"Story of Emily Geiger"

From "Annals of Newberry County, South Carolina"

by John A. Chapman, A.M.

Part 11, P. 461

John B. O'Neall and John A. Chapman. The Annals of Newberry in Two Parts. Newberry SC: Aull & Houseal, 1892. [Note: O'Neall's Vol. I published in 1859; edition with Chapman's Vol. II published in 1892.] (full reference courtesy of, and thanks to, H. Imrey.)

When Gen. Greene retreated from Ninety-Six after his unsuccessful assault upon that place in June, 1781, he crossed the Saluda River and passed through the upper part of what is now Newberry County, pursued by Lord Rawdon until he crossed the Enoree. Before his rear-guard had left the south side of the river, the van of Lord Rawdon's arms appeared in pursuit. But his lordship hesitated to make an attack upon Gen. Green's cavalry which was commanded by Co1~ne1s Lee and Washington. And while he paused at this place, Greene moved on towards Broad River, near which he halted and encamped, in the fork of Enoree and Broad Rivers, in Newberry County. About two miles from where he had camped with his weary and disheartened troops, stood the residence of a well-to-do farmer named John Geiger, an ardent patriot, but an invalid and unable to serve his country in arms. He daughter, Emily, about 18 years of age, was as ardent a patriot as himself, and as often heard to say: "Oh that I were a man, that I could fight for my country", whenever she heard of any American reverses, or of any outrages committed by the British or Tories.

On the third day of Gen. Green's encampment at this place a neighbor of Geiger's dropped in to see him. "What news?" asked Geiger. "Lord Rawdon has determined to abandon the Fort at Ninety-Six." "Are you certain?"

"Yes, Gen. Greene received the intelligence this morning. Rawdon has sent word to Col. Stuart to move with his regiment from. Charleston to Friday's Perry, on the Congaree, where he intends to join him as soon as possible. Cruger is left at Ninety-Six with orders to move at once with his Tory recruits and their property and take a route that will put the Edisto between him and the American forces. Moving down south of the Edisto to Orangeburg, he will, from that place, make a junction with Rawdon at Friday's Ferry."

"Then they will divide their forces?"

"Yes."

"Greene will then attack Cruger?"

"No", replied the neighbor, "Greene proposes to pursue Rawdon and strike a more effective blow.".

"Why did be not fight him at the Saluda?"

"Gen. Sumter was not with him."

"Nor is he now."

"No", said the neighbor, "and I fear that he will not join him as be so desires, as he can find no one willing to become a bearer of dispatches to Sumter. All the country between here and Sumter is full of Tories, elated by our defeat at Ninety-six, who would certainly murder any men who undertakes the journey".

"Oh, that I were able", said the old man, "I would risk it. But these limbs refuse to bear me on the journey"0

"You would commit an act of folly", said the neighbor.

"no", said the farmer, "but one of true devotion to my country". Emily Geiger heard all that passed between her father and the neighbor.

Gen. Greene, informed by Co1.Lee of the abandonment of Ninety-Six, prepared to strike Lord Rawdon, while the British forces were divided. To insure victory, Sumter should be informed and join him. To get word to Sumter was the problem. Emily Geiger offered her services -- an offer at first refused, but finally accepted upon her urging her ability to carry out his instructions. Without waiting to inform her father, she took the message, and departed on the horse provided for her.

About five mi1es from Gen. Green's camp, lived a Tory, named Lowry, or Loire. About four hours after Emily had left, a spy rode up to Lowry's and told him of her mission, whereupon Lowry sent him to report, and to stop her at all costs. Emily had planned to reach Elwood's for the night, but the darkness and the fatigue caused her to stop at a farm house, whose owner she did not know - Mrs. Preston, the owner, gave her supper and a room, tho' a chance word had shown that she was a Tory, and knew of the patriotism of the Geigers.

Awakened in the night by the arrival of a horsemen, who wanted to know if a young woman had passed that way, Emily heard the question and answer, and from what she could hear of movements and talk, decided that the horseman, Bill Mink, had decided to sleep until morning, and then capture her. When all had been quiet for some time, she slipped out of the open window, found her horse, and escaped. Before day broke, she had reached the home of the Elwoods; upon telling them of her mission, and escape, she was given breakfast, and a fresh horse, and sent upon her way with a letter to a friend 20 miles away, to provide her with a fresh horse. More than two thirds of the distance she had to go had been covered by the end of the second day. She had crossed the Saluda and was on her way to Friday's Ferry on the Congaree, when three men in British uniform stopped her, and not satisfied with her answers to their questions about her business, took her to Lord Rawdon's camp about a mile away. Lord Rawdon, also finding her answers to questions evasive, sent for a woman to come and search her for messages, and Emily was to hen to an upstairs room, and locked up, pending her arrival. Quickly she read over her message, and no hiding place being found, began to eat it piece by piece. The last piece was in her mouth, when the when the woman finally arrived. Emily covered her face with her bands as if she were weeping, until it was safely swallowed. The search was made, nothing found, so after a little time, Emily was called back before Lord Rawdon who told her she could go, and asked where she wanted to go. She told him to the house of friends, this was about six miles back; Lord Rawdon then detailed a man to escort her there. After she had been there about half an hour, a member of the family came in with the news that Bil1 Mink had passed him at full speed, going towards Lord Rawdon's camp.

Emily realized that she must be on her way, if she was to deliver her message before she was stopped. A fresh horse and a guide was provided, who knew of a short cut to Gen. Sumter's camp, on the Wateree. All night they rode, as rapidly as possible, the guide turning back when daylight came, and the road was clear ahead. Without stopping to rest, she pressed on until she reached a clearing through which she saw soldiers she knew to be patriots, about three o'clock in the afternoon.

Her message delivered, Gen. Sumter was on his way in about an hour to reach the junction mentioned in Gen. Greene's dispatch. Two weeks passed before Emily got back to her father, who had been informed, soon after her departure, or what she had done. Of his fears during her absence, I need not speak. But who can imagine the emotions of love, pride and happiness that almost stifled him as he pressed her to his heart once more?

"After the war, Emily Geiger was married to a planter in the neighborhood named Threwits. Whether she was more then once married, I do not know. She lived to a good old age and died at Granby. She left children; but of her descendants at this time I know nothing - not even whether there are any now living. But I hope there are some, and that they are brave, heroic and true, as ever Emily Geiger was."

Copied by Lillian M. Cain - July 10, 1942

(The first page and a half is verbatim; the rest condensed, except where quotation marks are used. LMC)

Copy for Miss Anna Geiger

Mrs. Gladys Geiger Long

Mrs. Annie Wolfe Roof.

Copied from Mrs. Annie Wolfe Roof's copy by Sara Texas (Geiger) Geiger January 2, 1965

Copies for:

Sara Anne Geiger (Daughter of Sara Texas Geiger & William Muller Geiger

William. Henry Geiger (Son of Sara Texas & William Muller Geiger)

Alex Milburn Geiger (Son of Lellan Caughman & Alexander Geiger)

Mrs. Annie Wolfe Roof (Daughter of Frederica Geiger & J. Archiba1d Wolfe)

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