The March of the “Scopholites”:

Failure and the King’s Cause on the

Southern Revolutionary War Frontier

by Robert Scott Davis

Davis art

A raid by the Florida Scout (Albert Bobbett, 1877)

The American Revolution coincided with and became a part of an internal cultural, racial, class, and religious struggle in the South that began before and ended after the war.  An early and prime example of that conflict occurred in the spring of 1778 when frontier South Carolina Loyalists, or Tories, banded together and marched to the province of East Florida to defend it from invasion by the new United States.  They planned to return to their homes accompanied by red-coated soldiers who would restore the southern colonies to the Crown and reestablish for their minority communities special privileges and legal protections that, before the war, had even extended, to a degree, to Indians, slaves, and landless whites.  As historian Linda Colley wrote, British colonial America demonstrated that an empire “so often assumed now to be necessarily racist in operation and ethos could sometimes be conspicuously poly-ethnic in quality and policy.”[1]

South Carolina famously had very different populations of the Americans who remained loyal to the British government during the various phases of the American Revolution. Their differences mirrored the political and social diversity of the pre-war colony.  The events of the Revolution that followed added further complexities such that some later prominent Loyalists such as Andrew DeVeaux, Daniel McGirt, John Thomas, and Harris Tyner began the war, as did the famous Benedict Arnold, supporting the rebellion or the Whig cause.[2]

Hundreds of these particular Americans sometimes called “Scopholites,” after a derogatory term for colonial South Carolina bandits, set out for the province of East Florida to defend it from invasion by the new United States.  Their odyssey encouraged an already existing British strategy to salvage victory with large numbers of American recruits trained by and serving with the King’s regular army.  (Organized, equipped, trained, and paid as British soldiers in the provincial regiments.)  These two different interests shared the common goal of a restoration of the southern colonies to the Crown.  That ambition had a basis in unrealistic assumptions about what the British might still achieve by 1778.

The origins of the march of the so-called Scopholites began in the efforts of colonial governments to settle their western backcountry with foreign immigrants to dilute the growing numbers and power of the largely disenfranchised native-born American frontiersmen, to buffer the coastal settlements from Native Americans, to provide markets for coastal trading interests, to provide agricultural products, and to balance the large coastal populations of enslaved Africans.  South Carolina, for example, paid cash bounties to settlers arriving from Europe and offered the best frontier lands for exclusive townships created for Scots-Irish, French, Swiss, Palatine, and German families respectively.  Such minority communities thus owed everything to the colonial status quo and risked losing a great deal, including even their cultural identities, to an unfettered frontier American democracy that lifted all restrictions on their colonial privileges.

The different peoples in these communities included the immigrant, poor, ethnically distinct, and a predominantly non-slaveholding Waxhaw settlement in the Catawba Valley on the border between North and South Carolina.  Historian Peter N. Moore wrote that this Scots-Irish “Blackjack” settlement found itself “suspect, excluded, and vulnerable” to neighbors who “crushed dissent and heightened fear and hatred of difference.”  For these same reasons, German settlements at the fork of the Broad and Saluda Rivers (the so called “Dutch Fork” after the Germanic “Deutsch” settlers there) in South Carolina also remained predominately Loyalist.  Religious minorities, including the Quakers, Separatist “New Light” Baptists, Welsh Baptists, Moravians, and Dunkers evolved inside and outside of these communities and, at the least, opposed slavery within their communities despite their neighbors support for that institution.  The South Carolina frontier also included classes of Indians, former slaves, landless whites, and racially mixed persons whom Hugo P. Leaming generally defined as the maroon people of mainland English North America. They too owed their liberty, by different definitions, to what the old order did and did not provide including the lack of sheriffs, courts, jails, and local political power in the colony’s backcountry.  White men also unsuccessfully led Indians against James Lindley’s Fort on July 15, 1775 and suffered captured in the subsequent multi-state campaign against the Cherokees.[3]

During the American Revolution, Loyalist SC militia Col. Robert Gray witnessed how the conflict between the minority communities and those of the mainstream frontier Americans created a patchwork of societal and culturally segregated settlements that were each acting in their own respective interests.  In the contest to control South Carolina, when thousands of frontier Loyalists marched in support of the King’s cause in 1775-1776, their neighbors defeated them in a civil war almost detached from the American Revolution.  More than 4,000 North and South Carolina troops defeated the South Carolina backcountry Loyalists at the Reedy River in South Carolina in the battle of the Great Cane Break on December 22, 1775, resulting in the capture of Loyalist leader Col. Thomas Fletchal.  Sixteen-year old Scottish immigrant Baikia Harvey related to his godfather the fate of the prisoners taken by the men of the majority on the frontier, the American-born, in the populist South Carolina Snow Campaign:

I am Just Returned from the Back parts where I seed Eight Thousand men in arms all with Riffeld Barrill guns which they can hit the Bigness of a Dollar Between Two & three Hundreds yards Distance.  the Little Boys not Bigger than my self has all thir Guns & marches with their Fathers & all thir Cry is Liberty or Death.  Dear Godfather tell all my Country people not to come here for the Americans will Kill them Like Dear in the  Woods & they will never see them. .  . every time they Draw sight at any thing they are sure to kill or Creple & they Run in the Woods Like Horses I seed the Liberty Boys take Between Two & Three hundred Torreys & one Liberty man would take & Drive four or five before him Just as shepards do the sheep in our Cuntry & they have taken all their arms from them and put the head men in gaile[4]

The “Scopholites”

The victorious revolutionary Whigs diminished their opposition’s standing by calling them “Scopholites,” the same name that they would generically give the Loyalists who marched to British East Florida in 1778.  Colonial frontiersmen used that moniker to refer to the associates of Joseph Coffel, also Scoffield, Scoval, Scophol, etc., a notorious chicken, cattle and hog thief who had been a constable for the area between the Broad and Saluda Rivers prior to 1772.  He claimed a commission as colonel charged by South Carolina officials with enforcing warrants against the colony’s Regulators, frontier vigilantes whose political agitation for local rule of law sought to stop brigands such as Coffel.  Contemporary William Moultrie famously described him as an illiterate, stupid, ignorant, and noisy blockhead.  After Coffel used his presumed authority as a carte blanche for his some 600 so-called “moderators” to plunder the frontier, the governor and assembly finally established the local courts and jail that the Regulators sought.  In November 1773, the new colonial court in Orangeburg ordered Coffel to receive a public whipping for cattle rustling and petty larceny.[5]

“Scopholite” served as an appellation by different persons for different groups of people. Some writers of the time used it only to refer to white men living with and as if Indians or for agents of the British who communicated between the southern backcountry and East Florida.  A few members of that group the Whigs discovered, after capturing them, to be escaped slaves.  Dr. David Ramsey, a witness to the American Revolution and one of its very first historians, wrote that in South Carolina the bandits called Scopholites became the Loyalists or Tories while the Regulators who had opposed them before the war joined the Revolution.  Often Whigs did apply the name to any of the “King’s men” from the South Carolina backcountry.[6]

