SCOUTING AROUND: Family keeps Revolutionary War hero's story alive
On a hill in Hiwassee Dam lies the remains of one of our country’s first heroes. Samuel Reed was a patriot who served multiple times in the Revolutionary War, marching all over North and South Carolina while narrowly escaping death.
“I thought revolution must have been on his mind to re-up so many times ... He wanted change. He was tired of oppression,” said Ed Reid, Samuel’s great-great-great-great-grandson. (The spelling of the family’s last name was changed in the late 1800s, likely as an effect of the Trail of Tears.) “I’m proud of his stance.”
His wife, Carol, first learned about Samuel’s Revolutionary War service several years ago while waiting for their daughter to finish working at the Murphy Public Library. Carol decided to make use of her time by looking at records in the genealogy room for fun. She came across Robert Reed’s 1876 obituary, which mentioned his father, Samuel Reed, “was a soldier in the War of the Revolution of 1776.”
Ed said he wasn’t surprised by Samuel’s service to the country. However, she became more impressed with the man as he and his wife did more research and acquired the massive research results of his cousin, Ruby Miller, who was living in Arkansas.
Samuel was one of seven brothers who fought in the Revolutionary War. His service began in October 1778, when he volunteered under Capt. James Nichols in Rowan County.
“We were marched by General (Griffith) Rutherford to Purrysburg on Savannah River,” Samuel said in his 1832 pension application, transcribed by Will Graves. “There was a small party of our company sent over the river and fell in with General (John) Ashe. We were surprised by the British, and a number of our men were killed and taken prisoners. This was at a place called Brier Creek.
“A large number tried to get back to the main army, which lay across the river. There were a good many drowned. I swam the river and got back safe.”
He was discharged in March 1779, but volunteered again by December. He served for three months, marching to Charleston, S.C., and staying there until his service ended. The day after he left was the Siege of Charleston.
He volunteered three more times, serving as an express rider for the Battle of King’s Mountain in South Carolina, then serving under Gen. William Lee Davidson in the Battle of Cowan’s Ford and guarding prisoners at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, and finally under Col. Malmedy, with whom he marched to Camden, S.C., and fought in the Battle of Eutaw Springs.
In that final battle, a bullet went through his hunting shirt but did not hit his body. After the battle, he marched prisoners up to Rowan County, where he was discharged the final time near Salisbury.
“It wasn’t easy, all the walking he did, my goodness,” Ed said. “I just drove all over South Carolina, and I can’t imagine walking it.”
As if serving five times in the Revolutionary War wasn’t enough, Samuel volunteered to serve one more time for the War of 1812, when he was more than 60 years old.
Samuel and his wife Rachel – along with their son and his wife, Robert and Elizabeth Mashburn Reed – moved after purchasing land in the Shoal Creek area in 1848. They are among the original land owners in Cherokee County and are in the first book of land records. He died in 1851, living to be 101.
Since then, service has continued through the generations. Ed was a Marine until he was medically discharged, his father (Clyde Arthur Reid) fought in World War II and his grandfather (George Oscar Reid) fought in World War I.
Ed isn’t the only one with a patriot in the family. His wife is related to one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Robert Treat Paine of Massachusetts. “It made me feel very honored,” Carol said of learning of her ancestor. “To put your name on that, you could have been killed.”
Her parents learned about their relation to Paine after being inspired to look into family history by the book Roots by Alex Haley.
The Reids are both active in their respective organizations for descendants of patriots. Ed is historian for the Blue Ridge Mountains chapter of Sons of the American Revolution, while Carol is vice regent of the Archibald D. Murphey chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution. They enjoy traveling to the locations their ancestors once did, learning more about them and sharing what they’ve learned.
The organizations can help people find out more information about their ancestors and acquire documents to prove they are related to those who participated in the American Revolution. For details about SAR, call President Sid Turner at 706-745-3410. For details about DAR, call Regent Sandy Shoch at 828-839-0241.
Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, firstname.lastname@example.org; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.