Jul 31, 2011


Why I'm suddenly interested in the American Revolution, I don't know. Perhaps it's the crap in Washington regarding the debt ceiling. Or maybe, as I get older, I feel a bit closer to those who started us on the path to revolution so long ago. Or it could also be as a result of my recent trip to Massachusetts/Vermont that sparked this interest. Whatever it is, I have been to the local library and checked out book after book on the period.
In the first 150 years or so after the Revolution, most of the major American historians of that event were from the northeastern part of the United States, particularly from New England. As a consequence, the story of the War in the South was given little emphasis. However, since the 1970's, a newer generation of historians have come to realize that the war for independence was actually won in the South. To achieve that victory, no colony paid a higher price than South Carolina. More than two hundred battles and skirmishes took place on South Carolina soil, more than in any other colony.

South Carolina was the scene of shifting American fortunes throughout the War. Just a week before the Declaration of Independence, South Carolina Whigs won a pivotal victory -- one of the first in the South -- at Sullivan's Island overlooking Charleston Harbor. However, four years later in May 1780, Charleston, one of the most important ports in America, fell to the British. Soon thereafter, much of South Carolina was overrun by British troops. In the summer of 1780, the tide of the war reached its lowest ebb for the American cause. In August, American forces were defeated by Lord Cornwallis at the Battle of Camden, suffering what some historians consider their worst defeat in any war. But only two months later, at Kings Mountain, American frontier militia claimed a victory that shifted the tide in favor of independence. Then, at the Battle of Cowpens in January 1781, Daniel Morgan triumphed over Banastre Tarleton. That victory greatly weakened the overall military position of Cornwallis and ultimately led to his decisive defeat at Yorktown, Virginia in October 1781.
Although I have read about the entire conflict, my main interest lies with the skirmishes and battles that happened right here in good old South Carolina. And, later in the war, there were many.

When I first moved to Newberry in 1984, I heard from some of the locals about a site called Tarleton's Tea Tables. Tarleton's Tea Tables comprise several table-like granite rocks, four miles north of the City of Newberry on the old Whitmire Road, 200 yards to the left of the highway as one travels in a northerly direction.
"The site is in old Cromer Township No. 4. These rocks are of historical importance because it was here that Col. Banastre Tarleton and his legion of British troops encamped on January 9, 1781, while in pursuit of Gen. Daniel Morgan and his men. Legend has it that these rocks were used as tables on which Colonel Tarleton was served tea and so for many years, they have been known as Tarleton's Tea Tables."
I was told another version of this incident. According to this account, Colonel Tarleton came to a home near the Tea Table Rocks and demanded that he be served tea. The lady of the house informed him that he could have his tea but not in her home. Instead she had the general's tea served outside, using one of the rocks as his tea table.
Other battles that occurred in Newberry County were Williams' Plantation, Dec. 31, 1780; Mud Lick, March 2, 1781; and Bush River, May 1781. William's Plantation was not much of a battle. A battle in Clinton, to the north, had taken place the previous day and the tories (British loyalists) had escaped to WIlliam's Plantation. After Lt. Col. William Washington and his regiment showed, the loyalists surrendered.
On March 2, a small Patriot force, commanded by Col. Benjamin Roebuck, who devised a plan to lure the Loyalists out of Williams Fort. This fort was situated a few miles northwest of what is now called Star Fort in Ninety-Six. Roebuck sent 150 SC militia riflemen, led by Lt. Col. Henry White, in front of the fort. This would hopefully cause the Loyalists to come out of the fort and give chase.
The plan worked, and Lt. Col. White led the Loyalists into an ambush that had been set up by Col. Roebuck at Mud Lick Creek. The fort was then easily entered and taken. Once inside the ambush, the Patriots fired upon the Loyalists.
The battle see-sawed back and forth for about an hour. The Loyalists finally fled back in panic to the fort. Col. Roebuck was wounded in the shoulder and captured, and Lt. Col. White was badly wounded. Ripley speaks of it being burned, but in a letter from Pickens to Greene of 8 April, Pickens mentions a force under Loyalist Col. Cruger retreating to it for safety.

