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Last Updated 07/16/01

The Journal of John Barnwell,
from The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. VI, no. 1 (July 1898)


(Errata, page 392, Vol. V, Feb’ry 14 should be Feb’y 4: page 395, ditto, July 30th should be Jan’y 30th.)

From my camp on ye South Side of Pamplico 15 miles above

Bathtown, Feb’ry 25, 1711-12.

May it please yor Honr

No doubt but you admire that in all this time you hear no news of Major Gale who I’m afraid is either cast away or taken, for this government did not know one word of me untill I brought the news myself, and accordingly no provision made for us.

* * [Here unfortunately the MS. is lost for several pages.]

The broken MS. begins thus:

Amends for his wounds. The Indians being more dextrous than us at taking slaves and be sure send him back for I hope by that time he will be fitt for service, if you order * * will be great encouragement to the rest of my men. I can’t forget to recommend ye miserable condition of 300 widows & orphans that are here without provision or clothing and ill used * * by the dire effects of the barbarous enemy’s rage. I cannot mention this without tears and humbly beg the Assembly & yr Honr to commiserate their deplorable case, they are willing upon any Terms to transport anywhere for Relief. I heartily congratulate yor Honr for the continued successes of the prosperous arms of South Carolina.

I am yor Honrs most humble serv’t,

JOHN BARNWELL.                      


New Berne, March 12th, 1712.

May it please your Honr,

According to my usual method by way of Journal I proceed to give you an account of my proceedings since my last.

Febry. 26. This day I was joined by 67 men most of whom wanting ammunition. I exhausted all Pamplico garrisons to procure them 10 shott a man, leaving not a single Bullett I could hear of, telling the people that they should be speedily supplied by a sloop which was speedily expected from Albemarle with ammunition.

27th. This day I was forced for want of provision to march towards K. Hancock’s town hopeing to find some there, for after a great many promises to supply me day after day with more men provisions and ammunition I waited so long for bread kind until half of men fell sick and willing to preserve the health of the rest, I proceeded to get that of the enemy which was delayed by my Friends, which was so great an uncertainty that I was drawn by the utmost necessity to pursue such hazardous expedients.

March 1st. I marched on foot wth 94 white men and 148 Indians thro’ a bad way for 16 mile for the late rains had raised the water in the swamps that we often waded above our waists.

2. I proceeded to ye Town 12 miles more, but found it deserted but to my great joy plenty of corn, but now we wanted pamplico beef.

My scouts discovered a numerous enemy on the other side of the River (which is a branch of Neuse), who fired upon them but we being tired we rested that night.

March 3d. I made sevll marches & Countermarches along the river to get over, but I found it in no place possible, for the floods were very high and the enemy had scuttled all the canoes & often fired at us. However I discovered a proper plan to make rafts, and was resolved next morning to pass there, it being * too late and the enemy watching us. Our scouts tooke a scout of the enemy’s who being tortured told me that the enemy had a strong Fort on the Contrary side of the river with about 130 men in it, and that they had sent out to call in all their party. That they had but little powder wch they bought with gold of [44] white people, and that they hid the captives & their own women & children in a swamp, & that he will shew us ye canoe he came over in. I sent my major with 80 men to get it, but he returned about midnight with an account it was gone.

4. I ordered Lt. Col. Brice before day to march with 70 men 3 or 4 miles up the river with the trumpeters to seek a passage, but if he could find none, then to order the trumpeters to sound & huzza, and make as great noise as he could with his hatchetts, which having done for half an hour to return to me. In the mean time I marched down ye river very silently with the rest of the forces at the place appointed. I threw up a breast work with Fashines & made a raft that held 5 men, but before I could get men over, Brice returned & ye enemy waiting on him at ye contrary side and imediately to firing we went; I ordered the Raft off, the enemy wounded 2 of the men thereon, I got 2 more to supply it, and they got over safe, and tho’ contrary to my orders they imeadiately mounted the bank before more got over, yet as soon as they did the enemy run like deer, upon which our Indians tooke ye river one & wch before I could not prevail with them to do, and pursued the enemy by night. We got all over & marched a mile when in some hours we found a Deer & a Turkey, wch was a sure sign that the Enemy did not expect us to pay them a visit on that side of the river. They were 5 South Carolina men that went first over on the Raft, for I could not prevail with one of this Country Cowardly Crew to venture, wch was a presage of what followed.

