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James Holdridge
War of 1812

James Holdridge was a private in the company commanded by Captain James Vaughn, in Tucker's Regiment of South Carolina militia during the War of 1812. He served from March 1 to March 31, 1814. [1]

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His unit engaged in no battles, as there were few military actions in South Carolina, "South Carolina raised 5000 men for national service and appropriated more than $500,000 for self-defense, upgrading coastal defenses and subsidizing volunteer militia. The British blockaded Saint Helena Sound and raided plantations on Saint Helena and Pinckney Islands. Although Charlestonians feared an invasion, none materialized, and this plundering marked the extent of British activity in South Carolina." [2]

A description of their month of duty is provided by one of their members, John B. O'Neal, Judge Advocate of the unit.

"By the order of the Commander-in-chief [the governor], the militia was arranged in four classes; those charged with the execution of the order in the [then] second Brigade [now tenth], included all under the age of fourty-five and over eighteen, whether they were liable to ordinary militia duty or not; inasmuch, as those not liable to militia duty were regarded as alarm men. …The Newberry Artillery, to which I belonged, commanded by Captain George McCreless, offered themselves as a company of the first class and were accepted. …The detachment under the command of Col. Starling Tucker, Majors Robert Wood [Word] and Samuel Cannon were mustered into service on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of March 1814 by the Brigade-Major, Thomas Wright, at Newberry Courthouse, and commenced their march on the 4th, for the point to which they were ordered—Camp Allston." [3]

They marched over 220 miles from Newberry to Camp Alston. "The line of march was by way of Lee's Ferry, Bord's in Lexington, Pine Log in Edisto, the White Pond in Barnwell, Barnwell Courthouse, Burford's Bridge across the Salkehatchie, then across many swamps to Pocotaligo and Camp Alston [four miles below Pocotaligo]." [4]

"On the way down, below Barnwell, the company began to meet the discharged soldiers of Captain Carter's regiment, to the relief of which we were marching. Those first met had been discharged on the account of sickness; they were the most squalid emaciated creatures and were hardly able to walk. They depicted to the soldiers of Tucker's regiment the unnecessary hardships to which Colonel Youngblood, who had obtained the command in place of Colonel Carter, had subjected them. As might have been expected, it created a feeling of indignation, which could not be well allayed. I remember on one occasion, when some of Carter's regiment were met, and their narration of hardships ascribed to Colonel Youngblood [William Youngblood, 24th Regiment], had been listened to, that John Toubs of Edgefield, who belonged to Caldwell's troop of cavalry, but who was the Acting Forage-Master of the regiment, said to Colonel Tucker, "the day you give up the command of your regiment, I will shoot you". [5]

"At Pocotaligo, the regiment was met by Captain Benjamin Frazier, of Edgefield, and he said to Colonel Tucker, "You are marching right into _____." Yesterday an order was published requiring a detail of two companies, to throw up a tÍte du pont on Port Royal Island under the direction of Colonel Youngblood." Said he, "the object is thus, by companies detailed, to take your command from you." The regiment did not immediately take possession of the ground occupied by Carter's regiment, an old field just beyond a Road leading from Garden's Corner, and a mile from Bull's Point. They encamped in a wood to the left of the Beaufort Road, below Mr. Fuller's. The guard in charge of the magazine was relieved by a guard detailed from Tucker's regiment. Immediately after the regiment encamped, a council of all the officers of the line assembled, to consult as to what should be done, as to the detailed order to throw up the tÍte du pont, and they unanimously advised that it should be disobeyed; and everyone from the highest to the lowest so pledged themselves. This was not only disobedience, but mutiny, and might have been visited by serious consequences; but there was a great palliation in the excited state of the men's minds, and their belief that the duty to be done under a stern disciplinarian, and would probably be at the sacrifice of many lives, who were unaccustomed to the climate." [6]

"Colonel Tucker, however, managed the whole thing with great skill. From day to day he parried Colonel Youngblood's demand for this detail; and never gave a positive refusal. The regiment was due to be discharged about the 5th of April, in consequence I have no doubt of Dr. Moon's spirited personal remonstrance as to the inutility of the service, and the danger to the health of the soldiers from the position. In his order directing the discharge, the Commander-in-chief required the Colonel to state what progress had been made in the tÍte du pont; and if none, what had prevented it. Colonel Tucker was advised by his officers to state to the governor that, owing to the short period of service, and the probable sickness of the troops, and their excited state of their feelings from representations made to them, no progress had been made. Colonel Tucker, unfortunately, returned no answer to the governor, and this, I have always believed, was the cause of his arrest. [7]

"The Colonel was arrested and tried on fourteen charges --- most of them were not proved. . . The Court convicted the Colonel of the charge of disobedience of orders, and sentenced him to be suspended for ten months from his command. This lenient sentence from such men, showed that Tucker had much to excuse him. Indeed, the whole affair made Starling Tucker subsequently, the Brigadier of the tenth Brigade, Major General of the fifth Division, and a member of Congress." [8]

