Thursday, October 25, 2007

Samuel Campbell Clegg (1740-1779)

There's a great little book, Partisans & Redcoats: The Southern Conflict That Turned the Tide of the American Revolution, by Walter Edgar, © 2001. It focuses on the South Carolina campaign, which, much like Washington's January 1777 Battle of Princeton, was an ultimate tide-turner when things were going terribly wrong for the patriots. Most interesting (to me, at least) was how, between the covers of this book, the Neels, McDowells, and other ancestors of mine all came together in this relatively small area of the Carolina backcountry, the Waxhaws. Apart from the patriots, though, I have to remember my loyalist 6x great-grandfather Samuel Campbell Clegg.

    After the successful siege of Savannah by the British forces, a Colonel Boyd was dispatched to recruit a band of Loyalist militia in the back country of the Carolinas and to join the British forces in Augusta, Georgia. Colonel Andrew Pickens and his patriot forces planned to engage the Loyalists before they could cross the Savannah River. However, his scouts discovered the Loyalist band of about 600 men encamped on Kettle Creek, near present day Washington, Wilkes County, Georgia. On 14 February 1779 the Loyalists were surprised and defeated by the Whigs commanded by Colonels Andrew Pickens, John Dooly and Elijah Clarke. About 20 men were captured and 78 surrendered. All were marched to the stockade in Augusta, Georgia.
    South Carolina authorities proclaimed the men criminals under civil jurisdiction, rather than prisoners of war; and most of them were marched to the Ninety Six jail in South Carolina. "On March 8, the prisoners crossed the Savannah and were held one night at Mathis Pond near Edgefield. A second night they were crowded into an unsanitary, cramped bull pen on Williamson's [Col. Andrew Williamson] Whitehall Plantation. They arrived under guard at the Ninety Six jail on March 10." They were charged with sedition and treason, crimes punishable by hanging and forfeiture of all property. For various reasons, about half of the men were released and charges dropped. About 20 men were sentenced to death and scheduled to be executed on April 17. The men were transferred to Orangeburg for security reasons. All but five men were granted reprieves and those were marched back to Ninety Six where they were hanged at Star Fort in late April 1779. The five men were Samuel Clegg, James Lindley, John Anderson, Aquilla Hall, and Charles Draper. (Source: Wikipedia)
Within Col. Elijah Clarke's command were my 5x great-grandfather William Lewis Queen, his brother (my uncle) Samuel Queen, and my 4x great-grandfather Joseph Wise. William Lewis Queen had been previously wounded and captured by the Tories, and imprisoned for about six weeks at Ninety Six. He probably had few regrets about what went down in 1779, but who knows. Seems the Southern campaign during the Revolution was essentially a civil war, loyalists vs partisan patriots, sometimes brother vs brother, with few Brits involved outside the officers. Very emotionally complex times.