5. Before day I marched with about 100 men thro’ the woods to get on the back side of ye Fort & left orders wth my major & Brice to march in ye road way by daylight with the remainder, and if I heard any shooting I would intercept ye ambuscades; but we all got to the Fort without any trouble. I imeadiately viewed the Fort with a prospective glass and found it strong as well by situation on the river’s bank as Workmanship, having a large Earthen Trench thrown up against the puncheons with 2 teer of port holes; the lower teer they could stop at pleasure with plugs, & large limbs of trees lay confusedly about it to make the approach intricate, and all about much with large reeds & canes to run into people’s legs. The Earthern work was so high that it signified nothing to burn the puncheons, & it had 4 round [45] Bastions or Flankers; the enemy says it was a runaway negro taught them to fortify thus, named Harry, whom Dove Williamson sold into Virginia for roguery & since fled to the Tuscaruros. Yet hoping to finish the war by this stroke, where now all the principal murderers were in a pen. I encouraged my men by promises, &c. I ordered 200 Fashines to be made which ye palatines well understood to do. I had them presently done. It is too tedious to inform yor Honr all the particulars how I ordered the Attack; but in short, when we were got within 10 or 12 yards of the Fort the enemy made a terrible fire upon us without the least damage in the world, but this country base, cowardly people hearing the shott strike their Fashines, threw both them & their arms away & run for life, wch not only left themselves exposed but also all those that went under their shelters; this encouraged the enemy to renew the firing, who deservedly shott sevll of them in their arses. In the mean time my brave South Carolina men * 23 of this country undauntedly kept their order. I ordered them to keep their stations until I brought up the runaways. But all my endeavour was in vain, tho’ I mauled sevll wth my cutlass, and as soon as they saw me running towards them they would scamper into the swamp that was hard by. I, seeing the confusion & being afraid that the number that drew the enemy’s fire was insufficient to come at the Fort by assault, I ordered a retreat which was bravely managed, for every man got his Fashine on his back, and of my own number I had but one wounded; the most of them had 10 or more shott in his Fashine, but of the runaways there were 1 killed & 18 wounded, and of the 23 that stood by my men there were 3 killed & 2 wounded, in all 4 killed and 20 wounded. It rained smartly during the attempt, wch proved a great hindrance. I ordered the Indians to make a false attack on the contrary side, which they did with such caution that they had not a man hurt. At night I ordered some of my men to go up & bring off the dead men wch was performed, only 1 man they could not find. I endeavored to encourage the men to renew the attack in the night, but in vain, for I could get but 16 with my own men, who never refused me any thing I putt them upon.

March 6. I being uneasy how to dispose of my wounded men, I marched with 30 men along the River side for 6 mile, where it [46] flows into Neuse to view the country and send an express to Neuse Garrison to bring up canoes to carry off ye wounded. In this march we mett 2 enemys who were so hard chased, that they threw away their packs & Guns & took the River. When I came to the Ferrying place on Neuse, ye enemy on the other side fired at us, so I considered it impracticable to send an express without a strong detachment which I could not spare. At this 6 mile were new houses abuilding & plantations a clearing by ye Cove & Neuse Indians confederates to the Tuscaroras who deserted their other towns to be nearer the main body. As soon as I returned to the camp I ordered wooden spades to be made & more Fashines & poles got ready, and in the dark of the evening I crept on my belly within 30 yards of the Fort & perceived a curious plan to make a breastwork, that had more command of the enemys canoes & water than they had themselves. To work I went & by morning had a re-intrenchment that held 50 men. I doing of this I had 2 of my own brisk men wounded.

7th. The enemy being terrified at our near approach, began to quit the Fort, but my men fired so hard at ye canoes that obliged them to return, I imeadiately ordered a party over the River, and so blocked up the Fort on all sides, then the enemy when they wanted water would send down the bank one of the English captives to fetch it, our men called to them to have patience, for by next morning they should be delivered, at which the enraged desperate enemy began to torture them and in our hearing put to death a girle of 8 years of Mr. Taylors, upon this the relations of the other captives, came crying & beging of me to have compassion of the innocents, wch was renewed by Cryes & lamentations of the Captives being about 35 or 40 yards of them, at last I was prevailed upon to call to the enemy, who sent out Mrs. Perce to me to treat about their delivery, she having 5 children within, wch ye enemy refused on any terms to do but on condition I would raise the seige, otherwise they would put them all to death and fight themselves to the last man & beat us off.

