Thomas Sumter Assumes Command
The men who had been engaged in hiding the powder, learning very soon what had occurred at Brandon's camp, collected as many of their friends as possible and retreated over Broad River. Having appointed Bullock's Creek Church as a place of rendezvous, as many were directed thither as possible. The Rev. Joseph Alexander was at the time pastor of that church, and had been for a number of years past. He had, however, labored extensively as a supply among the Presbyterian population on the west side of Broad River and had always taken a firm stand for liberty. So that now he had been compelled to escape for his life, as the Tories were determined on his destruction.
On June 12 the refugees came together at the church. Among them were some of the regiments of Thomas, Lysle, Brandon, and a few refugees from Georgia. Their situation is talked over. The British are victorious, the Tories rising in large numbers and asserting their zeal for the royal cause; not a single corps of Whigs is known to be embodied in the State; the cause of liberty is desperate. The offers of British protection is before them. What is to be done? What can they do? At length a young man calls his command together. He recites the facts connected with their present situation. He recounts their past toils, sufferings and dangers. He states at large the reasons for the contest in which they have been engaged, and the instances of success and defeat which has attended their efforts in the cause of independence. He says: "Our cause must now be determined. Shall we join the British or strive like men for the noble end for which we have done and spent so much? Shall we declare ourselves cowards and traitors, or shall we fight for liberty as long as we have life? As for me, 'give me liberty or give me death!'" The speaker was John Thomas, son of the Colonel of the same name.
After some consultation and various efforts to collect scattered comrades, the party said to Col. Sumter, "If we choose you our leader, will you direct our operations?" He replied, "Our interests are the same. With me it is liberty or death." An election was held and Sumter unanimously chosen General.