General Joseph Martin Chapter

Cumberland Gap, TN


Cumberland Gap Patriot

William Choice

William Choice, one of the Virginia militia Minutemen, was born January30, 1756 in Halifax county Va. In 1775, Choice joined the Virginia militia after the British attacked Portsmouth Va. Choice's first battle occurred on Gwynn Island(July8,1776). Here the Patriots under Andrew Lewis bombarded a British stockade after it was determined that British Govenor Lord Dunmore was hiding there. The Patriots took two eighteen pounder cannons and started firing on the British encampment within the Stockade. The Patriots were able to force Lord Dunmore to flee to British warships located just off the Island.  While Lord Dunmore was trying to board one of the ships, the patriots started firing hot shot( molten lead atthe ships catching them on fire. The Battle of Gwynn's Island forced the British and Lord Dunmore out of Virginia..
  Choice's second battle was at Stono Ferry  in Charleston Sc(June20,1779). Stono Ferry is considered by most militray strategists to be one of the worst poorly coordinated attacks by the Patriot force to occur in the Southern campaign. Although the British were out numbered , they were able to defeat the Patriots at Stono Ferry and on  Johns Island Sc , located in Charleston harbor due to the failure of Benjamin Lincoln and William Moultrie inability to coordinate their attacks simultaneously.
During the battle of Stono ferry, Lincoln attacked the British 71st regiment killing all except 11 soldiers. The Americans were winning the battle until 900 Hessian reenforcements showed up forcing Lincoln to withdraw,making it a British victory.  Thomas Sumner, Sc militia leader attacked the Hessians forcing them to retreat. Hessian soldiers were shot while swimming to British ships  located in Charleston harbor.
 Lincon's biggest mistake was that he attacked  the British at Stono ferry before Moultrie could coordinate his attack on  St. Johns Island. However part of this is  Moultrie's fault. Moultrie attended a social function in Charleston the night he was suppose to be ferrying his men to John's Island. Moultrie  forgot to order his men to  the rendezvous point where they were to be ferried to Johns Island There were also accusations that Moultrie arrived at his campsite in a drunken stupor after the social event. When Moultrie's men finally arrived at Johns Island they had arrived too late to take the British by surprise.On Johns Island, Moultrie was defeated. After the defeat, one of the worst British massacres occurred killing most of Moultrie's men.
    Choice returned to Pittsylvania county after Stono Ferry. In March 1781, Choice was driving a baggage train at Guilford  courthouse, but didnt participate in the battle. After the war, Choice moved to Greenville sc where died on September 30, 1843

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