After an hours consideration, having consulted all the officers, upon this I with two more went up to the Fort gates to speak with the head man who dare not come out to me, I perceived two reintrenchments within the Fort & perceived a great number of [47] men. I ordered one of my men to go in but they would not let him, pleading he might have pocket pistols. I perceived ye head men & others to tremble exceedingly. I found that in case I broke in, I should have hard work against a parcel of desperate villains who would do all the mischief they could before their death. I knew I had not 30 men I could entirely depend upon, which if some of them were killed or wounded the rest of them would leave me in the lurch. Ammunition was so scarce with the North Carolina men, that some of them had not above 4 charges. I considered that if the place was relieved by the upper towns the enemy brag’d of as much as of the assistance of the senicas, most of my men would run away, & it would be 2 nights more before I could penetrate the Fort for want of spades & Hods, the ground being so rooty our wooded tools worked but slowly. And lastly I had more wounded men than I knew well how to take care of, and if the number should increase upon meeting a repulse I should be forced to leave them to the mercy of ye most Barbarous enemy. All wch considerations obliged me to agree. That upon their delivering me up 12 Captives then in the Fort immediately & 2 canoes (wch I pretended was to convey ye captives down) and on the 12th day after deliver me up 22 more captives 24 negroes that were hid in other places I would raise ye seige and that there should be a truce for the 12 days that they may find out & bring the captives securely to Batchelours creek which is within 6 mile of New Bern where also the head men of the Tuscaroras was to meet me to treat about Peace, then I suffered 2 to go out to give notice along the Neuse River to their partys not to shoot at ye canoes when they went down, this they performed very faithfully, for the canoes met with sevll that spoke kindly to them, and told them they hoped before long to be good friends. Now for the delivery of the rest of the Captives I have only the faith of savages and the 19th instant will discover it.

March 8. I left ye Fort & that night crossed ye River of Neuse at 6 miles off by the help of the canoes.

9th. I marched 20 long miles, in which march I passed thro’ Core town wch certainly is the most lovely, pleasantest, Richest piece of land in either Carolina upon a navigable River. The Cores deserted it, and hid their corn, wch is in abundance in a [48] great Swamp on the contrary sides of the River. I sent partys to search for it, for we are in extreme necessity. This day arrived here, being ye seat of the wise Baron. By the enclosed memorial sent to the Assembly here now sitting, you will perceive the barbarous entertainment I have had, which the Govr could not help, for the people regard him no more than a broom staff, they pay much more deference to my cutlass which I now & then send some of their toping Dons.

I must not forget one Mr. Mitchell, a Swiss brave gentleman, who for true valor & presence of mind in ye midst of action, accompanied with a gentle obliging carriage & ingenious to a great degree rendered him ye most acceptable companion in this, my last Ramble. This good tempered gentleman is an agent here & in Portsmouth for the Canton of Bern, he had a mind to see South Carolina. I whetted his inclination as much as I could by showing the differance between both Governments.

I am, Your Honrs Most Obedient humble Servant,

JNO. BARNWELL.                       

Fort Barnwell, April 20th, 1712.

May it please your Honr:

