In the summer of 1775, as the Revolutionary War got underway, Patriots in the foothills of western South Carolina organized to fight for independence. The frontiersmen called themselves the Spartan Regiment after the ancient Greek city-state famous for its warriors, and they chose as their leader Col. John Thomas, a sturdy Welch pioneer. Even after the British captured Charleston, overran much of the state, and threw Colonel Thomas in prison, the Spartan Regiment refused to give in.
In July 1780, John Thomas’s wife, Jane, was visiting her husband at the settlement of Ninety-Six, where he was confined, when a conversation between several Loyalist women caught her ear. One of them mentioned that Loyalist forces were planning a surprise raid for the next night against a Patriot camp at Cedar Springs. The information startled Jane. It was the place where her son, John Thomas Jr., now in command of the Spartan Regiment, was organizing his men.
Realizing there was no time to lose, she started out early the next morning, July 12. It was 60 miles to Cedar Springs, but Jane Thomas, who was about 60 years old, pushed her horse through the enemy-infested backcountry. By evening she had reached her son’s camp.
John Thomas Jr. wasted no time. The Patriots built up their campfires and slipped into the woods. The Loyalists soon arrived and rushed into the camp, expecting to find the hapless rebels asleep in their blankets. Instead, they met a sharp volley of musket balls. In the light of the campfires, they made easy targets for the Patriot backwoodsmen. The Loyalists retreated, leaving behind several dead. Thanks to Jane Thomas, the Battle of Cedar Springs helped launch a resurgence of Patriot fortunes in South Carolina, and brought a much-needed boost in morale.