Captain Thomas Woodward
Thomas Woodward, Champion
Mary D. Boulware
When the Cherokee Indian War ended and peace was restored to the back country of South Carolina, there was an influx of settlers coming down from Pennsylvania, western Virginia, and North Carolina. With this wave of immigration also came an undesirable element, composed of horse thieves, Indian traders, drunkards, and immoral men. These outlaws banded together, maintained contact with their own kind in other colonies, and congregated into communities, terrorizing the scattered settlers, and becoming a scourge to the back country. They dwelled in their own settlements, with their women and children. Often times young girls of respected families were abducted. In the summer of 1767 a wave of crime swept the back country.
The following was carried in the Gazette of July 27, 1767 – “The gang of villains from Virginia and North Carolina who have for some years past in small parties under particular leaders, infested the back parts of the Southern provinces, stealing horses from one and selling them to the next, not withstanding the late public example made of several of them, we hear are more formidable then ever as to numbers, and more audacious and cruel in their outrages. It is reported that they consist of more than 200, for a chain of communication with each other, and have places of general meeting, where in imitation of councils of war, they form plans of operation and defense, and alluding to their sevrecy and fidelity to each other, call their places, “free mason lodges.” Instances of their cruelty to the people in the back settlements where they rob or otherwise abuse, are so numerous and shocking that a narrative of them would fill a whole gazette, and every reader with horror. They at present range in the forks between the Broad, Saludy, and Savannah Rivers. Two of the gang were hanged last week at Savannah, viz, Lundy Hart and Obadiah Greenage. Two others, James Ferguson and James Hambersam were killed when these were taken.”
Travel from the back country to Charleston was difficult. A trip from Fairfield County on the rough roads and trails required a weeks ride on horseback, or from two to three weeks by wagon. Thus the time and trouble involved in making a trip from the interior to the capitol left the back country virtually without courts or law enforcement. County Courts were non existent, justices of the peace had only slight judicial power and criminal trials were held in Charleston. Out of desperation the respected and law abiding men of the back country organized a Regulation. Small planters and leading men alike joined the movement to rid the country of the lawless. Between the Broad and Catawba Rivers the Regulators were activated by Thomas Woodward, Barnaby Pope, and Edward McGraw.
Thomas Woodward was a large man, of commanding presence, was very active, and possessed great physical strength, as verified by an incident related by his grandson, Hon. Joseph A. Woodward. Captain Woodward together with a part of his company were in pursuit of a band of Tories, who took refuge in a stoutly built log cabin on Little River. This presented a problem as to how to dislodge them. The Captain after consulting with his men as to the best plan of attack, ordered them to be ready. He rushed for the door, and with one powerful kick, broke it from it’s hinges, sending it into the middle of the floor. Shots were fired from outside and within and was ended with the surrender of the Tories. Tradition says it was here that the old Regulator received his only wound prior to his death. His weapon was a rifle with the barrel sawed off so that it could be wielded with one hand. As he charged the door, he was holding it in front of his chest, a bullet fired from inside split on the barrel sending bits of lead into his chest.
Another demonstration of his daring courage and physical stamina – Thomas Woodward led five Regulator- Rangers on a grueling, fast paced scout beginning in late December. He and his men reached Bethabara, North Carolina on January 17, 1768. There they aided in the siege of the outlaws in the Hollow, crossed the border into Virginia, proceeded to Augusta County and took custody of four Negroes stolen in S.C. On February 29, after riding hundreds of miles, the Woodward party arrived in Charleston with the Negroes and two horse thieves.
Thomas Woodward’s first house built in Fairfield County was at a place called the Muster Field Spring, the remains of which could still be seen in 1866. There was a racetrack near the old homesite. Major Benoni Robertson and Billy Simpson were the race riders. Captain Woodward moved out on the public road near Anvil Rock. Here he constructed a frame house, which presented an imposing appearance in the days of the log cabin. People came from miles around to view it. It withstood the passage of Cornwallis and his troops through the county, but was laid waste by Sherman’s torch. He is said to have been the first subscriber to a newspaper in the District. Upon its arrival his neighbors would gather to hear the news read.
