William Polk

Colonel, Revolutionary War; Grand Master (1799-1802)

William Polk was probably in more battles and suffered more wounds than any other officer in the revolution.  he was born in Mecklenburg County on July 9, 1758.  Polk joined the 3rd South Carolina Regiment as a Lieutenant of mounted infantry and was wounded at "Ninety-Six" on December 22, 1775.  He has the dubious distinction of being the first man wounded after the battle of Lexington.  After recovering, Polk was commissioned a Major in the 9th NC Regiment on November 27, 1776.  He was again wounded at Germantown.  When the NC regiments were consolidated at Valley Forge, Polk returned home to recruiting duty.  


According to conflicting records, Polk seems to have been a Continental Major and a militia Colonel at this time.  However, we do know from Colonel Davie's account that Polk was riding with the Mecklenburg militia in June of 1780, and he accompanied Davie on several of his excursions.  In August of 1780, Polk turns up as an aide to Richard Caswell at the battle of Camden, and was one of the last to withdraw.  On February 1, 1781, Major Polk was assisting General William Davidson delay Cornwallis' crossing of the Catawba River and, after Davidson was killed, Polk commanded the withdrawal of the patriot militia.  Following that action, he served in a volunteer capacity at Guilford Courthouse in March.  Then Polk accepted a South Carolina commission to reorganize and command the 3rd SC Regiment as a Lieutenant Colonel.  Commanding this unit, he participated in the battle of Fort Granby, and the battle or Eutaw Springs.


After the war, Polk served NC in the legislature and in other capacities.  He was initiated in Phoenix Lodge in Fayetteville in 1789, and was the charter Master of Phalanx Lodge No. 31, Charlotte, NC.  Polk moved to Wake County in 1799, and served as Mayor of Raleigh.  He was elected the 4th Grand Master of Masons in 1799, 1800, and 1801, and is listed as a visitor to Democratic Lodge No. 21 in Raleigh.  In the War of 1812, Polk turned down a federal commission as a Brigadier General.  he participated in the welcome to Lafayette in 1825.  William Polk died in 1834, and is buried in Raleigh's "Old City Cemetery."