General Thomas Sumter
August 14, 1734 – June 1, 1832
Last Surviving General of the American Revolution
|General Thomas Sumter was born in Virginia, August 14, 1734 the son of William and
Patience Sumter. Educated in common schools he engaged in surveying in Virginia, worked in his father's mill and
after his father's early death cared for his mother's sheep and plowed his neighbor's fields.
A sergeant in the Virginia Militia he campaigned against the Cherokees. He accompanied a delegation to London and acted as interpreter for Cherokee Indians before King George III. Returning to the colonies October 28, 1762, he landed in Charleston and spent that winter with the Cherokees. During that time he single handedly captured Baron Des Onnes, a French emissary sent to stir up trouble between the British and Cherokees. He was paid by the British ministry' for information about Indian affairs along the frontier. Returning briefly to Virginia, he was arrested for an old debt, but escaped from Stanton Prison and came overland to Eutaw Springs, SC where he invested his savings in land and slaves. He also opened a crossroads store and earned such respect from the community that he was made a justice of the peace in 1766.
Four years later he married the wealthy widow, Mrs. Cantey Gemstone, seven years his senior. They settled in St. Mark's parish, opened another store, a sawmill and a gristmill. They had one child, a son, Thomas Sumter, Jr., born August 30, 1768.
|GENERAL THOMAS SUMTER'S MILITARY CAREER
Served in Virginia Militia during Cherokee Indian War. Came to SC about 1760. In Indian service on frontier for several years.
Captain in the "Snow Campaign" to subdue upcountry Tory (Loyalist) forces, 1776.
Lt. Col, 2nd SC Rifle Regiment, 1776.
Battle of Sullivan's Island, June 28, 1776.
Williamson's Campaign against Cherokees, Fall of 1776.
Georgia Campaign against the British (Fraser) raid from St Augustine.
Colonel of The Regiment, Continental Line, 1778.
Resigned commission as Commander of The Regiment, Continental Line, 1778.
After fall of Charleston to Clinton, 1780, while SC lay prostrate, Thomas Sumter formed the first militia to renew the struggle. For 18 months he alone was the SC government, Governor Rutledge having moved the capitol to North Carolina.
Repulsed in attack on Tumbull's camp at Rocky Mount, July 30, 1780.
Defeated British at Hanging Rock, August 6,1780, destroying Prince of Wales Regiment.
Defeated in surprise night attack by Tarleton at Fishing Creek, August 18, 1780.
Commissioned Brigadier General By Gov. Rutledge, October 6, 1780.
Won Battle at Fish Darn Ford, November 9, 1780 and captured Wemyss, British Commander.
Defeated Tarleton at Blackstock's, November 20, 1780. Wounded in back and chest
Statue erected on the Sumter County Courthouse in honor of Sumter. This statue shows him in his youth with his surveying equipment.
General Thomas Sumter served his country under four presidents. He died June 1, 1832 at his home in Stateburg; SC and was the last surviving General of the American Revolution.
General Thomas Sumter's service to his country during the Revolutionary War is well known and documented. His service to the fledgling Republic is perhaps not so well known. He was a man of many and varied interests ranging from experiments with tobacco and cotton and silk worms. He also raised fine racing horses. He founded the town of Stateburg after the war and held land grants for more than 150,000 acres of land. Service to his community, state and country continued from 1782 to December 16, 1810 when he retired from public life.
Submitted by Dean Long