SISKS IN THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
A point of great pride among Sisks is the record of family members during the American Revolution.
Legends in various branches of the family tell of as many as 16 Sisk in military service of one kind or another--brothers, according to tradition in some families. But absence of documentation makes it impossible to determine the exact number of Sisk patriots, who each was, and relationships to each other. Those with verified records:
Daniel Sisk, North Carolina, patriot volunteer, killed in the Battle of King's Mountain, Oct. 7,1780.
Bartlett Sisk, Virginia, private in the Continental Army.
Timothy Sisk Jr. Virginia, private in state militia.
James Sisk, North Carolina, enlisted man in state militia.
Charles Sisk, Virginia, pensioner, probably a militiamen.
According to tradition in various families, others saw service, such as legends that certain ancestors "fought with George Washington". For example, William Sisk was said to have been in service as a volunteer, but no record has been cited. Records of other Sisk are being sought. Among those old enough to have taken active parts were John, Thomas, Line, Barnabas, Martin, and the Rutherford County, N.C., Robert Sisk.
Efforts to plumb the Archives in Washington have uncovered the records of only two, Bartlett Sisk, the one member of the Continental Army, and Timothy Sisk Jr., drafted militiamen, whose record was found in the pension files. The other Sisks fighting for freedom were of the militia in the Colonies, or were men recruited from the countryside, records of the states are of little help. Those who volunteered from time to time did so on an informal basis and left no records in the annals of the time.
Daniel Sisk, a casualty of the Battle of King's Mountain , was one of those from the countryside, mobilized with his hunting rifle to help meet the immediate threat of the British under Cornwallis.
In answer to inquiries, the National Archives reported it has no records on Daniel Sisk. Thus the only documentation are the reports on the battle itself, in which Daniel Siske and Thomas Bicknell "were among the killed of the Wilkes regiment:. There was said to have been a manuscript record naming the two men in Wilkes County, but efforts to locate the manuscript were in vain.
Daniel Sisk fit the general description voiced in 1975 by Vice President Nelson Rockerfeller when he was principal speaker at the King's Mountain, N.C., observance of the 195th anniversary of the battle. The program there was part of the national Bicentennial observance.
Rockerfeller sounded the Bicentennial theme when he noted that the defeat of the British troops by a ragged band of patriots was a "perfect example of what the American character is all about." He noted that the patriots went into the battle without orders from the Continental Congress, without pay, and even without uniforms, but "they had courage and they loved freedom more than life itself".
"Their Colonel Shelby commanded them to 'shoot like hell: fight like devils!' and that's just what they did", said Rockerfeller.
In addition to Bartlett Sisk James Sisk was a "regular", but only as an enlisted man in the North Carolina militia.
The nature of the service of Charles Sisk is uncertain, except that he is on the Virginia rolls as a Revolutionary pensioner.
Bartlett Sisk and Timothy Sisk Jr., evidently were brothers; another descendant's biography published in 1893 identified the elder Timothy as Bartlett's father, living in Culpeper County, Virginia, at the time of Bartlett's birth in about 1753. According to that biography, Bartlett in "early manhood enlisted in the defense of the Colonies...under General Daniel Morgan he participated in many prominent engagements, and was always in the front, doing valiant service in the cause of liberty". (For Bartlett Sisk biography details see Tennessee File, Bartlett Sisk.)
Bartlett's official record in the U. S. Archives accounts for his participation in only one major engagement, the Battle of Stone Ferry, South Carolina on June 20, 1779. The record is identified as S.1722 in the file of Revolutionary War Pension Claims. The following is extracted from Bartlett's declaration to obtain a pension, made and executed in open court in Cocke County, Tennessee, Aug. 29, 1832:
"...served under General Butler, Col. Charles McDowell, Capt. Jacob Camplin, Lt. John Cook and William Runnels, ensign...that he was in Wilkes County when he entered the service as a volunteer...in the State of North Carolina, and the he rendezvoused at Hamilton's old store and marched thence to headquarters, then from place to place until he arrived at a place called Stono, where he was engaged in a battle at that place under the above named officers, that there was 44 of the Americans killed and 104 wounded and sometimes afterward he got his discharge and that most of his time he marched through the states of South and North Carolina and Georgia.
"Said applicant further states that he removed to Virginia and there in the county of his birth, Culpeper, again entered the service of the United States and was drafted and served under the following name officers--General Campbell, Major Rucker, Cpt. Elijah Kirtly, and Simeon Blewford, that he rendezvoused at Culpeper Courthouse, Va., and marched to headquarters where he remained three months, was relieved and went home, making in all seven months..."
The declaration bore the certification and signatures of Jacob Casplin, Cpt. George McNabb, and Abraham Lillard, the latter two being residents of Cocke County. The Archives jacket containing the pension file bears the notations that an order to pay "at the rate of 23 dollars and 33 cents per annum to commence on the 4th day of March, 1831," that an order to pay was indicated as of 18 October 1831, and that certificate of pension issued the 18 day of Sept. 1833, in the amount of $69.98, including arrears of $58.32. There also was a notation, "date of death not on". (Bartlett Sisk died in about 1840.)
In addition to the pension record, the Archives jacket contains a letter from A. D. Hiller, assistant to the administrator, under date of Jan. 19, 1937, in response to an inquiry from Congressman William L. Nelso. This letter says the date of Bartlett's birth and the names of his parents are not shown. It identifies Colonel McDowell's command as the North Carolina Regiment, and Major Rucker's as "Virginia troops". The letter added, "There are no data on the soldier's family."