Historian Heard Robertson, however, found nothing to suggest that Joseph Coffel had any thing to do with the Loyalists.  Only a rumor of him survives after his sentence in November 1773 and it comes from a secondhand report in 1775.  Robertson believed that the Whigs used this appellation as inflammatory propaganda, much as the word “Tory,” from the Irish words for “pursued” and “bandit,” came to be a pejorative term for anyone who supported the British cause or as the word “Whig” had an original meaning in the 1600s akin to “country bumpkin.”  “Scoffelite” also plays on the word “scrofula,” a skin disease popularly known as the “King’s evil,” which supposedly could be cured by a monarch’s touch.  The word “Coffle,” meaning animals or slaves chained together from the Arabic word qāfila (caravan) also matches the public treatment of captured Loyalists in 1775, as described by Harvey, or it implied that they blindly followed their leaders into captivity or worse.[7]

To have made a connection between all or almost all resistance to the war and a notorious thief and supporter of the old colonial order served the Whig propaganda.  It made the American Revolution appear as a continuation of the campaign for frontier empowerment begun with the Regulator Rebellion against backcountry brigands.  On a broader scale, Ramsey and others used it to explain all American resistance to the Revolution as only colonial officials, cowards, brigands, or, in more recent times, as of a different, albeit wrong, opinion that refused to accept change.[8]  Such a definition, then and since, ignored the complex cultural conflicts within South Carolina.  The so-called Scopholites shared most in their suffering persecution for being culturally separate and seeking a return to the protections (or official indifference) that they had enjoyed before the war.[9]

British East Florida

To southern Americans still loyal to the King, St. Augustine in the British colony of East Florida offered a place of refuge for Loyalists.  Escaped slaves also took the opportunity of the war to flee there.  Refugees came in such large numbers that Royal Governor Patrick Tonyn had to try to use his militia to prevent the arrival of even more mouths to feed.  A British possession since 1763, East Florida had little political strife other than some demands for a colonial assembly.  Its remote location, small population and garrison of regular British troops kept it from joining the American rebellion.  As a sparsely settled, underdeveloped “sandy desert,” the province could never feed its residents and, early in the war, the rebelling colonies to the north cut off trade.[10]  From 1776 to 1778, three major campaigns by American troops from Georgia and South Carolina worsened the food crisis for East Florida by breaking up the plantations and ranches from the Ogeechee River to the St. John’s River to end cattle rustling raids from East Florida.  Some American leaders, including George Washington, wanted the province as part of the new United States.[11]

The Florida Scout

Even the British garrison in St. Augustine only survived because of cattle raids by the some 200 members of the “Florida Scout,” men from the ethnic townships and from other mixed racial and cultural communities on the South Carolina frontier.  Their leaders were such prominent displaced Loyalist partisans as David Fanning, Thomas Brown and Daniel McGirt.  Fanning, well known on the border of North and South Carolina, reportedly had been a trader with the Indians whose goods a Whig militia band had plundered.  Brown, an Englishman who had settled an extensive plantation of foreign-born indentured servants in Georgia, had been nearly tortured to death and then exiled for trying to rally South Carolinians in the backcountry against the Revolution in 1775.  He formed a traditional American ranger battalion of 120 men who had experience in the wilderness and with working with the Indians.[12]  South Carolinian Daniel McGirt had been a “moderator,” like Joseph Coffel, a frontier leader who helped negotiate an end to the Regulator Rebellion.  He had prominent South Carolina Whigs as relatives.[13]

To the officers of East Florida’s garrison of a few hundred effective British regulars and Hessians, Loyalists Brown, McGirt, Fanning, and others, whatever they had suffered or contributed, led bandit gangs, however.  Many of the Florida Scout had been rustlers before the war and some even rode with Joseph Coffel.  McGirt’s mixed racial following acquired such a notorious reputation that, even years after the war, white men who lived like the Indians were still called the Florida Scout.  A South Carolina gazette likewise reported that Brown’s ranger battalion consisted of “infamous horse thieves & other banditti, and various others, seduced or terrified to join him & compelled to rob, murder, scalp, and spread destruction.”[14]  Modern scholars have called these men the first cowboys but also one of the first true organized crime syndicates in America.  South Carolina’s Gen. Christopher Gadsden feared that the situation in East Florida encouraged the free laborers, men who had lost their honest livelihoods to slave workers, to join the rustlers.[15]

Loyalists March to East Florida – 1778

The march to British East Florida finally began in early 1778 when news reached St. Augustine that warned of the largest invasion from Georgia to date coming that summer. Royal Governor Patrick Tonyn hoped that his Florida Scout could encourage the Loyalists on the South Carolina frontier to create at least a diversion.   His call for help went out at a fortuitous time for the laws in Georgia in 1777 and in South Carolina in 1778 required every adult male either take an oath in support of the revolution or suffer exile to a British possession.  Many of these families had taken to hiding from their neighbors in whatever shelter they could make for themselves on the Indian frontier.[16]

Gov. Tonyn had reason to believe in a rescue by the backcountry Loyalists.  In early 1778, prominent South Carolina backcountry leader Robert Cunningham reported to him from Rabun’s Creek, the home of such important Loyalists as Moses Kirkland and David Fanning.  This community consisted of the European immigrants, white men who lived like Indians, Quakers and Separatist “New Light” Baptist, groups known for remaining sympathetic to the previous British colonial order.[17]  For the whole South Carolina frontier, Cunningham made what subsequent events proved as extravagantly exaggerated claims that from the forks of the Saluda and Broad Rivers 2,500 Loyalists were ready to march to East Florida.  Another 1,000 waited on the Congaree River and the Ridge (between the forks of the Edisto River); and 1,600 others stood by on the Pee Dee and Enoree Rivers, while 1,200 of their friends waited on the Green River in the North Carolina foothills.  Another 2,800 Loyalists reportedly prepared to march from the western border of the two Carolinas.  At a time, when George Washington’s army could hardly muster 3,000 men, Cunningham promised to enlist more than twice that number from just the backcountry settlements in South Carolina.  He also reported that the Loyalists had stockpiled a two years’ supply of corn for a future summons to Florida.[18]

Harris Tyner, Jacob Williams and John York returned to their backcountry homes to summon these Americans as Thomas Brown’s agents.  Like the latter-day Simon Girty, Thomas Sumter, Sam Houston, and Daniel Boone, York has been described as a “white savage,” a white man who lived as an Indian.  In 1775, Whig authorities had Tyner imprisoned as a Loyalist.  He frequently moved between the Cherokee villages and the frontier settlements, when not guiding groups of men to East Florida.[19]  Harris Tyner most likely counted as a “free person of color,” a person of some category of Indian and/or African racial identity.  He and his kinsmen were among the South Carolina frontiersmen who signed an oath to bear arms to defend the rebellion in 1775.  Subsequently, he changed his loyalties and moved to East Florida.[20]  Jacob Williams hailed from Anson County, North Carolina.  When passing through Wilkes County, Georgia, in the autumn of 1778, likely en route to his brother Henry’s home, he was arrested and found to have a commission in his pocket as an officer in Brown’s Loyalist rangers.  Sheriff John Dooly had him placed in chains in a fort.  Thomas Waters, a former colonial official and later a Loyalist colonel, helped Williams to escape.  Jacob would help in bringing the 400 of his North Carolina neighbors who later reached East Florida.  A storekeeper and veteran of the Loyalist defeat at Moore’s Creek Bridge, North Carolina, Jacob Williams also had a father and five brothers who served the King’s cause, chiefly in Brown’s King’s Rangers. One brother died in the fighting and three others suffered wounds.  Jacob subsequently spent ten months in prison but he did live to file a claim with the British government for his property losses, as did Henry who served in the militia under Col. Waters and their father Samuel.[21]  As with many of the frontier Loyalists, Tyner and York fail to appear in postwar records.  Both men likely died in the internecine warfare of the last years of the Revolution in the South.

