The Beaufort History Museum is partnering with the Beaufort chapters of the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution to re-create a piece of American history and honor a Lowcountry hero.
Using donations from the two local civic groups, museum officials have purchased specialty threads, fabrics and other materials need to make a historically accurate replica of the uniform worn by Thomas Heyward Jr. and other officers and infantrymen during the Battle of Grays Hill and the Battle of Port Royal in February 1779.
The group plans to begin sewing the uniform in April and have it completed by the end of May, according to museum officials, who would not say how much the replica uniform would cost.
Katherine Lang, the museum's board president, said few museums in the state have replica uniforms true to those worn by local militias.
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"There were so many different units that fought in the war, and each had their own uniform," Lang said. "We didn't want ours to be a hodgepodge of different militias. It was important that our uniform was authentic to this particular unit that Thomas Heyward fought with."
A Lowcountry native, Heyward was 29 years old when he signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776, making him one of the youngest signers.
As a captain in the Charlestown Battalion, Heyward directed artillery fire and was wounded Feb. 3, 1779, in the Battle of Port Royal Island. He received an award for his participation. The following October, he fought in the Battle of Savannah.
He also was a planter and a circuit court judge from 1778 to 1789.
Jody Henson, president of the Gov. Paul Hamilton Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, said his organization saw the project as a chance to raise awareness about the important but often-overlooked role of South Carolinians during the Revolution.
"There were more men lost, more battles fought and more money spent in South Carolina and in this area than anywhere else during the war," Henson said. "Thomas Heyward was a big part of that. He is one of the only men who signed the Declaration of Independence to be wounded in combat."
Nancy Crowther, regent of the Thomas Heyward Jr. Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, said the group was happy to support a project honoring South Carolinians who fought for the country's freedom, especially Heyward.
"Thomas Heyward is a VIP in Beaufort County history," Crowther said.
Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/ProtectServeBft.