Other names: Edgehill's Plantation
What:19 Nov 1781 Col. Hayes vs. *Maj. Cunningham
Maps: [map notes]
- NBBAS:Three, p.397.
Hayes Station, South Carolina
"The Bloody Scout"
19 November 1781
After the massacre at Cloud’s Creek, Major William Cunningham rode to the house of his old commander, Major John Caldwell. When he arrived at the gate he hailed Caldwell. When the Major walked out and was within a few paces of Bloody Bill, the Loyalist drew his pistol and shot him dead in the presence of his wife. She fainted as she saw him fall.
Bloody Bill crossed to the south side of the Saluda River and proceeded up the Cherokee Path. This was an old trading route to the Cherokee Nation. The Loyalists rode up the path to Anderson’s Mills, where they burned an abandoned militia post.
Cunningham crossed the river and headed into what is now Laurens County, to Hayes Station. Colonel Joseph Hayes commanded the military station at Edgehill Plantation. Hayes had been warned of the presence of Cunningham’s force, but after a scouting expedition returned with no evidence of Loyalist activity he refused to heed any warnings.
When Cunningham’s riders pulled up to Hayes Station Hayes barely had enough time to get his men in the post. Cunningham and his riders were described as all wearing "Lincoln green." Cunningham warned Hayes that if any shots were fired everyone would be killed. Inside the fort were two of Colonel James Williams’ sons, Daniel, eighteen years old, and Joseph, fourteen years old. Colonel Williams had died at the fighting on King’s Mountain. As the Loyalists approached someone in the fort fired a shot that killed one of Cunningham’s men.
Cunningham sent in a flag of truce and said that if the post surrendered he would spare all. Hayes refused to surrender, trusting that reinforcements would arrive soon. The fight continued for several hours until Cunningham’s men managed to set fire to the roof by shooting flaming ramrods wrapped in pitched soaked rags. They also threw irons that had been heated in a blacksmith’s shop nearby on the roof. Choking from the smoke Hayes and his men surrendered. Thomas Young wrote that "Daniel Williams threw his father's pistols into the flames, exclaiming that he would rather see them burn, than go into the hands of a Tory."
Cunningham decided to hang all the Patriots on the pole of a fodder stack. When he was about to hang Colonel Hayes and Captain Daniel Williams, Joseph Williams cried out, "Oh, brother Daniel, what will I tell mother?"
Cunningham replied "You will tell her nothing, you damned rebel suckling!" and he cut the boy down with his sword. The rope that was holding Hayes and Williams broke and Bloody Bill killed both of them with his sword. Cunningham killed one other man with his sword, swinging the sword until he collapsed from exhaustion.
The rest of the prisoners were turned over to his men, who killed any that they had a real or an imagined grudge against. Only two of the Patriots were killed in the fighting, the rest were murdered after the surrender.
One of Loyalists was "a man by the name of Love" who "traversed over the ground where lay the dead & the dying, his former neighbours & old Acquaintances, & as he saw Signs of Life in any of them, he ran his sword thro’ & dispatched him. Those already dead he stabbed again: & when others seemingly without Life, pierced by the point of his Sword were involuntarily convulsed with the pain, to these he gave new wounds; lest any in so dreadful a Calamity might sham death to avoid it."
That night Cunningham camped at Odell’s Mills. The next morning he began his retreat to Charlestown. Cunningham knew that there were numerous bands of angry Patriots in pursuit of his "Bloody Scout." The nearest danger was Colonel Samuel Hammond and his men. Lieutenant William Butler was one of Hammond’s men and the son of one of the men killed at Cloud’s Creek.
Resistance to the "Bloody Scout" had been slow at first, due to a lack of ammunition, but Colonel LeRoy Hammond and Colonel John Purves had transported a supply of powder and shot across the Savannah River just for the retaliation against Bloody Bill and his Bloody Scouts.
- Charles Baxley has provided this annotated Hayes Station research map. Click on link or image to see full size.
- Sherman, "Calendar..." . Search for hayes' station. . To avoid long downloads, use option to "Save and view this PDF in Reader".
listing 19 November 1781.
Related sites: Mudlick Creek, Fort Williams, Williams Cemetery, Roebuck's Defeat
Confidence level: 4