Many men failed to answer their call.  Some Loyalists claimed that arms were unavailable or that their Whig neighbors had been warned and prepared to contest their passage across the Savannah River.  Partisan fighter David Fanning had what must have been a common experience.  He first joined a band of his neighbors at Rabun’s Creek led by John York.  They reached the Savannah River, twelve miles above Augusta, only to have York become discouraged and abandon the venture.  He returned to East Florida almost alone while Fanning joined a group of 500 Loyalists from the Tryon County area of North Carolina under Colonel Ambrose Mills.  Betrayed, they dispersed with Fanning caught and confined in the jail at Ninety Six, South Carolina.

In March 1778, two groups in the Upper Ninety Six District began the journey to St. Augustine, one led by John Murphy of Cuffeetown Creek at the Fork of the Saluda River and another that had gathered under Benjamin Gregory of Crim’s Creek.  Combined, they numbered some 400 men although panicked Whig leaders estimated their numbers at between 500 to 800 men with more recruits waiting along the way.  On March 30, these Loyalists captured Captain Thomas Young some 35 miles above Orangeburg as he traveled to Charleston with a load of flour.  Before escaping, he overheard Gregory persuade Murphy to move quickly in carrying off horses, cattle and slaves.   Young learned that they had left a small party to ambush Whig Col. Andrew Williamson and that another [?] group under a man named Wolfe from Orangeburg intended to burn down the courthouse and jail before capturing or killing Colonel Williamson.[22]

Little information survives on these men as individuals.  The claims filed with the British government for property losses after the war usually came from colonial office holders and wealthy property owners.  Most frontier Loyalists were small landowning farmers who had little, if any, property to claim.  Some men, or their heirs, presumably failed to seek any compensation because they remained in America.  The so-called Scopholites filed only eleven claims or one for every some 35 of the men who marched from South Carolina in 1778.[23]

Specifically how many of these men came from mixed racial and cultural identities remains unknown but the majority of them likely did come from European ethnic minorities on the South Carolina frontier.  A British officer described them as French-German Palatine settlers, including second generation Americans from the Orangeburg and Saxe-Gotha Townships.  Historian Carole Watterson Troxler identified those settlements as so far from integrated into the mainstream frontier American society that the younger members tended to support the British government even more than did their immigrant relatives.  These ethnic Germans would have their own church near St. Augustine.  Daniel Migler; Christopher and his brother Frederick Rupert; George Shalnet (or Shellnut) and his family; and Henry and Jacob Strum had German nativity.  A man who knew Aquila Hall described him as “one Campbell,” likely a slang term for a Lowland Scot (although it could also refer to a follower of Sir William Campbell, South Carolina’s last colonial governor).  A James or John Boyd who surely traveled with them, as he later said as his dying words at the Battle of kettle Creek, “for King and country,” has been identified as an Irishman, a Protestant of what came to be called the Scots-Irish.  Among the other Loyalists on the march in 1778, James Moffatt and David Tenant also hailed from Ireland while James Wright came to South Carolina from England as an infant.  George Dawkins, however, grew up in Virginia, Jacob Williams was born in North Carolina, and Daniel Dewalt came from Pennsylvania.[24]  Many South Carolina refugees who later filed claims mentioned the law of 1778 that required them to take an oath to support the revolution and that undoubtedly influenced many of these men to leave, by any means.  Men such as Aquila Hall of Rabun’s Creek left to avoid being confined with David Fanning in the jail at Ninety Six, South Carolina.  Legend credits Hall with betraying a fort, likely Lindley’s Fort near Rabun’s Creek, to the Indians but he hanged at Ninety Six in late April 1779 for a murder he committed before the war.[25]

That March 1778, as these men began their journey to East Florida, South Carolina’s state militia made only halfhearted attempts to stop them from leaving.  As Whig leaders awoke to the danger of a frontier-wide uprising or, at the least, the release of the prisoners being held in the jail at Ninety Six, panic set in and the militia arrested small parties of the Loyalists.  Col. Andrew Williamson’s men captured one group of 47 armed men.  Some of the Loyalists gave up and turned back.  While carrying a British flag, their comrades continued on to Georgia, taking what they wanted from farms along the way, including slaves.  They waylaid boats on the Savannah River to seize corn and flour, no doubt inspiring apolitical resistance from their victims and further identifying them with the criminal reputation of Joseph Coffel.[26]

Efforts in Georgia to stop the Loyalists proved to be unsuccessful but with spectacular consequences for the Whigs.  The state’s governor and members of his executive council moved to Augusta to meet in emergency session in order to organize resistance.  They ordered Col. John Thomas to call out the Burke County militia to stop the Loyalists. He, like Tyner, had committed to the Revolution early on.  South Carolinian Barnard Elliott witnessed him addressing his colonial militia on July 6, 1775:

That he had formerly been adverse to the American Measures and opposed them, but that he had now altered his mind and should do all that he could in the favor of America, he did not expect matters wd. ever have come to such a height, but since the Battle of Lexington he was convinced that America was to be hard rode, & drove like slaves if the Americans were inactive or inattentive etc. etc. that for his part he . . . held two Commissions from the Kings representative the Governor, that he intended resigning them within three days. [27]

In 1778, however, Georgia authorities arrested Thomas when he, instead of trying to stop the Loyalists, marching to East Florida, conspired to join them instead.  The so-called Scopholites crossed into Georgia unopposed at Girard’s Ferry, some 40 miles below Augusta, on April 3.  Seven men from Col. Leonard Marbury’s Georgia Continental Cavalry, stationed on the Ogeechee River, defected to them before the Loyalist band continued south to cross the Altamaha River at White Bluff, what came to take the name Scopholite Bluff, in today’s Tattnall County. [28]

The American’s Southern Department Commander, Maj. Gen. Robert Howe, ordered Col. Samuel Elbert to march his Georgia Continental Brigade to intercept the Loyalists on their move south.  Heavy rains that fell for two days prevented his catching up with them on the Satilla River.  Along the way, however, Elbert learned of the arrival of Gov. Tonyn’s inter-coastal armed ships, the HMS Galatea, HMS Hinchinbrook, sloop Rebecca, and a watering brig from East Florida.  They went to Georgia to learn details of the coming invasion and to capture Georgia’s state galleys.  In a successful use of tides, favorable weather conditions, soldiers, sailors, and galleys, Elbert captured the enemy’s fleet in the Frederica River off St. Simons Island, a rare victory in the otherwise tragic history of his Continentals.[29]

