Notes On the Revolutionary War Skirmish at Windy Hill (Slaughter Field) North of Blackville, in Barnwell, South Carolina, with photos of descendants.


On December 22, 1781, a band of Tories skirmished with a band of Patriots and killed thirteen at a location now known as the Slaughter Field.  This location is not far from the present Healing Springs Church, just north of Blackville, in Barnwell County, South Carolina.

This battle took place two days after the 12/20/1781 Battle of Edisto River (also known as the Battle of the Tory Camps).  That battle in turn had followed the 11/17/1781battle of Cloud's Creek (Carter's House / Carter's Old field / Turner House Massacre)


The Battle of Windy Hill (Slaughter Field) occurred at approximately the location marked with the blue arrow on this early 1900's railroad map. The location is several miles south of the South Edisto River, and east of the current Healing Springs Baptist Church.  (Note that this arrow may be pointing somewhat too far to the right/east.)


The following information was provided to me by researcher Patrick O'Kelley (2nd Regiment of the North Carolina Line, http://www.2nc.org/)

Reference:  Lipscomb, Terry W. South Carolina Revolutionary Battles Part Ten, Names in South Carolina, Volume XXX, Winter 1983, South Carolina Historical Society, 1983


Slaughter Field (Windy Hill), South Carolina 22 December 1781

American Forces
Commanding Officer Captain Benjamin Odom, Jr.
Colonel William Harden’s Regiment Unknown number 
Casualties 16 killed
Loyalist Forces
Commanding Officer Unknown
South Carolina Loyalist Militia Unknown number


This is an action that is not well documented. It is only mentioned in soldier’s pension applications. Captain Benjamin Odom with a detachment of South Carolina militia was attacked at sunrise by a group of Loyalists. Captain Odom had 16 men killed. 

There is evidence that this action may have happened on 22 December by men of Major “Bloody Bill” Cunningham’s “Bloody Scout”. 

Slaughter Field is located two miles northeast of the town limits of Blackville. There is evidence of earthworks still there


I have access to three family tradition records regarding participants in the skirmish, and they are posted below.  If anyone reads this page and has additional information please email me as I would like to post it to this page.


Nathaniel Walker

Nathaniel Walker had been with the band but was away during the attack.  The story is contained in Winton T. Walker's 1902 letter May Stanley McFadden of Waycross Georgia, who was a granddaughter of Nathaniel George Washington Walker, a great-uncle of Winton T. Walker.  "Monie" SC was the name given to the Walker Station home were W. T. Walker lived.

The letter reads beginning on the second line of page two:

  • There is no doubt of our ancestor Nathaniel Walker being in the war. He was living at the time where I am now living and five miles from here on the Edisto River.  His command was surprised by the Tories and thirteen of them captured and shot without trial.  "This incident is historical."  He probably would have shared the same fate but was at home visiting his family.  His home was surrounded and he captured the same night but as he had been a school teacher and some of the Tories his scholars, they begged that he be held as a prisoner of war and was afterwards retaken by the Patriots.  The places of the massacre is still known in the neighborhood as the (Slaughter Field).  This is traditional but are facts.  A grandson of Nathaniel Walker married a granddaughter of one of those Tories and I have heard the old folks say how opposed they all were to it.  I have heard descendants of those Tories spoken of with derision showing the feeling that still exists.

 wtw1902letterpage1SMALLER.jpg (279300 bytes) wtw1902letterpage2SMALLER.jpg (320687 bytes)

(Click on pages for larger view)

 


Notes on Nathaniel Walker by Leila Celestia Walker

(The following notes were found in the personal papers of Leila Walker, along with the WTWalker letter shown above - LMH)

          History tells the story that George Walker was a survivor of the battle and reported the matter to is brother, Nathaniel Walker, who had gone that night to his home on Reaves Creek since the patriot band of which he was a member had been camped only about eight miles away. Through the quick action of the Walker brothers the patriot troop stationed at the town of Barnwell was informed and pursued the Tories to capture them north of the river. The names of the other Tories were forgotten, but his neighbors could not forgive the Tory leader and so his name was held in low esteem in the community for many years. Thus tradition places the names of George and Nathaniel Walker among the patriots of Barnwell County. There is no historical record of Nathaniel Walker's service as a soldier of the Revolution, probably because he was a preacher. The names of his brothers, George and John, are recorded as patriots who fought in Savannah and that fact leaves no doubt that Nathaniel Walker was a patriot too. He and George Walker were closely associated since George Walker's lands joined those of Nathaniel Walker's wife east of Healing Springs.


