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|Suffix||Sr. the “Gamecock”|
|Birth||14 Aug 1734||Preddy’s Creek, Hanover County, Virginia [4, 5]|
|Census||1820||Sumter District, Page 119|
|HIST||A monument has been recently erected in General Sumter’s honor at Stateburg, South Carolina, the inscription on which is as follows: West Side - This stone marks the grave of one of South Carolina’s most distinguished citizens, THOMAS SUMTER. One of the founders of the Republic. Born in Virginia, Aug. 14, 1734. Died June 1, 1832. South Side- Erected by the General Assembly of S.C. 1907. East Side- He came to South Carolina about 1760 and was in the Indian Service on the Frontier for several years before settling as a planter in this vicinity. Commandant of 6th Regt., South Carolina Line, Continental Estab., 1776-1778. Brig. General South Carolina Militia, 1780-1782. Member of Continental Congress, 1783-1784. Member United States Congress, 1789-1793, 1797-1801. United States Senator, 1801-1810. North Side- Tanto Nomini Nullium Par Elogium. the “Gamecock” of the sandhills and midlands|
Sumter fought, lived, died in High Hills of Santee
Sumter fought, lived, died in High Hills of SanteeWhen Gen. Thomas Sumter moved to what would become Stateburg from the Santee, the neighborhood was then settled by planters, gentlemen, with large tracts of land and numbers of slaves. Most of them have passed away even in name from the land they loved so well, the only record of them now resides in the records of the Holy Cross Church.
Posted: Sunday, July 17, 2011 6:00 am | Updated: 5:34 pm, Fri Jul 15, 2011.
BY SAMMY WAY Item Archivist
The ensuing article merges two accounts of the life of Gen. Thomas Sumter. Information was gleaned from Anne King Gregorie's text and from an 1898 article printed in The Watchman and Southron newspaper in February of 1901. The author, whose name is not known, provides insight into the life of the man for whom our community is named. This article also provides the reader with information concerning the High Hills section of Sumter and the role this region has played in the history of Sumter County and South Carolina.
The author of Reflections hopes our readers will enjoy this interesting article first published in 1898 and the information it presents on this remarkable man about whom much has been written. As some of the language is archaic, the major portion of the text is reprinted with substantial editing for clarity at appropriate junctures. Due to its length, the article will be reprinted in two parts, concluding on July 24.
A valuable contribution to history - facts about the great soldier which give an insight to his character.
While South Carolina has furnished more great men to this country than any other state in the sisterhood of states, except old Virginia, and no other people have shown a higher appreciation of their great men in honoring them with offices of the highest trust and confidence than she has, it is equally true that no state has been more careless than she in recording the great deeds of her leading men. It is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, sins that the old State has been guilty of, for in it she has been untrue to herself in neglecting to let the world and future generations know of the self-sacrificing devotion of their Rutledges, Pinckneys, Calhouns, Sumters, Hamptons, Butlers and many other soldiers and statesmen unsurpassed for unselfish devotion to their country.
And, while South Carolina has shown the truthfulness of her nature several times in her history, by putting herself completely in the hands of one of her sons and obeying his commands more implicitly than the written law of the land, it is only necessary to name Rutledge, Calhoun and perhaps the greatest of all, old lion-like Hampton, to prove the truth of this statement.
THOMAS SUMTER OF STATEBURG: A PLANTER
When the Revolutionary War commenced in 1776, one of those to whom we turned when danger approaches was living near Stateburg, leading the quiet life of a planter, the life from which almost every one of the truly great men of this country would spring. This country gentleman was Thomas Sumter, then about 44 years of age. He came from the same sort of stock from which Hampton and R.M. Anderson came, and from what we know of him he was very much the same sort of man.
He always attended to his own business and never allowed any interference with it by anyone else, and he always wished to keep the peace, but when called to fight for a just cause, fought regardless of any consequences to any future reward or glory.
The people of today in Gen. Sumter's old home, including the descendants of his friends and neighbors, know more of the deeds of Richard Coeur de Lion in Palestine, than they do of Gen. Sumter's. The two most widely known facts about him (in 1898) was that his grave for many years was unmarked without a headstone (a situation that has since been corrected with the placement of a monument by the state on the 173rd anniversary of his birth) and that Fort Sumter was named after him (as are the city and county of Sumter).
General Sumter seems to people today like some hero of romance; just enough is known of him to make those people interested in the history of their state and country to want to know more.
It is well known that Thomas Sumter came to this state from Virginia, and it is thought that he first came here as early as circa 1758 as a soldier with the troops sent by Virginia to help South Carolina in the Indian war years before the Revolution.
