Thursday, July 6, 2017

Revolutionary War Patriot & Spy: John Brumfield

John Brumfield

27 June 1750 VA - 6 May 1845 LA
My 5th great grand uncle

When reviewing my Brumfield family research I found that I was getting the various John Brumfields confused. I stopped and reviewed my sources. That review led me to fold3 where I found the Pension folder for this John Brumfield. The folder is over 50 pages and I have more to explore. 

Meanwhile, I copied out his statement which includes his service in a light horse regiment, participation in several battles, service under The Swamp Fox & General Sumter and his time as a spy! This is a lengthy post but it is full of interesting details. John served from 1775 to 1782 and his statement reflects that long service.

State of Louisiana, Parish of Washington, 20 May 1833

On this day of May the Twenty, Eighteen Hundred and thirty three personally appeared before me Ths. C. Warner Judge of the parish of Washington now sitting,
John Brumfield, one of the justices of the place for this parish, a resident of the parish of Washington State of Louisiana aged Eighty three years who being duly Sworn allowing to law oath on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the Congress -?- June the 7th 1832 … he entered the Service of the United States of America under the following named officers and served as herein states first served six months in the light horse Regiment No. 1 under Colonel Thompson. Edward Richardson was my captain. Louis Detor was Lieut. General Richardson commanded. Richard his son was colonel of a militia Reg. of infantry. Colonel Thompson lives on the … The Regiment mustered first on Mealy Township forty miles from Charles Town, our muster ground was in the woods in a suitable place for water above the fork of the Crig Nee (?) and Water Nee (?). The Regt. was about Six hundred men strong. Frank Boylan was a captain… Regt. Assembled and served Six months before any attack made by the British… after the Regt. Had been mustered we were ordered to Reedy River high up in South Carolina. Richard Richardson Colonel commanded a Regiment of the militia infantry and that Regt. marched with us his father the general commanded the whole expedition. We had a long march to reach Reedy River and had very cold weather. The day before the attack we marched the whole night for fear of being discovered and kept on so near that we could see them near their fires and then stopped and had to wait for day to begin the attack. That night was very cold. The Torys were -?- in the woods near about one thousand strong. They were commanded by Cunningham. The action began at sun up or before. We surprised them so well that they had to surrender before they had lives to prepare for fighting. We took 3 or 4 hundred as prisoners… The place of that action went by the name of Snowy Camp on Reedy River.

[The Snow Campaign, fought December 1775. Patriots marched through several feet of snow. On December 22nd, Col. Richardson detached 1,300 troops to attack the camp of Capt. Patrick Cunningham that had stopped to rest on Cherokee lands. Capt. Cunningham warned his men to fend for themselves and they all ran into the woods. He was able to escape on horseback and hide at a camp. Col. Richardson considered the upcountry to be pacified and turned his army homeward. He couldn't stay because winter was coming and his army had no tents, their shoes were worn out, and they were badly clothed. Along the way home, it snowed for thirty hours, dumping nearly two feet on the weary Patriots.]

From there we went back to the place we had started and were all discharged at the end of the six months.

When came orders to draft the militia we went on high hills of Santee and in going back -?- all night at General Marion’s house as it was in my way home. We were dismissed at Santee. [Santee is a town in Orangeburg County along the Santee River Valley in central SC.]. I refused to be drafted. I served as a volunteer in Nathaniel Moor’s Company as a Sergeant and was a Sergeant during all the war.  We went to Charles Town and was there when the British attacked Sullivan Island. [In another statement John Brumfield said he was “no less than two years in that Regt. until it was nearly taken at the Surrender of Charleston and disbanded… p 25]

[Battle of Sullivan’s Island, fought 28 June 1776. The battlefield was a large island commanding the entrance to Charleston harbor, SC. At the end of Sullivan's Island the Americans had built a fort of 16 feet wide palmetto logs filled with sand. The land assault was frustrated when the channel between the islands was found to be too deep to wade, and the American defenses prevented an amphibious landing. The naval bombardment had little effect due to the sandy soil and the spongy nature of the fort's palmetto log construction. Careful fire by the defenders wrought significant damage on the British fleet, which withdrew after an entire day's bombardment. The British withdrew their expedition force to New York, and did not return to South Carolina until 1780.]

That regiment was commanded by Nat Singleton and kept his quarters on the high hills of Santee. We did not meet with any action of consequence but partial skirmishes with the Tories and some of them most every week. By that time Charleston surrendered to Sir Clinton, everything got to be in confusion and remained so for some time. A great many people took parole to the British, others kept away. The British then began to fortify and build forts and redoubts in different places. The Tories then joined them and -?- where the British built forts and gathered in the forts. The Whigs had then to hide and dodge about and I did so among others until I heard that Col. Marion was gathering men and I met up with him and found him near Scots Lake on Santee.

[Colonel Francis Marion, the “Swamp Fox”. Marion was a soldier, whose guerilla warfare techniques severely crippled British campaigns in the South, and helped to ensure American victory in the War for Independence. He collected a ragged band of followers and slipped into hiding in the swampy lowlands of British-occupied SC.]

His envoy was small, not more than thirty or forty men. I joined him as a volunteer and served with him as a Sergeant. 