At the start of the Revolution, as he had done with the Regulators, he rallied the patriots of the Little River- Cedar Creek area, and was their leader. He was one of the first companies in South Carolina to resist the British, the eighth Company of Rangers, Commanded by Colonel William Thompson of the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War. He and his men took part in the “Snow Campaign” against the Tories in 1775. He was elected to the 1st Provincial Congress of 1775, but later that year led volunteers against Indians and Tories. He was “a terror to evil-doers and the dry bones of Tories shook at the very name of Woodward.” During the war he served as a justice of the peace. On his final campaign, he had gathered together some men of his company who were at home, and was in hot pursuit of a band of Tories. In the Tory party were some he was very anxious to catch. He ordered his men not to fire, but to strive to capture the entire party that they were following very closely. The old Captain rode at the head of his company, and had crossed Little Dutchman’s creek when a Tory turned in his saddle and fired. The bullet struck Thomas Woodward in the chest, and he fell from his horse, dead. He died as he had lived – a champion of justice. At his death, his step-son, Benjamin May, took command of his old company. His sons, John and William, served their country in the Revolution. The body of the gallant old Regulator rests in the Woodward family cemetery, near the Anvil Rock. His headstone is inscribed, “Thomas Woodward, the Regulator, killed by Tories, May 12, 1779”
Story written by Mary D. Boulware (Date: Probably 1767 since the story notes that Hart and Greenage were hanged "Last Week"
which was documented to have occurred in 1767.)
Captain Thomas Woodward
Thomas Smith Jr.
Woodward fought in the battle of Sullivan's Island. He was a "regulator" who
commanded a company of mounted Rangers on the patriot extreme left (outside of
the actual fort). In that capacity, he helped repel the King's Men (Not sure if
they were British Army or Royal Marines... probably some of both.) who were
attempting to land on the island by crossing the breach inlet. Of course, the
inlet itself proved to be a great natural defense against a landing from the
adjacent island. Captain Woodward survived the battle at Sullivan's Island, but
was killed a few years later while in pursuit of a band of British horsemen (or
Tories). According to reports, he was literally blown out of his saddle by a
blast of enemy buckshot. An obelisk to Captain Thomas Woodward can be seen from
the highway between Simpson and Winnsboro”. (Smith, 2004)
The Battle of Sullivan's Island
On June 28, 1776, Col. William Moultrie and a small force of patriots defending Fort Sullivan, a partially completed palmetto fort, stoutly repelled an assault by combined British naval and military forces intent on seizing Charleston. This spectacular patriot victory dampened British hopes for quickly subduing the rebellion in the Southern colonies and greatly strengthened patriot resolve. The Battle of Sullivan's Island had a lasting impact on the imagery that defines our state. South Carolina's official state flag originated from the banner that Moultrie, commander of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment, chose for his regiment, and which flew over Fort Sullivan on the day of the battle. This precursor to our state flag featured a blue field with a white crescent in the upper corner closest to the staff. The blue matched the color of the 2nd South Carolina's uniforms, and the crescent was a symbol that appeared on its soldiers' caps. The palmetto tree that so prominently appears on the state flag also is a symbol drawn from the Battle of Sullivan's Island. Fort Sullivan was constructed of palmetto logs and sand. During the British bombardment on June 28, the palmetto log walls absorbed much of the impact of incoming shot and in doing so ably protected the fort's garrison. Over 84 years after the battle, when South Carolina seceded from the Union on Dec. 20, 1860, it needed a national flag. A number of designs were submitted to the General Assembly, but on Jan. 28, 1861, South Carolina adopted a flag that added a white palmetto tree to Moultrie's original design, officially creating the Palmetto flag, as we know it today. (Emerson, 2004)
Settlers begin to arrive in the Wateree River area. One of the earliest was Thomas Nightengale who established a large horse farm near Cedar Creek.
Thomas Woodward fought in the French and Indian War. He became a captain on George Washington’s staff.
Closely following the end of the Cherokee war in 1760 many Scotch Irish arrived from Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina. English and French Huguenots came from Charleston area.
South Carolina land grants
indicate that early in 1763, Captain Thomas Woodward probably brought his six
Woodward children, his widowed mother (Mary Simson Woodward Robertson) and his
three Robertson half brothers (William, John, and Henry) to South Carolina
before the American Revolution.
