Andrew Pickens – Revolutionary War Hero & US Representative
South Carolina SC History SC Revolutionary War Andrew Pickens
Andrew Pickens – The Story of the "Wizard Owl"
The following essay was contributed by Manus Hand, who hails from Parker, Colorado. It provides the best theory we know of on General Pickens' interesting nickname. We really appreciate Mr. Hand sharing this information with South Carolina!
Andrew Pickens fought against the Cherokee Indians and in his final battle with them, called the "Ring Fight," he was outnumbered 7-to-1, but still defeated them. They came to revere and respect him, and indeed he chose to live only one mile from the site of this battle, and among the Cherokee.
From what I can tell ...
The Cherokee named him Skyagunsta ("Wizard Owl") in honor of one of the greatest Cherokee warriors and chiefs, who was the head warrior of Tassaetchie in the early 1700s. This earlier Skyagusta (usually spelled Skijagusta, and who was also known as Kittagusta) was said to be a man worthy to be the king (according to the British way of thinking) of all the Cherokee tribes when the English conquered the Cherokee.
This earlier Skyagunsta was then taken, with several other chiefs, across the ocean to London by Sir Alexander Cumming (who had led the fight against them), where the group presented the conquered crown of the Cherokee nation to the King of England. The king then made a treaty with these chiefs, and Skyagunsta made a famous speech when presenting the feathers to the king:
"We are come hither from a mountainous place, where nothing but darkness is to be found; but we are now in a place where there is light. There was a person in our country, he gave us a yellow token of warlike honor, which is left with Moytoy of Telliquo, and as warriors we received it. He came to us like a warrior from you. A man he is; his talk is upright, and the token he left preserves his memory among us.This earlier Skyagunsta returned to America and lived to be very old, dying in 1768, so he was fresh in the memory of the Cherokee nation when Andrew Pickens came along.
It would therefore seem (and again, this is just my best guess here) that ...
The Cherokees named Andrew Pickens their "new" Skyagusta since he was as great a warrior as the earlier Skyagunsta had been, and since he, like the earlier man, found a way for both peoples to live in peace.
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