Rebecca Motte, Ardent Patriot
By Sarah Christine Walters
Brewton Motte was an ardent Patriot. Rebecca Brewton Motte, the
daughter of merchante Robert Brewton, lived in Charleston, South
Carolina when the Revolutionary War broke out in America. During
the British occupation of Charleston, General McPherson took
residence in The Brewton House, where Rebecca and her family lived.
Her husband Jacobm also a merchant, was very ill, and she cared
for him upstairs as she also was expected to be hospitable to
the British officers downstairs. She had sent all her slaves,
furnished at her expense, to defend Charleston , and she had no
son to serve the Patriots. Her daughters she kept carefully away
from the British. Her husband died and she was granted leave to
go with her daughters to "Buckhead" her plantation home
that sat atop a hill in Calhoun County.
After the Patriots took Camden in 1781, the British commanders
moved inland, though, and Mrs. Motte had only been at her home
a couple months when a knock came at the door -- Captain McPherson
again! The British dug a huge trench around the property, cut
her beautiful trees to construct a barricade around the property,
and exiled Mrs. Motte and her children to a crude farmhouse about
a mile away. Francis Marion and General Lee were told to take
"Fort Motte." Marion visited Mrs. Motte and explained
that the British needed to be expelled; but the only way to do
so would be to burn the house, something he dreaded doing to the
lady whose husband had already died and who had already sent all
her slaves, equipped at her expense, to help defend Charles Town.
Rebecca Motte not only said she would be "gratified"
for her house to be burned for such a reason, but she offered
the bow and arrows for the job! The story goes that her brother,
Miles Brrewton, had received this beautiful bow and arrows as
a gift from a friend who had spent some time in the East Indies,
where it was made. Marion's troops set fire to the roof of the
house, which forced the British troops out and into the waiting
"arms" of the Patriot forces, who defeated them.
The Americans were able to put out the fire before it destroyed
the entire house, and that evening Mrs. Motte served dinner to
both the Patriots and their British officer captives! She had
often discussed the issue of American freedom to McPherson as
he dined in her home in
Charleston, and she didn't hesitate upon his defeat at Ft Motte
to thank him for doing his part for the American cause! She had
spunk, determination, and grace. She never remarried, but worked
to restore her family's lost wealth, and left her children an
estate when she died
in 1815. I couldn't paste the picture in here for some reason,
so I attached it again but as an rtf this time which should open
in any format. It's good - hope you can open it. Thank you for
getting the story of this great lady out!
(The sketch is from South Carolina, A History, p243, caption:
Rebecca Motte and Francis Marion, May 1781. Cecil Hartley, The
Life of Francis Marion (1866). Courtesy, South Caroliniana Library,
Sarah Christine Walters, of Greenville, South Carolina, is a fifteen-year-old
sophomore in high school. She currently serves as President of
the South Carolina Society, Children of the American Revolution.
She is also a cheerleader and a member of her Student Council.
would like to be a broadcast journalist one day specializing in
history and politics. Women from history, especially those who
rose to fame from ordinary lives, have been an inspiration to