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Dick, the Slave: Revolutionary War Hero

By Terri Burgin

You may remember, from a previous article that I wrote about Andrew Pickens’ body servant, a slave named Dick. In the story, General Pickens was away fighting. He had sent Dick home to help his wife Becky and the children. During the night, the Tories appeared and burned down the home that Becky and the children were in. It was Dick who smuggled them out of the house safely and into the nearby swamp. There he kept them, building a makeshift camp for them out of cane, sneaking back to the blockhouse for supplies and bringing it back to the terrified family. When the fighting was over, Becky’s baby girl was dead. Becky later stated that if it hadn’t been for Dick, they all would have perished.

It also seems that Dick took prodigious care of his Master as well. One story speaks about after the Battle of Cowpens, a great victory for the Patriots, Dick was scouring the field for items of use. He came upon a British Officer of “elegant dress” and “fine, fair top boots.” (You may remember that during this time, the militia was very poorly supplied and in great want of clothing.) Dick began to take the boots off of the unfortunate young man, thinking he was dead. The officer opened his eyes and spoke, “Surely, my boy, you will not take them before I die?” Dick spoke back, “Look mighty nice, Massa needs ‘em bad.” “I’m thirsty… bring me a little water before I die, then take the boots.” Dick procured the water, then the boots.

It is very likely that Dick fought alongside the other militia men, but no record of this exists. General Pickens later remarked that there was no finer or braver man living than Dick. He was always allowed to carry a long knife in a leather sheath on his person and no one, not even the children, were allowed to correct or berate Dick.

*I wish to thank the employees of the Abbeville County Library for their help in my research for this article. I couldn’t have done it without them!

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