Patrick Caine

........"Beginning in 1775, Patrick Cain, Jr. served as a Deputy Surveyor for Orangeburgh District and lived in the area of South Carolina bounded by the Saltkehatchee and Edisto rivers.  He was, no doubt, well schooled, having possibly served as an apprentice surveyor under the noted Augusta Co., VA surveyor, Thomas Lewis whose kin also seemed to have been living and working in Anson Co., NC in 1755 or so.  He was also probably well versed in military tactics, having been a member of the Anson County, NC Militia from 1755 to 1761(1) so that it was only natural that he became an officer in 1775 when he got caught up in the Revolutionary movement and joined CAPTAIN ANDREW CUMMING'S COMPANY OF VOLUNTEER MILITIA on the ninth day of October 1775. His name appears on the original petition to the Continental Congress. He was appointed First Lieutenant. The unit was to be under the direction of The Field Officers of the Colleton County Regiment of Foot (2).

A John Cain, possibly his brother, was a private in the same unit as Patrick.

A Patrick Cain, thought to be Patrick Cain, Jr. since he was well known as a Deputy Surveyor for Orangeburgh District, was elected by the "District Between Savannah River and North Fork of Edisto River" to the Third General Assembly (1779-1780).  However, he probably was chosen in a special election as his name did not appear on a list of House members until 8 December 1779.  The General Assembly was dissolved in 1780 when the British overran Charleston, the capitol, and was not reinstated until 1782.

In early August (or possibly October) 1781, a portion of the Colleton Regiment of Foot, was ambushed by a band of Tories under the command of Col. Hezekiah Williams, a feared Tory, near the banks of the South Edisto River at Windy Hill Creek, near Healing Springs, home of Patrick's sister, Alice Cain Walker.  A bloody battle ensued and the next morning all of the American Patriots were dead.  The bodies of the men who were killed in what became known as the "Battle of Slaughter's Field" were left to lie in the open, and were not recovered until three days later by grieving relatives for burial (3). Family legend stated that Patrick was buried at night by his mourning widow in a hole left where a giant tree was uprooted by a storm, since the women had no digging implements.

No further surveyor's records bearing the name Patrick Cain have been located in Barnwell Co. in the period 1785-1795 that could have been credited to Patrick Cain, Sr., it is an almost proven fact that the elder Patrick was not a surveyor.  Of course, Patrick senior, would have been 73 years old in 1785 and may have been too feeble to continue in his profession."

References:
(1) North Carolina Department of Archives and History Military Collection, Troop Returns (1747-1859), Militia Returns (1747-1769), Box 1, Folder - Anson.

(2) FIRST COUNCIL OF SAFETY OF THE REVOLUTIONARY PARTY, published in the "South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine," pages 237, 128.
>From the private collection of A.S. Salley, Jr.  See THE SUNDAY NEWS, Charleston, S.C., March 5, 1899.

(3) Barnwell County Heritage, published 1994.  Article 426 "The Revolutionary War In Barnwell, And Blackville Area."


David Shipes  (the following information was provided by Mary Harper of Titusville, Florida, a descendant of David Shipes)

 

     David Shipes was born about 1745. In 1825 when he filed for a pension he stated that he was 80 years old. His parents are not known, nor is it known where he was born. He may have been of German origin, and certainly was living in South Carolina in 1783 when he appeared on a Petit Jury list for Orangeburg District , SC. [1]

 

     David served in the early part of the Revolutionary War under General Andrew Williamson's command in South Carolina . He participated in the hard fought battle of Stono Ferry near Charleston .[2] He was promoted to Lieutenant and fought in a skirmish at Windy Hill in Barnwell District. He served five years before his discharge at the end of the war.[3] 

 

     In 1825 David Shipes applied for a pension from the State of South Carolina for his war service. In his affidavit he stated that he "is about 80 years of age and finds from the effects of old age and the hardships experienced in his youth, that his strength and constitution is nearly exhausted" and that he “is no longer able to pursue the necessities of life.” He was granted an annuity of $60.00 for his service. David Shipes signed his application by making "his mark".

