By Jeannette Holland Austin
The study of the pension record of Thomas Ramsey brings to question the number of miles he walked and the sufferings and hardships of the patriots during the Revolutionary War. Of course, all such pensions of worthy of reading, because these were our brave ancestors who sacrificed everything to provide a free America. Somewhere in those pensions are the true facts of our individual ancestors who made history. Forget about the history books written years afterwards by persons who were not participants and which only provide but a thin outline of sketchy facts.
Thomas Ramsey of Henry County first volunteered in 1775 militia in South Carolina, now Abbeville District under the command of Capt. James McCall. His unit marched to Ninety Six under Colonel Andrew Williamson and remained about two weeks when Colonel Robert Cunningham, afterwards General in the British service, came to attack. The troops quickly threw up a breastwork which they manned for two days before a cessation of war was agreed upon for twenty five days (November 1775). Afterwards, Capt. McCall was taken prisoner and Lieutenant Calhoun killed by the Indians. The command of the company devolved upon Ramsey who was in command during May of 1780 when Charleston was taken by the British army. As expressed in his pension, he had a choice. Either join the British, run away from the State or "lie out." He chose the latter and continued to hide until General Greene came through the back country a year later. He left his hiding place to to join Greene. He went with the company of Robert Cawther and beseiged Ninety-Six for five weeks until the British finally evacuated. Then, when General Greene marched to the east of Santee, private Ramsey followed General Pickens to Eutaw Springs where they were joined by the State Troops under Generals Marion and Sumpter where the battle occurred. The day before the Battle of Eutaw Springs commenced, two rifle companies were raised to protect the Horse (company) of Colonel Washington. Meanwhile, Colonel Pickens commanded Ramsey to be stationed on the right wing to the left of the enemy while his company remained in the battle until near dark, then retreat under a general order. However, General Pickens sent for Ramsey who accompaned him to General Greene where he was appointed the commander of sixty men to eye the movements of the enemy. Ramsey took his stand near the camp of the enemy where he remained burying the dead of both armies.
Battle of Kettle Creek February 14, 1779.
At the time of the battle of Kettle Creek, Thomas Ramsey, along with Charles Collins, D. Kate and George Barber were acting as spies to ascertain the number of Tories then under arms and were marching to Savannah. Ramsey stationed himself on the declivity of a hill on one side and George Barber on the declivity of the other side. The Tories were expected to pass on the top of the hill, which they did, except that they had about forty stragglers who had fallen behind. But Ramsey thought that they had all passed and returned to the trail. The stragglers passed within fifteen paces of Ramsey unobserved. To save himself, Ramsey stepped aside and hollowed out to them.
"Boys, what are you doing here? Colonel Boyd left me behind to tell you the rebels are close behind."
The Tories dashed off on their horses and left Ramsey safe. Then Barber asked him, " How did you escape?". Ramsey responded that "hell was never made for him!"
The rebels proceeded to overtake the stragglers, loosing fourteen men but finding forty seven of the Tories killed. British Colonel Boyd was wounded an died that evening. After that battle, Ramsey continued defending the frontier until March of 1782 when joined the militia and marched a to Bacons Bridge, twenty one miles from Charleston. He went on several scouting expeditions including through the Cherokee Nation over Cumberland Gap into the Tennessee Valley and down the river beds of that country to Cherokee villages.