Members of the Avent family have played their part in defending their home and country throughout American history. A look at the "Roster of North Carolina Soldiers in the American Revolution", by the North Carolina Society, Daughters of the American Revolution (1932) gives us the following:
p. 104: James Avent, Pvt. 10th NC Regiment under Col. Abraham Shepard. Enlisted 15 May, 1776 for 2 1/2 years. Discharged 10 Nov, 1778
p. 234: James Avent granted 228 acres of land for 30 months service.
p. 623: Peter Avent, Pvt, NC militia, shows up on a roster of Capt. Bynum's (Chatham Co.) company taken 7 April, 1781.
The records of the Chatham Co., NC, Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions (1774 - 1788) also show a Peter Avent as a member of the company commanded by Captain Elisha Cain in Chatham Co., NC, in 1772.
It is unclear which "James Avent" is referenced above, though the best possibility seems to be James Avent (born November 19, 1752), the son of John Avent and Margaret, and the grandson of Col. Thomas Avent. The "Peter Avent" in Cain's Co. in 1772 was likely, though not necessarily, the son of Col. Thomas Avent. It is unclear where the Peter Avent who was in Bynum's Co. in 1781 fits into the family tree, since Peter, son of Col. Thomas, died in 1779.
Joseph Avent, of Washington Co., GA, son of Peter Avent and grandson of Col. Thomas Avent was a Private in the Georgia Continental Line.
William Avent of Nash Co., NC (son of William Avent and Sarah Massie, grandson of Col. Thomas Avent) was also an active participant in the Revolution. There are numerous references to him in NC Revolutionary War records. Typical of these is the pension application of a Thomas Hamilton, of Nash Co., NC, who stated the following in his 14 November, 1821 pension application:
"He thinks...he was mustered in Tarborough N.Ca. in the Company Commanded by Captain William Avent, (the Reg. not recollected) in the militia of the said state raised and mustered for the service of the United States in Revolutionary War, ...and served as a private in the line until about the 14th day of March 1780 at which time he was discharged by the Verbal order of This Captain Wm. Avent, at Charlestown South Carolina..."
The 1833 pension application of one Thomas Griffin states that he was a member of a Nash Co., NC, militia company under Capt. William Avent, where he served "...in small scouting parties...shooting and hanging Tories...", ("Tories" were American colonists who sided with Great Britain during the Revolution) so Capt. William Avent was obviously a busy man.
The Revolutionary War pension application of Martha Snipes, of Chatham Co., (dated 25 May 1847) stated the following:
"She also very distinctly recollects that during the Revolutionary war there was a call for men to go into the service - that this deponents father, her uncle David Chapman, John Avent and Philipe Geane with several others from the neighborhood were drafted and went."
Also, the book 'Centennial History of Alamance County', by Walter Whitaker, states the following in Chapter 6 "Good Seed Sown In Good Ground":
'The Battle of Lindley's Mill closed the war in North Carolina, and a month later at Yorktown Lord Cornwallis surrendered the tattered remains of a once-proud British Army. The words of James Pugh had come true. The blood shed at Alamance had been the seed of the American Revolution, a seed from which the people of the entire nation reaped the blessing of independence.
Men known to have fought in The Battle at Lindley's Mill:
Taken mostly from pension applications * beside the name indicates that soldier died in or as a result of the battle.
Colonel Alexander Mebane
General John Butler
Major Robert Mebane
*Major John Nalls
(more names listed)'
From the "Muster Rolls of the Soldiers of the War of 1812" we find a Thomas Avent, of Nash Co., NC, who was most likely the son of Capt. William Avent.
As we've seen, American Avents are concentrated mainly in the South; i.e., VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, TN, AL and MS. This concentration in the South was reflected in our participation in the War Between the States. As shown in the chart below, the overwhelming majority wore the Gray, though there were apparently five on the other side. (One of these, George Avent, was born in England and emigrated to the US in 1861, so he clearly was not a descendant of Col. Thomas Avent.) The War certainly took a toll on the family and its kin - the webmaster's great-great-grand- father, Henry Evans Avent of Chatham Co., NC, served as a Sgt. in the 5th NC Cavalry. He has found sixteen of Henry's first cousins who also served in the CSA, and eight of them were killed during the war.
Here is a page giving the names and units of all 58 Avents who participated in the War. Here is a photograph of one of them in uniform, Maj. William F. Avent, who was an Assistant Quartermaster in the Army of Tennessee under Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest. Another Avent, Gen. Benjamin W. Avent, was the Surgeon-General of the Army of Tennessee. Author Thomas Connelly wrote in his book 'Army of the Heartland':
"Under the vigorous leadership of Surgeon-General B. W. Avent a solid medical department was founded for (Gen. Joseph E.) Johnston's future needs. A tireless worker, Avent assigned surgeons to each state regiment and established central hospitals throughout Tennessee."
(Source: History of Medicine in Rutherford County by Robert G. Ransom, M.D.)
From the TN Historical Quarterly, vol 61, 2000:
"There was no difficulty in finding thoroughly qualified medical men to fill the positions of surgeons and assistant surgeons as rapidly as the regiments were organized. Dr. B.W. Avent of Murfreesboro, a man of ripe experience, great skill, and fine administrative powers was appointed Surgeon General...Upon Dr. F's suggesting that Dr. B.W. Avent be left in charge of them (i.e., wounded men) the Gen. said 'He is the man to leave with them.'"
Even the Yankees respected Dr. B. W. Avent. A Dr. Reed, of the US Army Sanitary Commission, wrote in his May, 1863 report of "...Dr. Avent, their Medical Director, a surgeon of unusual intelligence...".
Dr. Benjamin W. Avent died in the great yellow fever epidemic in Memphis, TN, in 1878 (said to be the worst yellow fever epidemic in American history). Rather than flee the city as many did, he stayed behind to treat the sick, and paid the ultimate price for his devotion to duty.