Far from being a numerous and widespread populist revolt, however, the Loyalists who finally reached Florida proved to be a major disappointment in every way.  One observer did note that they rode good horses, wore red bands in their hats as identification, and each carried a rifle.  British regulars, however, found them wearing rags and moccasins, hiding in a swamp along Georgia’s Satilla River.  Before their rescue, they had been there for six days, subsisting on roots and herbs.  Governor Tonyn sent them what rice and other provisions the province could spare.  He reported that they numbered nearly 400 men who had previously “mostly been forced to shelter in the woods in Carolina and Georgia.”[30]  Col. Samuel Elbert heard from various sources that they numbered some 400 starving men with 40 of their number having to walk for lack of horses.  George Dawkins claimed in 1785 that they had 500 in their party but his comrade James Wright swore in 1783 that they numbered only 336 men.  Patrick Murray, a British officer, remembered that there were only 250 of these refugees with 150 horses.  The final total, at Fort Tonyn on the Georgia-Florida border, likely came to close to 350 men.[31]

Birth of the South Carolina Royalists Regiment

Because these Loyalists came from different and isolated ethnic communities, they could only form voluntary fragile and limited coalitions that were not necessarily militant. Initially, they asked to serve under Lt. Col. Jacques Marcus Prévost, a Swiss officer in the British army and brother of the Brig. Gen. Augustin Prévost who commanded the troops in East Florida.  He, writing in June 1778, complained that only with great trouble and perseverance had he brought a little order to this band.  The South Carolina Loyalists finally formed a provincial unit under the rules set out by the last royal governor of South Carolina, Sir William Campbell, including the right to choose their officers.  On July 20, 1778, they formally became the South Carolina Royalist Provincial Battalion under the command of Col. Alexander Innes, a former British army officer, secretary to South Carolina Royal Governor William Campbell, and by then the inspector general of provincial forces in America.  In the spring and summer of 1778, Col. Innes served in New York, leaving field command of the regiment to Lt. Col. Joseph Robinson who the new provincials chose as their lieutenant colonel.  Evan McLaurin, a Scottish-born frontier merchant who had been serving as a quartermaster in East Florida, was selected as their major.  The latter had made secret trips to the backcountry for the British.  The new unit’s other officers included, among others, John Murphy and John York as captains; Harris Tyner as a captain-lieutenant; Benjamin Gregory as a lieutenant; and Aquila Hall as an ensign. Uniformed in green riding waistcoats trimmed in black and other formal attire, the South Carolina Royalists became a drilled provincial unit of 328 men.  They formed two 40-man troops of rifle dragoons and four 45-man companies of infantry armed with a combination of rifles and Brown Bess muskets.[32]

These new arrivals, however, found themselves only starving with the rest of the growing population of East Florida.  Hardly had they arrived when they learned of recent defeats and narrow escapes of both Col. Thomas Brown’s King’s Rangers battalion and McGirt’s band of rustlers.  Many of the new arrivals talked of returning to South Carolina to take their chances with their Whig neighbors.  Subsequently some of them took the opportunity to desert during the invasion of East Florida that summer.  After joining in the counter-invasion of Georgia in December 1778, these Loyalist provincials found themselves used in unsuccessful battles with Georgia and South Carolina militia at places like Shell Bluff, Georgia, on March 31, 1779.  The British regulars, though the most formidable fighting machine of their time, were used almost exclusively in formal battles.  By January 1779, the now South Carolina Royalists battalion counted only 231 men and, by the following June, they had almost ceased to exist as a unit.[33]

In the spring of 1778, however, Americans on both sides believed that, if not for the militia, the march of the South Carolina Loyalists might have triggered an unstoppable uprising. Two men who escaped from this band told Col. Samuel Elbert that another 1,500 frontiersmen were ready to march.  James Mercer, a mariner from St. Augustine, warned Whig officials that 700 more men on the frontier, along with Indians, were moving to rendezvous with a British army on the Altamaha River in Georgia.  Capt. Thomas Young heard John Murphy boast that his band intended to rendezvous with Col. Thomas Brown and Moses Kirkland at Fort Barrington on the Altamaha and to return in four weeks with a force sufficient to conquer the whole of the South Carolina frontier.  When the British regulars finally marched north into Georgia from East Florida in the winter of 1778, rumors spread that they intended to join 1,000 to 2,000 more Scopholites.[34]

To Join the British at Augusta – 1779

A man named James or John Boyd worked to make those fears a reality.  Instead of joining the South Carolina Royalist Battalion or going home to Rabun’s Creek and the Yadkin River, he traveled to the British headquarters in New York. Because of the perceived, or misunderstood, show of Loyalist support in the march to East Florida, Boyd solicited interest among military and civilian leaders in New York who had become despondent over any other means of victory than by another attempt at creating an American counter-revolution.[35]  Lord George Germain, British Secretary for the Colonies, had already ordered Gen. Sir Henry Clinton to invade Georgia and South Carolina in cooperation with the garrison of East Florida for just that purpose, despite the failure of earlier British attempts to “Americanize” the war effort in New Jersey and Delaware in 1776 and on the northwest colonial frontier in 1777.  Savannah easily fell to a portion of the invasion force on December 29, 1778.   By the end of the month, the King’s troops overran Georgia in what the British commander Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell proclaimed as the tearing of a star and stripe from the United States flag.  By then, Col. Boyd had left the British camp to recruit a regiment of Loyalists from the frontiersmen of North and South Carolina.[36]

That effort, like the war in the South that continued on, proved to be a repeat of the failures of 1778.  The number of men who could be gathered to volunteer to serve in the King’s cause that late in the war, if ever, came to no more than hundreds, not thousands, of men.  Col. Boyd had too little time to gather more than 800 followers and he struggled to keep even that ad hoc gathering from giving up and returning to their homes.  Loyalist newspapers reported that thousands of the King’s friends gathered on the Saluda River in South Carolina but Boyd actually had only 600 or fewer men who had not abandoned him by the time that he died in battle at Kettle Creek, Georgia, on February 14, 1779.  Only 340 Georgia and South Carolina militia under Cols. John Dooly and Andrew Pickens, respectively, assaulted his camps but they thoroughly defeated the ad hoc Loyalist regiment of recruits.  One contemporary source credited Boyd with never having had more than 350 South Carolinians for his total band.  Some of the men came along only under threats to themselves or their property by Aquila Hall.  Other men sought to find refuge with the British army.[37]

South Carolina Royal Volunteers and the North Carolina Royal Volunteers

From the 270 survivors of Boyd’s band who finally reached the British army, Archibald Campbell formed the South Carolina Royal Volunteers and the North Carolina Royal Volunteers.  The former unit, soon afterward, become the Second Battalion of the South Carolina Royalist Provincial Regiment.

