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South Carolina's Revolutionary Heroine

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
February 15, 2023 3:01 am

South Carolina's Revolutionary Heroine

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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February 15, 2023 3:01 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, our regular contributor from South Carolina, Dennis Peterson, shares the story of Dicey Langston...an American Revolutionary War heroine who saved her family and fellow patriots from one of the most notorious gangs of Tory outlaws at the time.  

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Take it away, Dennis. The pyramid-shaped stone monument seems out of place in its location, the yard of a private residence on Tigerville Road just north of Travelers Rest, South Carolina. That nondescript pile of rocks with a bronze plaque on the front side at its base commemorates the life and brave actions of a great American heroine. Born Laodicea Langston on May 14, 1766 in the Lawrence district of the British colony of South Carolina, she was called Dicey by her friends and family members. Her mother had died when Dicey was young, so she was reared by her father, Solomon Langston, and her older brothers. When the war for independence erupted, her brothers left home to join the Patriot forces. Before they left, however, one brother, James, gave her a musket and instructed her to hide it until he came back for it. He later sent a comrade, Thomas Springfield, to retrieve it for him. Dicey immediately went to fetch it from its hiding place, but when she returned, she pointed it at the man and demanded that he give her the secret counter sign that she and James had agreed upon earlier. She cocked the musket and pointed it at him.

He quickly gave the counter sign, and she surrendered the gun to him. She would see more of Springfield later. Although her brothers were away from home, their camp was only about 20 miles from the Langston farm, and they remained in contact with Dicey and helped instill in her a love for and devotion to the Patriot cause. Soon, British and Loyalist troops set up their own camp not far from the Langston farm, and Dicey noted everything the Loyalists had to say about the camp. Dicey then relayed that information to her brothers, enabling the Patriot troops to foil many of the Tories' military plans. The Tories began to suspect that a spy was at work among or near them.

Their plans were being discovered and foiled before they could set them in motion. Because of the proximity of the Langston farm to their encampment, Dicey was able to find a way out of the camp. She was able to find a way out of the camp, and they naturally suspected that Solomon Langston was that spy. They visited his farm and threatened severe consequences if they ever proved his guilt. To avoid that danger, Solomon then forbade any further efforts by Dicey to inform the Patriot forces of Tory activities. For a time, Dicey obeyed her father's instructions. But one day, she learned that a band of ruthless Tory outlaws known as the Bloody Scouts were planning to attack the Patriot force at Little Eaton, where her brothers were encamped. The Scouts were led by a Tory named Bloody Bill Cunningham, and they were infamous for their ruthless cruelty in punishing families who favored the Patriot cause. She had to warn her brothers, even if it meant disobeying her father.

But how? No one was available to send with the warning. She would have to go herself. Late that night, after her father and the servants had gone to bed, Dicey slipped from the house and began her journey on foot. To avoid discovery, she was forced to avoid all roads and go through wet fields and tangled forests in the darkness. The weather was cold, and heavy rain was falling in a blowing wind. She had to cross several swollen, fast-flowing creeks, but then she came to the overflowing Inaree River.

It was deep, the current was swift, and there was no bridge on which to cross the raging waters. The raging currents swept her downstream, turning her around and around in the darkness before she was able to regain her footing and drag herself onto the opposite shore. She soon regained her bearings and resumed her errand to warn them of the Tory's impending attack. She reached the Patriot camp just as the men were returning from a mission. They were tired and hadn't eaten for quite some time. In spite of her own condition, Dicey built a fire and prepared meals for the soldiers. While she cooked, she told them of the Tory's planned surprise attack. They first ran to warn the Patriot farmers who lived nearby, and then they escaped to fight another day. Dicey, meanwhile, retraced her steps through the darkness and over the difficult terrain.

She arrived home just in time to slip into dry clothes and begin fixing breakfast for her father before he arose. He never knew until later what had happened. Bloody Bill Cunningham and his scouts fell on the Patriot camp expecting to slaughter the Patriot troops.

Instead, they found it deserted. They immediately suspected that Solomon Langston had warned the Patriots and were determined to kill him in retaliation. When they arrived at the Langston farm, they caught Solomon there.

He, of course, truthfully denied having any knowledge of what they alleged he had done. When an angry Tory shoved a pistol into Solomon's chest, Dicey jumped between the two men, daring the Tory to shoot her. Apparently impressed by her bravery and audacity, or shamed by the prospect of shooting a defenseless woman, the Tories relented and left the farm without harming anyone. After the war, Dicey married Thomas Springfield.

Yes, the man she had threatened to shoot when he came for her brother's gun. They moved to Traveler's Rest in Greenville County and reared a family of 22 children. After living a full life of 71 years, Dicey died on May 23rd, 1837, and was buried in the family plot behind their cabin. But Dicey's legacy lives on, kept alive by the Daughters of the American Revolution, the City of Traveler's Rest, the Greenville County Council, and the Traveler's Rest Historical Society. It was of people of such courage and moral character as Dicey Langston that our nation was born.

And a terrific job on the production by Monty Montgomery and a special thanks to Dennis Peterson for sharing the story of Dicey Langston with our audience. And by the way, it's a remarkable thing to tell and hear stories about the Revolutionary War because the deeper we get, the more we realize it was our first Civil War. We had Americans fighting against Americans, Americans risking their life at the end of the Civil War. We had Americans fighting against at the risk of other Americans finding out what other Americans had done, loyalists on one side, patriots on the other. And one third of the country was for the patriots, one third was against. And roughly one third were probably hiding under their beds, hoping it would pass over. So the idea that America has never been more divided than now, well, not true.

And America has survived so much worse than anything we think may be going on now. And by the way, to find our podcasts or search for our podcasts, all the work we do here on Our American Stories, go to the I Heart Radio app or wherever you get your podcasts. The story of Dicey Langston, a revolutionary heroine, here on Our American Stories. Ready to play some tennis? Let's do it. Are you going to put your phone away? No. Roto makes it so easy to buy a car. I can do both at once. It's really that easy?

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-19 14:44:37 / 2023-02-19 14:49:03 / 4

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