 

     After the war David Shipes obtained several land grants. On 3 April 1786 he received 200 acres in Orangeburgh District on " Richland and Peters Pond, Waters of Salt Catchers."[4]

 

     On 4 February 1799 he received 76 acres in Orangeburgh District on "Tobie's Creek near Jesse Lancaster's land."[5]  This land was sold to Cornelius Tobin on 27 September 1800 . David’s wife, Elizabeth, signed relinquishing her dower rights to the property. 

 

     On 2 January 1804 he received 417 acres in Barnwell District on the Edisto River near land of Thomas Washington, Jacob Thomas, Jr. and Joshua Lott.[6]

 

     David Shipes married twice and had children by each wife. He had at least six children by his first wife, Elizabeth,[7] and seven children by his second wife. Elizabeth died before 1810 when the first child by the second wife was born.

 

     David Shipes sold land with other heirs of John Hair on 26 January 1819 ,[8] signing for a wife, leading us to believe that his second wife was John Hair's daughter. This could have been either David Shipes, Sr. or David Shipes, Jr. as no distinction is made. Because no distinction is made as to Junior or Senior it leans toward being Senior. Usually a man did not use Senior until the Junior began signing documents. David, Jr. was living at home when this document was signed and had not yet married. His future wife, Delilah, was born in 1810[9] and was only nine years old in 1819. The age of John Hair's other children might lead one to believe it was David, Jr, but the elder David married a young wife as he had children not yet of age when he died in 1828. The mark made on the deed  is similar to the mark David, Sr. made on his will and pension application papers. I believe that a preponderance of evidence points toward David Shipes, Sr. being the one who signed the deed, and that it was David Shipes, Sr. who had a second wife who was John Hair’s daughter. This wife, the daughter of John Hair, was dead by the time he made his will in 1828.

 

     David Shipes made his will 17 March 1828 ,[10] and he died 9 August 1828 .[11]  He was about 83 years old and apparently ill. He named all his living children in his will and named his daughter, Betsy ( Elizabeth ),  his Executrix and his friend, Reuben Thomas, Executor of his will. He asked that Betsy take care of the younger children until they were ready to leave home. She was a spinster and did not marry until 1831. His will was probated 4 October 1828 in Barnwell County , South Carolina . 

 



[1]Mary Bondurant Warren , South Carolina Jury Lists, 1718 through 1783. (Danielsville, GA. 1977) ,

p. 109.

[2]Col. R. Ernest Dupuy and Col. Trevor N. Dupuy, U.S.A. Ret., The Compact History of the Revolutionary War, ( New York ) p. 326..

[3]Pension Papers #6945 David Shipes.

[4]State Grants, Vol 10, p.115.

[5]State Grants, Vol 45, p.77.

[6]State Grants, Vol 51, p.39.

[7] Deed Records, Barnwell Dist., SC., David Shipes to Cornelius Tobin dtd. 14 Oct 1800 .

[8]Deed Records, Barnwell Co., SC, Book L, Pg. 293.

[9]1850 Census, Barnwell Co., SC.

[10]Will Book C, p. 50, Barnwell Co., SC.

[11]Estate Papers filed for probate 4 Oct 1828 , Barnwell Co., SC.


Notes on Bloody Bill Cunningham, another Tory operating in the area.



"Capt. James Butler born in VA, married in Londen (Loudoun) Co., VA Mary Simpson, moved to Edgefield Co., S. C. before the American Revolution. He and his son, James, were massacred with 37 other patriots by a band of 300 Tories under "Bloody" Bill Cunningham Dec. 1781, on Cloud's Creek, Lexington Co. S. C."


 The following information comes from the page cited below.  I have copied it in full and credited the author to be sure the information is preserved (note that it is on the Tripod free server so it may not be around long).

