Nisha Rathode (Editor)

Thomas Sumter

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Preceded by  Charles Pinckney
Preceded by  Position established
Succeeded by  John Taylor
Succeeded by  Richard Winn

Preceded by  Richard Winn
Name  Thomas Sumter
Succeeded by  Richard Winn
Thomas Sumter General Thomas Sumter YouTube
Role  Former United States Representative
Died  June 1, 1832, South Carolina, United States
Battles and wars  American Revolutionary War
Resting place  Sumter County, South Carolina
Previous offices  Senator (SC) 1801–1810
Similar People  Francis Marion, Andrew Pickens, Banastre Tarleton, Nathanael Greene, Horatio Gates

Member of congress start date  March 4, 1789

General thomas sumter

Thomas Sumter (August 14, 1734 – June 1, 1832) was a soldier in the Colony of Virginia militia; a brigadier general in the South Carolina militia during the American War of Independence, a planter, and a politician. After the United States gained independence, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives and to the United States Senate, where he served from 1801 to 1810, when he retired. Sumter was nicknamed the "Carolina Gamecock," for his fierce fighting style against British soldiers after they burned down his house during the Revolution.


Thomas Sumter Florida Memory Brigadier General Thomas Sumter

Family life

Thomas Sumter Thomas Sumter ClipArt ETC

Thomas Sumter was born in Hanover County, Province of Virginia. Little is known of his parentage. Given just a rudimentary education on the frontier, the young Sumter enlisted in the Virginia militia.

The Timberlake Expedition

Thomas Sumter httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommons99

At the end of the Anglo-Cherokee War, in 1761, Sumter was invited to join what was to become known as the "Timberlake Expedition," organized by Colonel Adam Stephen and led by Henry Timberlake (who had volunteered for the assignment). The purpose of the expedition was to visit the Overhill Cherokee towns and renew friendship with the Cherokee People following the war. The small expeditionary party consisted of Timberlake, Sumter (who was partially financing the venture with borrowed money), an interpreter named John McCormack, and a servant.

At one point early in the nearly year and a half long journey, an entry in Timberlake's journal describes Sumter's swimming nearly a half-mile in the icy waters to retrieve their canoe, which had drifted away while they were exploring a cave. The party arrived in the Overhill town of Tomotley on December 20, where they were greeted by the town's head man, Ostenaco (or "Mankiller") and soon found themselves participants in a peace pipe ceremony.

In the following weeks, Sumter and the group attended peace ceremonies in several Overhill towns, such as Chota, Citico, and Chilhowee.

Return to the colonies and a trip abroad

The party, along with several Beloved Men of the Cherokee, arrived in Williamsburg, Virginia on the James River in early April 1762. While in Williamsburg, Ostenaco professed his desire to meet the king of England. In May 1762, Timberlake, Sumter, and three distinguished Cherokee leaders, including Ostenaco, departed for London. Arriving in early June, the Indians were an immediate attraction, drawing crowds all over the city.

The three Cherokee accompanied Sumter back to North America, landing on about August 25, 1762, in South Carolina where Sumter became stranded due to financial difficulties. He petitioned the Virginia Colony for reimbursement of his travel expenses, but was denied. He was subsequently imprisoned for debt in Virginia. When his friend and fellow soldier, Joseph Martin, arrived in Staunton, Martin asked to spend the night with Sumter in jail. Martin gave Sumter ten guineas and a tomahawk. Sumter used the money to buy his way out of jail in 1766. When Martin and Sumter were reunited some thirty years later, Sumter repaid the money.

Sumter settled in Stateburg in the High Hills of Santee in the Claremont (later the Sumter) District. He married Mary Jameson in 1767, and together they opened several small businesses and became successful planters, and Sumter raised a local militia group.

American Revolutionary War

In February 1776, Sumter was elected lieutenant colonel of the Second Regiment of the South Carolina Line of which he was later appointed colonel. He subsequently was appointed brigadier general, a post he held until the end of the war. He participated in several battles in the early months of the war, including the campaign to prevent an invasion of Georgia. Perhaps his greatest military achievement was his partisan campaigning, which contributed to Lord Cornwallis' decision to abandon the Carolinas for Virginia.

Sumter acquired the nickname, "Carolina Gamecock," during the American Revolution for his fierce fighting tactics. After the Battle of Blackstock's Farm, British General Banastre Tarleton commented that Sumter "fought like a gamecock", and Cornwallis described the Gamecock as his "greatest plague."

After the war

After the Revolution, Sumter was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives, serving from March 4, 1789 – March 3, 1793 and from March 4, 1797 – December 15, 1801. He was later selected by the legislature to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Senator Charles Pinckney. Sumter served in the Senate until his resignation on December 16, 1810.

Sumter's son, Thomas Sumter Jr., was an Ambassador to Brazil, and the father of South Carolina Congressman Thomas De Lage Sumter.

Sumter died on June 1, 1832 at South Mount (his plantation near Stateburg), at the age of 97 years. He was buried at the Thomas Sumter Memorial Park in Sumter County.


The namesake town, Sumter, South Carolina, erected a memorial to him. The town is dubbed "The Gamecock City" after his nickname. ("Gamecock" is one of the several traditional nicknames for a native of South Carolina.) The University of South Carolina's official nickname is the "Fighting Gamecocks." Since 1903 the college's teams have been simply known as the "Gamecocks."

Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, a fort planned after the War of 1812, was named for him. The fort is best known as the site upon which the shots initiating the American Civil War were fired, at the Battle of Fort Sumter.

Counties in South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Alabama are named for him.


Thomas Sumter Wikipedia