Nathanael Greene and Thomas Sumter appearing at the 225th Anniversary of the Siege on Star Fort.
General Thomas Sumter was born in Virginia on August 14, 1734. Like George Washington he had a lackluster education and engaged in surveying. He became a sergeant in the Virginia Militia's campaign against the Cherokees. His exploits during that time were exemplary and heroic. However, when he briefly returned to his home in Virginia, he was arrested for an old debt. He escaped from Staunton Prison and made his way overland to South Carolina where he invested his savings in land and slaves, opened a crossroads store and earned such respect from the community that he was made a justice of the peace in 1766.
In a biography of General Joseph Martin, there is a letter from his son William Martin which contains an anecdote. It first appeared in the "Virginia Magazine of History and Biography", volume 8, number 4 (April, 1901). Joseph Martin and Thomas Sumter had served together in the Indian Wars.
This was during the war '56, and here I will digress a little from the thread of the narrative, in order to bring in an anecdote, showing in a small way something of the features of the times; for it is by smalls that you get a whole. My father in his raising among other boys of the same temperament, became associated with Tom _____, General Sumpter, who so distinguished himself as the partizan chief in South Carolina during the war of the Revolution, and went with him to the war. Behold these two hapless youths, those turbulent spirits that could not be tamed with the ordinary pursuits of civil life, rushing along like water seeking its own level, four or five hundred miles through mostly a wilderness interspersed with hostile savages in quest of aliment that might satisfy their craving appetites. Little did they, or any body else think at the time, that these were some of the rising spirits that were to lead in the revolution which afterwards gave liberty to this country. How long they remained in the army or the part they acted there, is not known, though it is thought a good while. Sumpter returned first. My father, on his return, found him in jail at Staunton, Virginia, for debt. He obtained permission to lodge a night in prison with his friend. In the morning, when he went out he left with Sumpter his tomahawk and ten guineas, and with one or both of which he escaped from prison. Soon afterwards he went to South Carolina, changed his course of life and became distinguished, as is known to all who have read the history of the Revolution. Thus were they separated for many years; and until at length my father was at Richmond, Virginia, a member of the legislature; Sumpter was a member of Congress, and on his way home called at Richmond where they met for the first time in more than thirty years. What a meeting this must have been! to talk over old matters and things! They had both now become old and highly elevated in the temple of Fame. What proud satisfaction they must have felt in the retrospection! Before they separated Sumpter handed my father twenty guineas — having reference to the prison.