A different breed of hero: American Revolutionary War soldier honored with grave marker at Shadowlawn cemetery

Published 6:45 am Wednesday, May 4, 2022

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Some heroes are front and center in history books, others are obscured in the background behind well-known names.

Joseph Breed was just this — a figure so obscure to history he didn’t receive his own resting place or marker. Instead, he shared it alongside his other fellow soldiers who fought in the name of establishing American independence during the Revolutionary War.

Joseph’s very existence may have been lost to time itself if it wasn’t for the recent efforts of several historical preservation organizations and several of his few remaining descendants.

On April 30, members of the Piedmont and LaGrange Chapters of the Sons of the American Revolution gathered to honor Joseph with a Patriot Memorial Grave Stone Dedication service conducted by the Sons of the American Revolution. The service was held at the Shadowlawn Cemetery on a plot where some of Joseph’s descendants are buried. 

Joseph himself is not believed to have ever set foot in Troup County, let alone LaGrange. However, his oldest-living descendant and a member of the Piedmont Chapter of the Georgia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, Gerald Breed, was born in LaGrange and currently lives in Marietta. Two of his grandfathers are buried in Shadowlawn. Along with Gerald, at least 15 other Breed descendants were present for the service. 

“I felt some peace to see the turnout,” Gerald, said.

The ceremony included full honors for the Revolution War solider: a presentation of colors, a mourn musket tribute by the Elijah Clark Militia, a retirement of colors by the Georgia Society of Color Guard, and a special proclamation by LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton proclaiming April 30 as Patriot Joseph Breed Day.

Memorial wreaths were presented by heads of 10 historian organizations of Troup County.

Gerald additionally received an American flag flown over the United States Capitol in honor of Breed.

As noted in the biography Gerald provided, Joseph was born in Stonington, Connecticut on April 8, 1738.

His father was a Christian evangelist who was called to preach on the southern Appalachian frontier. Gerald noted the Breeds’ efforts resulted in the starting of hundreds of small churches throughout a 30-year timeframe. 

Joseph’s extended family moved south in 1755 eventually settling in upstate South Carolina about 1762. He married Catherine Lee about 1760, and they had eight children.

The Breed family acquired land between the Broad River and the Saluda River on Fairforest Creek, which was in present-day Union County, South Carolina. The Fairforest community was about 35 miles south of Cowpens and about 40 miles from Kings Mountain.

The Fairforest community had divided loyalties during the American Revolution, and there were skirmishes between Whigs (Patriots) and Tories (Loyalist) in that area. Colonel Thomas Brandon of Fairforest raised a militia unit to fight for the Whigs. Joseph and his brother, Nathan Breed, enlisted in Colonel Brandon’s Fairforest Regiment.

Brandon’s Regiment served in 37 Revolutionary War Battles including Ramsours’ Mill, Williamson Plantation (Huck’s Defeat), Musgrove’s Mill, Kings Mountain, Blackstock’s Plantation, Cowpens and Eutaw Springs.

Joseph Breed and his family moved to Warren County, Georgia about 1787 where he acquired land to build a house and farm.

He died in 1807 and was buried in Warren County. A monument in Warrenton lists Joseph and an estimated 156 other veterans of the War for American Independence who are buried in Warren County, although the exact location of Joseph’s grave is unknown.

A small maker was placed on the Breed family plot at Shadowlawn Cemetery with the inscription “Joseph Breed–Patriot—American Revolution.”