After the regiment returned home, there was some delay in payment received by the volunteers, as evidenced by a petition requesting compensation for services submitted to the South Carolina General Assembly, signed by these officers and privates of a "detachment under Col. Sterling Tucker at Camp Alston", William Caldwell, Samuel Cannon [Major], Abram Dyson [Lieutenant], Charles Gillam [Captain], George McCreless, B.O. Neall [John B. O'Neal, Judge Advocate], Thomas Redd, John Smyly [Captain], John Towles [Forage Master] and Sterling Tucker [Lt. Col]. [9]

Lt. Col. Tucker also petitioned in 1814 for "compensation for services rendered and monies expended for pay and rations in the War of 1812", an indication that he may have spent his own money to pay his men and their rations. Other names on the petition were Samuel Cannon [Major] and Robert Word [Major]. [10] On December 19, 1814, the Committee on Claims issued their report on the claims of "Col. Starling Tucker and others asking compensation for monies expended for pay and rations during the War of 1812" at Camp Alston. [11]

But it was not until the spring of 1815 that the men received their pay. The pension record of another private, Jesse Speers, in the company of Captain Charles Gilliam, of Colonel Starling Tucker's Regiment, provides that information. The pay roll was dated April 19, 1815. Commencement of service began March 1, 1814 and he was discharged March 31, 1814, the same dates as that of James Holdridge. Jesse Speers received pay for one month, one day, at 8.26 6. Pay for 15 miles from home to the rendezvous was 26 6. Pay for 180 miles from Camp Alston to home was 3.19 2. One ration, not drawn, to rendezvous was .20. Ten rations not drawn returning from Camp to home, 2.40 0; total was 13.92 4. [12]

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Bounty Land Notice

In March 1855 an act was passed providing bounty land for veterans. Veterans and their widows who had not previously received land under any earlier act could receive 160 acres. Nancy Holdridge made a widow's claim for bounty land for James Holdridge's service in the War of 1812. In Talladega County, Alabama, "On this 8th day of August 1855, before Jefferson Riley, JP, came Nancy Holdridge aged 42 years, a resident of Talladega County, Alabama, widow of James Holdridge deceased who was a private in the War of 1812 in a company commanded by James Vaughn, in a Regiment of South Carolina Volunteers commanded by Col. Word, she thinks. That she was married to James Holdridge in Georgia on 21st April 1830, maiden name Nancy Blackstock, that her husband died in 1843 and she is now a widow." [13] She appointed J.R. Eason as her attorney. She signed with her mark, not her signature. James Blackstock and Catherine Blackstock, residents of Talladega County, declared "we know she is now a widow, and she is the identical person she represents herself to be". [14] It appears that this claim was not approved, for on Sept 11, 1857, A.K. Eason, of Talladega, Alabama, wrote to the pension agency to inquire what happened to the Bounty Land Claim for Mrs. Holdridge, No. 207768. "I expect it is suspended but you have never given any notice of it." [15]

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Bounty Land Application

She apparently applied again or appealed, for in February 1858, James and Catherine Blackstock made another declaration and swore that Nancy Holdridge was the widow of James, that they were present at his death in Henry Co. and she lived near them ever since his death and she has never remarried. This Bounty Land Claim Number 78980 was approved for 160 acres on April 3, 1858. The issue date for the land patent was November 1, 1862. The land was located in San Joaquin County, California, SW Aliquot part, section 10, Township 2-S, range 7-E, of the Mt. Diablo Meridian. The names of patentees were Duncan Beaumont (a county surveyor), James Holdridge and widow Nancy Holdridge. [16] There is no record that any of the Holdridge family ever lived in California. As was common during that period, Nancy sold the land warrant. It was purchased by Merit Street, of Bluff Springs, Clay County, Alabama, a wealthy business man. [17]

On March 9, 1878 an act was passed allowing pensions for those of any branch of the service who served for at least 14 days in the War of 1812, or who were in any engagement and were honorably discharged, and to their surviving widows. Pensions to all ranks were at the rate of eight dollars per month during life. Remarriage would terminate the widow's pension. The act of March 19, 1886, raised the pension to twelve dollars per month. [18]

Nancy Holdridge, then residing in Ashland, Clay County, Alabama, applied on the tenth of October, 1879. She was 69 years old. Catherine Blackstocks and Mahala Schoggins [Mahala Blackstock, wife of B.K. Schoggins] deposed that they were well acquainted with James Holdridge, that they saw him after he was dead but did not see him buried. Both signed with marks, not signatures. The application was filed Oct 21, 1879, and Nancy was admitted Nov 21, 1879 to a pension of $8 per month from March 9, 1878, the date of the act. [19]

In 1883, in Ashland, Clay County, Alabama, Nancy Holdridge appears on the Pensioners Roll, still at the monthly rate of 8.00. [20]

