In March of 1775, Patrick Henry gave his "Liberty or Death" speech in support of his resolution to raise forces to defend Virginia against the British at the Second Virginia Convention at St. John's Church in Richmond. In April, 1775, the people of North Carolina drove the royal governor out of the colony, and in May the citizens of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, declared the British government suspended. The opposing sides took on the name of English Parliamentary parties. The "Whigs" were the patriot side and the "Tories" were the Loyalists. War with Britain was imminent
In 1776, North Carolina became the first colony to vote for independence from England, and Virginia followed in May, and young men from across the Colony signed up to fight. The Dotson land stretched across the border of both states.
To the north, Colonial Virginia did not maintain a standing army. Nearly everyone was engaged in agriculture, and needed to plant in the spring and harvest in the fall. The Virginians were not wealthy enough to afford full-time soldiers. Whenever there were colonial "alarms" about the British, pirates or Indians, riders on horses would spread the word to various farms and the men would assemble as needed.
Charles actually fought in the militias of both North Carlina and Virginia. When one understands the geography of this region (shown in the map, above), it is easy to see that residents responded to the geography, not necessarily to the civil boundaries. The original Lambeth Dodson land that had been handed down to Charles probably spanned the boundaries of Virginia and North Carolina\emdash so in truth, they may have been uncertain in which state they lived, so answered the call that came the loudest. When the British were attacking and threatening the lives of his family, Charles looked for a rifle, not a boundary line.
Virginia Militia, as painted by Don Troiani.
In 1777, Charles signed an oath of allegiance in Henry County, Virginia. He and brother William Dodson then both served in the Virginia Militia, in Harmon Critz' Company from Henry County. In the summer of 1780, the company marched against the Tories and pursued them as far as the Yadkin River. On March 11, 1781 the company was ordered to assist General Greene in North Carolina, and fought at the battle of King's Mountain. That battle was fought by 1,000 plus militiamen\emdash without orders, formal military training, uniforms or provisions, and with no promise of pay\emdash against the supposedly "superior forces" of noted English Col. Patrick Ferguson\emdash and is credited by most early historians with having changed the course of the Revolution in the South. Ferguson (the only English regular on the field\emdash the rest of his men were Tories recruited from the Carolinas and Virginia) had sworn death and destruction to all Patriots (and their families) living across the mountains. The 'Over the Mountain Men,' from the wilderness of Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina, took offense at this. "They had a finely honed sense of vengeance, and didn't fight fair."
One account of the Henry County Militia in the American Revolution was recorded by Judith Parks Hill who wrote a History of Henry County, Virginia, recorded in 1925: "On March 11, 1781, Colonel Penn and his men marched from Beaver Creek in Henry County, crossed Rowland's Ford just below Fontaine, followed the old road, deep cuts now showing its location, up Marrowbone Valley crossing the creek west of where Ridgeway now stands, thence along the ridge two miles, then crossing Matrimony Creek half a mile to the state line, only one mile from the Marrowbone home of Old Rusty Hairston to the National Highway is now used for public road. From the line south is not known, however, they marched so rapidly they soon reached General Lord Cornwallis a few miles north of Greensboro, North Carolina, and begin what became known as the Battle of Guilford Court House on March 25, 1781. General Green said our men would fight, get beat, rise, and fight again. This American defeat helped win the War for Independence as the casualties for the British forces represented 27 % of the British troops and the American losses amounted to only 6 % of the total forces engaged. Lord Cornwallis said 'another victory such as this would ruin the British Army.'"
In 1778, Charles and Reuben Dodson were on the roll of Reed's Company, 1st North Carolina Battalion, Thomas Clarke commander, both serving as privates. One of the muster rolls can be seen at right. The militia defeated Tory forces at the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge in February 1776, the first military action in North Carolina and the last until near the end of the war. In March 1781, American forces under General Nathanael Green defeated Lord Cornwallis' forces at Guilford Courthouse, which forced the British to vacate the Carolinas. But there was always action on the Virginia side of the border.
The record of Henry County, Virginia, show that Charles Dodson was on the tithable list for that county beginning in 1778 assessed one white poll. In 1789, Charles is taxed for 2 polls aged over 16 and under 21 years of age; indicating that he possibly had 2 sons born between 1768 and 1773.
After the war, Charles went back to farming full time. His residence was listed in North Carolina for the 1790 Federal Census, but the pages for the area he lived in, Granville County, were lost. The census was later reconstructed from tax lists. Charles' entry in the 1800 census is still available, however.
Charles sired three sons: Reuben Dotson, whom was born sometime around the year 1775, Charles and James. We know next to nothing about the last two sons, and even less about their mother (many North Carolina records from this period have been lost, so it's doubtful that we'll ever know anything).