The American Revolution in South Carolina

Colonel LeRoy Hammond
       

The following account is from the History of Edgefield County by John A. Chapman, 1897, with minor edits.

LeRoy Hammond left Virginia in 1765 and came to the Augusta, GA area for a few years. He married a Miss Tyler, a near relative of President Tyler, then moved to South Carolina on the Savannah River, about seven miles above Augusta. He named his place New Richmond in memory of his old home.

He built and imposing house for those days; the lumber was all sawed by hand, a whip saw being used. The bricks for the chimneys, and the nails, which were wrought, were made on the plantation. The brick layers and plasterers, thirty in number, were also brought from Europe to complete the house. This house is now standing and is in very good repair; and is in possession of Major Andrew J. Hammond's family, who was a grandson of Colonel LeRoy Hammond.

Colonel LeRoy Hammond established a trading post on the Savannah River, buying skins, furs, &c, from the Indians, giving in exchange such things as they needed. These supplies were brought up from Charleston up the Savannah by pole boats. He also kept a public ferry across the Savannah River.

Hammond then moved his residence to Snow Hill in the Edgefield District, where he engaged in the tobacco trade and did much to promote and improve the culture of that noxious weed in South Carolina. At his warehouse in Cameltown, a short distance below his residence, the first year he only received twenty hogsheads of tobacco; the second year he received over one thousand. His business was large and profitable.

Before the Revolution he was a justice of the peace and a captain of a militia company; and being a good surveyor, and a man of sound, practical sense and judgement, he had great influence. He was one of the first in Edgefield and, perhaps, in the State, to lay an embargo upon tea, by excluding it from use in his family on account of the arbitrary acts of the British Parliament. Tea had long been their favorite beverage.

The visit of Mssrs. Drayton and Tennant to the upcountry produced a profound sensation and tended to separate the people into two parties by causing them to declare themselves for or against the measures of the Revolutionary party. Browne, the Tory leader, became more openly hostile, and Drayton came from the Dutch Fork to see Hammond, and appealed to him for support, as his opinions were already well known. Tennant was then at Ninety-Six. To that place, Hammond proceeded with Drayton to use his influence, which was great, in inducing the wavering and vacillating to sign the pledge of association.

Neighbor began to reproach neighbor, and the Loyalists soon assumed a hostile attitude under the Cunninghams. They collected their forces at Ninety-Six, and Colonel Andrew Williamson, with about six hundred men, went to oppose them. Hammond was an officer under Williamson. In a few days a truce was made between the parties for twenty days, and the men disbanded and went home.

In Williamson's expedition against the Cherokees in 1776, LeRoy Hammond played a very distinguished part. In fact, the success of the expedition was greatly due to him. When Williamson's army was ambuscaded and the prospect looked very gloomy - when Williamson's horse was killed under him - when Hammond's friend, Mr. Francis Salvador, was killed and scalped - when everything around was in the utmost confusion and victory seemed doubtful, it was then that LeRoy Hammond, with only twenty men of his own company, charged upon the Indians concealed in the thicket - charged with fixed bayon et - and when they brok from their cover and fled, he poured upon them such a deadly fire that they could not rally. Thus by the gallant conduct of Hammond the army was saved.

And again, soon afterwards it was determined to cross the Seneca River and invade the Indian Nation. The officer who was ordered to lead the advance hesitated and evaded the duty. The men themselves shrank from the advance. Hammond volunteered to lead, and the movement was executed with gallantry and success. Hammond received a promotion.

So complete was the defeat of the Cherokees that they were never afterwards troublesome. Many of them went down to Florida and became pensioners of the British, as their crops and all means of subsistence were almost entirely destroyed in this campaign.

In June of 1778, Colonel Hammond, with J.L. Gervais and George Galphin, was appointed by the Governor and Council, Commissioners to conciliate the Indian Nations. And in December of 1778, he was sent with George Galphin and Daniel McMurphy, by the Continental Congress, as Commissioners to the Upper and Lower Creeks, met them, had a friendly talk, and made peaceful arrangements with the young Tallassee King and other great men among the Creeks. These arrangements and treaties were preserved by Henry Laurens, President of the Continental Congress.

In 1779, Colonel Hammond was with his regiment and fought at the battle of Stono. In 1780, he cooperated with Clarke, and other Whigs, against the Tories and Indians in Georgia. In 1781, he was very active during the siege of Augusta; he with the infantry and Samuel Hammond with the cavalry. During this seiege the war waged was one of the greatest barbarity. The Tory, Browne, who commanded at Augusta, with his Indian allies, put to death the prisoners taken with savage ferocity. And the Whig militia, it is altogether probable, were sometimes not much better. Captain William Martin, of the artillery, the oldest of seven brave brothers, was killed here.

Pickens, Clarke, Harden, and the two Hammonds pushed the siege with great vigor. After the capture of Granby, Lee joined them with his legion, and Browne soone afterwards surrendered. Pickens, LeRoy and Samuel Hammond then proceeded to Ninety-Six to assist General Greene. When the siege of Ninety-Six was raised, the Hammonds were sent westwardly and northwestwardly to protect Greene on his retreat, by preventing annoyance from the Tories.

From the mountains they were instructed to proceed eastwardly to the Congaree. Proceeding eastwardly they fell in with the rear of the British army under Col. Cruger retreating from Ninty-Six to Orangeburg, and captured some baggage and made several prisoners. Here, LeRoy Hammond returned home; but he had scarcely reached his home when he was called out to aid General Greene in the battle of Eutaw. Near Granby he was met by a messenger from Governor Rutledge, at Camden, who required his presence there immediately. While he was at Camden with the governor the battle at Eutaw was fought. From this period until the close of the war, he was engaged in scouting, but met no more British troops in regular battle array.

After the war, LeRoy Hammond resumed business as a merchant in partnership with John Lewis Gervais, of Charleston, SC. He was a member of the Legislature for many years, sometimes as Representative and sometimes as Senator. Of his character as a soldier, as a legislator, as a citizen, as a neighbor, as a man, too much cannot be said in his praise. He was an Episcopalian in religion by education and practice.

He died at Snow Hill, near New Richmond, in 1790. He left one son, LeRoy, who was a captain in the Revolution at sixteen years of age.



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