The American Revolution in South Carolina

The Spartan Regiment of Militia

Month & Year Established:


Known Adjutants:

September 1775

Col. John Thomas, Sr.


Known Lt. Colonels:

Known Majors:

John Lisle, Sr.
? Wingate
William Wofford, Sr.
James Wood

Thomas Brandon
Thomas Gordon
John Thomas, Jr.

Known Quarter Masters:

George Salmon


Henry Story

Known Captains:

William Anderson

Andrew Barry

Lewis Bobo

Thomas Brandon

Zachariah Bullock

John Carter

Isaac Cook

Robert Faris

William Farr

Moses Gordon

John "Buck" Gowen

James Grant

William Houseal

Benjamin Jolly

Joseph Jolly

James Lisle

John Lisle, Jr.

James Lyndley

Daniel Mackie

Robert Maysfield

Vardry McBee

John McElhenney

John McIlhenny

Robert McWhorter

John Moore

William Plummer

John Steel

James Steen

John Thomas, Jr.

William Wadlington

John Walker

Benjamin Wofford

Joseph Wofford

William Wood


Known Lieutenants - Captain Unknown:

Levi Casey

John Clayton

Nathaniel Jeffries

Duncan McRae


John Moore

Known Ensigns - Captain Unknown:


John Thompson


Known Sergeants - Captain Unknown:


Known Corporals - Captain Unknown:


Known Privates / Fifers / Drummers / Etc. - Captain Unknown:

 John Bowdley

Fielding Curtis

John Dawkins

Jeremiah Dottey

James Hall

John Jeffries, Sr.

John Kelly

Samuel Mayfield

Henry Pettit

Daniel Quinn

Samuel Smith

John Towns, Jr.

Brief History of Regiment:

Sometime around September of 1775, the Spartan Regiment was organized and John Thomas became its Colonel. This regiment of men was made up of men from the upcountry. The regiment, loaded with ammunition from Fort Charlotte, was soon ready for engagement. In December of 1775, it participated in the "Snow Campaign."

Spartanburg County, South Carolina bears a proud Revolutionary War heritage. The county has more Revolutionary War engagement sites than practically any other locale in the United States. The fiercely independent upstate settlers rallied ‘round the cause' early on, with the Spartan Regiment being formed in the late summer of 1775.

As independent as they were, some could not see the sense in breaking away from the crown. Staunchly Loyalist settlers seethed beside neighbor Patriots. The first engagement seen by local troops involved not a single British soldier. That winter, the Spartan Regiment was bloodied along with other Patriot troops in a fight against regional Loyalists in the Battle of the Great Cane Break, along the Reedy River.

In July 1776, a new threat erupted. Alarmed at the news of a British fleet at Charleston, the Cherokee swept over the frontier borders in a maelstrom of violence. Whites fled to forts, but hundreds of settlers in the border areas were killed before a counterattack could be formed. In early 1777, the Spartan Regiment was split into two - the 1st Spartan Regiment and the 2nd Spartan Regiment.

Colonists all along the western frontier raised a large militia, which pursued the Indian army. As was often the case when European and Indian cultures clashed, many noncombatants suffered. The white militia destroyed scores of Cherokee villages and by mid-1777, Indian aggression collapsed. A treaty was signed in July 1777 forcing the Cherokee to relinquish most of their lands in South Carolina.

The British regained the colonists’ full attention in 1780, when they captured Charleston in May. The Redcoats began their trek inland over three main routes. Initially, the Patriots thought they were whipped. Their situation seemed hopeless, as they faced the might of the greatest military power on earth. Many laid down their arms and surrendered. Benjamin Roebuck did the opposite - he raised his own regiment - Roebuck's Batallion of Spartan Regiment.

The war very well could have ended then, but for the British’s savage violation of their own terms of surrender. At the Waxhaws at the end of the month, a troop of Virginians were slaughtered after throwing down their arms. Homes of independence-minded Carolinians were burned; their properties seized. The Patriots’ anger rose.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was the British order, in direct violation of their own terms of surrender, that the Patriots don the red coat to serve the crown. The Rebels took the order another way, concluding that the violation of their surrender released them from their parole. The time for peace had past.

The clashes that ignited in the ensuing months in Spartanburg County sent shock waves throughout the world. The area saw six engagements in four weeks, beginning in July with the first battle of Cedar Spring. In quick succession and escalating violence, there quickly followed the battles of Gowen’s Fort, Earle’s Ford, and Fort Prince; then came the second battle of Cedar Spring and the battle of Musgrove Mill. These battles set the stage for two decisive engagements.

Nearly two months later, Patriot forces assembled from several states scored a major victory at the nearby battle of Kings Mountain. The Patriot forces suffered less than 30 killed and some 60 wounded, but the troops of the crown bled red – nearly 160 killed, about 150 wounded and a staggering 760-odd taken prisoner. Most of the crown’s casualties were American Loyalists.

Kings Mountain was a great victory, but it was a merciless one. The British had not seen fit to honor their own terms of surrender. Now 760 men looked to the Rebels for compassion, but they found only hardened hearts. The prisoners were marched to the North Carolina foothills, where the Patriots held a trial and found 36 men guilty of Loyalist atrocities. They were sentenced to hang, though all but nine were pardoned.

Three months after Kings Mountain, the conflict returned in full fury to the Spartanburg County area, when Continental General Daniel Morgan gave British Colonel Banastre Tarleton “a devil of a whipping” at a crossroads known as the Cowpens. The battle at this holding area for cattle being driven to market put the British on the road to surrender at Yorktown.

After the war, some Loyalists fled to Canada. The settlers returned to the land, having subdued both the Cherokee and British threats. More settlements grew up in the area, and the new district began to form its government. Court officers originally met at several plantations, but legislative pressure forced them to choose an official site. In January 1787, they approved the purchase of two acres of land from Thomas Williamson for five shillings. The new courthouse was smack in the middle of the county. The town of Spartanburg was born.

William Smith was a Captain under Colonel John Thomas Jr. in the Spartan Regiment of General Sumter's Brigade. He also served as a Major and was in the battles at Hanging Rock, Old Iron Works, Musgrove's Mills, Fish Dam Ford, Blackstock's Plantation, Cowan's Ford, Guilford Court House, Fort Granby, Quinby Bridge, and in numerous skirmishes.

Benjamin West served as a private and sergeant in Captain William Smith's Company in the Spartan Regiment, South Carolina Calvary, commanded by Colonel John Thomas. He also served under Colonel Thomas Brandon's 2nd Spartan Regiment. Benjamin was captured and killed by a band of Patrick Ferguson's Loyalist Raiders in the summer of 1780. Ferguson met his own fate at the battle of Kings Mountain a few months later.


Known Battles / Skirmishes:

Nov. 19, 1775


Dec. 22, 1775

Great Cane Brake

Dec. 23-30, 1775

Snow Campaign

Jul. 15, 1776

Lyndley's Fort

 Aug. 1, 1776

Seneca Town

Aug. 8-11, 1776

Cherokee Towns

Aug. 12, 1776


Aug. 12, 1776

The Ring Fight

Sep. 19, 1776

Coweecho River (NC)

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