He was later sent to this state on a mission to the Cherokee Indians by the Governor of Virginia in the company of two men named Lieutenant Henry Timberlake and McCormack, who served as an interpreter. They found a French emissary among the Indians working against the commissioners from Virginia. They kidnapped the Frenchman, carried him to Charleston and put him on board a vessel sailing to England. The vessel was lost and the meddling Frenchman was never heard of again.
SERVED UNDER BRADDOCK IN VIRGINIA
Before moving to South Carolina, Gen. Sumter had held a commission in the Virginia militia and had taken part in Braddock's raid among the Indians and his disastrous defeat. He first settled in South Carolina on a plantation on the Santee River, in what is now Clarendon County. While there he married a Mrs. Mary Jamison, widow of William Jamison probably in 1767.
The former Miss Cantey was the daughter of Captain Joseph Cantey, who resided on his plantation at Mount Hope. The Canteys were one of those well known families which have furnished to their state so many gentlemen in times of peace and many gallant soldiers in times of war.
In passing back and forth between South Carolina and Virginia, Gen. Sumter passed over the high hills of Santee, called by the early French settlers de Sante, on account of its healthfulness. De Sante was afterwards changed by its English occupants to Santee.
A few years before the Revolution, Sumter bought a plantation to use as a summer house to escape malaria on his low-country estate and moved to the high hills to live in a house known as "The Ruins," located on an opposite hill about a half mile from the Stateburg post office in a community known as "The Borough."
There was a tavern and a few stores in "The Borough" then, but the principal house stood, as it now stands, on the top of a hill and was owned then by Mr. Hooper, who, it is said, was a Tory, as a great many gentlemen were, and whose wisdom and foresight have often been highly commended in the last thirty years in the South by descendants of the "patriots" of 1776.
It is also said that Lord Cornwallis several times made his headquarters in this house, and there is a very large oak tree standing in the yard on which he hung an American spy.
BIRTHPLACE OF GEN. ANDERSON
The place was later owned by Dr. W.W. Anderson, Sr., and was the birthplace of his distinguished brother, "Fighting Dick" Anderson, a lieutenant general in the Confederate army.
When Gen. Sumter moved to what would become Stateburg from the Santee, the neighborhood was then settled by planters, gentlemen, with large tracts of land and numbers of slaves. Most of them have passed away even in name from the land they loved so well, the only record of them now resides in the records of the Holy Cross Church.
The war of 1776 must have been a rude shock to these gentlemen, separating them, as it did, from their friendly relations towards one another.
As soon as the conflict commenced, Gen. Sumter became involved and, I have been told, commanded a regiment which was stationed on the coast somewhere near Georgetown, when the battle of Fort Moultrie was fought. However, Sumter's hardest work came later in the war when the British came back to South Carolina in 1780.
Gen. Green and the author of his life find a great deal of fault with Gen. Sumter for insubordination, and lay the want of success in one or two expeditions to him. I do not believe that they have ever been publicly denied, but I have heard that they could be if Sumter's private letters at the time were published.
The same author also says that Gen. Sumter would forcibly take the slaves from the Tories and pay his men with them, and that his men then lost a great deal of time carrying their slaves to places of safety. There was a good deal of complaint by the Whigs for this conduct, as it caused the British to retaliate by seizing their slaves.
All of this may be true of Gen. Sumter, but there are some things to show what sort of work he did; evidence of his prowess is found in the nickname given him by those best able to know and appreciate his fighting qualities.
His soldiers called him "The Gamecock," (a title probably given to him by the Gillespie brothers) and no better evidence could be given of his courage than the love shown by his soldiers for him, for men engaged in the stern realities of war never give a man false or misleading titles; whatever they call their leader, he can be absolutely known to be.
THREE HISTORIC SWORDS
The other fact is that his grandson, Mr. Sebastian Sumter, had in his possession two swords taken by Gen. Sumter from two British officers whom he captured, Major Wemyss and Major Fraser. These swords are tongues of steel, telling in silence of Gen. Sumter's skill and courage and contradicting any little spiteful slings that the general never condescended to notice by a denial.
His own sword, too, speaks volumes; no small man in any sense ever wielded it, none but a plain, strong man who meant business and to whom war meant fight in its strongest sense. It is long and heavy, with a keen point and edge, and to look at it any one can imagine its fierce strokes, and making redder the red coat of many a British soldier and helping to win for its owner the right to mind his own business without outside interference.
Stateburg, June 24, 1898
The author of Reflections used information obtained from The Item archives and selected readings from the text "Thomas Sumter" by Anne King Gregorie.
Reach Item archivist Sammy Way at (803) 774-1294.
