At the close of our last chapter it was stated that the first American court held in Alabama was at McIntosh Bluff, which is situated upon the western bank of the Tombigby, between its confluence with the Alabama and the town of St. Stephens. Connected with this bluff, there is, to us, a pleasing historical reminiscence. Alabama has the honor of being the birthplace of George M. Troup, late Governor of Georgia, and who is one of the most vigorous and expressive political and epistolary writers of the age. His grandfather, Captain John McIntosh, the Chief of the McIntosh clan, was long attached to the army of West Florida, and his valuable services were rewarded by the King of England, with the grant of McIntosh Bluff, and extensive tracts of land upon the Mississippi. He had a son, who was also a British officer, and a daughter, a native of Georgia. The latter, while on a visit to England, married an officer of the royal army, named Troup. She sailed from England to Mobile, and, arriving at the latter place, entered a barge, and went up the Tombigby River to the residence of her father at McIntosh Bluff, where, in the wilds of Alabama, Governor Troup was born in September, 1780. She had an uncle, named Roderick McIntosh, or “Old Rory,” as he was familiarly called, a most extraordinary character, a kind of Don Quixote, old Arab Chief, Scottish and Irish Chieftain, the Saladin and Coeur de Leon of chivalry. He was long an officer of his Majesty’s army in Georgia and East Florida. Thus the father, brother, uncle and husband of this lady, the mother of George M. Troup, were all British officers before the commencement of the revolution. Being removed from the scenes of that revolution, none of them may be said to have taken sides against it, except “Old Rory,” who during the war was frequently in Georgia and East Florida, and, although far advanced in years, was at all times ready to storm any Whig fortress that might present itself. Before he came to America he had been the champion of his native glen in Scotland, and was strongly attached to the Stuart family. In 1777 he was over sixty-five years of age. He was tall; his form was admirably proportioned for strength and activity. His complexion was ruddy, and his hair was white, frizzled and bushy. In walking, or rather striding, his step ordinarily embraced the space of four feet. He was not rich, but lived in ease and comfort, when not engaged in the actual service of the King. He cared nothing for money. During the Spanish occupation of East Florida he sold a drove of cattle in St. Augustine, and receiving payment in specie, placed it in a bag on his horse and rode towards home. On the route the canvas gave way, and many of the dollars fell upon the path. He secured those which were left and pursued his journey, giving himself no concern about those upon the ground. Some years afterwards, being in want of money, he recollected his loss, went to the place, picked up as many dollars as he wanted and returned home. He was fond of dogs. He once laid a considerable bet that he could hide a doubloon, at three miles distance, and that his setter, which he had taught to take his back track, would find it. Luath presently went off on his trail, was gone some time, and returned panting, with his tongue out, but came without the doubloon. “Treason!” vociferated “Rory,” and he walked rapidly to the place where he had hidden the money. He turned over the log, and found that Luath had torn up the earth in search of it. A man was seen some distance off engaged in the splitting of rails. Without ceremony “Rory” drew his dirk, advanced upon him, and swore he would put him to death if he did not give up the doubloon. The man, very much alarmed, immediately handed him the coin, observing that, having seen McIntosh put something under the log, he had gone to the place and found the gold. “Rory,” tossing him back the money, said, “Take it, vile caitiff; it was not the pelf, but the honor of my dog, I cared for.”
In 1778 a portion of the garrison of St. Augustine, under General Provost, marched by land to join a force from New York to attack Savannah, then in the occupation of the Whigs. “Rory” was a captain of light infantry upon this expedition. On the march they passed near a small Whig fort, commanded by Captain, afterwards Colonel John McIntosh. Early one morning, when “Rory” had made rather free with the morning glass, he insisted on sallying out to summon the fort to surrender. His friends were unable to restrain him, and he presently advanced, with claymore in hand, followed by his faithful Negro, Jim. Approaching the gate of the fort, he said, in an audible and commanding tone, ” Surrender, you miscreants! How dare you presume to resist his majesty’s arms! ” Captain McIntosh knew him, and, forbidding any of his men to fire, threw open the gate, and said, “Walk in, cousin, and take possession.” “No,” said Rory, with great indignation, “I will not trust myself with such vermin, but I order you to surrender.” A rifle was fired at him, the ball of which passed through his face. He fell, but immediately recovered. He retreated backwards, flourishing his sword. His servant, seeing his face covered with blood, and hearing the shot falling around him, implored his master to face about and run for his life. He replied, “Run yourself, poor slave, but I am of a race that never runs.” In this manner, he backed safely into the lines, flourishing his sword in defiance, and keeping his face to the enemy.
Upon a certain occasion, “Rory” rode from St. Augustine to Savannah, and applied to his friend, Couper, for money to defray his expenses from that place to Charleston. Couper saw that something of an extraordinary character agitated him, and with difficulty learned the cause of his excitement. “That reptile in Charleston, Gadsden, has insulted my country, and I will put him to death.” “What has he done?” said Couper. “Why,” said Rory, “on being asked how he meant to fill up his wharf, in Charleston, he replied, ‘By importing Scotchmen, who were fit for nothing better.’ ” With great difficulty the friends of Rory prevailed on him to return home.
It would be an endless task to enumerate all the anecdotes in our possession in relation to this remarkable Highlander, the grand-uncle of Governor Troup. He was often in the Creek nation, and was the father of Colonel William McIntosh, a half-breed Muscogee, of high character, whom the Upper Creeks killed for his friendship to the Georgians. “Rory” always dressed in the Highland costume. He was perfectly fearless in spirit, while his broadsword, wielded by one of the most powerful arms, caused streams of human blood to flow in many desperate engagements. Although engaged in the rebellion of ’45, King George was nevertheless much attached to him, and “Rory” was ready to die for that monarch at any moment.
There was another branch of the McIntosh family–all, however, close connections of Governor Troup, by consanguinity–who were conspicuous Whigs in the revolution, citizens of Georgia, and men who occupied high ranks in the army. One of these was General Lachlan McIntosh, who came out to Georgia with Oglethorpe, when a little boy, and the other, Colonel John McIntosh, who also fought for liberty throughout the war. In later times, Colonel John S. McIntosh, one of the same family, became a distinguished American officer, was in the wars of 1813 and 1814, and recently, in the Mexican war, was wounded at Resaca de la Palma, and afterwards at Molino del Rey, and died in the city of Mexico. The McIntosh family was composed of people of marked character, all whom were born to command. The blood always exhibited itself, even when mixed with that of the Indian. After the revolution, the father of Governor Troup established himself in Georgia, became an American citizen, and was much esteemed and respected to the day of his death. His body is interred at Belleville, McIntosh County, and that of his wife in the family vault of General Lachlan McIntosh at Savannah. 1
- MS. notes in my possession.