SCOTT, Thomas

Last revised: 09 Mar 2014

(22 Feb 1754 – 24 Sep 1834)

Thomas Scott, son of John and Margaret Thornton Scott, was born in Pennsylvania, on Feb. 22, 1754 and as a young boy moved with his family in 1763 to the Haw River Valley of Guilford County, North Carolina. Thomas Scott married Nancy Carothers on February 9, 1775. At age 21, he began his military service at Guilford Courthouse when the Cherokee Indians sided with the British at the out-break of the Revolutionary War. In July 1776, he was drafted for eight months and served under Captain Fleck and Colonel Alexander Martin during General Rutherford’s Campaign against the Middle Cherokee Indians in the mountains west of modern day Asheville. In a three- pronged campaign from North and South Carolina, the 2,000 man frontier Militia destroyed the Cherokee Indian villages east of the Blue Ridge. On June 16, 1777, Thomas Scott enlisted as a Private in Williams Company of the 2nd North Carolina Regiment under command of Colonel Alexander Martin. His service was cut short in 1778 when the Scotts and their in-laws, the Carothers and Frost families, moved to Washington County, Virginia where the young men all became “Minuteman” in the Virginia Militia. At this time, many Virginia and North Carolina families, like the Boones and McCorkles, were migrating to the Southwest Virginia frontier. The threat of attack from Indians and Tories on the Virginia frontier was a daily reality. These early settlers were clearly in violation of the King’s Proclamation of 1763 forbidding settlement west of a line following the Blue Ridge. Their resistance to Royal Decree soon attracted the attention of English authorities. In late August 1780, Colonel Isaac Shelby received a verbal message from British Colonel Patrick Ferguson to the effect that “If they [the settlers] did not desist from their opposition to British Arms, he would march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders, and lay waste to their country with fire and sword. “When word of Ferguson’s threat arrived, William, Thomas and Samuel Scott, James Carothers and Simeon Frost assembled with 400 Virginia Militia under the command of Colonel William Campbell at Bradley’s Farm on Wolf Creek several miles west of Abington, Virginia. On September 25, they joined the small frontier army gathering at Sycamore Shoals on the Watauga River near present day Elizabethton, Tennessee.

This rugged force of pioneers became known as the “Overmountain Men”. All the men carried flintlock long-rifles and a tomahawk or hunting knife, but not a bayonet. Despite the cold, early winter weather, none of them had a tent. A Presbyterian preacher, the Reverend Samuel Doak, delivered a sermon entitled “The Sword of the Lord and Gideon” to inspire the men and their families. Only 900 of these men were mounted as they proceeded over snow covered Roan Mountain determined to meet Ferguson and his Loyalist army. In a short but decisive battle on October 7, 1780, the slightly outnumbered Overmountain Men surprised and defeated Ferguson at King’s Mountain, South Carolina. Although Ferguson’s men held the high-ground, British muskets and bayonets were no match for long-rifles in the hands of expert frontier marksmen. In contrast, the British muskets overshot their targets and inflicted few casualties on the attackers. The Overmountain Men fought Indian-style, a tactic well-suited to the terrain and the long-rifles. They surrounded the Tories in their exposed position on the hill and shot at them with great accuracy from behind every tree and depression in the earth. Colonel Campbell’s men were assigned to assault the steepest slope of King’s Mountain from the southwest corner of the encirclement. Repeated bayonet charges down the hill by the Loyalists were not only completely ineffective, but proved disastrous. The frontiersmen simply gave ground and melted away into the dense woods, only to return a few minutes later and resume shooting as soon as Ferguson’s men turned and struggled back up the hill. It was said afterwards that “King’s Mountain was more easily assaulted with the long-rifle than defended with the bayonet.” Colonel Ferguson himself was killed while trying to escape and the remaining Tories surrendered with great losses. The Battle at King’s Mountain is considered by many to have been the turning point of the Revolutionary War.

The Revolution in the Carolinas had been a particularly bitter and partisan conflict because of the large number of Loyalists living in the region. Many of Ferguson’s captured men were considered to be little more than renegades, although atrocities had been regularly committed on both sides. The victorious Overmountain Men marched their prisoners back toward the western mountains. As they camped at the Biggerstaff Farm near Rutherford, North Carolina, the Patriots decided to bring the worst Tory offenders to trial for their crimes. Many of the Patriots were angered and vindictive because their families and neighbors had been victims of Tory raids. Consequently, 13 Tories were tried and hanged according to the harsh code of frontier justice. William Scott served as one of the Judges while Samuel Scott stood guard and Thomas Scott helped tie the ropes around the condemned men’s necks. Thomas Scott went on to serve another 12 months as Orderly Sergeant in Captain William Neill’s Company of the Virginia Militia . In the Spring of 1783, he spent 47 days carrying provisions by horse to the various Stations along the Clinch River.

Sometime in 1783, the Scotts and their in-Iaws moved through the Cumberland Gap into the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky .Thomas Scott received a Kentucky Land Warrant dated May 7, 1785 for 500 acres in an area of Fayette County, in an area that would later become Jessamine County. The Scott, Carothers, and Frost families all settled on adjacent or nearby farms along Clear Creek. Although the Revolutionary War effectively ended in the East with the surrender of Lord Comwallis at Yorktown, Virginia in 1781, these were still dangerous times on the Kentucky frontier. There was still a constant threat of raids by Indians and renegades against the widely-scattered frontier farms and settlements. After the disastrous Battle at Blue Licks, Kentucky in 1786, Thomas Scott served as Lieutenant during Colonel Benjamin Logan’s expedition against the Shawnee Indians across the Ohio River. Chillicothe and many Shawnee villages along the Scioto River were burned. This campaign ended Thomas Scott’s military service, although the threat of Indian raids in Kentucky lasted until after statehood in 1792. Thomas and Nancy [ Carothers ] Scott moved to what was then Fayette County, Kentucky where they settled into farming and family life on their land beside Clear Creek.

Thomas Scott’s first wife, Nancy [Carothers], died soon after their fifth son Harvey Scott was born on February 12, 1800 (probably from complications of child- birth). Thomas Scott subsequently married Sarah “Sally” Ward on October 6, 1800. On May 28, 1818, Thomas Scott gave most of his land on Clear Creek to his youngest sons, William Scott, Harvey Scott, and Thomas J. Scott. Sometime afterwards Thomas Scott moved to Henry County, Kentucky. On August 9, 1833 Thomas Scott was issued a Revolutionary War Pension effective March 4,1831. He was entered onto the Kentucky Pension Roll at $40 per annum. At 80 years old, Thomas Scott died September 24, 1834 and is said to be buried at Drennon’s Lick, in Henry County, Kentucky.