Pity in the Field- Daniel M'Kissick Trades Lives With a Loyalist

Pity in the Field- Daniel M'Kissick Trades Lives With a Loyalist

Earlier this week, I published an article on William Graham whose writings later in life gave posterity a thorough account of the Revolutionary War in western North Carolina.

The story of Daniel M’Kissick appears only in one of Graham’s publications, that which concerns the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill. Although great detail is used in Graham’s account, and the story in general most likely happened, we must consider the likelihood that his memory might have faded after almost fifty years.

That being said, in North Carolina lore and family genealogical records, the M’Kissick story is taken to be true, so it is certainly worth telling here.

Please Note: Daniel’s surname is often seen in the more common modern spelling of McKissick, but I have decided to use the spelling which was common in his lifetime: M’Kissick.

Daniel M’Kissick

Daniel M’Kissick was born in Scotland. Before the age of 10, his family brought him to Ireland, then across an ocean to Pennsylvania.

Shortly thereafter, Daniel’s family traveled again. This time, they moved with several other families of Scottish decent to North Carolina, settling in Lincoln County.

M’Kissick first appears on record when he married Jane Wilson as a 27-year-old. This took place in 1776, during the heart of revolutionary ferment.

M’Kissick must have been an impressive soldier, as he was quickly named a Captain of Dragoons as well as a Lieutenant Colonel in the North Carolina Militia.

Ramsour’s Mill

Daniel participated in several engagements on the North Carolina frontier, the most notable of which was the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill.

This conflict, which was fought between local Loyalists and Patriots, was truly neighbor against neighbor.

M’Kissick was shot in the shoulder during the fight and forced to leave the field.

Saved By a Loyalist

During his evacuation, Daniel lost a lot of blood. This is when a group of several Loyalists, who were headed toward the battle, stumbled upon him.

The group were ready to pummel the loan soldier, but Captain Abram Keener, a neighbor and friend of M’Kissick, stepped in.

Instead of allowing the men under his charge to attack this already wounded opponent, Keener took Daniel prisoner. This may well have saved his life.

Returning the Favor

The Loyalists took M’Kissick and headed back to the battle.

What they did not know was that the Patriots had already won the day. When the group arrived, the Patriots prepared to kill them.

This time, is was M’Kissick’s turn to save a life. Daniel stepped in and prevented any harm to Keener. What goes around comes around.

In the middle of a war, in the middle of a battle, where neighbors, even brothers, thought nothing of killing each other, these two men realized that if there was no need to shed blood then no blood should be shed.

They both wanted what was best for their country, and senseless murder had no place in their vastly different visions.


To learn about other Founders who fought their own families and friends, check out these articles:

The Fratricide of Wyoming - John and Henry Pencel

Nicholas Low Clears His Family’s Name

Philip Barton Key - The Loyalist Founding Father

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Ramsour’s Mill has several interesting stories like this.

‘Rifles at Ramsour’s Mill’ recounts most of the stunning tales from this one small battle.

If you’d like a copy you can get one through the Amazon affiliate link below (you’ll support this site, but don’t worry, Amazon pays me while your price stays the same).

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