Over the course of the war, 1,200 Loyalist officers and enlisted men served in its ranks at various times and saw much of the fighting  in the South.  Although these Loyalists and other southern provincial troops had a brief moment of glory in turning back assaults by American and French columns at Savannah on October 9, 1779, their units had largely disappeared from casualties, sickness and desertions by 1780.  Although revived several times, the South Carolina Royalist Regiment never became a large, stable or well-trained outfit.  A few of the men who enlisted in 1778 still served in what remained of it back in St. Augustine in 1782.[38]

During those years, thousands of persons died in the South in a partisan civil war waged between the fixed battles from Savannah to Yorktown and beyond.  The war continued in the South in pursuit of the idea of a populist American counterrevolution that in realty consisted only of a few hundred men who often disappeared into the canebrakes and woods rather than suffer martyrdom.  By then, much of the South came to resemble the 1778 East Florida borderlands.  Farms and crops were abandoned and isolated clusters of buildings like Ninety Six, Camden, Salisbury, and Burke County Jail became political symbols to fight over and then abandon.  Southern port cities resembled British occupied New York as dilapidated garrison towns filled with dispirited, impoverished refugees. Mariner Samuel Kelly found Charleston to be a very different place from the beautiful city he remembered as a child.  When the war began, this one port had supplied almost all of British America south of New Jersey with enough goods to keep hundreds of wagons annually employed.  Kelly now saw a deforested wasteland of abandoned houses and ruins.  He blamed this change on the degrading effects of what had become a permanent state of siege and from the accommodating of so many refugees the same situation as earlier in East Florida.  Of the King’s Americans, often the people called Scopholites, a South Carolina Loyalist lamented:

The greatest cause of the Militia not turning out so well as was perhaps expected was the atrocious cruelties exercised upon them whenever they fell into the hands of the Rebel Militia, cruelties so great that they exceed all belief and were they to be mentioned in England would be generally rejected as the exaggerations of a heated fancy.[39]

By then, Americans could flee to the relative safety of British East Florida without opposition.  The province’s earlier problems with food shortages intensified as its population swelled from 1,000 whites and 3,000 slaves to more than 17,375 individuals, many of them from the ethnic settlements and mixed racial peoples in the South Carolina backcountry.  The refugees believed that if this area remained a British possession it could become something of a royalist mirror of the neighboring state of Georgia.  With the official end of the war in 1783, however, East Florida passed to Spain.  Georgia officials considered and then rejected a plan to allow Loyalists to settle between the Altamaha and the St. Mary’s Rivers as a military buffer.  Spain also turned down a plan to do the same on its side of the border.  Daniel McGirt and his bandits continued to operate in the region as a criminal gang.  Although he eventually retired to South Carolina, McGirt died in 1804 as a free man in St. Mary’s, Georgia, on the border with Spanish East Florida.[40]

Surviving records of the few hundred Loyalists who marched south in 1778 imply much but conclusively prove little.  Some of these men choose to resettle in British possessions rather than return to their homes on the frontier.  The governor of the Bahamas felt that, with their reportedly restless natures, such Americans might do well in Nova Scotia or on the Mosquito Coast of Central America.  In the latter, some of them could even join with the traditional maroon people as fringe ethnic and racial communities of the Caribbean.  In 1781, South Carolina frontiersmen became recruits for a regiment to invade Spanish Nicaragua.  The collapse of the British control of the backcountry made that scheme impractical and the Duke of Cumberland Regiment instead enlisted Continental soldiers held in British prison ships in Charleston.  They came from the same classes of foreign-born men, landless whites, and men of various races who largely made up the frontier Loyalists of South Carolina.  From the survivors of the men who marched in 1778, Daniel Dewalt settled his family in British Honduras while David Tenant lived in his native Ireland and in England.  Jacob Williams, made blind from smallpox during the war, settled in London, England where he lived in a public workhouse without having to work on a stipend from the government and later £50 awarded to him for his property losses. (His brother Henry, left paraplegic by the war, however, moved to the Bahamas and later Nova Scotia.  Their father Samuel died in the Bahamas.  Neither Henry or Samuel were on the march to Florida in 1778, however.)  Of nine other men who made the journey to East Florida in 1778 and who later filed claims with the British government, all of them resettled in Nova Scotia where most of the South Carolina Royalist Regiment formally disbanded.[41]

The march of the so-called Scopholites in 1778 represented only one specific group of the South Carolina Loyalists and their sacrifices failed to have a significant effect on the American Revolution even in the South.  Its conclusion demonstrated that what largely remained of the “King’s men” in 1778 consisted only of only desperate and cowered members of what historian Linda Colley described, for the Loyalists of all of America, as a coalition of different minority groups.  That important fact went unnoted by either side during the war and in the popular traditions of the American Revolution.

Leaders of Loyalist provincial troops such as Thomas Brown, Patrick Ferguson, John Harrison, Thomas Fraser, and Banastre Tarleton promoted using backcountry immigrants of recent European arrival, as well as the frontier’s fringe elements of landless men of all races, as soldiers.  The resulting southern strategy intended that these men, with the civil upheaval caused by Indian attacks and slave revolts, could instigate a policy of “fire and sword” against anyone not committed to the restoration of colonial America.[42]

British policy overall did nothing to win “hearts and minds,” however.  Had the Southern Strategy not had a basis in intimidation, demands for militia service, and restoring the old order, it likely had no chance of success.  It created a spiral of violence that incited past racial and ethnical divisiveness rather than an accommodation that gave Americans a future that benefited from their respective ethnic differences in meeting their increasing ambitions as one people.  Only with the British army’s evacuation of the South from 1781 to 1783 did a process of reconciliation among the colonial backcountry peoples begin.[43]

Robert Scott Davis is director of the Family & Regional History Program at Wallace State College in Hanceville, Alabama.  His many publications include Tory Insurgents with Robert M. Calhoun and Timothy M. Barnes.


[1] Linda Colley, Captives (New York, 2002), 236.

[2] For the history of South Carolina Loyalists see Robert S. Lambert, South Carolina Loyalists in the American Revolution (2nd ed., digital and online, Clemson, SC, 2010) and Robert W. Barnwell, “Loyalism in South Carolina, 1765-1785,” (Ph.D. dissertation, Duke University, 1941).  The author acknowledges help provided by Deanna Slappey, Karen Walker, and Virginia Wood.  John Thomas mentioned in this article should not be confused with John Thomas, Sr. and John Thomas, Jr. commanders of the American Spartan Regiment of South Carolina militia.

[3] Rachel N. Klein, Unification of a Slave State: The Rise of the Planter Class in the South Carolina Backcountry, 1760-1808 (Chapel Hill, 1990), 86; George C. Rogers, Jr., “The South Carolina Backcountry on the Eve of the Revolution,” Richmond County History 6 (summer 1974): 43-44; William H. Nelson, The American Tory (Oxford, Eng., 1961), 91; Peter N. Moore, “This World of Toil and Strife: Land, Labor, and the Making of an American Community, 1750-1805” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Georgia, 2001), 59-61, 112-14, 132, 137.  For backcountry southerners as the mainland American maroon people see Hugo P. Leaming, Hidden Americans: Maroons of Virginia and the Carolinas (New York, 1995).

[4] “Colonel Robert Gray’s Observations on the War in Carolina,” South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine 11 (July 1910): 153; William T. Graves, James Williams: An American Patriot in the South Carolina (Lincoln, NB, 2002), 17; Wallace Brown, The Good Americans: The Loyalists in the American Revolution (New York, 1969), 46; Robert W. Barnwell, “Loyalism  in South Carolina, 1765-1785,” (Ph.D. dissertation, Duke University, 1941), 137-38; John Weldon, SC W 9390, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Applications Files, 1800-1900 (National Archives microfilm M804, roll 2526) Record Group 15, Records of the Veterans Administration; Baika Harvey to Thomas Baika, December 30, 1775, Watt of Breckness and Skaill Collection, 1\1SS, D3/385, Orkney Library & Archive, Orkney, UK.