[In another statement John Brumfield said, “I was always with General Marion from a short time after the Surrender of Charleston to Sir Clinton until was concluded on 30th of November 1782 and to the best of my recollection it was not less than three years and in all that time I was not employed in no civil pursuit, we were always in the field and the camp was my home; when I went to see my family I hide it so never slept in my home. Times were very dangerous, never had but short time at home...I have served about all the time from 1775 to 1782. All during the war I was all the time within the boundaries of the State of South Carolina. I went all about it after the British and after the Tories. I was in a great number of engagements for Marion was always at it.” p 25]

After I had joined him General Sumter came also with a Regiment to attack Scots Lake Fort and great many came and joined them.

[General Thomas Sumter served his country under four presidents. General Thomas Sumter's service to his country during the Revolutionary War is well known and documented. He died June 1, 1832 at his home in Stateburg; SC and was the last surviving General of the American Revolution.]

 I believe also there was at the attack of Scots Lake Fort town troops from other states. We took the fort paroled the British and -?- then to Charleston about forty Tories were made prisoners and south to Pee Dee [The Pee Dee region of South Carolina is the northeastern corner of the state. It is the area of the lower watershed of the Pee Dee River.] and I was one away … When we got there we were informed that about 25 miles from there on Drowning (?) Creek on Little Pee Dee the -?- Mulattoes [Mulatto is a term used to refer to persons born of one white parent and one black parent or to persons born of a mulatto parent or parents. In English, the term is today generally confined to historical contexts.] had gathered and were making war against the Whigs [Patriots were also known as Revolutionaries, Continentals, Rebels, or American Whigs] … Col. Culp burnt his house and committed great waste. Captain Sparks belonging to Col. Culp’s Regt. went to Capt. Hynson who commanded the company that had escorted the prisoners to Pee Dee to inquire if he could not get some Body that could be trusted to go over to the mulattoes and see what was their -?- and strengths to be best able to make an attack on them. Capt. Hynson told him that he had nobody with him fit for such business but me but did not know -?- I would -?- on such an expedition. Death was certain if the mulattoes had discovered the plan. I would not like much such undertaking but on the other hand -?- free mulattoes -?- doing great deal of mischief and it was time to put a stop to it. I told Cap. Hynson that I would go provided another -?- would go with me, having found out that was -?- I went to the mulatto camp Capt. Swet was their main chief. We introduced ourselves under false names. I took the name of John Brown. We found them to be about Six hundred strong, well organized, well armed, well mounted, disposed to fight until death. They prepared and -?- every Day and in my opinion it would have taken a very strong force to subdue them. In several conversations I had with them I suggested to them it would not be as well to be friendly with the Whigs. They said they would rather do so and provided they would be let alone they would remain neutral. After remaining Eight days with the mulattoes on Little Pee Dee I hired one of their men and give him two gold guineas to pilot me back to Pee Dee. I returned from there to our camp and went and reported my -?- to Col. Dick Richardson. I saw him afterwards I learned that a -?- has been cancelled with the Mulattoes. From Scots Lake Marion and Sumpter went and took a fort from the British at Col. Thompson on the Cong (?) Rees from there I went with Marion to Orangeburg to attack the British but Marion and Sumpter thought they were Strong. We turned round and went to Col. Lee with his regular light horse men was along also and had been Begings Church thirty miles from Charleston and were also with us at the taking of Scots Lake fort. Was a party of the British they attacked us but we beat them, killed -?- and made some prisoners, it was -?- close in the evening, the British had still -?- the place and had -?- the church we camped by all night and prepared to storm the church next day but at day light we perceived that the British had evacuated. We followed them and overtook them twelve miles from Charleston. There was a heavy engagement. Several of our men were killed, upwards of forty were wounded. The British kept up their guard. That night we camped there also. Marion and Sumpter had about 1,000 men. The British were about five hundred and had some artillery. We expected a battle the nest day but the British retreated during the night. From there we returned to Santee and in going back -?- all night at General Marion’s house as it was in my way home. We were dismissed at Santee. [Santee is a town in Orangeburg County along the Santee River Valley in central SC.] Those that wished to go home went and I went among the rest. I then lived in the County now called Sumpter County from that -?- the British were very near gone, none remained but some Tories in Camden…

I served with Marion about two years with him in most of all his engagements, furnished my self with arms and horses, of which I lost two in the Campaign, never received no pay whatever During the time I was with Marion part of the time -?- in James Clark company. After that campaign was over we were drafted again and I did send a substitute in my place but he soon came back, the war was over, and people have been -?-

This applicant requests of General Green at Statsburg on Santee when he went to -?- Springs on Santee where a hard battle was fought. This -?- also declares that he has no documentary evidence and that he knows of two persons in this country whose testimony, he can provide who can certify to his Service, he can also Declare that he got a Discharge that he kept until -?- twelve years back he finally lost it, has further stated that if he was in South Carolina he expects he could find persons living who could certify to his service and if General Marion and General Sumter were yet alive he would have no other.

Source: NARA, The Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files; Fold 3 ( June 2017) 3 – 9; John Brumfield.


  1. I love it when I review what I have and it leads me something cool. Congratulations on your great find.

  2. This is an awesome condensed history lesson. Thoroughly enjoyed. Thanks.

    1. Thanks, Charlie. John Brumfield was there at a very important time in our country's history. Researching his service was like taking a history class.

  3. It is thrilling reading about the battles that our Revolutionary War patriot ancestors fought in. When they rubbed elbows with the men who made it into our history books, it is all the more exciting. One of mine marched to meet up with Lafayette. Lafayette! Did they talk or did he just see Lafayette at a distance?! Great stories.

    1. Wendy, history seems more exciting when our ancestors are standing shoulder to shoulder with historical characters. Our families were there & influenced history. Hooray!


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