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Andrew Pickens – Revolutionary War Hero & US Representative

South Carolina SC History SC Revolutionary War Andrew Pickens

General Andrew Pickens – Overview

General Andrew Pickens served as a US representative and, prior to that, was one of South Carolina's most formidable Revolutionary War heroes. His son, Andrew Pickens, Jr., served as our state governor.

Although General Pickens began his military career by fighting the Cherokee in the Anglo-Cherokee War, he was well-respected by tribal leaders. They called him "Skyagunsta" – or Wizard Owl. (Learn more about this interesting nickname.)

Pickens came from Scots-Irish stock and was also known as the "Fighting Elder" because of his strong Presbyterian faith.

Portrait of Andrew Pickens
Andrew Pickens – Biographical Resources

Andrew Pickens – Grave at Old Stone Church
    Andrew Pickens is buried at the Old Stone Church in Clemson. His grave reads: Gen. Andrew Pickens was born 13th September 1735 and died 17th August 1817. He was a Christian, a Patriot & Soldier. His character & actions are incorporated with the history of his country. Filial affections and respect raise this stone to his memory.

Andrew Pickens – Related SC Names, Places

Grave of 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.

We look upon you as if the great king were present; we love you as representing the great king. We shall die in the same way of thinking. The crown of our nation is different from that which the great King George wears, and from that we saw in the tower. But to us it is all one. The chain of friendship shall be carried to our people. We look upon the great King George as the sun, and as our father, and upon ourselves as his children. For though we are red, and you are white, yet our hands and hearts are joined together.

When we shall have acquainted our people with what we have seen, our children from generation to generation will always remember it. In war we shall always be one with you. The enemies of the great king shall be our enemies. His people and ours shall be one, and shall die together. We came hither naked and poor as the worms of the earth, but you have everything, and we that have nothing must love you, and will never break the chain of friendship which is between us.

Here stands the governor of Carolina, whom we know. This small rope we show you is all that we have to bind our slaves with, and it may be broken. But have iron chains for yours. However if we catch your slaves, we will bind them as well as we can, and deliver them to our friends, and take no pay for it. We have looked round for the person that was in our country – he is not here. However, we must say he talked uprightly to us, and we shall never forget him. Your white people may very safely build houses near us. We shall hurt nothing that belongs to them, for we are children of one father, the great king, and shall live and die together."
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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