Bush River was not so much a battle as a Tory encampment. The following is taken from "The Annals of Newberry County":
In 1781, a Tory regiment, part of General Tarleton's command, was pursuing a part of the American Army under
General Morgan, when they arrived at Bush River, where they camped.
"In the night, a great fall of rain took place and made the river impassable; there was no bridge across it, except at William O'Neall's mills. To unite the 2d battalion with the 1st, it [the battalion] had to descend the river, and after encamping for one night, at least, at William O'Neall's, it crossed at his mills..." Judge O'Neall seems to have had no love for the British
Army. "When a battalion at Tarleton's command ... encamped at William O'Neall's, everything was seized and
treated as if it all belonged to them, the fences were burned to make camp-fires, the cattle were butchered for beef, the officers billeted themselves on the unpretending Quaker family, without money and without price. When a part of Greene's [American] army, on their retreat from Ninety-Six, passed the mill, everything was paid for, and perfect order prevailed." Tarleton caught up with Morgan at the Cowpens, where, on 17 January 1781, Morgan defeated him.

I've visited Tarleton's table, but have yet to see where the other activities took place. As soon as the weather cools a bit, I'll be trekking through the woods to see where history played out.

Jul 6, 2011

The In-Laws

I posted awhile back about a new tradition that we enjoy-the annual halloween gathering at Roger and Peggy's place on Main St. in Newberry. While I could also add several more to the list (Christmas Eve, 4th of July, etc.), I'd rather write about the reason why we have enjoyed these new traditions with these new friends.
When my son announced his engagement to Catherine a few years back, I was apprehensive about meeting the soon-to-be in-laws. Roger (a retired USC professor and current antique store owner) and Peggy (head of forensics for the state of S.C.) have turned out to be two of the nicest, most caring people that I've met. Roger loves his golf, which he plays almost daily, and shoots in the 70's. Peggy loves to pick up gifts for the grandchildren, and makes a killer casserole!
This July 4th, we met up with them, son Ryan and grandson Jack, Michael, Cat and Fiona to see the Newberry 4th of July fireworks show. The event was so packed that we ended up in the Lowes parking lot, along with a hundred others, to see the spectacular display provided by the Newberry Sheriff's Dept.
During the fireworks, there was much laughing and playing and oohing and awing by all. It was a regular family event!
And that's the word- family.
I remember when my parents met Laura's parents back in 1976. They liked one another just fine, but didn't really hang out together at all. Maybe it was the age difference, as my parents were several years older than hers. Or it could have been the geographical difference-my parents were upstaters, Laura's strictly mountain folk. Whatever it was, it laid a foundation of normalcy on the whole subject of in-laws. Roger and Peggy would turn this upside-down as they invited us to share in various family gatherings.
Without gushing too much, I just want to state for the record- Laura and I have been blessed in many ways. Added to those blessings are two wonderful new friends that we now call family!

Jul 3, 2011

The return of Fudd

Shhhh....be vewy, vewy quiet.
I'm hunting sqwerrals....he heh heh.

I must say, when it comes to shooting at the myriad of squirrels that gobble up all the bird seed that we place on the deck every morning, I am much like Elmer Fudd. I always miss my target, no matter how close. They always hop from the deck to the tree, hanging on to the side to laugh at me. That little chip chip sound that they make translates, to me anyway, into “you couldn't hit the broad side of a barn if you were standing on it”. Perhaps they're right. I've filled the woods with copper while aiming at the little beasts.
Let me state that I personally harbor no ill will at the little monsters. I'm sure that somewhere in the evolutionary train these critters have a place. Wife Laura, however, is a bird fan. She places bird feeders all over the property, filling them to the brim to lure chickadees, robins, bluejays, woodpeckers, doves and the occasional partridge for a free, unworked-for dinner. It's only natural then, that the squirrels would line up for the welfare meal. And line up they do!
To me, they're kinda fun to watch, little tails shaking up and down, un-trusting heads quickly moving from side to side, surveying any movement for an enemy that might disrupt the meal. And I have become the enemy!
Since I've been cast as the Wyatt Earp to their Ike Clanton, my main part of the relationship is to try and fill them full of copper. And try I do! (I should add that my secondary duty is to keep the birdseed coming so that we keep our symbiotic relationship current).
To recap:
Laura or I place birdseed on deck rail;
birds come to eat;
Laura enjoys watching the birds;
after a few minutes, the birds take flight;
Laura yells “squirrel alert, squirrel alert”;
I drop what I'm doing and go for the gun;
I quietly open the back door and assume the position;
squirrel eats as long as possible before jumping to the neighboring tree;
I draw a deadly aim (deadly for the tree maybe);
squirrel enjoys dinner and a show as I fill the air with flying copper projectiles.

Lately, I've noticed that the neighborhood squirrels are lining the branches, passing acorns and birdseed amongst themselves. Animal bookmaking perhaps?