The record of Timothy Sisk Jr. Is a brief, but graphic one. It is contained in his declaration in support of his application for a military pension under the Act of Congress passed June 7, 1832, (See text in "Timothy Sisk, Virginia" file)
According to the declaration, Timothy was a resident of Culpeper County, Virginia, where he was drafted for an uneventful tour of duty of three months. He served under Capt. Francis Nalle in Col John Thorton's regiment, he said, Later, Timothy was drafted for another three months and served in the company of Cpt. Armistead White of Culpeper County. It was during this period that he was marched to Yorktown, Va., where he "served during the siege of that place".
The siege continued from Oct. 6 until Oct. 19, when the British surrendered, clinching victory for the American Revolution. Timothy's affidavit declared that after the siege he was one of the American guards placed in charge of half of the beaten Red Coats for a march to the prisoner-of-war camp at Winchester, VA. At the end of the march he was discharged from service.
Another Timothy recorded is found in two books. The Historical Register of Virginians in the Revolution, 1775-1783, by John H. Gwathney, lists him at age 72 in the state's 1833 Military Pension Lists, and identifies him as having served as a private from Culpeper County. The military pension lists of 1835 from a report by the Secretary of War lists Timothy in "Pensions, Volume II" as having served in the Virginia Militia.
Several records naming James Sisk have been found. According to records of Col. Abraham Shepard's 10th Regiment, North Carolina Militia, James Sisk enlisted as a private on Oct. 1, 1776, served three years, and was made a corporal in November, 1779. There are two listings of James Sisk in Pierce's Register, one as No. 90877 and one as No.91525. In the North Carolina Revolutionary Army Accounts, Vol II, Book AA, Pages 1-44, James is identified as a corporal.
In the Continental Military Land Grants, James Sisk is given No. 893, and is identified as a private who served 84 months. A land grant of 640 acres was issued to him on Oct. 14, 1783. Location of the grant was not given. Later, in 1820, in North Carolina Military Papers, Folder No. 344, in the Archives, James Sisk appears as the owner of 1000 acres, and increase over the 640. The 1820 record tells of the application by Thomas Henderson of Raleigh, attorney for the Trustees of the University of North Carolina, seeking under the Act of 1819 deed to the 1000 acres, belonging to one of the "former soldiers of the Revolutionary Army and Line of North Carolina who are proven to have died in the service of the United States, or since the close of the war and without issue or other heirs".
In "Comptrollers Papers" in the North Carolina Archives in Raleigh under "Revolutionary War--Final Settlements." James Sisk is identified as a resident of Rutherford County. In the first U. S. Census, 1790, a James Sisk was recorded as head of a family in the Salisbury District of Surry County, with the family comprised of one male over 16, two males under 16, three females and no others.
In Wake County, North Carolina, evidently in support of efforts to establish military records, George Cole made a deposition asserting that he was in the same company with James Sisk. They served in the North Carolina Line and were together at Valley Forge, according to the deposition. Cole and James Sisk also were together at Hillsborough, according to the deposition, where they were taken prisoners by the Tories and carried to Charleston. (It was not unusual for the British loyalist to place their American prisoners aboard ships and impress them into naval service.) The deposition continued that "said Sisk had from some previously remained on board of a British ship for 18 months; said Sisk had emigrated from some of the Northern States, and had no relatives or family in this state. He was much afflicted with sore legs." (From the accounts of how the British treated their prisoners on those old prison ships, it is not surprising that James Sisk "much afflicted with sore legs."
The BATTLE OF KING'S MOUNTAIN, OCTOBER 7, 1780
The Battle of King's Mountain, in which Daniel Sisk was killed, was one of the main turning points in the American Revolution, according to George C. McKenzie in the book, "King's Mountain National Park, South Carolina," published in 1955 by the National Park Service.
The book quotes Sir Henry Clifton, the British commander in chief in North America, as writing, "it was the first link in a chain of evils that followed...until they at last ended in the total loss of America."
The battle ground was along the crest of King's Mountain, actually an 18-mile range extending across the border between North and South Carolina, in what are now Cleveland County, North Carolina, and Cherokee County, South Carolina.
Another book, "King's Mountain and Its Heroes," gives a detailed account of the battle, events leading up to it and all available names of the participants and casualties on both sides. The Americans totaled 1000 from Eastern Tennessee, Virginia, and North and South Carolina. There were about 1100 in the British force, 100 regulars and 1000 Tories.
Among the American Revolutionary forces, Col. Benjamin Cleveland and Maj. Joseph Winston had brought 350 "mountain men" from Wilkes and Surry Counties, North Carolina. The Wilkes County men included Daniel Sisk and possibly other Sisks, several of whom lived in Wilkes and Surry Counties. This rag-tag group carried the burden of the assault up the side of the mountain and approached within a quarter mile of the enemy before being discovered when they opened fire. The battle started about 3 p.m. and lasted just about an hour. The entire British force was captured, wounded or killed, Mackenzie reports. There were 28 American killed and 62 wounded. Of the British, 157 were killed, 163 wounded and left on the field and 700 taken prisoner. Several Tories among those captured were hanged--not an unusual consequence after battles during the Revolution.
"Of the Wilkes and Surry men under Cleveland and Winston," the Heroes book recounts, "we have only the names of two men killed--Thomas Bicknell and Daniel Siske (sic) of Wilkes County; Major Lewis Captains Lewis, Smith, and Lenoir, Lieutenants Johnson and J.M. Smith, Charles Gordon, and John Childers wounded--the latter badly. Where so many officers were disabled, there must have been several others of this gallant regiment killed and wounded."
The British dead included the commander, Maj. Patrick Ferguson.
According to Mackenzie, the battle "halted the triumphant northward movement of Lord Cornwallis...in (his) final effort to end the Revolution. The engagement was a memorable example of the individual valor of the American frontier fighter, and the deadly effectiveness of his hunting rifle."