Many Patriots fought for the ideals of independence but some—like militia commander Thomas Sumter— also had a personal vendetta against the British. When forces under Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton burned down his backcountry plantation, Sumter unleashed his fury by relentlessly chasing Tarleton throughout the countryside, challenging him in battle, and conducting a fierce campaign of resistance.
Born in Virginia in 1734, Sumter served in the Virginia militia during the French and Indian War and participated in frontier conflicts against the Cherokee. He later moved to South Carolina and established a successful plantation. He supported the Patriot cause and was present at the Battle of Sullivan’s Island outside Charleston in 1776, but with the war being fought primarily in the North and with little to occupy him, Sumter retired to his country estate. The focus of the fight shifted to the South in 1780, and after Tarleton’s raiders destroyed his property, Sumter rejoined the struggle and retaliated by organizing his own band of loyal partisans. Lord Charles Cornwallis counted Sumter, nicknamed “the gamecock,” among his “great plagues.” Sumter defeated the British in battles at Hanging Rock and Blackstocks. After the war, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives and in the U.S. Senate. Despite his war wounds, he outlived all other generals of the Revolution. He died in 1832 at the age of 97.
DATE OF BIRTH - DEATH
August 14, 1734 - June 1,1832
For more on the life of Thomas Sumter, visit Battlefields.org.