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About Robert Johann Messer
A concrete slab placed inside an iron railing gives the illusion of a grave here but no one is buried at this spot. The bronze plaque, which replaces earlier black plaque, marks only the site of the hanging of six Regulators on June 19, 1771 before Governor Tryon's 'Army' and a vast concourse of spectators (people). The six bodies were buried in a common unmarked grave nearer the Eno River. The marker reads: 'On this spot were hanged by order of the Tory Court June 19, 1771, Merrill, Matter, Messer, Pugh and two other Regulators.' --Placed by the Durham-Orange Committee North Carolina Society Colonial Dames of America April, 1963. A young boy becomes a hero; Captain Robert Messer was one of the participants in the Battle of Alamance. Some call it the first American Revolution and in some respects, the first Civil War. The Battle of Alamance pitted the Colonial Militia against the Regulators. The Regulators were mostly country farmers, as well as some town citizens fed up with the treatment given the people by the British Royal Crown. Under British rule the people were treated harshly by the Governor of the Province of North Carolina, William Tryon. Governor William Tryon In 1771, Capt. Robert Messer was involved in an early attempt at Revolution against the British Crown in Alamance, North Carolina. It was called " The Regulator Movement." Royal Gov. William Tryon's treatment of the colonists was too severe to continue. They were taken hostage and often tortured. Many homes were looted and burned and farms decimated. They were taxed beyond reason. It remains unclear how Robert Messer received his rank of Captain. It is thought he was a Colonial Militia Captain before joining the Regulators. The tactics used at the Battle of Alamance became a blue print for the Revolutionaries in the American Revolution a few years later. After the Battle of Alamance Gov. Tryon promised peace and good treatment if the Regulators would agree to surrender. With this offer many leaders of the Regulators surrendered. Tryon then ordered the men to hang, or be pardoned if they would swear loyalty to the Crown. Six of the leaders chose to hang rather than swear loyalty. The names of the six men were, Captain Robert Messer, Captain Benjamin Merrill, Captain James Pugh, Captain Robert Matear and two others, who's names are now unknown. The men that swore loyalty were, Harmon Cox, James Emerson, William Brown, James Copeland, Forrester Mercer and James Stewart. Captain Robert Messer had a young son, Christian Sargent Messer, he and his mother Mary (Roberts wife) was at the sentencing that took place on June 15, 1771. After the sentence was read, Robert's son Christian shouted out, "Take me instead." It was said Tryon was outraged by the outburst and demaned to know who dares to interrupt the proceedings. Christian Sargent Messer stood and said "Take me and let my father go!" When the Governor asked why Christian would say such a thing Christian said, "If my father hangs what will become of my mother and the other children? Without him they will parish." With this the men were given a short reprieve and taken around the country side in chains and put on display for all to see. A warning not to be disloyal to the Crown. On June 19, 1771 the men were hanged for treason by order of King George III's Tory Court in Orange County North Carolina.