Laodicea "Dicey" Langston
14 May 1866 - 23 May 1837
Daughter of Solomon Langston, Sr., & Sarah Ann Bennett
Dicey is a recognized heroine of the Revolutionary War. When she was young, she learned a lot from her brothers and played her part in their boyish games. She became a bold rider and an expert shot. Of below medium height, she was dark-eyed, proud, imperious, and high-spirited. She was also considered graceful and attractive in appearance and in manner.
Her father was an ardent Whig who was a ready participant in the struggle although his active role was limited by his age and infirmities. He was generous with his purse and influence. Dicey's two brothers had taken part in the conflict from the beginning. To save the family from difficulties, they did not live at home and visited only infrequently in secret. Through it all, they managed to maintain communication with Dicey who had become an outspoken patriot along with her brothers.
Dicey found it easy to learn what was going on in the area. Some of the neighbors were Royalists (or Tories) and some of them were her relatives, which made it easy for her to learn of the movements and plans of the enemy. She relayed information to her brother who was with a small band of Whigs camped a few miles away. The Tories began to question how such information was getting to the rebels and soon turned their suspicions toward Solomon Langston and his high-spirited daughter.
Some of the Tories visited Solomon and told that he would be held personally responsible for Dicey's actions if any more information leaked to the Whigs. Solomon realized that his and his daughter's safety were at stake and warned her of the danger that her actions created for them. For a while, Dicey obeyed her father's command.
A few weeks later, she accidentally heard about some plans of the 'Bloody Scouts,' a band of Tory outlaws, lead by Bill Cunningham. They were known for t heir ruthless cruelty in plundering families who sympathized with the rebel cause. The 'Bloody Scouts' were planning to attack Little Eden settlement where her brother and his band were hiding. She knew that the Tories were incensed with her brother and that he and his band would be killed if captured. She knew that she had to warn her brother regardless of her father's orders. Her actions had to be secret to prevent retribution of the Tory neighbors. The least suspicion of her family being involved would inflame the 'Bloody Scouts' who were looking for any excuse to harass the old man and plunder his property.
Dicey had no one to send. She had no contacts that she could trust. It was evident that only she could deliver the warning. She would have to go alone after dark and on foot.
She started out late at night after the family and servants had all gone to bed. Treading her way through woods, across marshes and creeks, she finally reached a rain-swollen stream called the Tyger. The only way to cross was to wade through the deep rushing waters. She struggled toward the center of the stream were the current was very strong and the waters reached her shoulders. Suddenly, she fell. She regained her footing but had lost her bearings, became 'turned around' as she later reported it. However, she plunged and struggled onward toward the bank although she was not certain that it was the correct side of the stream. Falling and regaining her footing only to fall again, she finally dragged herself out on the bank and lay half drowned and soaked, until she regained her strength. Finally, she continued her trek. The path she found seemed to be on the correct side of the stream after all and she was soon with her brother and his men.
Dicey quickly reported the coming attack and urged that all the settlers of Little Eden be warned. The band had just returned from a long excursion, exhausted, wet, and hungry. Some of the men complained of being weak from hunger. Dicey, who was no less tired, wet, and hungry, ordered them to build a fire and get some cornmeal or flour. Some boards were pulled from the roof of their crude shelter and a fire started. Dicey rapidly made a hoecake and baked it in the embers. When it was cooked, she broke it into pieces and thrust them into the men's shot pouches so they could eat as they ran to warn the settlers. When the 'Bloody Scouts' descended upon the settlement, they found no one. That morning, a fresh and dainty Miss Dicey sat with her family at their breakfast. It was weeks before any of them learned of her twenty-mile tramp through the woods, creeks, and marshes in the middle of night.
The "Bloody Scouts'' fruitless raid on the Little Eden settlement only added to their enmity toward the few patriots in the Laurens District. Although they could not connect the Langston family to the warning that must have been delivered, their hate and suspicion of Solomon grew resulting in their marking him for a victim. Following a sortie of Whigs that included one of Solomon's sons, the 'Bloody Scouts' decided that the old man must die. The band went to his house to kill him and plunder his belongs. Solomon, physically unable to escape or try to hide, and too proud to beg for mercy, stood up to them, denying that he had anything to do with the struggle.
He was declared a liar by the leader who pointed his pistol at Solomon's chest. Dicey sprang between her father and the angry Tory who told her to get out of the way or he would put a bullet through her heart.
Almost blind with terror, she shouted that her father was an old man as she clasped him closer yet keeping her body between her father and the gunman. Another of the 'Bloody Scouts' must have marveled at the fearless devotion of the girl as he interfered and Solomon was spared.
At another time, she was riding a fleet young horse home from a Whig settlement when she was met by a company of loyalists. They demanded that she tell them what was happening among the rebels. She claimed to know nothing hoping to bring their meeting to an end. The leader had been an outlaw before the conflict but the British had given him their protection for taking up arms against his rebel neighbors. He drew his pistol as he told her that she did know and that she would tell or be shot. She refused. Again, she was ordered and, again, she refused. The outlaw would have shot her had not one of his men hit the pistol causing it to fire into the air. As the men squabbled, Dicey, still mounted on her horse, made a speedy escape.
Her brother, James, once left a rifle in her care with the understanding that he would send a man for it who would give a countersign. Later a group of men, headed by a young man called the Patriot Leader, came to the house, and said that James had sent them for the gun. They purposely acted suspicious to rile the spunky young patriotic girl. Dicey got the gun but suddenly remembered to ask for the countersign. She was told that it was too late since both the gun and she were in their possession. She spun around to aim the gun point blank at the head of the Patriot Leader's head. As she cocked it she said, 'Oh, we are, then come and get us.'
She was so deadly serious that the young man lost no time in giving here the countersign. His companions laughed long and loud at backfiring prank that he had played on Dicey. (Tradition reports that the young man was Tom Springfield who returned to marry her following the war.)
At another time, a party of Whigs stopped at Solomon's house for refreshments and in their conversation revealed that they were on their way to take the horses of a Tory neighbor. Dicey knew the Tory to be a peaceable citizen and a good neighbor so she decided to set out to save his horses. She slipped out and went to the Tory neighbor's home where she delivered the alert. As she was leaving, she was chagrined to overhear the neighbor sending a messenger to a nearby band of Tories to capture the unsuspecting Whigs at the Langston house. Dicey hurried home in time to warn the Whigs in time for them to make their escape.
She married Tom Springfield following the war, had a large prosperous family, and lived a long life. In later years, she was known to boast that she had thirty-two sons and grandsons able to vote or fight for liberty. Her obituary reports that she had 22 children. She died in 1837 and was buried in the family cemetery behind their log cabin located just north of Traveler's Rest, Greenville County, South Carolina. (View her grave stone on FIND A GRAVE.
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Visit the Laodicea "Dicey" Langston Springfield page on the The Langston Ancestry Pages website