The Little River District Regiment of Militia was formed in February of 1775, in what is now Laurens County, SC. As the area split into Loyalist and Patriot, pitting neighbor against neighbor. Col. James Williams was made commander of this regiment. I doubt seriously if any other family sacrificed more for the Patriot cause than the Williams family. James Williams was killed at King’s Mountain. His sons, Daniel and Joseph, lost their lives at the horror of Hayes Station.
“The South Carolina Provincial Congress had promoted Williams to the rank of brigadier general, but he died before the commission could be delivered. In 2005, the South Carolina General Assembly confirmed the rank originally bestowed upon him 225 years before. In the same act, Gen. Williams was further honored by renaming the Little River Bridge, “James Williams Memorial Bridge”, marking the northeast corner of what had been his plantation.”
From the State of South Carolina
A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION TO REQUEST THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION NAME THE BRIDGE THAT CROSSES THE LITTLE RIVER ALONG SOUTH CAROLINA HIGHWAY 72 IN LAURENS COUNTY THE “PATRIOTS OF THE LITTLE RIVER REGIMENT MEMORIAL BRIDGE” IN HONOR OF THE LITTLE RIVER REGIMENT WHICH WAS A GATHERING OF PATRIOTS OF THE OLDE 96 DISTRICT DURING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY WAR, AND TO ERECT APPROPRIATE SIGNS OR MARKERS AT THIS BRIDGE THAT CONTAIN THE WORDS “PATRIOTS OF THE LITTLE RIVER REGIMENT MEMORIAL BRIDGE”.
Duncan Creek Presbyterian Church‘s congregation were active members of the Little River Regiment.
Petition of James Williams’ Little River Regiment Of Militia
In the following document, we have a petition by members of the Little River Regiment to the Gov. of S. C. protesting the arrest of their Commanding Officer, Col. James Williams. It is transcribed from a document in the Manuscript collection of the Wm. R. Perkins Library, Duke University. #5767 “James Williams Petition. The document is undated and signed with legible signatures of all included.
To his Excellency John Rutledge, Esqr., Governor & Commander in chief in & over the State of So. Carolina;
the Honourable the Senate & House of Representatives in General Assembly.
Whereas we (the zealous Friends to our Country, & to all who love & distinguish themselves in her Cause) do understand & are exceeding sorry to hear, that there are false & evilly designing Accusations either lying or about to be shortly laid against James Williams, present Colonel in & over Little River Regiment, of which we are a Part; representing him as distressing & very injurious to the Regiment, & designed (as we believe) by the private Enimies of our Country, to deprive us of so worthy a Friend to his Country in general, & good Officer to us in particular; & thereby do a very singular Piece of Service to the common Enimies of America: We do briefly & anxiously remonstrate thus; that we do experimentally know Colo. James Williams to have been a zealous Patriot from the Commencement of the american Contest with Britain; & to have always stood foremost in every Occasion when called upon to the Defence of his Country. We do further declare, that we
have never known said Colo. Jas. Williams to distress any Individual in the Regiment, who voluntarily & judiciously, when legally called upon & commanded to the Field, have turned out in the Defence of their native Rights & Priviledges together with that of their Country; & we do avow it from our Knowledge, that
whensoever Colo. Jas. Williams either directly or indirectly, executed any distressing Things, it was upon the stubborn & refractory, whose Practises & Obstinacy declare them innimical to their Country; & that this he did, as being the last promising Effort to reduce them to the dutiful Obedience of loyal & fellow Citizens.
Without delaying you; We your humble Petitioners do earnestly beg, that you will hear this our faithful Remonstrance, & proceed with our respected Colo. Jas. Williams, & all such unjust & disaffected Clamours as may come before you against him, as your superior Judgements may direct; only beging leave to conclude
with this one Remark, that doubtless you know, that such Clamours are frequently the necessary Effect of Disaffection to the Country.”
The excerpt from the original, above, is courtesy of Mary Keith Adair Watts. I have many handwritten letters from corresponding with Mary Keith from years ago, when I first started researching. Treasures!
The pages below are from the research of Mildred Brownlee. This is excerpted from Mildred Brownlee, Early Adairs of Laurens County South Carolina (1990). These were taken in the Elaine Martin Local History Room at the Laurens County Library. Yes, that is my thumb, sorry.
Mildred Brownlee was an excellent researcher. Her information updates, and in some cases corrects, Esther Holland Pitts work, with referenced sources. Family tradition, availability of records at any given time, and a bit of an influence of trying to achieve and preserve DAR membership all contributed to some theories being unproven over time. Mrs. Brownlee had access to more information than Mrs. Pitts.
I fully agree with the research Mrs. Browlee has presented here, even though it changes some of the traditional family stories.
Resources and More Details
The Little River District Regiment of Militia – The American Revolution in SC
Roster and Brief History
Benjamin Adair, Isaac Adair, James Adair, Jr, John Adair, John Adair, Jr, Joseph Adair, Sr., Joseph Adair, Jr., William Adair
This is a great resource, with references listed.
The illustration is particularly chilling. From: The Journal of the American Revolution
From: A Miniature History of the American Revolution blog – Little River Regiment
The Turkey Creek Regiment of Militia – Roster & Engagements
William Adair, John Adair, Joseph Adair
Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution, Vol 1. No. 3 November 2004
1784, The Hanging of Matthew Love