[5] Klein, Unification of a Slave State, 73; Robert Lee Meriwether, The Expansion of South Carolina, 1729-1765 (Kingsport, Tn., 1940), 207-208, 242; David Ramsay, Ramsay’s History of South Carolina, 2 vols. (Newberry, SC, 1858), 1: 122; Harry M. Ward, Between the Lines: Banditti of the American Revolution (Westport, Ct., 2002), 189-90; Gordon B. Smith, Morningstars of Liberty: The Revolutionary War in Georgia, 1775-1783, 2 vols. to date (Milledgeville, Ga., 2006-), 1: 103-104; South Carolina Gazette (Charleston), December 20, 1773.  Historian Richard Maxwell Brown suggested Coffel as a relative of Philip and Rachel Scofuld of Prince Frederick Parish, South Carolina.  Richard M. Brown, The South Carolina Regulators: the Story of the First American Vigilante Movement (Cambridge, 1963), 204-205, n. 28.  The Coffel family may have been the Palatine Schöffel family.  Henry Z. Jones, Jr. and Lewis Bunker Rohrbach, comps., Even More Palatine Families: 18th Century Immigrants to the American Colonies and their German, Swiss, and Austrian Origins, 3 vols. (Rockport, Me., 2002), 1: 624.  The South Carolina Regulation vigilante movement was started in 1767; the opposing Moderation movement was active until 1769.  They met, armed and ready for battle, on March 25, 1769 at John Musgrove’s Farm on the Saluda River, where, unlike in North Carolina where these forces battled at Alamance, the matters were peacefully resolved.  The Circuit Court Act was passed and approved by the Crown in 1768, establishing backcountry courts, jails and law enforcement.

[6] For the use of Scopholite, and its variations, for Loyalists based upon ethnicity, connections with the Indians, race, and support for the British cause, see the depositions in the Revolutionary War pension claims Philip Anthony, SC S 21046, John Boon, SC W 10446, Peter Clinton, SC W 9390, Robert Johnston, SC S15482, John Kincaid, SC W 12029, William Lovel, SC R 6476, Charles Taylor, SC S 3760, and John Weldon, SC W 9390, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Applications Files, 1800-1900 (National Archives microfilm M804, rolls 68, 288, 580, 1434, 1492, 2344, and 2526). Other negative monikers for Loyalists, based upon the names of their leaders, include Claybites and Russellites.

[7] Francis Salvador to William Drayton, July 18, 1776, in R. W. Gibbes, comp., Documentary History of the American Revolution, 3 vols., (New York, 1857), 2: 24-25.

[8] Examples of the traditional view of Loyalists appear in Lyman C. Draper, King’s Mountain and It’s Heroes: History of the Battle of King’s Mountain, October 7th, 1780, and the Event’s which led to it (Cincinnati, 1881), 75, 238-42; and James Potter Collins, A Revolutionary Soldier (Clinton, La., 1859), 23.

[9] Heard Robertson, unpublished biography of Thomas Brown, chapter six, p. 13, Special Collections, Reese Library, Georgia Regents University, Augusta, Georgia; Smith, Morningstars of Liberty, 1: 103; Klein, Unification of a Slave State, 97, 99-100; Jerry Lamar Alexander, Blood Red Runs the Sacred Keowee (n. p., 2009), 132; Kevin Phillips, 1775: A Good Year for Revolution (New York, 2012), 178, 182.

[10] Charles L. Mowat, East Florida as a British Province 1763-1784 (Berkeley, 1943), 3-107, 109; Ramsay, History of the Revolution, 1: 153; Joseph Johnson, Traditions and Reminiscences: Chiefly of the American Revolution in the South (Charleston, SC, 1851), 125; Martha Condray Searcy, The Georgia-Florida Contest in the American Revolution, 1776-1778 (Tuscaloosa, 1985), 152; Heard Robertson, unpublished biography of Thomas Brown, chapter six, 6-7.

[11] Roger C. Smith, “The Façade of Unity: British East Florida’s War for Dependence,” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Florida, 2008), 55-57; Edward J. Cashin, The King’s Ranger: Thomas Brown and the American Revolution on the Southern Frontier (Athens, Ga., 1989), 49, 58-59, 68; Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the American Revolution (Chapel Hill, 1961), 118; Wilbur H. Siebert, Loyalists in East Florida, 2 vols. (DeLand, Fl., 1929), 2: 309.

[12] David Fanning, The Narrative of Colonel David Fanning, ed. Lindley S. Butler (Davidson, NC, 1981), 2-3; Heard Robertson, “Notes on the Muster Rolls of the King’s Rangers,” Richmond County History 4 (Winter 1972): 5-16.

[13] Hugh McCall, The History of Georgia, 2 vols. (Savannah, 1811 and 1816), 2: 133; Johnson, Traditions and Reminiscences, 172-74; Thomas J. Kirkland and Robert M. Kennedy, Historic Camden, 2 vols. (Columbia, SC, 1905), 1: 295-305; Mowat, East Florida as a British Province, 110, 120-23, 200-201 n. 24; Ward, Between the Lines, 203-20.

[14] Quarles, The Negro in the American Revolution, 115; Robert S. Davis, “The Many Journeys of the Rev. John Newton and his Diaries, 1781-1790,” Viewpoints in Georgia Baptist History 12 (1990): 28-30; Gordon B. Smith, History of the Georgia Militia, 1783-1861, 4 vols. (Milledgeville, Ga., 2001), 3: 84-89.

[15] Jim Piecuch, Three Peoples One King: Loyalists, Indians, and Slaves in the Revolutionary South, 1775-1782 (Columbia, SC, 2008), 103-104.

[16] Siebert, Loyalists in East Florida, 1: 61; J. Leitch Wright, Jr., Florida and the American Revolution (Gainesville, Fl., 1975), 55, 58; Searcy, The Georgia-Florida Contest, 155-56, 176.  In August 1778, the state of Georgia further ordered families of Loyalists to be rounded up and either secured in what in modern terms came to be called concentration camps or forcibly removed to British possessions.

[17] Robert S. Lambert, South Carolina Loyalists in the American Revolution (2nd ed., digital and online, Clemson, SC, 2010), 36, 50, 58, 59; Barnwell, “Loyalism in South Carolina,” 128-29, 131; Clyde R. Ferguson, “General Andrew Pickens” (Ph.D. dissertation, Duke University, 1960), 18; Carole Watterson Troxler, “The Migration of Carolina and Georgia Loyalists to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick,” (Ph. D. diss., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1974), 242-43; Brown, The South Carolina Regulators, 128-29; deposition of John Brown,  April 9, 1838, Revolutionary War pension claim of John Brown, SC S17848, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900 (National Archives microfilm M804, roll 370); Fanning, The Narrative of Colonel David Fanning, 4-5, 19; John Hairr, Colonel David Fanning: The Adventures of a Carolina Loyalist (Erwin, NC, 2000), 16, 54.

