Robert Gibbes Barnwell (1761 - 1814)

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Robert Gibbes Barnwell, US Congress's Geni Profile

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Birthplace: Beaufort, South Carolina.
Death: Died in South Carolina, United States
Occupation: Soldier, Congressman
Managed by: Emily Laine Harding
Last Updated:

About Robert Gibbes Barnwell

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Barnwell

Robert Gibbes Barnwell (December 21, 1761 – October 24, 1814) was a South Carolina revolutionary and statesman who was a delegate to the Confederation Congress and a United States Congressman.

Robert was born in Beaufort, South Carolina. His education was by a private tutor after he had exhausted the resources of the Beaufort common school. But he interrupted this and entered the revolutionary war at the age of 16 as a private in the militia. In the maneuvering after the Battle of Stono Ferry, his company was camped on Johns Island in late June of 1779. A British surprise attack at night cut them up badly in an action known as the Battle of Mathews' Plantation. The sixteen year old Barnwell was wounded so badly that they stripped his gear and left him for dead. He was found in the field by a slave and taken to his aunt (Mrs. Sarah Gibbes) on her nearby plantation. She and her daughter nursed him back to health.

Shortly before the battle at Stono Ferry on June 20, the Beaufort Militia under Captain Robert Barnwell (son of Colonel Nathaniel Barnwell) was attached to a larger local company commanded by Captain John Matthews, later to be governor of South Carolina. These local militia took up a forward post at Matthew’s own plantation on the Stono River to keep an eye on British movements. Barnwell and the Beaufort Militia took a position on Fenwick’s neighboring plantation, and the American officers accepted a dinner invitation from Fenwick believing him to be a friend. After learning the strength of the American force Fenwick went directly to the British commander. The British surrounded and captured Matthew’s company and demanded the surrender of Barnwell’s small command. When Barnwell was refused terms, he ordered his men to make a stand. Faced with determined opposition, a British sergeant in command then offered “honorable quarter,” whereupon Robert Barnwell and his men laid down their arms. Having disarmed the Americans, the British treacherously fell upon them with bayonets, killing or wounding almost every man in the militia. Captain Barnwell received seventeen wounds and was left for dead. He was found on the field the next day by his cousins, the Gibbes, who lived nearby. Barnwell was nursed back to health by Mary Anna Gibbes.

He returned to duty, rejoining the militia the next spring as a lieutenant. He was just in time to be included with the prisoners when General Benjamin Lincoln surrendered Charleston on May 12, 1780. He was imprisoned on the transport ship Pack Horse until his exchange in June 1781. He returned to militia service, and by the end of the war had risen to Lieutenant Colonel.

Back home in Beaufort, Barnwell was elected to the South Carolina house of representatives for 1787-1788. He was a delegate representing South Carolina in the Confederation Congress in 1788 and 1789. He was returned to the state house for terms in 1790-1791, and 1794-1801, and in 1795 he served as speaker of that house.

In the spring of 1788 Robert was a delegate to South Carolina convention that ratified the United States Constitution. He was elected to one term in the U.S. House (1791-1793) for an at-large seat, but declined to run again. Beginning in 1795 he was the chair of the board of trustees for the new Beaufort College, and held that position for many years. He was elected to the state senate for 1805-1806, and was President of that body in 1805.

He died in Beaufort and is buried there in the churchyard of the St. Helena Episcopal Church. His son, Robert Woodward Barnwell, was a Senator in both the United States Senate and the Confederate Senate.

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Robert Gibbes Barnwell, US Congress's Timeline

1761
December 21, 1761
Beaufort, South Carolina.
1801
August 10, 1801
Age 39
Beaufort, Beaufort, South Carolina, United States
1814
October 24, 1814
Age 52
South Carolina, United States
1896
January, 1896
Age 52
????
October 24