South Carolina’s Own Headless Horseman

Dear Reader:

As a child I remember waiting all week for the Disney Sunday evening program to begin and in October that meant the return of “The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow”...along with Icabod Crane.

I always kept a blanket around me to hide under when the famous chase scene began…even though I had memorized the scenes…it still scared me as that last pumpkin was thrown from the horse and Icabod was never seen again.

Little did I know that South Carolina would produce, far back in its revolutionary history, a headless sentry from (then) Wedgefield Plantation outside Georgetown, South Carolina.

In fact today…near Halloween the headless sentry shows ups in unexpected places all over Georgetown. The poor headless sentry is guarding one of the town banks in this recent photo taken in Georgetown, South Carolina.

He disappears and then reappears at different businesses and even some homes of Georgetown residents (not sure I would want him in my front yard guarding my home- give me pink flamingos)…Apparently the sentry stays on the move since his “beheading.”


And now here’s the story behind the headless sentry…It has a famous connection  in the guise of one of South Carolina’s “favorite sons”…General Francis Marion, a.k.a. “Swamp Fox”- hero of the American Revolution!

(As far as I am concerned…the spooky swamps (headquarters for Marion and his men) in the SC lowcountry would have been enough to spook me.)

According to historians and legends, the headless sentry came to be thanks to the cunning of the Swamp Fox, Revolutionary War hero Gen. Francis Marion. His efforts helped Georgetown win battle after battle against the British.

Marion had spies throughout Georgetown and one fateful night, one of them, a young wealthy girl, whose father was a British loyalist, told Marion her home held patriot prisoners of war guarded by only one sentry.

There was another party going on that night, away from Wedgefield Plantation, and only one guard had been left to guard the prisoners of war.

Marion’s men quickly beheaded the one lone guard…thus freeing both prisoners and an eerie S.C. legend.

Some say that same sentry has haunted South Carolina since he lost his young life and head at then Wedgefield Plantation. *Usually before the ghost is seen strange noises are heard. Sometimes it sounds like the distant roar and clatterings of the hooves of many horses. This happens just before nightfall. Then the ghost appears, an awful gruesome sight to behold!

He appears in the form of a headless body of an eighteenth century British Dragoon tottering about the yard with pistol in hand searching for his head. He always frightens those who see him, and he vanishes as suddenly as he appeared. When the prelude of thundering hooves is not heard, his appearance is announced by what sounds like chains being dragged across the front porch.

Wedgefield Plantation burned but the bricks were saved and used in the new building…the club house for the present-day Wedgefield Plantation Country Club and Golf course.

So until tomorrow…While listening to ghost stories, legends,  histories of past spirit sightings…enjoy the stories but remember to keep your head on your shoulders…in tact! 🙂

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

The new cycle on the Confederate Rose bush has started again…beautiful white blooms to re-tell the soldier’s legend into the future.


About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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1 Response to South Carolina’s Own Headless Horseman

  1. bcparkison says:

    When I was younger I could really get into these spooky stories. Not so now. Times do change.


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