American Revolutionary War

What Is the Truth About Loyalists Versus Patriots in the Carolinas?

Over the next several months, new articles will be arriving containing details about the atmosphere in the Carolinas during the American Revolutionary War. How many of you can link your family tree to either a Loyalist or a Patriot? Perhaps you are like me and can connect your lineage to both. Due to the thousands of books on the current market describing the war, very few of these materials portray the factual events occurring in the Carolinas during 1780. Why is that? It’s a relevant question that concerns all family historians. Our founding fathers still produce a market today with many publishers. After nearly two hundred forty-six years since the signing of the Declaration of Independence, George Washington still maintains a significant economic presence in today’s society. Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, and John Adams are in the same category. It’s a proven fact our founding fathers can still generate an interest with the general public to know more about them. The need to know entices authors to write and conduct the research resulting in book sales that have not ceased since the early years of the 19th century. The deeds and valor of our founding fathers deserve fair praise and recognition. But to add to their class of society based on merit, the skirmishes and battles occurring along the Carolina frontier also deserve the same fair praise and recognition. 

First question Who was the first individual to approach the idea of independence from England? Was it Samuel Adams? John Adams? Patrick Henry? Perhaps it was a friend of friend to one of these men. Possibly, the idea originated over a meal at a local establishment. Either way, Boston, Massachusetts, witnessed firsthand the atrocities that British rule had taken. As citizens sought to change the irrational colonial laws, new words emerged in daily conversations, such as liberty and freedom. These words united people everywhere. War was on the horizon, and choices made by every colonial citizen directed the outcome for future generations. 

Second question What do you think was the worst battle during the American Revolutionary War? Possibly Bunker Hill, Waxhaw, or Kings Mountain? The movie “The Patriot” shows a specific scene that portrays an excellent example of the people’s reaction to war. Before the vote engaging South Carolina in war with England, discussions touch base with the pros and cons. Mel Gibson, representing Francis Marion, addresses the audience and explains his decision. “Mark my words. This war will not be fought thousands of miles away. It will be fought amongst our friends, our neighbors, our homes. Our children will learn from it with their own eyes.” Although many portions of the film were historical fiction, those words represent the Carolinas in a true fashion during some of the most brutal tactics used throughout the entire war. The harrowing details at first glance are shocking, and we begin to understand why few authors chose to write about 1780 in the Carolinas. We can also understand why many 18th-century families choose to forget or put the past behind them. Few factual stories passed from one generation to the next. Often the hideous events were omitted altogether. The term hornet’s nest doesn’t accurately describe the situation from 1779 to 1781. A more proper definition would include the words Civil War.

Over the next several months, Piedmont Trails will analyze the data with population records, land deeds, battle/skirmish locations with details and learn more about what these families faced in the Carolinas. Everyone made a choice, and after the war ended, many Loyalist families moved away quickly. Some escaped to Charlestown, namely Charleston, SC, and became refugees. Others traveled to Florida briefly before migrating to Canada or elsewhere. But several families stayed put and mended relationships with their neighbors. Not every Carolina Loyalist lost their lands to the Confiscation Act. It appears that in some cases, forgiveness outweighed the need for law, and although some families remained enemies for years, time eventually overcame the hatred. 

Final question When you research and discover an appalling act by one of your ancestors, do you condemn it immediately, or do you study the facts leading to the event and then make attempts to understand it? The definition of understanding means to perceive the meaning of something or to openly apprehend the character or nature, to interpret or to grasp the implications. It also means to accept as fact and to regard as settled. Many historians proclaim that the Loyalists in the Carolinas outweighed the Patriots in population statistics. But I think the evidence will prove that through efforts placed on specific battlefields and skirmishes, while using militia techniques against the British, the Loyalists quickly became the minority by 1781. The heart of the American Revolutionary War did not dwell solely within the Continental Army. The soul of the war occupied the homes and farms that dotted the landscape. The majority of men who enlisted as militia served three months. But, going through so many records, I find these same men reenlisting time after time. Most of them rank as privates throughout the war and witness some of the most horrific events imaginable. These militiamen are the heart of the war.

Comment on the post and answer the questions above. Share your thoughts and ideas. We look forward to hearing from you all. Our Ancestors Left an Amazing Trail to Follow. Enjoy Your Journey to the Past !!

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