Bradford, Charles D - Military Record


Charles Darnell Bradford
Private to Deputy Quartermaster General
to Condemned Prisoner

Written by Diane Carrington Bradford
(Mrs. W. H. Bradford)
<[W. H. Bradford (1929-SL)]
Webmaster of Leaves From Our Tree and married for 49 years to a direct descendant of Rev. Joshua Bradford, a Gwinnett County “First Family” pioneer settler, Diane Carrington Bradford is a 4th great granddaughter of Major General Allen Daniel, the namesake of Gwinnett County’s historic Fort Daniel, built in the Hog Mountain area in 1813 and now an historic archaeological site owned today by Gwinnett County and leased to the Ft. Daniel Foundation to be operated as an educational park and museum.”
This article was researched and documented in accordance
with the elements of the "Genealogical Proof Standard" [GPS]
developed by the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

Exactly when Charles Darnell Bradford joined the South Carolina forces during the Revolutionary War is unknown. He stated in his pension application to the South Carolina Legislature that he "served in different capacities as a private soldier in several campaigns—as a quarter master and as a deputy quarter master general." The only specific battle mentioned was the Battle of Fishing Creek, which occurred 18 Aug 1780 at Catawba Ford, just days after the defeat of the Americans at the Battle of Camden. The following brief description of events leading up the Battle of Fishing Creek and its outcome was quoted verbatim from the My Revolutionary War Web site [source:]

The Battle of Fishing Creek
August 18, 1780 at Catawba Ford, Chester County, South Carolina
(aka Sumter’s Defeat or War on Sugar Creek)

On August 16, after the Battle of Camden, Capt. Nathaniel Martin and a couple of dragoons were sent to warn Col. Thomas Sumter of the American loss and to appoint a rendezvous near Charlotte. They would have to march all day to be able to to escape the British. They were loaded down with 100 prisoners, 30 supply wagons, 300 head of cattle and a flock of sheep, taken from the Battle of Wateree Ferry. They left and moved up the west side of the Wateree River towards Charlotte. Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis learned of Sumter's movement and ordered Lt. Col. Banastare Tarleton, with his cavalry of the British Legion, to persue him the next morning.

On August 17 , in the early morning, Tarleton set out with 350 men and 1 cannon. They started up the east side of the Waterlee River. By late that afternoon, Tarleton found out that Sumter was across the river travelling on a parrallel course. At dusk, Tarleton arrived at the ferry at Rocky Mount and saw the American campfires about 1 mile west of the river. Tarleton made camp at the ferry and did not light any campfires. He hoped that Sumter would not see his camp and cross there in the morning. Then, Tarleton would be able to attack him at this vunerable position.

On August 18, British scouts informed Tarleton that the Americans were continueing [sic] west and not heading to the ferry. Tarleton gathered his force, crossed the river, and followed Sumter. He remained undetected all the way to Fishing Creek. Fishing Creek was about 40 miles from Camden. The British infantry were unable to continue. He pushed forward with 100 mounted dragoons and 60 infantry, with the infantry riding double with the dragoons. They rode for 5 miles until they caught up with the Americans.

Around noon, Tarleton's advance guard ran into two of Sumter's scouts. After a few shots, 1 British and both scouts were killed. The advance guard continued till they came to a hill. On top of it, they saw Sumter's force resting, without any sentries posted. The soldier's arms were all stacked, and all of the men were either sleeping, cooking, or bathing in the Catawba River. Sumter was sleeping on a blanket under a wagon. Tarleton quickly deployed his men and ordered them to charge. Tarleton had surprised Sumter because Sumter's patrol had reported that all was clear.

During the battle, 150 of Sumter's men were cut to pieces and about 350 were captured. Sumter, without boots and half dressed, jumped upon an unsaddled horse and escaped. The rest of the American force got behind their wagons and engaged the British.

Tarleton got back everything Sumter had captured 3 days before, including 44 supply wagons, 2 "grasshopper" cannons, and 800 horses. He also was able to free some 250 British and Loyalists prisoners.

Charles Darnell Bradford and his eldest child, John Lemon Bradford, were both among the 350 American patriots captured and force-marched to the common jail in Camden, South Carolina. The Web site South Carolina Loyalists and Rebels described conditions in the rude prison thusly:

"...It is stated upon good authority that the jail in Camden was literally crammed with men from the time of the defeat of Gen. Gates until the following spring; that for a considerable time in the autumn of 1780 not a morsel was given them to eat save pieces of pumpkins gathered from the troughs where horses had been fed. These remnants of horse feed were brought in baskets once a day and thrown into the jail among the prisoners, and it often occurred that some of them failed in getting a single morsel even of this fare. It is to be remembered that many of these persons were men of the purest morals and highest respectability. All of them prisoners of war, and of course many of them murdered by this process of — shall I call it slow torture?" [source: South Carolina Loyalists and Rebels Web site,]

In his pension application Charles stated that he suffered many hardships and deprivations during the war. While "...confined a considerable time in the common jail at Camden [he] experienced the severities of British cruelty...was brought to a military trial before a tribunal composed of British officers...," including Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis. He was convicted of "...being devoted to the cause of liberty and independence...." and was condemned to be hanged.

After being forced to witness "...the execution of several of his arms...," Charles was placed on the gallows, the rope about his neck, overlooking his intended coffin, while his wife and children watched the proceedings in tears. Fortunately for his many descendants, Cornwallis suddenly remanded the sentence, which freed Charles and returned him to his family.