I will pursue my usual method of informing you of my proceedings by way of Journal. Inclosed in my last you will find a memorial presenting to view ye miserable condition I was reduced to by the wilfull neglect, designs & controversies of this government, who starved us here lest we should get provisions to enable us to depart their ungrateful service. Between ye date of my last & the 25th of March, Myself, Major Makay, Capt. Bull & sevll of my men fell sick & a great number of Indians of whom 4 or 5 died. My Major is just recovered. Capt. Bull not yet & more of my men in ye like case, all this occasioned thro’ scarce & bad Diete & great cold. This prevented my meeting ye Enemy ye 19th instant at the place appointed, so I got Capt. Mitchell to go, but ye Enemy were worse than their words, wch to make them sensible of I ordered my * * out who returned with 3 scalps. In the mean time the Assembly answered my Memorial with a paper full of Resolutions & addresses, wherein they tell me they passed an act in emulation of South Carolina but they are so choice of it that tho’ it was a month [49 ago they & some of them out of some refined kind of Politics keeps it private to themselves. I say some of them because I spoke both to some of ye Council & Assembly men who gave their votes & signed it that protested they could not inform me whether their men had 3d. or 12d. a day, this is extremely ridiculous & so hardly credible that when any body reads this & not consider that I write to ye government who placed me in this hon’ble post, they could not give credit to it. When I examined a little further I found that 2 or 3 of ye Assembly supplyed ye rest of their wise Brethren with such plenty of punch that they voted, acted, signed & strip’d stark naked & boxt it fairly two & two, all the same day, Govr Hyde with Collo. Boyd a member of ye Council, the only ragged gown parson with Mr. Speaker, the Provost Marshall with another honble member and so round it went. A good deal of such stuff as this made me laugh heartly since I came here where truly I had but small inclination to mirth and I fancy you will do so when I tell you Col. Boyd informed me I was the occasion of all this for they were so long drinking my health that they knew not what they did, while poor me drink cold water, wishing for a little salt to season their grass & wampee I fed on instead of bread. I ought have gone this time to Little River & have partaken with ye rest, but then I should return to Charlestown Commander in Chief of myself & slaves, put ye government to another £4000 charge when they should be in so good a humor as they were this time. Col. Daniel will inform you ye distance between Coretown & Little River is above 200 miles. Excuse me for this Stuff. I am obliged to lay things naked that your Honr may not puzzle yourself to conceive the true Reason of ye rest of their seeming unaccountable Politicks.

March 25th. As soon as I recovered I ordered a garrison at Durhams over against Bath Town on ye South shore of Pamplico, to render ye communication between Pamplico & Neuse more practicable by Land, it being but 25 miles across the necke & 30 miles by water.

28. I ordered all the horses & Baggage to be transported from North side of Pamplico to ye Southside of Neuse that I might be ready to go home as soon as I could get provisions for 6 days unto ye Cape Feare Indians.

[50] 29th. Willing to inform myself whether the Enemy maintained their Fort & to get some corn if possible, I marched with 15 white men & 30 Indians (not having provisions for a greater party) though this may be called a rash attempt, yet the Success answered ye opinion I had of the enemy I took Drums & Trumpets. I encountered nothing till I came to Handcock’s town where scouts surprised a party of the Enemy who were conveying corn into their Fort & brought in * * As soon as I heard the war whoop I ordered ye Drums & Trumpets to alarm & immediately marched up to 300 yards of the Fort & stayed a quartr of an hour in wch time I got & secured some corn. I found they had built a new fort that extended from the old one to the ground of my former attack, a large ditch surrounded ye palisadoes & tho’ there were in 6 y’ds of it I retreated to this place discovering 100 bushels of corn hid up & down in the swamp. I pitched upon a place so naturally fortified that with a little Labour 50 men could keep off 5000. It lyes nigh the middle of Core Town on a point between Neuse River & a fine Branch two sides being 30 feet high full of hanging rocks & springs, and the 3d side gently inclining to the plane like a natural Glacis which I fortified for 180 feet to make each side equal, it is 1500 paces to the next wood, only on ye sides of ye hill and on both sides the brook there are large timber trees & firewood intirely wthin command of the Fort & lyeth 20 miles above New Bern & 7 mile from K. Hancock’s town, it is a very charming place.

30th. I sent express to new Bern to bring up some boats & tools: in the night they arrived. I imeadiately sent to bring into my Fort some corn & built Hutts to preserve it in, & sent for all my Indians (to encamp there), being dispersed all over the country to subsist the better.

31st. This day my Yamisees brought me a scalp belonging to one of ye enemy’s scouts. I ordered the Indians to get parched corn flouer ready in order to return as soon as my horses come.

April 1st. At last I received an express from Gov. Hyde that Collo Boyd was coming to join me wth 70 men. That there was 2 sloops sailed with provisions and that a new Turn was given to affairs, and for the future I should have no reason to complain. This rejoiced me so that I sent express to ye sevall Garrisons of Neuse to join me with all their able men; I ordered the new [51] arrived corn to be brought to my Fort, and this night came up to me 10 gallons of rum, 2 casks of cider & a cask of wine.