In April 21, 1887, the special examiner wrote a letter to the Commissioner of Pensions that Nancy was still alive and that "she has not remarried or cohabited with any man." [21]

On June 1st 1895, in another letter to the US pension agency, John Miller wrote that Nancy made application for her pension on the first day of May 1895, and on the 10th of that same month she died. "Her check having never reached here I have been requested to write you what steps to take. She was very poor and her burial expenses have to be paid. I did not know whether the application was lost in the mail. You will please advise me what steps to take as I suppose the pension is due as application was made before her death." [22]

She was officially dropped from the rolls, "Nancy Holdridge, widow of James, private in Capt. Vaughn's Co., SC militia, who was a pensioner on the rolls of this agency under certificate No. 28340 and who was last paid at $12.00 to May 4, 1895, has been dropped because of death." [23]


1. James Holdridge pension and bounty land application (private, Capt. Vaughn's Co. SC Militia), nos. WC 28340, WO 38189, WT 78980; Federal Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Applications, War of 1812; Records of the National Archives Trust Fund Board, Record Group 85; National Archives, Washington.

2. South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, "The War of 1812 (1812-1815)", online at http://crr.sc.gov/

3. John Belton O'Neal, Biographical Sketches of the Bar and Bench of South Carolina, (S.G. Courtenay and Co.: Charleston, SC, 1859) II:69-73, online at GoogleBooks.com

4. Ulysses Robert Brooks, South Carolina Bench and Bar, (Columbia, SC: The State Company, 1908), I:24, online at GoogleBooks.com

5. John Belton O'Neal, Biographical Sketches of the Bar and Bench of South Carolina, II:69-73

6. John Belton O'Neal, Biographical Sketches of the Bar and Bench of South Carolina, II:69-73

7. John Belton O'Neal, Biographical Sketches of the Bar and Bench of South Carolina, II:69-73

8. John Belton O'Neal, Biographical Sketches of the Bar and Bench of South Carolina, II:69-73

9. Online Index, South Carolina Department of Archives and History; Details online abstracted from petition requesting compensation for services; reel no.0019; frame no. 00052; series S108092, Legislative Papers Filed in Accounts Audited of Claims Growing Out of the Revolution; record group Legislative Papers 1782-1806, South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia. online at http://www.archivesindex.sc.gov/; printout dated July 11, 2008.

10. Online Index, South Carolina Department of Archives and History; Details online abstracted from petition asking compensation for services; item no. 00068; series S165015, Petitions to General Assembly; record group Legislative Papers 1782-1806, South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia. online at http://www.archivesindex.sc.gov/; printout dated July 11, 2008.

11. Online Index, South Carolina Department of Archives and History; Details online abstracted from report on petition of Col. Starling; item no. 00086, dated December 19, 1814; series S165015, Petitions to General Assembly; record group Legislative Papers 1782-1806, South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia. online at http://www.archivesindex.sc.gov/; printout dated July 11, 2008.

12. Revolutionary War/Early War Records for Speer/Spear/Speirs, online at www.georgespear.com, downloaded July 11, 2008

13. James Holdridge, pension and bounty land application, nos. WC 28340, WO 38189, WT 78980; Records of the National Archives Trust Fund Board, National Archives

14. James Holdridge, pension and bounty land application, nos. WC 28340, WO 38189, WT 78980; Records of the National Archives Trust Fund Board, National Archives

15. James Holdridge, pension and bounty land application, nos. WC 28340, WO 38189, WT 78980; Records of the National Archives Trust Fund Board, National Archives

16. James Holdridge, Land Patent Search, Bureau of Land Management, Government Land Office, Document Nr. 78980, Accession/Serial Nr. CACAAA 095594, BLM Serial Nr. CACAAA 095594, online at http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/PatentSearch/

17. James Holdridge, pension and bounty land application, nos. WC 28340, WO 38189, WT 78980; Records of the National Archives Trust Fund Board, National Archives

18. William Henry Glasson, "History of Military Pension Legislation in the United States" (Ph.B dissertation, Columbia University, 1900), 62-64

19. James Holdridge, pension and bounty land application, nos. WC 28340, WO 38189, WT 78980; Records of the National Archives Trust Fund Board, National Archives

20. Clay County Alabama, 1883 Pensioners on the Roll, online at http://web.archive.org/web/20051230162204/www.arealdomain.com/alclay1883.html, accessed July 12, 2008

21. James Holdridge, pension and bounty land application, nos. WC 28340, WO 38189, WT 78980; Records of the National Archives Trust Fund Board, National Archives

22. James Holdridge, pension and bounty land application, nos. WC 28340, WO 38189, WT 78980; Records of the National Archives Trust Fund Board, National Archives

23. James Holdridge, pension and bounty land application, nos. WC 28340, WO 38189, WT 78980; Records of the National Archives Trust Fund Board, National Archives