Monday, August 2, 2010

Thomas Sumter; Part 8 Battle of Sullivan's Island

Thomas Sumter was from the High Hills of the Santee near present day Sumter, South Carolina. He was born in Virginia but immigrated to South Carolina after he made a name for himself fighting in the French and Indian War against the Cherokee as part of the Virginia Militia as a sergeant. He even went to England after the war as an escort for Indian chiefs the British wished to impress. Upon his return he bought land in the High Hills and opened a store, mill, and farm in 1764. As he began to amass wealth over time in the High Hills, he started to resent the taxes he was paying and as a result, he turned to the Patriot cause.

He was elected to the South Carolina Provincial Congress along with a neighbor by the name of Francis Marion in 1774 that first meet on January 11th, 1775. While a member of the Provincial Congress he voted for many acts to distance South Carolina from England, he was considered a radical by many who were at the meetings. Also during this time period Thomas Sumter became a Captain in the local militia of the High Hills area. As a Captain he and his company participated in the Snow Campaign of December 1775 along with others such as Andrew Pickens,  and Lt. Col. William Thomson with the #rd South Crolina Rangers under the command of Col. Richard Richardson with a total force of 4500 men from South and North Carolina which sought out to destroy Tory strong holds and gathering points in the back country of South Carolina. During the Snow Campaign, Sumter was second in command to Col. Richardson and through this opportunity his leadership shown through as the Patriots smashed the Tories in the back country.

As a result of the name he made for himself in the Snow Campaign in February 1776 Thomas Sumter was appointed Lt. Colonel of a new regiment that was being formed in South Carolina. The new regiment would be called the 2nd South Carolina Rifle Regiment and would be made up of recruits from the Northwestern part of the state. They were to be primarily a sharp shooting regiment hence the name rifle regiment; instead of muskets they were issued rifles when possible as their primary weapon. Their name would later be changed to the 6th South Carolina a fact which will help the reader at a later date. They became an active regiment on March 25th, 1776 in Charleston after Sumter began recruiting for the regiment in the back country.

The 2nd South Carolina Rifles at the Battle of Sullivan’s Island under the command of Lt. Col. Sumter was stationed at Haddrell’s Point on Mount Pleasant on June 6th, 1776. They were being used as a ready reserve force with other regiments to meet the British if they should try to land on Mount Pleasant, but could also be ferried over to Sullivan’s Island if needed.

So on June the 6th we Find Thomas Sumter not yet the “Gamecock” he would become, eagerly waiting with his men to see what the British next move was to be.

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