Biographical Sketch of William “Bloody Bill” Cunningham By Phil Norfleet

 

Extract from an Article by Judge J. B. O’Neal

The following extract is from an article entitled “Random Recollections of Revolutionary Characters and Incidents” by Judge J. B. O’Neal; this article first appeared in the Southern Literary Journal and Magazine of Arts, Vol. 4, No. 1, July 1838, pages 40-45.

William Cunningham, (or as he was commonly called Bloody Bill Cunningham,) acted too prominent a part in the partisan warfare of Laurens, Newberry and Edgefield Districts, in the Revolutionary times, not to be remembered and first noticed. He was a native of Laurens District, and a distant relative of Gen’ls. Robert, Patrick, and John Cunningham.  Of his parents little is known.  His father was an old man at the time when his son’s career of blood commenced, and I presume from the incident which was the first in it, incapable of protecting himself against the violent.

William Cunningham is represented to have been a man of great physical powers, and of fine personal appearance.  One of his contemporaries (the late Wm. Caldwell) used to Say “that he had often heard it said, Cunningham was a coward but,” added he, “whoever said so, did not know him; he was as brave a man as ever walked the earth.”

About the commencement of hostilities at the South, in 1775, he enlisted as a private soldier in the service of the State of South Carolina, in a company commanded, by Capt. John Caldwell in Col. Thomson's Regiment of Rangers. He served with credit; so much so, that his Captain was about promoting him, over the head of his own brother, Wm. Caldwell who belonged to the same company. Some trivial offense prevented his promotion, and sent him before a Court-martial, by which he was sentenced to be whipped; and he actually suffered the degrading punishment! With his blood on fire, and vengeance his predominant feeling, he deserted the flag of his country and fled to Florida. While there, William Ritchie kicked his aged father out of doors. By some means the intelligence reached Cunningham; he swore that he would seek and have revenge in the blood of his father's oppressor. He shouldered his rifle, and mostly on foot traversed the country between St. Augustine and Laurens District, and in Ritchie's own house, in the presence of his family he consummated his cherished and fell purpose by shooting him dead.


He here first tasted blood; and like the tiger, the taste created a thirst which could never be quenched. After that time he was one of the most merciless of the Tory blood-hounds who scoured the country, and hunted to the death her gallant and suffering sons.

He raised an independent command of mounted loyalists. They were like himself; bold and daring spirits; and many of them like him had already tasted the blood of private revenge. Some of their names are still remembered: - William Parker, Henry Parker, William Kilmer, Jonathan Kilmer, Hall Foster, Jesse Gray, William Dunahox, Isaac, Aaron, and Curtis Mills, Ned and Dick Turner, Matthew Love, Bill Elmore, Hubbles, John Hood, and Moultrie. Of some of these men, in these random recollections, we may have occasion, to speak further. One of his earliest feats as a partisan officer, was a visit to his old commander Major John Caldwell, who had retired to private life. He found him on a summer’s day, sitting in his own house, without shoes or stockings. He amused himself by stamping on his toes and kicking his shins; and concluded his visit by telling him that this was ample satisfaction for the whipping he had received while under his command.

His pursuit of Capt. Samuel Moore showed his fiend-like disposition. They met and charged each other.  Moore gave way and fled. Both were well mounted, both were excellent horsemen, and both knew well the ground over which they ran. For miles Cunningham was in sword's length, and in a low conversational style urged his flying foe to redouble his exertions to escape. “Push the rowels in Sammy, honey,” was his continual jeering observation. At length, like the cat tired of his play, he cut his adversary down, and in his death removed another object of private hatred.

His deeds of blood, which are, however, best remembered, are those which occurred in what is called the “bloody scout.” This followed the execution of Gov. Rutledge's impolitic order directing the wives and children of the Tories in the British service, to be sent in to the British Lines near Charleston. This was well cal­culated to arouse the vindictive feelings of such men as Cunningham and his blood-hounds. He and they swore to be revenged on all who had executed the order.