Records on file at the National Archives & Records Administration (NARA) provided the names of the men hanged in Camden by order of Lord Cornwallis. As these were the only men hanged at Camden, or anywhere else by Cornwallis, these three men were the ones whose executions Charles was forced to watch—Richard [Tucker?] [sic], Samuel Andrews and John Miles. [Source: "A List of Persons Executed by the British," Papers of the Continental Congress, M247, roll 175, Vol.1, pg 527. National Archives & Records Administration, Washington, DC.

These three men were also listed in the Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution as follows:
Andrews, Samuel
"He was taken from a gaol at Camden and hung [sic] without ceremony...." p 23.
Miles, John
"...He served as a captain. He was taken from jail at Camden and hung [sic] without a trial...." p 677.
Tucker, Richard
"He served as a captain under Gen Sumter...He was taken from jail at Camden and hanged without a trial...." p 941.

Once freed by Cornwallis, Charles returned to his home in Fairfield District with his wife and first five children. The last four of their nine children were born ca. 1783 to 1791. Charles was in his mid-forties when he served with the South Carolina patriot forces. He was about 83 when he filed his petition to the South Carolina Legislature for a pension based on his war service [Source: Revolutionary War Military Service File RW2696, AA#688A; Accounts Audited for Claims Growing Out of the American Revolution. EC410418. South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia, SC].

Charles D. Bradford
Petition to Senate Praying for a Pension

State of South Carolina
To the honorable the President, and members of the Senate of said State.

    The humble petition of Charles Darnell Bradford of Fairfield district and State aforesaid, respectfully sheweth unto your honorable body That your petitioner is a native of Mary land [sic] but has been a resident of South Carolina for nearly fifty-five years; that during the Revolutionary War he served his country faithfully in different capacities as a private soldier in several campaigns—as a quarter master and as a deputy quarter master general. That your petitioner suffered many hardships and deprivations during the war, which he is now not able to recount particularly, in proof of his claims on the friendship of that country now enjoying the blessings of Heaven—once the wretched scene of oppression. Your petitioner states with a confident knowledge of the sufferings he underwent and which he believes will be honorably appreciated by the Legislature of his country, that he was made a prisoner by the British forces at Genl. Sumters’ [sic] defeat at Fishing Creek—was confined a considerable time as such in the common jail at Camden—experienced also the severities of British cruelty—and almost sinking between the solem [sic-solemn] fears of leaving a helpless family to the relentless fury of an enraged enemy—touched with a degree of despondency for the loss of liberty, which seemed to threaten the American cause, your petitioner was brought to a military trial before a tribunal composed of British officers, & on investigation of the charge of your petitioners’ being devoted to the cause of liberty and independence, he was condemned to suffer the pains of death. Your petitioner was reprieved under the gallows prepared for his execution, when he witnessed the execution of several of his companions in misfortune & arms!! Your petitioner begs leave to state further that by unfore seen [sic] occurrences, over which perhaps human prudence could have no control, he is reduced to indigent circumstances—is now about eighty-three years of age, and is compelled to provide for himself and his wife Mary Bradford, who is also aged and infirm and who has lived with him thro [sic] all this difficulties to their present struggle for the the [sic] necessaries of life.

    In confidence therefore of the justice of the preceding statement for the trutch [sic] of which your petitioner refers to a certificate signed by his neibors [sic], who have known him since the Revolution; your petitioner prays the legislature to take the same into consideration.

    If your honorable body should conceive that your petitioner and his wife are entitled to be placed on the Pension list; or assisted by the public bounty in such manner as legislative generosity may dictate, and relief is afforded, your petitioner will be thankful & in your wisdom trust.

C D Bradford [actual signature]

Nov 20th 1818

The Committee to whom was referred the petition
of Charles D. Bradford Report

That your Committee are of opinion the Petitioner in this case has good and well founded claims before the justice and liberality of the Legislature and recommends that the said Charles D Bradford be placed on the pension list and that he be paid two years in arrears. [NOTE: The committee granted Charles Darnell Bradford a pension of $60 per year.]

[Transcribed verbatim by Diane Carrington Bradford]

Charles and Mary Bradford remained in Fairfield District for the rest of their lives. The date of Mary's death is unknown. However, no pension payments were made to her after Charles died, so one might speculate that she preceeded him in death. Charles' death date can be closely estimated as before 24 July 1824 by the publication of his obituary, which originally appeared in the South Carolina State Gazette, date unknown. The earliest dated version found so far was reprinted in the Charleston Courier (Charleston, SC), Vol: XXII, Issue: 7625; p 3, col. 2, dated 24 July 1824.

Charles Darnell radford & Mary Lemon: Progenitors of Gwinnett County Bradfords

Descendants of John Lemon Bradford & Unknown     NEW Jul 2019!

The Parents and Siblings of Rev. Joshua Bradford

David Bradford & Family      Coming Soon!

Richard J. Bradford—from Wilkes County to Gwinnett County:
Genealogy or Mythology?

Bradford Y-DNA Project Web site

For more information, send e-mail to

Home | Dawson-Forsyth-Gwinnett Counties Table of Contents
Name Index on World Connect | Photo Gallery

Backgrounds and graphics created by Diane Carrington Bradford
Copyright © 2000, 2004, 2005, 2013, 2019, Diane Carrington Bradford, All rights reserved.
This Web Site was Created Jul 9, 2000; major revision Jun 2005; Apr 2011, Jul 2019.
Last updated August 18, 2019 1:05 AM

This site is generously hosted by