Memoirs of Major Joseph McJunkin
Rev. James Hodge Saye
Originally Printed as articles by the
Watchman and Observer (Richmond VA)
It is proposed by the writer to give, in the following pages, a detailed statement of the personal exploits of Major Joseph McJunkin in the Revolutionary War in this country, together with remarks and observations concerning his contemporaries and the interesting events of which they were, in the hands of Providence, the instrumental cause.
If it be asked why such reminiscences should be published after the general history of the principal transactions have been given to the world and the events have already become familiar to even the cursory reader we reply:
1. That it is a duty that we owe to the generation which is past to record their fame, emulate their virtues and transmit their reputations to generations following.
2. That the men who won the Independence of this Nation must forever be held in grateful remembrance by these who enjoy the fruits of their toils, privations and sufferings or virtuous intelligence cease to exist.
3. That the period of our Revolutionary struggle exhibited a very remarkable triumph of principles over selfishness in the principal actors. But a noble valor, an unexampled moderation and an entire consecration to the public weal were not peculiar to Washington and those who stood with him in the first ranks of patriots. The same feeling and spirit was widely diffused not only among the officers of inferior grade, but the common soldier and citizen often gave unequivocal evidence of the same disinterested patriotism.
4. That no State in the Union was placed in circumstances better adapted to try the principles of its citizen soldiers than South Carolina. Those who stood firm in this State in the darkest hour of her conflicts present no ordinary claim for honor, which is the award of an admiring posterity.
5. That the causes which produced these principles by which so many of our countrymen distinguished and obscure were actuated can never be too fully understood nor too sedusively cultivated. If it be true that the same cause will produce the same effects, how rational and important is the inquiry: “What were the causes which instilled such principles into that remarkable generation who won the independence of this Nation, built up her institutions and handed them down to us encircled in an imperishable halo of glory?” To ascertain these causes, to find out these secret springs, we must look into the scenes of retired life, the exercises of the family circle, the religious sentiments and social habits of the people.
In the following narrative such facts as have a bearing upon the preceding inquiry will be mentioned not only in reference to our hero himself, but also to his worthy companions in arms, so far as known to the writer.