His company left Charleston in detached parties, made their way up the Edistoes, concentrated in Edgefield, and attacked Turner's station. The resistance was gallant but unavailing. The garrison surrendered and was put to the sword with the ex­ception of a single man (Warren Bletcher). In that affair fell two of the Butlers, father and son, - the grandfather and uncle of the present Governor and Judge Butler. Bletcher was saved by Aaron Mills. It was a rule of the company, that after Cunningham had selected his victims, each member might select the ob­jects of his vengeance. Sometimes mercy ruled the hour, and a soldier was allowed to save a friend or acquaintance.  Bletcher was known to Mills and was protected by him during the massacre. When the company left the bloody scene, it was determined that Bletcher should be conveyed as a prisoner to the next halt, and there probably his life would have paid the forfeit. He was mounted behind Mills. As the company proceeded at a round gallop, Mills affected that his horse was overburdened and began to lag behind; he fell back behind first one and then another until he was entirely in the rear. The company had crossed a branch grown up with cane; as he approached it, Mills said to Bletcher:  “jump off and run for your life.” He did so. Mills suffered him to gain the covert before he cried out: “The prisoner has escaped.” Pursuit was in vain.

Cunningham was next seen in Newberry District. When he crossed Saluda (perhaps at the Old Town,) he met with and captured John Towles. He had been concerned in sending. off the women and children of the Tories, and had been especially engaged in driving in. their cattle. Cunningham swore he should die in his trade, he therefore hung him with a piece of an untanned cow-hide.

At Ensley's shop he killed Oliver Towles and two others. The only surviving member of the Caldwell family of the Revolution, Mrs. Gillam, then a girl, visited his shop alone soon after Cunningham’s party had left it, to see what consequences had followed from the report of their guns. When she reached it she found Ol­iver Towles and two others, her acquaintances, dead. One was stretched or laid out upon the bier bench.

On his march to Edgehill's, Hayes' station, he passed the house of his old commander John Caldwell. Two of his men, Hall Fos­ter and Bill Elmore, were his videttes in advance. They found Major Caldwell walking in his garden, shot him down, and char­ged their horses in and out of the garden in fiend-like sport. When Cunningham arrived he affected to deplore the bloody deed; he protested with tears that he would as soon have seen his own father shot as Major Caldwell. Yet in the next instant his house by his orders was wrapped in flames, and his widow left with no other shelter than the heavens, seated by the side of her murdered husband. His gallant brother, James Caldwell, whose scarred face testified to his gallantry in the most gallant of all affairs, the battle of the Cowpens, finding her in this situation, forgot every thing else than vengeance, and on the succeeding day his sword drank the blood of two of Cunningham's stragglers.

Hayes was a bold, inexperienced, incautious man. His station was at Col. Edgehill's, in Laurens District, east of Little River and Simmons Creek, on the old Charleston road from Raubun's Creek to Orangeburgh. The dwelling house built of logs was his fort. He was told by William Caldwell to put himself in a Position of defense; pointing to the smoke he said, “that is my bro­ther's house, and I know Cunningham is in the neighborhood.” Hayes was at work in a black-smith shop making a cleat to hold a lady's netting, and hooted at Caldwell's Suggestions, saying that Cunningham had too much sense to come there. Caldwell re­plied: “1 will not stay here to be butchered;” and mounted and fled at full speed. As he went out at one end of the old field he saw Cunningham's company come in at the other.

The surprise was complete and overwhelming. Hayes and his men almost without resistance were driven into the house, and Cunningham’s pursuit was so close, that John Tinsley struck a full blow with his sword at Col. Hayes as he entered the door. A few guns were fired. One of Cunningham's men was killed in the assault, and one of Hayes' men was killed in the house by a ball shot between the logs. A pole tipped with flax, saturated with tar, was set on fire and thrown upon the house. It was soon in flames. Hayes and his party on a promise of good quarters, (as it has always been said,) surrendered. Cunningham selected Hayes and Maj. Daniel Williams, (a son of Col. Williams who fell at Kings Mountain) as his victims. He was about hanging them on the pole of a fodder stack, when he was accosted by a younger son of Williams, Joseph Williams, a lad of sixteen or seventeen years, who had from infancy known Cunningham. “Capt. Cunningham, how shall I go home and tell my mother that you have hanged brother Daniel? Cunningham instantly swore that he should not have that melancholy duty to perform. He hung him up with his brother and Hayes. The pole broke with their weight and with his sword he literally hewed them to pieces. While wiping his reeking sword, he observed, that one of his comrades in cutting a captive to pieces had broken his sword, - he gaily handed to him his, observing, that it wouldn't break. James Tinsley, Major Wm. Dunlap and John Cummins were the only survivors of Hayes party; James Tinsley and his brother were, I had supposed, saved by their gallant kinsman John Tinsley; but within the last few years, James Tinsley assured me, that such was not the fact. He said their lives were saved by another of Cunningham's party, (whose name to my great regret has escaped my recollection,) at the peril of his own life. Major Dunlap of Huntsville, Laurens District, was then a lad; no one then or ever since could be his enemy. He was discharged the next morning covered with the blood and brains of his comrades. John Cummins, (commonly called King Cummins,) was too much the Leather-stocking of the lower part of Laurens District to be an object of vengeance. He still lives at a great age to fight all his battles over.

