Tennessee Handleys of the
Revolutionary War

SAMUEL HANDLY (HANDLY) served as a Private, Sergeant and Ensign during the Revolutionary War. His Revolutionary War pension for North Carolina Line service began on 1 Mar 1834 at $85.00 annually ($255.00 received as of 1835), having started when he was age 82. (1835 Tennessee pension rolls).

According to his pension application, he was born in 1752 in Pennsylvania, but removed to Augusta Co, Virginia (later Rockbridge) at an early age. He enlisted in 1776 in Wythe County, Virginia under Capt. John CAMPBELL and fought Cherokees near Long Island of the Holston. He served on Frontier for a number of years, campaigning under Col. CHRISTIAN against Cherokees, then under Col. SHELBY against Chickamaguas, and was also an Indian Spy. In 1780 under John SEVIER he crossed over Bald Mountain into Burke County, NC, and marched into South Carolinas at the time of the battle of King's Mountain. He also marched later on the Indian towns on the Tennessee River and the Hiawassee Towns, "killing some and burning their towns," and continued to serve against the Indians after the close of the war, at which time, he removed to Washington County, East Tenn. (then North Carolina), then afterward to Blount County, TN, and then in 1809 to Franklin County, Tennessee.

On 5 Sep 1832 in Franklin County, a George SHERRELL testified he had known Samuel HANDLY for 50 years and served with him at King's Mountain and other battles. An Andrew JACKSON testified he had known Samuel HANDLY for 35 years, and that he was a member of the convention which formed the present constitution of Tennessee. (Pension File No. S1911. See Franklin County, TNGenWeb Revolutionary Pensioners for yet more details).

According to Katherine Keogh White's The King's Mountain Men (Dayton, VA, 1924)

"Captain Samuel and his brother, Robert, were in the Point Pleasant expedition of 1774 (1). Samuel was at King's Mountain under Sevier and is mentioned by Draper (2). As a captain he was with Sevier at Boyd's Creek, mentioned by Ramsey as the best fought battle in the Indian Wars of Tennessee. It took place in December, 1780. In the state of Franklin he sided with TIPTON, but when PEMBERTON reenforced Tipton with thirty men from Sullivan and captured John COWAN, HANDLY made TIPTON release COWAN. In 1793, his company of 42 men was attacked near Craborchard [Crab Orchard] while defending the stations on the Cumberland. The Indians, 56 strong, mostly Cherokees, and led by Middle Striker, effected a surprise and created a panic. A man named LIEPER was unhorsed near the Indian line. HANDLY at once seized the horse and led it near him, so that LIEPER might mount again, but his own horse was shot from under him and he took a tree, where he was met by an Indian with uplifted tomahawk. He caught the foeman's arm and uttered an Indian word meaning friendshipo, which the brave reciprocated and led him to the chief, where for a time he was free from danger. While this was being done, every Indian near enough struck him with the flat side of his tomahawk. This diversion was in favor of the panic-stricken men, only Lieper and two others being killed. Captain McClelland, then where Kingston [Roane Co, TN?] now is, set out with a relief party to bury Handly, who was thought to be killed. He found the tree where the prisoner had been tied and fragments of the paper containing the foll of the company, this having been torn in pieces by Handly. The captain was taken to Will town, where his fate was in suspense three days. He was made to run the gauntlet. His feet and hands were made fast and the Indians threw him over their heads to see what the effect would be on his nose. But his life was spared and he was adopted into the Wolf clan of the Cherokees. His captors wanted peace and allowed him to write the following letter to his brother-in-law Colonel James SCOTT:"
Will Town, Dec. 10 1792
Dear Sir:—I am a captive in this town in great distress and the bearer hreof is a runner from the Upper Towns, from the Hanging Maw, and is now going with a talk from Colonel John WATTS, with the Governor,on the terms of peace. These people are much for peace...

     Dear sir, I have been much abused and am in great distress. I beg for you and John COWEN, and every good friend would go to the Governor and try all you can to get him to send a good answer so I may get away, for if an army come before, I am sure to die. Send word to my wife, and send me a horse down by the Hanging Maw's runner, for I am not able to come without. Dear friend, do what you can, for I am in a distressed way. No more but——

Samuel Handly     
Ms. White goes on to write that "Governor Blount was more than willing to rescue HANDLY so his answer was favorable to peace. Eight of the braves escorted HANDLY to his home in Blount, the only ransom asked being a keg of whiskey. Handly was about forty at this time and his hair brown, but when he returned his hair was gray and he was much broken. He resided for some time near the Tellico blockhouse, where the Indians came to trade. When a native from Will Town came across the river he would cry, "canawla, canawla (peace, peace)," and then spend days with their white brother of the Wolf clan. HANDLY finally settled at Winchester [Franklin Co], Tennessee, where he located a land grant, and died there in 1840. He married a Miss COWAN of a prominent East Tennessee family. His son Samuel, wihle living at Pontotoc, Mississippi in 1842, was interviewed by Draper on what he remembered his father having said about the battle of King's Mountain. The inscription on Handly's grave reads as follows:
Samuel Handly born 1748; died Aug. 4, 1840
He was a Revolutionary Soldier and a member
Of the first Convention that ofrmed the State of Tennessee
Born in North Carolina [sic]; Died in Winchester, Tennessee
He was a Captain in the Indian War"
1 A Samuel HENSLEY was on the 1774 Militia List of Capt. Shelby (Battle of Point Pleasant), but transcribed as HANDLEY by Ramsey

2 See Diary of Royalist Captain Andrew Chesney, Footnote 9.

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