April 2nd. The same of this liquor encouraged my white men in few days to 153 but was much surprised when I could not furnish them with more than 7 bullets a man & ye powder, & one of ye sloops having 115 bushels of corn to maintain the people that was coming to joine me gave out all but 52, wch together wth all the corn I got with ye hazard of my life they devoured before they left me. As to the South Carolina sloop wch was barbariously stopt untill this day & my letter from yr Honble kept from me under ye pretense of loading corn for ye army, was sent to Bathtown with rum to sell for the Govr and the corn put ashore there above 120 mile from ye army. Pray take Capt. Adlar’s Deposition.

3. My scouts brought me a scalp of one of ye enemy’s scouts this day. From this to ye 6th instant I waited for ye sevall detachments. All ye Field officers came without a dram, a bit of meese bisket or any kind of meat but hungry stomachs to devour my parcht corn flower, and they began to grumble for better victuals wch putt me in such a passion at all kind of ill usages since I came here that I ordered one of their majors to be tyed neck & heels & kept him so, and whenever I heard a saucy word from any of them I imeadiately cutt him, for without this they are the most impertinent, imperious, cowardly Blockheads that ever God created & must be used like negros if you expect any good of them. I gott 2 three pounders, 2 patteraros, 7 Granardo shells, 22 Great Shott but hardly powder enough for 10 discharges. Collo Mitchell contrived sevll sorts of Ingenious Fireworks, & a mortar to throw them into the Fort; these things I gott without any help from ye Publick.

7th. At night I marched with 153 white men & 128 Indians to K. Hancock’s Fort, and before day blockt it up on all hands without any loss, For we were there before ye enemy was aware of us. From this to the 17th the siege lasted wch was by way of approach, by wch time we gained ye ditch & sevll times fired ye pallisades wch ye enemy like desperate villians defended at an amazing rate. This siege for variety of action, salleys, attempts to be relieved from without, can’t I believe be parallelled agst Indians. Such bold attacks as they made at our trenches flinted [52] the edge of those Raw soldiers, that tho’ they were wholly under ground yet they would quitt their posts and with extreme difficulty be prevaled upon to resume them. The subtell Enemy finding the disadvantage they were under in sallying open to attack our works took ye same method as we did and digged under ground to meet our approaches, wch obliged us to make sevll traverses and false approaches to deceive them. At last we got to the ditch and ye enemy had a hollow way under their pallisades that as fast as we filled ye ditch they would carry away the Fashines, & tho’ we fired ye pallisades yet we could not maintain it. My men were so cowardly in ye trenches I was afraid to venture them to assault ye pallisades, and if I had gained them it would have been nothing towards reducing ye Fort. So as I was resolved to let the pallisades stand & work up to them, and then they would prove as good to us as the enemy; but this 15 foot cost us so much time untill I was thro’ extreme famine obliged to hearken to a capitulation for the surrend’ng thereof upon articles, wch leaves above 100 murderers unpunished besides the women & children of those villians killed & executed. Since my former attempts Virginia furnished them with 400 buckskins worth of ammunition wch I was informed of by Govr Hyde’s letter and ye relation of ye redeemed captives. If North Carolina had but furnished me with but 4 days’ provision more I had in spite of all enemys, without firing many gunns more, entirely made a glorious end of the war. This Fort in both attacks cost me 6 white men & 1 Indian killed & 35 white men & 1 Indian wounded, but it is * * believe ye Report ye Captives give of ye enemy’s loss considering how they were fortified but it proceeded from their foolish salleys, wch as they were desperate attempts so it is inconceivable what they meant by it, for we had 40 to one when they entangled themselves amongst our Trenches. If I have time before the Fleet sails I will in a sheet give you a journal of the seige, and in the mean time here are the heads of the Articles, Viz:

First. To deliver up all the white captives and negroes imeadeately that are in ye Fort the rest in 10 days at my Fort.

2. To deliver up K. Hancock & 3 men notorious murderers that are alive & shall be named by ye Governor.

[53] 3rd. To deliver up all the horses, skins & plunder what in ye Fort imeadiately & the rest at my town in ten days.

4th. To come yearly to the Governor in March & pay Tribute.

