Samuel Wyly

Treason in England was punishable by having the man’s entrails cut from his body and then his body dismembered. In order to dismember the person the extremities were often times tied by rope and pulled in opposite directions by men on horseback.  The arms and legs would be pulled in four different directions until they tore from the torso. Then the body parts were displayed in public on pikes.  It was a punishment that was meant to dissuade opposition to the King which started with the rule of King Edward of England in 12. 

In May of 1780 British Captain Christian Hucks did the same to a son of a Quaker icon in Camden, SC.  Just off Dekalb St, near the present-day Camden High School is the intersection of Old River Rd. and Chestnut Ferry Rd.  Here Captain Hucks carried out the penalty on Samuel Wyly, who was on parole after the fall of Charleston. The fact that Wyly was a non-combatant was immaterial to Hucks, who arrested Wyly in front of his grieving mother. 

Samuel’s father, who had died before the war, was one of the first inhabitants of the Camden area and was the Indian agent for the Catawba tribe in the area.  He had amassed a large estate over the years and his sons continued to be leaders in the community.  Samuel’s brother, John, was the local Sheriff who had been the executioner of several loyalists who had been found guilty of recent crimes. Speculation suggests that the British mistakenly killed the wrong brother, but that meant little to Samuel.

It was an execution that was certainly medieval in character and application.  It is said that Samuel’s body parts were placed upon spikes and displayed as a warning.  History tells us that the inhabitants of the Carolinas were not cowed.  Within a year Hucks would be dead and Rawdon would be in retreat back to Charleston.

Freedom Reigns!

Historic Camden, Volume 1, Thomas J. KirklandRobert MacMillan Kennedy

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