Posted in Reflections on Sunday, July 17, 2011
Gen. Thomas Sumter lived 98 active, generous years
Gen. Thomas Sumter lived 98 active, generous years
Gen. Thomas Sumter's son was chased by some of Tarleton's troops near Wedgefield, but managed to outrun them, only to find later that some of the British soldiers had burned his family's home.
Posted: Sunday, July 24, 2011 6:00 am | Updated: 11:47 am, Fri Jul 22, 2011.
BY SAMMY WAY Item Archivist
Part two of the article on Gen. Thomas Sumter continues with his involvement in the American Revolution and his activities until his death in 1832 at the age of 98.
The information here is a merger of two accounts - Anne King Gregorie's text and an 1898 story by an unknown writer that was printed in The Watchman and Southron newspaper in 1901.
British burn Sumter's home
One day during the war, the general was at home on a visit to his family, and, expecting to be engaged in some domestic activities, he told his little son, Tom, then 8 or 10 years old, to get his horse and ride down the road to determine if any of the enemy were in the neighborhood; Sumter did not wish to be surprised and perhaps captured by them. Tom rode off toward where the hamlet of Wedgefield now stands. After going some miles, he was told that Col. Campbell, in command of some of Lt. Col. Tarleton's troopers, was a few miles farther down the road and rapidly advancing. Hurrying home, Tom told his father,who mounted his horse and left, his son accompanying him for a short distance.
Later in the day little Tom was sitting on his horse in front of the old tavern, talking to someone sitting in the piazza. Looking up the road, he saw coming toward him a body of cavalry in red coats. He dashed down the road and was pursued for a short distance by the soldiers, when he reached what was known as the Moss House, which still stands, he turned off to the right and rode off through the woods and over the hills, and safely reached his father's house. The soldiers stopped at Mr. Moss' house.
The old tavern mentioned above stood there until burned down by Potter's raiders, in April 1865.
When little Tom Sumter reached home, he found that Lt. Charles Campbell had been there with some of Tarleton's men and burned the house and destroyed everything that they could not carry off. His mother was crippled and confined to a large chair, and she had been picked up and carried off some distance from the house where she witnessed what many a Southern wife and mother witnessed eighty years afterwards with the same indomitable spirit, the destruction of her absent soldier husband's home and hearthstone in the vain effort to crush the spirit of those who could not be conquered on the battlefield.
Amid the ashes of her dearly cherished home she learned to love South Carolina all the more and thought her so much the more needful of her husband's best and bravest efforts. She simply moved to another place owned by Gen. Sumter which was afterwards named the Home House. She lived there until her death, and she and Gen. Sumter were buried there; their grandson lives there now. Even among Tarleton's men, as among Sherman's and Potter's, many were found with manly feelings of compassion toward women and children whose houses were being burned and their sustenance destroyed, and one of them seized a moment when unseen by his comrades and slipped a ham under Mrs. Sumter's chair, where it was hidden by her skirts.
There was a carpenter working in the yard for Gen. Sumter, whom the General had often tried to induce to join the army, but he never could. Some of the British soldiers that day used him very roughly and in the struggle with them he struck one of them and hurt him severely with his chisel; he managed to break away from them and escape. He immediately joined Gen. Sumter's command and made a faithful soldier to the end of the war, doubtless one of many such enemies to British rule in South Carolina. Young Thomas Sumter told this story to his children many years afterward.
Late in the Civil War, a young Confederate soldier happened to be at home on a furlough when Potter's army came through this section of country. Riding along one day by himself, he was chased from almost the same spot as young Sumter. Fleeing down the old Borough hill, pursued by a body of soldiers in blue, he also managed to escape.
Gen. Sumter left the army before peace was declared, yet after all of the serious fighting was over and when it was very plain that the cause for which he had fought would triumph. According to one writer, in the life of Gen. Green, Gen. Sumter left the army because he thought himself badly treated by Gen. Greene, but it is more natural to suppose from what we know of Gen. Sumter that he did not care to stay in the army when the reason for joining it was practically over, and for that reason he left it. On January 2, 1782 he was elected to serve in the state senate and asked Gen. Greene for permission to leave and prepare to attend the Assembly. History indicates that Sumter made no special record either as a statesman or as a politician. He seems to have been a man of plain and simple tastes, very blunt and direct in the expression of his opinions, but very kindhearted and generous.
SUMTER'S LIEN SYSTEM
When at Sumter's Mount, the general was surrounded by a good many poor people to whom he would advance provisions all of the year. At the end of the year, thinking it would seem unbusinesslike to give them things; Sumter would take his wagon and go around to collect pay from them in corn, peas, etc. At the beginning of the next year, his sympathies would be aroused, and he would immediately give them all out again; that was his way of giving liens.