[18] Cashin, The King’s Ranger, 75.  The Cunninghams, as South Carolina’s most important family of backcountry Loyalists, defy the standard definition of the frontier supporter of the King’s cause.  They hailed from Pennsylvania and Robert had been a Regulator who lead his neighbors against the colonial bandits they called “Scopholites.” His brother Patrick famously seized gunpowder being shipped to Indians as a peace gesture by the Whigs in what became a huge propaganda victory for backcountry opponents of the Revolution.  Whig efforts to win over the Cunninghams and their followers, at least in a campaign against the Cherokees in 1776 came to nothing although newly franchised frontiersmen elected Robert as a Tory senator in the South Carolina’s Revolutionary assembly.  Following the British occupation of South Carolina in 1780, Lord Cornwallis commissioned Robert as brigadier general of the militia. Lambert, South Carolina Loyalists, 24-28, 30, 110.[19] Lambert, South Carolina Loyalists, 36, 49-50; undated petition of Thomas Brown, in Command Papers (London, 1907), 322-23; Robertson, unpublished biography of Thomas Brown, chapter six, 13. A family story has Harris Tyner dying in 1778 but he still served as a lieutenant in a restored colonial militia company in 1782. Murtie June Clark, Loyalists in the Southern Campaign, 3 vols. (Baltimore, Md., 1979), 1: 344.

[20] Petition of September 12, 1775, in Robert W. Gibbes Collection, S213089, South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Columbia; Robert S. Davis, “The Mysteries of Tyner, Tennessee,” Chattanooga Regional Historical Journal 9 (July 2006): 33-44.

[21] Memorial of Jacob Williams, no date, and deposition of Thomas Waters, May 14, 1784, AO 13/124/343-46, National Archives of the United Kingdom, Kew, England; Peter W. Coldham, American Migrations (Baltimore, 2000), 652-53; Gregory Palmer, Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution (Westport, Ct., 1984), 931-33, 935-36.

[22] South Carolina and American General Gazette, April 16, 1778; Gary D. Olson, “Thomas Brown, Loyalist Partisan, and the Revolutionary War in Georgia, 1777-1782,” Georgia Historical Quarterly 54 (Spring 1970): 8-9; Heard Robertson, unpublished biography of Thomas Brown, chapter six, 11-12; Siebert, Loyalists in East Florida, 1: 52; Searcy, The Georgia-Florida Campaign, 132; Alexander Chesney, The Journal of Alexander Chesney, a South Carolina Loyalist in the Revolution and After, ed. E. Alfred Jones  (Columbus, Oh., 1921), 6.

[23] Coldham, American Migrations, 654-751. Rosters of some companies of the South Carolina Royalists survive for December 1779 and other dates but without indications of which men enlisted in the spring of 1778 or the names of members no longer in the regiment by that time. Clark, Loyalists in the Southern Campaign, 1: 1, 7-12, 22-23, 33-34, 36-37, 39-40, 48.

[24] Patrick Murray, “Narrative of Episodes in the War of Independence” in Lewis William George Butler, Annals of the King’s Rifle Corps, 5 vols. (London, 1913-1932), I, 303; Troxler, “Allegiance without Community,” 125; Searcy, The Georgia-Florida Contest, 129; Barnwell, “Loyalism in South Carolina,” 109; Palmer, Biographical Sketches of Loyalists,  207-208, 219, 603-604, 614-15, 754, 775, 838, 852-53, 948-49.

[25] Robert S. Davis, “The Loyalist Trials at Ninety Six in 1779,” South Carolina Historical Magazine 80 (April 1979): 172-81.  That Hall may have been hung for his part on the attack on Lindley’s Fort is supported by a statement by Thomas Rogers that two or three men were hanged for their role in that battle and by a 1769 deed that mentions John Anderson, and has Aquila Hall as a witness, and James Lindley, a justice of the peace, as the notary, showing that these three men later hanged after being captured at Kettle Creek knew each other before the war.  Barnwell, “Loyalism in South Carolina,” 166-67; Jesse Hogan Motes III and Margaret Peckham Motes, comps., Laurens and Newberry Counties South Carolina: Saluda and Little Rivers Settlements 1749-1775 (Greenville, SC, 1994), 167.

[26] Piecuch, Three Peoples, 97; Lambert, South Carolina Loyalists, 33, 39 n. 40, 49, 53 n. 31; Robertson, unpublished biography of Thomas Brown, chapter six, 11-12; Ward, Between the Lines, 195; Siebert, Loyalists in East Florida, 1: 52; Searcy, The Georgia-Florida Campaign, 132; Chesney, The Journal of Alexander Chesney, 6.

[27] Heard Robertson and Edward J. Cashin, Augusta and the American Revolution (Darien, Ga., 1975), 23-24; Joseph W. Barnwell, “Barnard Elliott’s Recruiting Journal,” South Carolina Historical Magazine 17 (July 1916): 97.

[28] Smith, Morningstars of Liberty, 1: 104.  White Bluff is just north of the Ohoopee River in Tattnall County. ibid.

[29] McCall, The History of Georgia, 2: 135; Charles E. Bennett and Donald R. Lennon, A Quest for Glory: Major General Robert Howe and the American Revolution (Chapel Hill, 1991), 71-72; Virginia Steele Wood, “The Georgia Navy’s Dramatic Victory of April 19, 1778,” Georgia Historical Quarterly 90 (Summer 2006): 165-95.

[30] Searcy, The Georgia-Florida Contest, 132; Carole Watterson Troxler, “Allegiance without Community: East Florida as the Symbol of a Loyalist Contract in the South,” in Robert M. Calhoon, Timothy M. Barnes, and George A. Rawlyk, eds., Loyalists and Community in North America (Westport, Ct., 1994), 125; Tonyn to Germain, April 29, 1778, in K. G. Davies, comp., Documents of the American Revolution 1770-1783, 21 vols., (Dublin, Ire., 1973-1983), 15: 111.

[31] Samuel Elbert to Robert Howe, April 14, 1778, in “Order Book of Samuel Elbert, Colonel and Brigadier General in the Continental Army, October 1776, to November, 1778,” in Georgia Historical Society Collections (Savannah, Ga., 1902), vol. V, pt. ii, 125; Palmer, Biographical Sketches of Loyalists, 207-208, 948-49; Coldham, American Migrations, 675, 750; Siebert, Loyalists in East Florida, 2: 52; Murray, “Narrative,” 303; S. D. H. to ?, January 16, 1779, in William L. Stone, comp., Letters of Brunswick and Hessian Officers during the American Revolution (Albany, NY: 1891), 238; John Houstoun to Continental Congress, April 16, 1778, Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789, item 73, p. 191 (National Archives microfilm M247, roll 87), Record Group 360 Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington. Modern authors have accepted the higher numbers for the Scopholites and mistakenly made them two groups that were actually one, considerably smaller, band of men. See for example Mowat, East Florida as a British Province, 112, and Searcy, The Georgia-Florida Contest, 131-32.

[32] Tonyn to Germain, April 28, 1778, in Davies, Documents of the American Revolution, 15: 109; Palmer, Biographical Sketches of Loyalists, 564, 738; Clark, Loyalists in the Southern Campaign, 1: 48; S. D. H. to ?, January 16, 1779, in Stone, Letters, 238; Mowat, East Florida as a British Province, 112; Barnwell, “Loyalism in South Carolina,” 186-87; Chesney, The Journal of Alexander Chesney, 6, n. 39. Near the end of the war, the South Carolina Royalists’ uniforms were described as red coats with yellow facings. Searcy, The Georgia-Florida Contest, 132.

