Tennessee wrote to Lyman Draper 
about his childhood in Mecklenburg County. He remembered Charles Elms as a pensioner living in 
Pineville who had lost an eye in the battle of Eutaw Springs (Draper's MS Thomas Sumter Papers, 
13 VV 7-8, York County Genealogical Historical Quarterly, Summer 1989, p12.)

Charles must have become very frustrated at having to repeatedly prove his claim to land and a 
pension. In his 1835 will, this frustration is apparent with the words that " I do confirm the following 
to be my last will and testament filing a plea in the recollection of the many struggles and difficulties
I with my companions in arms during our revolutionary war, waded through and [illegible] when we 
bled freely to procure a government of laws. I now beg of those of my fellow citizens who may 
survive me and may have an agency in the execution of the law to lend me their aid to support my 
rights and privileges which I humbly conceive the laws are intended to secure to us and to our 
prosperity." (Mecklenburg County, NC Wills from NC Archives)


On August 17, 1785, Charles and Miles Bobbit signed a 500 pound bond for Charles' marriage to
Rebecah Withers, daughter of Reubin and Celia Zills Weathers in Warren County, NC. In the 
1790s, Charles and Rebecah followed her family to Mecklenburg County, NC where they remained 
until their deaths in 1834 and 1836. Both are buried in Ft. Mill, South Carolina at Flint Hill Baptist 
Church which was chartered in 1792 by a group of people who had once lived in Warren County, 
NC. Charles' tombstone reads: "A Soldier and Patriot of the Revolution of 1776 who departed this 
life 6th January 1836."

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