He owned a great deal of land and settled a good many plantations. If there was a stream on any of his property, he always built a dam across it and had a pond and a mill. He evidently thought grist and flour mills very valuable property. Anyone who visits the places once owned by him can see the old mill dams still standing as ineffaceable monuments to his industry and faith in mills.
At the first meeting of the congregation of Holy Cross Episcopal Church following the Revolution, Gen. Sumter was elected one of the vestrymen, and for years afterwards served the church in that capacity. Some of the vestrymen had been Tories during the war, and stories emerged of the General's having made his soldiers take one of them from home and carry him as a prisoner to his camp. However, there is no evidence in the church records of hard feelings on account of past differences.
THE CHURCH BOOK TELLS NO TALES
Doubtless, the General had paid his men with some of his neighbors' slaves. It was a way matters were conducted at the time, but nothing was ever said of this in the church book. There was no church building there at that time, at a "meeting held at Stateburg July 23, 1788, the following motion was taken: The Rev. Mr. Tate was appointed minister for ten months, with a salary of one hundred pounds sterling, and recommended that he hold divine services on Sundays in Mr. Powell's long room until a more suitable place of worship could be found and a proper house for that purpose be erected," which was done a few years afterwards.
Gen. Sumter lived at "The Home House" until 1821, when his son, Col. Thos. Sumter, came home from Brazil where he had been the United States Consul for years. The old gentleman gave up the place to his son and moved to a high hill called Sumter's Mount, about fifteen miles from the Borough, and lived there by himself except for the servants he had with him, until his death on June 1, 1832 at 98 years.
ACTIVE TO THE DAY OF HIS DEATH
Sumter led an active life up to the day of his death and his horse was hitched, saddled and bridled at the door for him to take his accustomed ride to his fields after breakfast. On that fatal day one of his servants went in to see the cause of his not coming as usual, and found him in his large armchair apparently asleep. However, upon examination it was found that his brave spirit had gone to its last long rest. Only a few months before his death, he had ridden on horseback from Sumter's Mount to the Borough, a distance of fifteen miles, and back in one day.
The family has an engraving of him taken the year before his death in his 98th year. He left a name honored and loved by his neighbors, not because of his public services, but because of the kindness of his heart and the generosity and manliness of his disposition, which made him treat all whom he thought worthy of his respect with equal politeness. The poorest man in the country was just as welcome to his hand and a seat at this table as the President of the United States would have been.
A generous spirit is still a distinguishing trait of his family. No gold braid, glittering wealth or high-sounding titles raised the man in his estimation any more than poverty, rags, and obscurity lowered another. Loyalty would remain an essential part of his character to the end of his days. I have heard older people say that this was the principal cause of his great popularity, and it descended to his children and grandchildren.
He was a man of middle age when Napoleon Bonaparte was born, and lived for nine years after Napoleon was dead and buried. As a young man, he helped to drive away Indians from his doorsteps and from those of his neighbors. He lived to see the incipiency of that internecine struggle which eventually robbed his beloved state of the sacred right of sisterhood for which he had spent so many years of his life. Is not the record of such a life well worth writing?
The life of an honest man, bravely striving against any odds for the betterment of the human race, is always an ennobling history and a much needed diversion for the country from the constant effort to be "progressive" and to "make money." Think what a man Sumter would have appeared to the entire world if he had chanced to go to New England instead of coming to South Carolina. May some take this brief and hasty sketch as a hint to do justice to Gen. Sumter's memory.
Stateburg, June 24, 1898
Reach Item archivist Sammy Way at (803) 774-1294.
Posted in Reflections on Sunday, July 24, 2011 [1, 2, 3, 6]
|MILI||Came to SC with Virginia militia. (Charles Edward Fienning played him in the 200th anniversary of Sumter, South Carolina- in 2000) |
|Died||1 Jun 1832||South Mount, Stateburg, South Carolina |
|Buried||Thomas Sumter Memorial Park, Sumter County, South Carolina |
|Person ID||I6185||Singleton and Related Families|
|Last Modified||29 Jul 2011|
|Father||William SUMPTER “SUMTER”, b. 1692, Histon, Cambridgeshire, England , d. 1752, Albermarle, VA|
|Mother||Elizabeth IVESON, b. 1695|
|Married||18 Jun 1728||Hanover, Virginia|
|Family ID||F10533||Group Sheet|
|Family||Mary “Polly” CANTEY, b. 1723, d. 1817|
|Family ID||F2260||Group Sheet|