5. To deliver 3 hostages immediately, viz: The brothers of the Tuscarora king & the cove king.

6. To furnish me with all the corn in ye Fort for the departure of my Indians.

7. To make complaints regularly to Magistrates upon any quarrel between them & whites.

8th. To plant only on Neuse River the Creek the Fort is on quitting all claims to other Lands.

9th. To quitt all pretensions to planting, Fishing, hunting or ranging to all Lands lying between Neuse River & Cape Feare, that entirely to be left to the So. Carolina Indians, and to be treated as Enemys if found in those Ranges without breach of peace, and the Enemy’s line shall be between Neuse & Pamplico [?] fishing on both sides Bear River.

10th. The flanks next the attack to be demolished imedeately and the English have Liberty to march thro’ the same with all Ensigns of honr and the rest of the Fort to be demolished in 2 days & never to build more Forts.

Lastly. In 20 days wait on the Governor & sign these & such other articles as shall be agreed upon: all these articles were performed thus:

1st. 24 Captives children were delivered & 2 negroes one of ym being a notorious Rogue was cutt to pieces imediately.

2d. King Hancock was gone to Virginia they will deliver him and 3 others when the Governor names them.

3d. Most of the horses’ skins & plunder they sold the Virginia Traders, the remainder wch but little they delivered.

4. They would yearly come to pay tribute.

5. They delivered 2 sons of the Tuscaroras King & a Brother of the Cove King.

6. This was the hardest article, however, I got as much as furnished 40 Indians Essaws and Palatchees & sent them away, but to my great loss one of my slaves ran away with them. I gave Mr. C. £35 for him & I suppose he is gone thither. Let me beg your Honrs favour to get him for me.

[54] 7, 8, 9. Intirely agreed to by ye Tuscaruro Indians, but gruntted at by the Coves upon which they quarrelled, and had I but 4 days provisions I had contrived the matter so well that in that time I could oblige ye Tuscaroras to have delivered all the Coves for slaves. I will take another time to tell you how.

10. They broke down Flanker. I ordered 2 files of So. Carolina men to take possession of the breach. Then I drew the whole body up before the breach & marched them into ye Fort. 2 Trumpets, 2 Drumms, So. Carolina Standard, Yamassee & Apalatchka, Col. Boyd, Coll. Mitchell, Major Makay, Major Cole, myself gentlemen volunteers 2 & 2, So. Carolina men 2 & 2, ye Yamasse Capts 2 & 2. I refused these country men to march with me Friday, but after I had gone thro’ ye Fort (which amazed me) they had Liberty, for I never saw such subtill contrivances for Defence, but I found a good fire would have made greater Havock than I expected. There was a good number of sick & wounded & a very great mortality which with their nastiness produced such stink that I as soon as the Colour was raised on the Fort and the great guns fired & shrill huzzas. I made a short sharp speech to ye Rebells who hid all their arms & prostrated themselves their wives & children in my power, hoping I would be as good as my word & not take this advantage to murder them.

I might see by the strength of the place a good many would be killed before it could be forced. Some base people was urging to take this opportunity but I would sooner die. In truth they were murderers, but if our Indians found that there could be no dependence in our promises, it might prove of ill consequence besides 70 odd were not there wch was a number sufficient to hinder all North Carolina from planting & I told them if they did approve of what I had done they might mend it which put them to silence.

When we began the siege besides hardy boys that could draw bow there were 46 men at the Fort. I ordered 200 Volunteers to number them at this time, tho’ none agreed in the exact number yet they all agreed as there was above 80 so there was not one hundred.

I am wild exclaiming against this place in writing but when I kiss your Hand I have such a tale to tell of the barefaced villainys [55] daily committed here as will make yr Honr for the future use this country as Virginia does. To spare my horses I walked on foot and came here, but now I find 2 of my horses rid to death the other 2 stolen, for after 10 days are not found, svll of my men are in the same case.

If yor Honr doth not think fitt to send back the shallop for me * * I would come by this opportunity but am unwilling to leave men * * * of whom 1 is killed, 10 wounded & 4 sick, so have not above 7 or 8 well with me.

May So. Carolina flourish when I bleed & suffer * * * body do ten times more than I can pretend to do for its advancement.

May * * * me and my poor men, and send some corn to help ye poor Yamassees home, they * * when all others Left me in the midst of my greatest extremity.

I am with * *

          Your Honrs most obedient Servant.


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