Source: Jo Ann Cooper Killeen
Following the French and Indian war the settlers in the Wateree River area began to be plagued by small bands of raiding Indians from the North. The lands around Fairfield and Kershaw Counties once served as hunting grounds for the Cherokee and were home to the Catawba and Siouan Indian tribes. The Catawba were great friends of the settlers and traded as well as fought the Cherokee with the newcomers. These skirmishes gave rise to a type of frontier lawman called the regulators. They were led loosely by Moses Kirkland and Thomas Woodward both landowners in Fairfield County. During the years before the Revolutionary War Woodward became instrumental in encouraging his neighbors to take up arms against England. In the end Woodward lost his life to a bandit.
John Waggoner was issued land grants near Fairfield County. Waggoner is best known for building Fort Waggoner as a line of defense against Indian and bandit raids throughout South Carolina. A small memorial marker is placed on highway 215 in his honor. Similar forts were constructed elsewhere in the state as well.
During the Revolutionary war there were relatively few British loyalists in the area. Often the distance from port cities and central government instilled a rough sense of independence in the settlers. Two of the most well known loyalists were James and John Phillips. Colonel John Phillips was a personal friend of Lord Cornwallis who is credited, by legend, with naming Fairfield County. On one occasion Colonel Phillips acquitted 70 Whigs (American revolutionaries) who were to be hanged for treason. Sometime after that Phillips himself was captured in Camden where the local citizens petitioned successfully for him to be freed as well. After his release he returned to England. One of the most notable local personalities was General Richard Winn of Virginia for whom the town of Winnsboro is named. Winn was born in 1750 in Virginia Captain Thomas Woodward was elected to the 1st Provincial Congress of 1775. On 17 June 1775, he became a captain in the Rangers under Colonel Thomson. He and his men took part in the “Snow Campaign” against the Tories in 1775.
Captain Thomas Woodward resigned his commission on 30 January 1776 but later that year he led volunteers against Indians and Tories.
On 12 May 1779, Captain
Thomas Woodward was killed while in pursuit of a band of Tories on Little
Dutchman’s Creek in Fairfield County, SC. His oldest son John succeeded to
command of the Rangers. His half-brother Ben May took command of another company
of Regulators. A Fairfield County, South Carolina historical marker detailing
Captain Woodward’s contributions to the State of South Carolina and his Country
stands just outside the Thomas Woodward Family Cemetery on Highway 34.
Moberly's meeting house near Cedar Creek was the location of a conflict between a detachment of New York volunteers under Captain Gray. They attacked a group of local militia. This led to a later conflict at Dutchman's Creek. State Regular Troops at that time were led by Captain John Buchanan, Richard Winn, and Robert Ellison. These men were instrumental in leading South Carolina and our country to freedom from English rule.
It was said Captain Woodward was a large man of commanding presence to whom people turned to in times of stress. He served in the French and Indian Wars. In the 1760s, he became a leader in the Regulator Movement in the area between the Broad and Catawba Rivers in South Carolina. He was a justice of the peace and a leading citizen of Fairfield County, South Carolina. Captain Woodward was among the first to raise a company in South Carolina during the American Revolution. Over the years, stories have circulated as to where the body of Captain Thomas Woodward (The Regulator) actually rests. Some Woodward researchers say that his body was buried somewhere in the woods where the Tories who killed him could not find it. Other researchers say his body was later moved to the Woodward Family Cemetery, near the Anvil Rock (Rockton) on present day Highway 34 between Ridgeway and Winnsboro, Fairfield County, South Carolina. A South Carolina Historical Marker located just out side the Thomas Woodward Cemetery reads, “Thomas Woodward, 1/4 mile east stood the home of Thomas Woodward, prominent leader of the South Carolina Regulator Movement. 1768- 1769. He was a member of the First Provincial Congress and a charter member of the Mt. Zion Society. As Captain of Rangers in 1775-76 he led soldiers from this area in the Snow Campaign against Indians and Tories."
These stories are based on a compilation of historical facts and stories pertaining to Captain Thomas Woodward and the History of Fairfield, S.C. for family genealogical research.
Mary D. Boulware (Thomas Woodward, Champion of Justice) date: unknown
W. Thomas Smith Jr. accomplished author, writer and descendant of Captain Thomas Woodward
Eric Emerson of the South Carolina Historical Society
Fairfield County DAR notes on Captain Thomas Woodward (Fairfield Genealogical Archives)
Jo Ann Cooper Killeen (Woodward Family genealogist)
History of Lake Wateree (Time line)
http://www.lakewateree.com/information/history.asp (Lake Wateree properties)
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