Little River District Militia Regiment (South Carolina)
Active 1777–1783
Country United States of America
Allegiance Continental Army
Type Infantry
Engagements Siege of Savannah
Battle of Musgrove Mill
Battle of Camden
Battle of Kings Mountain
Hayes Station Massacre
Cunningham's Bloody Scout
Col. James Williams
Col Hayes
  • Little River District Militia Regiment
  • AKA: Ninety-Six District Militia Regiment

Unit History[]


By 1773, James Henderson Williams (1740-1780) had started a farm and built a mill in Ninety-Six District on the South Carolina western frontier (in what is modern Laurens County, South Carolina), and was an officer in the local militia. Tensions rose before the revolution, as many of his neighbors took Loyalist positions. Williams supported the American cause. He joined the local Committee of Safety, and was elected to the state's Provincial Congress in 1775 and again in 1776.

In 1776, the Ninety-Six District militia split into Loyalist and Patriot factions. Williams was made a lieutenant colonel of a regiment (aka: Little River District Militia Regiment), but he had to recruit and train the new men. He succeeded in organizing a militia group, but pressure from Great Britain and her Indian allies meant that Williams always had to leave some troops behind for home defense. Williams led forces of local men into action at nearby Briar Creek and Stone Ferry, and as far afield as the expedition to the Second Battle of Savannah.[1][2]

On August 19, 1780 he led his detachment into the Battle of Musgrove Mill. The Patriots' success there, even in such a limited engagement and coming so soon after the disaster of Camden, earned him a promotion to colonel.

Battle of Kings Mountain[]

Williams led a 100-man detachment to meet up with other militia which were gathering to engage Cornwallis' western force led by Major Patrick Ferguson. He joined with the other units at Cowpens on October 6. The next day these forces won a major victory at the Battle of Kings Mountain, where the out-numbered Americans overwhelmed an 1,100 man Loyalist force, while suffering only twenty-eight fatalities. Col. Williams was one of them.

Hayes Station Massacre[]


Battle of Hayes Station (AKA: Battle of Edgehill Plantation) is where on 19 Nov 1781, during the American Revolutionary War , Major William “Bloody Bill” Cunningham and a large force of Loyalist militia attacked a group of Patriot militia that were resting in the home of their commander, Colonel Joseph Hayes. The Patriots surrendered when the home was set on fire. "Bloody Bill" then lived up to his name by killing many of the prisoners in cold blood. Hayes Station, Laurens County, South Carolina (known as Ninety-Six District at that time).

Just one month earlier the British Army had surrendered at Yorktown, and it looks like the Revolutionary War had been one. In South Carolina that were many British Loyalists that went on a rampage of terror, specifically targeting homes of patriot leaders across the state. One of these major attacks was led by Major Cunningham in a month long raid in the South Carolina back country that came to be known as the Bloody Scout.

Regiment Memorials[]

Williams' original hastily dug grave at the site of the battlefield was later moved. His body was re-interred on the lawn in front of the Cherokee County Administration building, on Limestone Street in Gaffney, South Carolina. It is marked by a large memorial.

The South Carolina Provincial Congress had promoted Williams to the rank of brigadier general, but he died before the commission could be delivered. In 2005, the South Carolina General Assembly confirmed the rank originally bestowed upon him 225 years before. In the same act, Gen. Williams was further honored by renaming the Little River Bridge, "James Williams Memorial Bridge", marking the northeast corner of what had been his plantation.

1779 William Petition[]

Colonel Williams Memorial Petition (dated 03-Sept-1779) was a special effort during American Revolutionary War by the officers and soldiers of the Little River District Militia Regiment of South Carolina who had served under his command. Because of severe political turmoil in the Little River District, many false rumors were spread about the loyalists about Col Williams, the unit commander. The list of signatories on this petition is an historical list of the prominent Patriot leaders in this district.

Unit Roster[]


  • Col. James Williams - KIA @ Battle of Kings Mountain, 07-Oct-1780.
  • Col Hayes - KIA @ Hayes Station Massacre, 19-Nov-1781
  • Capt. Daniel Williams,- oldest son of Col Williams, KIA @ Hayes Station Massacre, 19-Nov-1781
  • Lieut. Christopher Hardy,- KIA @ Hayes Station Massacre, 19-Nov-1781
  • Lieut. John Keel,- KIA @ Hayes Station Massacre, 19-Nov-1781
  • Lt. James Tinsley (escaped) - ("I then continued on as a volunteer until and was present at the murder of Capt D. Williams, Col. Hayes and others by William Cunningham at the place (spelled ‘palce’) formerly known by the name of Egehill [sic, Edgehill] Station [or Hayes Station] where I was taken prisoner in November 1781. On the night after the same day on which I was taken prisoner, I made my escape and then entered on the expedition against the Cherokee Indians...") His Pension application.



  • William Blakely (POW for one day after Hayes Station) -


  • John Cook,- KIA @ Hayes Station Massacre, 19-Nov-1781


  • James Feris,- KIA @ Hayes Station Massacre, 19-Nov-1781


  • Reuben Golding- (survivor saved by a friend)
  • Benjamin Goodman,- KIA @ Hayes Station Massacre, 19-Nov-1781


  • Clement Hancock,- KIA @ Hayes Station Massacre, 19-Nov-1781


  • Joseph Irby, Sr.,- KIA @ Hayes Station Massacre, 19-Nov-1781
  • Joseph Irby, Jr.,- KIA @ Hayes Station Massacre, 19-Nov-1781
  • Greaf Irby,- KIA @ Hayes Station Massacre, 19-Nov-1781
  • William Irby (1760-1828) - escaped Hayes Station Massacre - was at a nearby spring fetching water when the detachment rode off into battle.
  • John Ilven,- KIA @ Hayes Station Massacre, 19-Nov-1781



  • Yancy Saxon.- KIA @ Hayes Station Massacre, 19-Nov-1781



  • Joseph Williams,- son of Col. Williams, KIA @ Hayes Station Massacre, 19-Nov-1781


  1. ^ Graves, William; "James Williams, An American Patriot in the Carolina Backcountry"; 2002; Writers Club Press; ISBN 0-595-21374-X
  2. ^ Graves, William; "Backcountry Revolutionary James Williams (1740-1780) with source documents & introduction by Dr. Bobby Gilmer Moss"; 2012; Woodward Corporation; , page 10, ISBN 978-0-9859999-0-2

See Also[]