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
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 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:
(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.
........"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).
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
David served in the early part of the Revolutionary War under
General Andrew Williamson's command in
In 1825 David Shipes applied for a pension from the State of
After the war David Shipes obtained several land grants. On
David Shipes married twice and had children by each wife. He had
at least six children by his first
and seven children by his second wife.
David Shipes sold land with other heirs of John Hair on
David Shipes made his will
R. Ernest Dupuy and Col. Trevor N. Dupuy,
Pension Papers #6945 David Shipes.
State Grants, Vol 10, p.115.
State Grants, Vol 45, p.77.
State Grants, Vol 51, p.39.
Deed Records, Barnwell Dist., SC., David Shipes to Cornelius Tobin
Deed Records, Barnwell Co., SC, Book L, Pg. 293.
1850 Census, Barnwell Co., SC.
Will Book C, p. 50, Barnwell Co., SC.
Papers filed for probate
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).
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
from Hayes’ station 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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).