[33] Barnwell, “Loyalism in South Carolina,” 321-34; John Fauchereau Grimké, “Journal of the Campaign to the Southward,” South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine, 12 (April 1911): 64-65, 130, 191; Searcy, The Georgia-Florida Contest, 138-39.

[34] Klein, Unification of a Slave State, 99-100; Olson, “Thomas Brown,” 8; McCall, The History of Georgia, 2: 137; South Carolina and American General Gazette (Charleston), April 16, 1778; “Order Book of Samuel Elbert,” 126.

[35] Mary Beth Norton, The British-Americans: the Loyalist Exiles in England, 1774-1789 (London, 1974), 157; John Shy, “British Strategy for Pacifying the Southern Colonies, 1778-1781” in Jeffrey J. Crow and Larry E. Tise, eds., The Southern Experience in The American Revolution (Chapel Hill, 1978), 155-73. William Millen swore that he met with the Loyalist agent James Boyd on January 24, 1779. Zachariah Gibbes, however, identified his leader as “John Boyd,” a name that appears on a 1779 list of South Carolina Loyalists who had joined the enemy. Millen or Gibbes may have been mistaken although both a John and a James Boyd lived on Rabun’s Creek. If two Boyds participated in the Kettle Creek campaign, a John Boyd who served as a colonel and a James Boyd [a father or older brother of John who remained in South Carolina after the American Revolution?], then William Millen could have met James Boyd and Zachariah Gibbes could have served under John Boyd. Archibald Campbell wrote that Boyd was coming from “Red Creek, South Carolina” (Raeburn Creek, in Campbell’s native Gaelic) but North Carolina historian Samuel A. Ashe wrote that Boyd came from the Lower Yadkin Valley. A deposition made by Revolutionary War veteran Samuel Beckham in 1812 claimed that Boyd came from “Yadkin N. Carolina” and Mordecai Miller in an 1832 deposition stated that Boyd came from Lincoln County, North Carolina. Clark, Loyalists in the Southern Campaign, 3: 431; Robert S. Davis, Georgians in the Revolution at Kettle Creek (Wilkes Co.) and Burke County (Easley, SC, 1986), 13, 16; Samuel A. Ashe, History of North Carolina, 2 vols. (Greensboro, NC: 1925), 1: 598-99; deposition of Mordecai Miller, November 15, 1832, Revolutionary War pension claim of Mordecai Miller, SC S 16972, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1900 (National Archives Microfilm M804, roll 1729).

[36] Davis, Georgians in the Revolution, 11, 13, 16, 20; Kenneth Coleman, “Restored Colonial Georgia, 1779-1782,” Georgia Historical Quarterly 40 (March 1956): 1-20.

[37] Royal Georgia Gazette (Savannah), February 11, 1779; “Case of the Loyalists,” Political Magazine 4 (April 1783): 266; Davis, Georgians in the Revolution, 20; Revolutionary War pension claim of Aaron Deveny, S8321, (National Archives microfilm M804, reel 802). Archibald Campbell reported that Boyd had only 500 to 600 men. [no title], The Remembrancer Or Impartial Repository of Public Events 8 (1779): 171. For the history of the battle of Kettle Creek see Robert S. Davis, “Loyalism and Patriotism: Community, Conspiracy, and Conflict on the Southern Frontier,” in Robert M. Calhoon, et al, Tory Insurgents: New Loyalist Perceptions and Other Essays (Columbia, SC, 2010), 229-83; Daniel T. Elliott, “Stirring Up a Hornet’s Nest”: The Kettle Creek Battlefield Survey (Savannah, 2009), online at the Lamar Institute website at:  Col. Boyd’s Loyalists recruits were opposed on February 10, 1779 crossing the Savannah River at the Cherokee Ford, and thereafter five miles upstream at Vann’s Creek, where a few Loyalists were killed and over one-hundred abandoned Boyd and simply returned home.

[38] Thomas B. Allen and Todd W. Braisted, The Loyalist Corps: Americans in the Service of the King (Takoma Park, Md., 2011), 99-100; Barnwell, “Loyalism in South Carolina,” 322-25; Palmer, Biographical Sketches of Loyalists, 564. The last remnants of the South Carolina Royalist Regiment, black and white, served in Jamaica in 1783. Historian David Brion Davis wrote that they and others saved the British colonies in the Caribbean by enlisting black troops to protect the islands from invasion and insurrection. With members of the Duke of Cumberland’s 88th Regiment, they became the First West India Regiment. This unit served in the Caribbean, Africa, and the Middle East before finally disbanding in 1962. David Brion Davis, Inhuman Bondage: The Rise and Fall of Slavery in the New World (New York, 2006), 148; A. B. Ellis, The History of the First West India Regiment (London, 1885), 27-28, 50-51.

[39] Ward, Between the Lines, 174-75, 221-39; Samuel Kelly, Samuel Kelly, an Eighteenth Century Seaman, ed. Crosbie Garstin (New York, 1925), 51; Sir James Wright to Sir Henry Clinton, February 3, 1780, Sir Henry Clinton Papers, vol. 84, item 9, William L. Clements Library, Ann Arbor; Ramsay, The History of the Revolution, 1: 176-77; “Character of Lord Rawdon, character of Lieut. Colonel Doyle &c.,” Georgia Papers, Chambers Collection, New York Public Library.

[40] Quarles, The Negro in the American Revolution, 175; Heard Robertson, “The Second British Occupation of Augusta, 1780-1781,” Georgia Historical Quarterly 58 (Winter 1974): 429; Mowat, East Florida as a British Province, 136-37; Wright, Florida in the American Revolution, 137; Smith, History of the Georgia Militia, 3: 89.

[41] Robert S. Davis, “Lord Montagu’s Mission to Charleston in 1781: American POWs for the King’s Cause in Jamaica,” South Carolina Historical Magazine 84 (April 1983): 91-98; Coldham, American Migrations, 675, 677, 716, 718, 734, 736, 742-43, 750; Carole Watterson Troxler, “Loyalist Refugees and the British Evacuation of West Florida, 1783-1785,” Florida Historical Quarterly 40 (July 1981): 22-23. For more on Lord Montagu’s recruitment of American prisoners of war see Carl P. Borick, Relieve of this Burthen: American Prisoners of War in the Revolutionary South, 1780-1782 (Columbia, SC, 2012), 29, 31, 32-34, 36, 37, 42-43, 44-45, 57-58, 67, 77-78, 124-25, 129.

[42] Piecuch, Three Peoples, 5; Stephenson, Patriot Battles, 55-62; Shy, People Numerous and Armed, 186-90.

[43] Colley, Captives, 236. On the British southern Strategy see Richard S. Dukes, “Anatomy of a Failure: British Military Policy in the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution, 1775-1781” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of South Carolina at Columbia, 1993) and for a discussion of the role of finding practical accommodation in post Revolutionary War America see Rebecca Nathan Brannon, “Reconciling the Revolution: Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Community in the Wake of Civil War in South Carolina, 1775-1860,” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 2007) and Robert M. Calhoon, Political Moderation in America’s First Two Centuries (Cambridge, 2009).