Soldier, legislator. Born on June 26, 1739, Hezekiah Maham achieved the status of a successful planter in St. Stephen’s Parish by 1772. He represented that parish in the Second Provincial Congress at the onset of the Revolutionary War, but it would be through his military service that he would gain distinction. While the details of his early service remain unclear, in records Maham first appears at the head of a volunteer company of militia early in 1776 and is later promoted to the rank of major in a state regiment of light dragoons in 1779. After the fall of Charleston in May 1780, Maham joined Francis Marion’s partisan corps and served as a principal commander of cavalry in Marion’s brigade.
In the spring of 1781, Marion’s partisan band joined with the Continentals of Henry Lee’s Legion and marched on Fort Watson, a key British post between Charleston and the backcountry. The garrison was strategically located at the top of an ancient Indian mound, making a conventional assault suicidal. Major Maham suggested that a log tower be assembled with a platform high enough to allow riflemen to fire into the fort. The structure was completed on the morning of April 23, and an American assault party, protected by suppressing rifle fire from the tower, forced the garrison commander to surrender. Though not a new idea to siege warfare, the Maham Tower (as it would come to be known) was effective and would be used by patriot forces at the sieges of Augusta and Ninety Six later in the year.
On June 21, 1781, Maham was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and appointed to command a battalion of light dragoons, which would come to be known as Maham’s Legion. The appointment of Peter Horry to raise a similar corps eventually led to a quarrel between the two officers over rank. Nonetheless, Maham led his unit in a crucial assault at the Battle of Quinby Bridge on July 17, 1781. Later, in mid-November, Maham led a raid on a British hospital at Fairlawn Plantation that yielded some one hundred prisoners. In March 1782 the two cavalry units of Horry and Maham were combined under Maham’s command. However, he took ill shortly afterward and withdrew to his plantation, where he was promptly captured and paroled by Tories.
Known for his temper, Maham once forced a deputy sheriff to eat and swallow a summons the latter was trying to serve on him. Elected to several terms in the South Carolina General Assembly during and after the Revolution, both as a representative and a senator, Maham also held sundry offices for the parish of St. Stephen’s. He married twice. His first wife was Anne Guerin; his second was Mary Palmer. The marriages produced two daughters. Maham died on his plantation sometime between April 4, 1789, when he wrote his will, and June 1, 1789.
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