Ceremony honors a Lowcountry hero of the Revolutionary War

To kick off the Memorial Day weekend, local historians and other dignitaries gathered Friday to pay tribute to one of Beaufort's earliest military heroes.

After receiving a 220-pound gravemarker from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs late last year, the descendants of Maj. John LaBoularderie de Treville re-dedicated his gravesite at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, the site of the de Treville-Lawrence family cemetery and plantation.

Maj. de Treville is best-known for his actions at the Battle of Grays Hill on Feb. 3, 1779. De Treville was one of nine Continental troops who -- using only a two-pound brass cannon and 15 rounds of ammunition -- staved off British troops as they marched down Shell Road, known today as U.S. 21.

Historians say that under the command of Gen. William Moultrie, de Treville and the small militia marched just north of what is now MCAS Beaufort and fought the British to a standstill, thwarting their attempt to take Beaufort.

Maj. de Treville married Sarah Wilkinson of Beaufort in 1778, died on the family's plantation in 1791, and was buried there, though a grave marker was never found. A marble monument to de Treville was erected laterin the churchyard at the Parish Church of St. Helena on Newcastle Street.

State Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort, attended Friday's ceremony and said it was a fitting tribute to one of Beaufort's -- and the state's -- most influential patriots.

"South Carolina history is rich and diverse, and we should embrace and remember those who fought for all of our rights and freedoms," she said. "With Memorial Day quickly approaching, it is fitting that we take a moment to celebrate one of the leaders in Beaufort's freedoms. I am honored to be part of this celebration and, as the daughter of a veteran, hold dear the sacrifices that people like Maj.John LaBoularderie de Treville made for our great state."

Local historian Gerhard Spieler -- whose wife, Ruth, is a descendent of de Treville -- said MCAS Beaufort and the Beaufort Readiness Center, which hosted a reception following the ceremony, were appropriate venues for the occasion.

"There are good reasons why both MCAS and the (S.C. National Guard) have joined for this rededication ceremony," he wrote in an e-mail. "First, the remembrance of a true American officer of the Continental line and hero of the American Revolution buried within its grounds.

"Second, to remember his command of the Beaufort Artillery from 1776 to 1783, which traces its beginnings ... to the present South Carolina National Guard unit here in Beaufort," he said.