Like many of us, over the course of the adventure that is family research I’ve come across many soldiers – from the Revolution to World War II my family has it’s share of veterans. One, in particular, stands out – my 6th great-grandfather, Colonel James Williams. Colonel Williams was born in Virginia and moved to what is now Laurens County, South Carolina (were my family still lives today) in 1773. He served in two of the first General Assemblies in South Carolina – alongside Thomas Sumter who would become his biggest rival. He joined up with Patriot forces at the outbreak of the Revolution and traveled throughout the southern colonies fighting the British. He was the highest-ranking Patriot officer killed at the Battle of King’s Mountain and his death has been the subject of some academic debate. The most widely believed account, written by Thomas Sumter’s right-hand man says that Colonel Williams was killed by members of the patriot forces who hated him (incidentally, the author of this account was not present at the battle), however, the foremost expert on Colonel Williams disputes this claim.
Nevertheless, Colonel Williams has become a new fascination of mine. I ordered the only book I could find about him a little over a week ago and just picked it up this weekend. The book is an amazing source of information not just because someone has synthesized all of the available research on him, but also because the Appendix includes several letters from James to his family, as well as several other primary sources. Needless to say, I’ve had my nose buried in the book all day and I’ve been trying to find as much as I can about him.