Passing from Hayesstation to the west side of Little River, Cunningham crossed at O'Neall's mill. This he burned. The owner, Hugh O'Neall on the top of Edgehill's mountain, had in sorrow and sadness witnessed the massacres of his neighbors at Hayes station. From the same lofty stand he saw his all, in a pecuniary point of view, swept away by the fire-brand of him who never knew to pity or spare. On the next day he and some others of the neighbors committed to the earth the mangled bodies of the slain at Hayes' station. Two large pits constituted the graves of all who fell there; and there undistinguished and almost unknown they still remain.

Cunningham encamped on the night succeeding the massacre on the Beaverdam, at a place now known as Odell's mills. >From this point he commenced his retreat. His bloody foray had aroused the whole Whig population. Col. Samuel Hammond from the time Cunningham passed Saluda River, was in hot pursuit. Cunningham’s company remained embodied until they passed Little Saluda (at West's). It was there the late Gen. Butler leading the van of the Pursuit confronted almost alone the whole of Cunningham's Company. Numbers forced him to pause, and before his exhausted companions could reach him, Cunningham had resumed his rapid flight; and breaking into detached parties, he and his followers plunged into the pine barrens and swamps of the Edisto country, and by different routes reached Charleston.

On this or some other occasion, Butler and his company chased a party consisting of Cunningham, Foster and Hood. Here again Butler kept nearly equal pace with the pursued, but his companions could not. In the midst of the race Cunningham's horse sunk in a mire. While he was struggling out of it, Cunningham’s trusty companions turned like lions at bay, and again Butler's vengeance for a father's and brother's blood was prevented from taking effect.

On another occasion, it is said, Butler single-handed pursued Cunningham alone for miles; each of their horses, straining every nerve, ran in the jockey style, nose and tail. Butler was often near enough to have struck Cunningham's noble und generous steed and thus disable him; but this his generous nature forbade, the rider not the steed was the object of his vengeance. Cunningham’s pistol was often thrown over his shoulder and snapped a the pursuer. At length Butler's horse sunk in a hole in the woods, and before his rider could again resume pursuit Cunningham was beyond it.

The noble war horse which had borne Cunningham through so many of his bloody adventures, and never failed him at his greatest need died in Charleston and was buried almost with the honors of war by his blood-stained master.

Of Cunningham I know no more certainly, save that in him was not fulfilled the Scripture. The violent man did not die a violent death. His life was sought most diligently and fearlessly by the surviving kinsmen of his murdered victims. He lived to a good old age and died quietly in his own bed in the West Indies.

http://sc_tories.tripod.com/bloody_bill_cunningham.htm


Photos: Early 1900's - Winton Thomas Walker, great-grandson of Nathanael Walker, second from right -

 

Early 1900's, from left:  Catherine Allen Riley (Teacher at Walker School), Mozelle Walker, Mary Hankinson Walker, John Mims Walker (child), Winton T. Walker, Mary Missouri Walker (child), Celestia Mims Walker.

 

 

1900 - Photo of James Jefferson Ray, family in front of Ray House located approximately one mile Northeast of Walker Station.  James Jefferson Ray was the son of the founder of Mount Calvary Baptist Church, and the husband of Ann Alyce Walker, great-granddaughter of Nathanael Walker (not pictured as she died in 1879).