Another Myth: John Dillard’s Service Record with Pickens

John M. Dillard, January 24, 1993

It has been published that John Dillard of Rabun County served with General Andrew Pickens in his expeditions against the Cherokee Indians. This has unfortunately been repeated in other accounts about John Dillard. Ritchie, in a sketch of General Andrew Pickens of South Carolina, tells us that Pickens was one of the heroes of Grant’s victory over the Cherokee Indians in the French and Indian War when Pickens was just 22 years of age. He further verifies that in 1785 after the Revolutionary War Pickens forced the Cherokee Indians in a single treaty to give up all of their claims in South Carolina and northeast Georgia out of which Rabun County was created. The latter was not the result of fighting, but Pickens’ skills as an Indian treaty negotiator. It is stated that one of Pickens’ Cherokee Indian battles was fought and won in the Little Tennessee River Valley in what is now Rabun County. All of that, however, was before Rabun County was formed and before the Dillards were ever there.

The basis of the conclusion that John Dillard served against the Cherokees with Pickens is unknown. At that time and place when the Indian expeditions occurred, Pickens was residing in South Carolina, and John Dillard was residing in far away Pittsylvania County, Virginia. The conclusion that John Dillard served under General Andrew Pickens in the American Revolution seems based on still another conclusion that John Dillard and James Dillard of Laurens District, South Carolina, served together in the American Revolution in companies of which the well known James Dillard was a captain. It is reasoned that since James Dillard served with Pickens during the Revolutionary War (which he did in fact), so did John Dillard. The latter could also be the basis for the conclusion that John Dillard served with Pickens against the Cherokees, in that Pickens’ expeditions against the Cherokees grew out of, and were timed with, his service in the Revolution. These conclusions need further investigation.

Dillard researchers have in recent years have thought that the captain with whom John Dillard served was his probable first cousin, Thomas Dillard, of Pittsylvania County, Virginia, where John Dillard’s Revolutionary military service, according to his pension application, took place. A complete account on the Revolutionary military record of Thomas Dillard is set forth in the old and respected History of Pittsylvania County, Virginia by Maud Carter Clement at pages 163 and 164 and elsewhere. A review of John Dillard’s military record in the Revolution as alleged by him in his pension application compared to Thomas Dillard’s military record as set forth in Maud Carter Clement, id., leaves little doubt that it was Thomas Dillard and not James Dillard with whom John Dillard served in that the two records verify each other.

James Dillard of South Carolina, a son of George Dillard of Culpepper County, Virginia, and also a probable first cousin to John Dillard of Rabun County, had left Virginia and settled in South Carolina prior to the beginning of the Revolutionary War. As pointed out by Marjorie Lee Holland in her Sims P. and Melissa Hendricks Dillard: Their Ancestors and Descendants, James Dillard was in Laurens District South Carolina where he married Mary Ramage Dillard, later Revolutionary heroine, on December 4, 1774. His brothers, Major, Samuel and William (killed in the South Carolina Revolutionary battle of Eutaw Springs in which Andrew Pickens also fought) were also there about the time of the Revolution.

James Dillard’s documented military service in the American Revolution, including the Battle of Kings Mountain, occurred in and from South Carolina. Pickens’ Revolutionary War military activities extended in and from South Carolina in the general period from 1775 through 1782, with Pickens’ last “fighting” expedition against the Cherokee Indians occurring in 1782. According to research of Dr. Howard V. Jones and others, John Dillard was in Pittsylvania County, Virginia until about 1782, a resident of Washington County, N.C. (Tennessee) until about 1789 when he settled in Buncombe County, North Carolina where he remained until about 1823 before making his final home in Rabun County, Georgia.

Andrew Pickens, while frequently serving as a treaty negotiator on behalf of the United States with the Cherokees, Creeks and other Indian nations after the Revolution, was never engaged in military activities of any kind after 1782. He died at his home at Tomassee, South Carolina in 1817 (this is in present Oconee County, South Carolina adjoining Rabun County, Georgia), two years prior to the organization of Rabun County in 1819 and its later settlement by John and James Dillard in the 1820’s.

General Andrew Pickens did engage in fighting the British under General Greene in central North Carolina in 1781. John Dillard’s pension application sketches his Revolutionary service under General Greene across into North Carolina not far from John Dillard’s home in Pittsylvania County where he was based in that county’s militia. We do not know, however, that John Dillard and General Pickens were ever there together.

The times, places and circumstances do not add up, and it seems inescapable that John Dillard never served with General Andrew Pickens in fighting the Cherokee Indians nor in the fighting the British in the American Revolution. Perhaps it is time to get the record corrected.

This site contains information which has been compiled from many sources. Some of the information is my own, however, other researchers have submitted information to me for posting. Information within this site is contextually posted – if you copy this information please verify the context, source, and permissions prior to republishing at any location.

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