Fishing Creek Battle Marker – Unveiled Thursday Afternoon with Appropriate Exercises Col. A. L. Gaston the speaker. (Reprint courtesy of the CDGHS – Bulletin)
On a pretty knoll back a short distance from the Catawba River, by the side of the road leading from Fort Lawn to Nitrolee, within the area where the American forces under General Thomas Sumter were surprised and defeated by British troops under Colonel Tarleton one hundred and fifty two years ago, a stone has been erected to call the attention of the passer-by to these facts, and to stand as a perpetual memorial to the valor of the men who won this country’s freedom from the British yoke. Here last Thursday afternoon, August 18th, the anniversary of the battle, a crowd of from 150 to 200 gathered for the dedicatory exercises by the Mary Adair Chapter, D.A.R., which raised the funds, and arranged for the erection of the marker: and for an hour and a half those gathered on this historic spot felt the curtains drawn back, and themselves living in the days when that section of Chester County was accustomed to the footfall of marching troops and the crash of musketry as the contending forces stove for mastery. The Marker is of a pattern much used for such purposes, beautifully designed, and bearing these words:
“Battle of Fishing Creek August 18,1780 Americans under Sumter surprised and routed by British under Tarleton Erected by Mary Adair Chapter, D. A. R. August 18, 1930″
The marker stands on the farm once known as the Terrell place, and owned before its sale to the power company by Mr. J. Henry Gladden. The original plan was to erect the marker two years ago, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the battle, but had to be delayed pending the final survey and permanent location of the highway. Recently, all of this was settled, and the Chapter waited for the anniversary of the battle as the fitting time for the celebration of this important event. With the highway lined with cars, in which part of the audience was seated, and others scattered abut the hill-side, Mrs. J. H. McLure, Regent of the Mary Adair Chapter D. A. R., called the assemblage to order, and Dr. Paul Pressly invoked the divine blessing upon the exercises.
The audience joined in singing “ America.” after which Mrs. McLure announced that inasmuch-as the work of erecting the monument had been conceived and for the most part carried out during the incumbency of woe of her predecessors, Mrs. J. G. L. White and Mrs. C. B. Betts, now of Columbia, she had asked these ladies to assist her in taking charge of the program. Mrs. White then gave and interesting narrative of how the idea of erecting this memorial had been largely the work of Messrs. John M. Bell and S. C. Carter, who had contributed liberally, and was then taken up by the Chapter, which had completed the raising of the funds. Mrs. Betts was then presented, and introduced Miss Anne White and little Miss. Jean White who gave appropriate reading.
Next, three little girls-Helen Adair Hemphill, Ethel Ann Seideman, and Nannie Mae Gladden-descendants of Revolutionary Soldier, withdrew the red and white bunting from the face of the stone, as Masters Frank Beaty, Halstead and Cornwell Stone, and George Irwin and Little Misses Julia Viola Gladden and Leila D. Nixon bore aloft the Starts and Stripes. Mrs. John Carroll Coulter, of Columbia, was next presented, and gave a brief account of the work done by the D. A. R.’s of South Carolina in marking so many battlefields and other spots of interest connected with the Revolutionary struggle. A quartet, composed of Mrs. J. S. Caldwell, Mrs. D. P. Crosby, Mrs. V. V. Richardson, and Mrs. M. C. Crain, sang “ The Star Spangled Banner” and Colonel Arthur L. Gaston was presented as the principal speaker for the occasion.
Colonel Gaston pictured the condition of South Carolina after the fall of the city of Charleston when the British determined to carry the war into the interior, exterminate the small bands of patriots who kept the war alive, and overawe and intimidated the general public and compel them to take the oath of allegiance to the British Crown. Col. Gaston paid tribute to the so- called partisan leaders of South Carolina-Marion, Sumter, Pickens, and others- who fought against great obstacles, but breathed their own spirit of defiance into their troops, and strove until the enemy was finally driven away. When General Gates came marching down from the North with his army, the hopes of the harried South Carolinians beat high. Then came the disaster at Camden, and gloom and disaster everywhere. It was a short while later when Sumter by a series of brilliant operations had captured three hundred British prisoners and a large number of wagons with supplies. And was marching back to his base of operations when Tarleton pursed him, and coming up on the Americans on Fishing Creek as they were off guard and many of them swimming in the near-by stream, feel upon them and slaughtered a great number. Many escaped minus their clothing, and had to take refuge on the other side of the river, and wear women’s garb until they could secure more suitable clothing. Colonel Gaston then branched off and related much interesting Revolutionary history of a local nature, dealing with Justice Gaston and his sons, Wm. Stroud, another Revolutionary hero, Barbara McKinney, who was scalped by the Indians, Katie Steele, and others, all of whom were products of what is now eastern Chester County, and played vital parts in the stirring history of that day and time Colonel Gaston concluded with a graphic statement of what we of today owe to those Revolutionary forebears, who paved the way by their suffering and sacrifice for all that this country has and is today.
And commended the Chapter for the erection of this marker to honor the men who fought in these various battles that had so much to do with the final winning of Independence. A short distance up the road, where until the cyclone of 1884, a large sassafras tree is said to have stood, marks the actual spot where the arms were staked, and around which the fiercest of the fighting very likely took place. Sumter’s force was much larger than Tarleton’s and but for the advantage to the enemy due to the surprise attack, victory would have easily rested with the American arms.
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