South Carolina Loyalists and Rebels
This website was last revised on: 11 March 2011
Reception of The American Loyalists by Great Britain, in the Year 1783, from an engraving made from a painting by Benjamin West.
The years between 1775 and 1783, the time of the American Revolutionary War, were among the most significant in the history of the Western World. During that War, thirteen diverse and quarrelsome British colonies were able to work together to defeat the most powerful nation in the world at that time -- the British Empire. We now tend to view that far off time as a glorious, heroic age when a group of brilliant founding fathers forged a great nation. In reality, the Revolutionary War was a grim, bloody, and internally divisive struggle which would have ended in defeat without the substantial financial and military support of France. Edward McCrady, one of the foremost historians of the Revolution in South Carolina, makes the following comment:
“ … For alas! The candid student of the history of the Revolution must at last be forced to recognize and admit that the liberties of America were the shuttlecocks of foreign diplomacy, and secured at last in the cabinets of Europe rather than upon the fields of America. To the shame of America, in 1780 there were more Americans, it was claimed serving in the Provincial Regiments of the British army than in the Continental service of the States; in 1781 there were more French troops at Yorktown than American regulars. Equality in numbers on that field was only maintained by Governor Nelson's Virginia militia. That victory was indeed quite as much a victory of France over Great Britain as a victory for American independence. … “
-- Quotation taken from The History of South Carolina in the Revolution 1775-1780 (first published in 1901) by Edward McCrady, page 301.
In the first 150 years or so after the Revolution, most of the major American historians of that event were from the northeastern part of the United States, particularly from New England. As a consequence, the story of the War in the South was given little emphasis. However, since the 1970's, a newer generation of historians have come to realize that the war for independence was actually won in the South. To achieve that victory, no colony paid a higher price than South Carolina. More than two hundred battles and skirmishes took place on South Carolina soil, more than in any other colony.
South Carolina was the scene of shifting American fortunes throughout the War. Just a week before the Declaration of Independence, South Carolina Whigs won a pivotal victory -- one of the first in the South -- at Sullivan's Island overlooking Charleston Harbor. However, four years later in May 1780, Charleston, one of the most important ports in America, fell to the British. Soon thereafter, much of South Carolina was overrun by British troops. In the summer of 1780, the tide of the war reached its lowest ebb for the American cause. In August, American forces were defeated by Lord Cornwallis at the Battle of Camden, suffering what some historians consider their worst defeat in any war. But only two months later, at Kings Mountain, American frontier militia claimed a victory that shifted the tide in favor of independence. Then, at the Battle of Cowpens in January 1781, Daniel Morgan triumphed over Banastre Tarleton. That victory greatly weakened the overall military position of Cornwallis and ultimately led to his decisive defeat at Yorktown, Virginia in October 1781.
Loyalists and Rebels
This web site presents results of my research concerning several Loyalists and Rebels, who fought in South Carolina during the Revolutionary War. All of these men resided in the South Carolina backcountry and most are named in the Jury Lists of 1779 for the Upper Saluda or Spartanburg area of the old Ninety-Six Judicial District.
I first began to investigate the early history of this part of South Carolina while doing genealogical research concerning John Mayfield of Browns Creek, the first member of the Mayfield family known to have settled in South Carolina. During the Revolution, Mayfield had supported the Loyalist Cause, achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Tory Militia, and had been murdered by the Rebels, probably some time in the early part of 1782.
As my study of John Mayfield's life and times progressed, I realized that the area in which he lived, the Upper Saluda or Spartan region, which was located in the northern part of the Ninety-Six Judicial District, produced many prominent Rebels and Loyalists. Several of these men were close neighbors of Mayfield; before the Revolution they had probably all been good friends and business associates. Unfortunately, the Revolutionary War in the South Carolina Backcountry was actually a civil war; it caused neighbor to fight neighbor, brother to fight brother and father to fight son.
From time to time, the Whig Government of SC promulgated listings of Loyalists who were or had been residents of South Carolina. Transcriptions of many of these Loyalist Lists are appended to this web site, including a complete list of those people named in the Estate Confiscation Act of February 1782 and the even larger group of Loyalists named in the Militia Commanders Enemies Lists of 1783.
For the purposes of this web site, the words "Tory" and "Loyalist" are used interchangeably to mean those American colonists who supported King George III during the Revolutionary War. Conversely, the terms "Whig" and "Rebel" are used to denote those colonists who supported the Revolution and advocated complete independence from the King's authority.
For the most part, I do not use the term "Patriot" at this web site. Although many historians consider the Whig or Rebel faction in the colonies to be the only patriots, I feel that the Loyalists were also patriots, i. e., patriotic in their support of the King. We should remember that the only legally constituted government in the colonies was that of the King and Parliament. The authority of all colonial governments were based upon charters received from the King. Most of the colonial leaders who supported the War for Independence, had once held official offices under the King and had taken oaths of allegiance to him. Therefore, these leaders, by taking up arms, had violated their oaths and thereby committed high treason. Accordingly, if the War had been lost, the King, under British law, could have had those people executed! In this view, the Loyalists, by opposing the Revolutionaries, were merely performing their patriotic duty to support legally constituted authority.
The hardships endured by the families of the South Carolina Backcountry during the Revolution are almost unimaginable to people of the modern era. Most of these Backcountry protagonists have now been forgotten, especially the loyalists. It is my hope that this web site will aid in restoring to historical memory their names and the story of their exploits. It is to these brave men and women, both rebels and loyalists, that I dedicate this web site.
I currently support twenty-four websites. Fifteen sites are related to philosophy and art and nine are related to genealogy and local history. Hyperlinks to these sites are shown below.
Philosophy and Art:
* Sites that are still under construction
Genealogy and Local History:
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