Moses Sanders and the Battle of the Cowpens 1780
An embellishment of family legend and history has led many a Moses Sanders researcher astray. This brief dissertation of gathered facts may explain some earlier conclusions regarding his participation in .
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1780 | Georgia and SC
THE REVEREND MOSES SANDERS AND THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR Researchers for years have relied on undocumented stories that the Reverend Moses Sanders, (Groves level Church in Franklin County, Georgia, 1798-1817) was a Revolutionary War Hero. Several websites and other written accounts state that he was at the battle of the Cowpens, which is in Northwestern South Carolina. Others state he was the bearer of many bayonet scars and that the enemy who inflicted the wounds paid with his life. The DAR has him listed as a veteran of the Revolution. One website has him as being a private in the Iredell Militia in 1782. (Iredell was not created until 1788).With these recordings in mind we noticed several instances, whereby an imaginative author embellished history. Since we find no documentary evidence that Moses fought in the Revolutionary War, from where did the “rumor” emanate? We look to two embellishments of history, which may shed light on “passed ahead misinformation”. The first is:The Battles of the Cowpens and Kings MountainThe earliest recordation of the name Saunders connected with the Cowpens or Kings Mountain is described in detail on page 125-128 by Edwin C. Bears, in a 238 page National Parks Service booklet, written in 1974. In it he describes a well-documented, historical account of the Battle of Cowpens. Mr. Bears states, “In 1881, Lyman C. Draper wrote a well-documented history of the Battle of Kings Mountain. He had collected materials for his book since 1839, using manuscript narratives of David Vance, Joseph McDowell, and Silas McBee (participants in the battle). Draper wrote, “On October 6th, 1780, there was a stirring bivouac at the Cowpens. A wealthy English Tory, named Saunders, resided there, who reared large numbers of cattle and having many pens in which to herd his stock—hence the derivation of Cowpens. Saunders was, at the time, in bed- perhaps not very well, or feigning sickness; from which he was unceremoniously pulled out and treated pretty roughly. When commanded to tell at what time Ferguson had passed that place, he declared that the British Colonel and army had not passed that way at all; “…Search was accordingly made and no evidence of a passing army was found…” “… Several of the old Tory’s cattle were quickly shot down and slaughtered for the supply of the hungry soldiers…” Draper used most of the information found in this account from the reminiscences of David Vance in 1799. Vance in his account states in part that they proceeded to the Cowpens and mentions a Tory’s house, but does not name the Tory. Mr. Bears states and we agree that Draper “flavored” the story a bit with a few additions to the historical accounts of the participants at the Cowpens and his accounts were embellished even further by subsequent historians including the writings of Judge Schenk in 1889, which also names Saunders a wealthy Tory, who herded large numbers of Cattle at the Cowpens. Mr. Bears also provides this information, “A review of the South Carolina Grant and plat books and search of the records of Spartanburg and Tryon County and review of the claims filed by Loyalist, show no evidence of a Saunders at the location of the Cowpens Battle”. It is unfortunate but it seems that many later historians and researchers used Drapers account as their basis for the account of the “Camp at the Cowpens”.The above information may provide us with a clue and help us understand how Moses Saunders was attributed as being at the Cowpens in any capacity. It is not much of a leap for a writer to build off the original works of another and further glorify the account by adding events or names. Later researchers may have further embellished the stories and made Saunders a participant in the ensuing battle.As stated, Draper wrote his embellished account in 1889. Subsequent writers used his account as an original work and perpetuated the name Saunders, when, as stated, there is no evidence that a Saunders was at the Cowpens. Christopher Columbus Sanders, a Great Grandson of Moses Sanders is another possible source of the embellished history of Moses Sanders. In 1902 C.C.Sanders donated the headstone and grave markers for Moses and his wife, (which he named “Sallie”). On the marker he called Moses “A soldier of the Revolution”. Researchers may have interpreted this inscription as a matter of fact and that he was in an organized fighting unit, when no evidence has been found. Remember that the marker was inscribed nearly 125 years after the Revolution and oral family histories are often just plain wrong! Incidentally, Moses’ wife was not “Sallie”; her name was Mary (Hamilton). (Proven by deeds and Ordinance works). Sallie was his daughter. (She married Obadiah Hooper).I908, for a book called “Men of Mark in Georgia”, C.C. Sanders again was interviewed. In the account therein he states …”Moses migrated from England (Many researchers have it that Moses was from Downton) in 1765 and had two younger brothers, David and John”. (Subsequent research has proven that David and John were his sons) The article also states that they took part in the battle of the Cowpens and Kings Mountain and other major battles of the revolution. There is no documentary evidence that Moses Sanders was born in England. Once again the story is embellished from the verbal accounts of C.C.Sanders. (Thanks to Eldon Hurst who either visited Downton Parish, England or retained a professional researcher to view the records and through correspondence with the minister there, found no Moses Sanders mentioned in their records post 1740).With these above stated accounts we can see the pattern of how “history has emerged from misstated verbal accounts and just plain embellishments by supposedly well meaning, “story tellers”. One more bit of information has been located in a letter to the War Department, who in 1932 was the keeper of the Revolutionary War Records. This letter and its response from the Department will show that no record has been found concerning Moses in the archives. The letter is included below:Ellen Sanders Cardon’s letter of February 13th 1932, seeking information on Moses Sanders. can be found under Henry Sanders Revolutionary war fileIn 1932 researchers were making the same mistake as to his birth and the name of his wife. This emanates from the misinformation given to the Groves Level Church in 1903 by Christopher Columbus Sanders, a great Grandson of Moses. The writer also has Moses confused with Moses Jr. in the 1790 Census of South Carolina). The response from the War Department makes it clear that there is no record of Moses having served in the Revolutionary War. I’m sure there are other accounts from “original Records” which one may review in order to prove or disprove that Moses was a participant in the Revolutionary War. Hopefully this writing will inspire others to dig deeper into recorded accurate history ands accurately disseminate the information.Jim Sanders 2008 firstname.lastname@example.org