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Revolution was won around here
Charlotte Observer ^ | Jul. 22, 2007 | DAN HUNTLEY

Posted on 07/22/2007 8:09:15 PM PDT by Pharmboy

IN MY OPINION One of the first lessons you learn when studying history is that history books are usually written by the side that wins the war. After the Civil War, the South's role in the American Revolution was relegated to practically a footnote. My 10th-grade U.S. history book basically had two paragraphs about the South's role -- the British took Charleston, there were lots of backwoods skirmishes in the Carolinas at places such as Kings Mountain and Cowpens, and the British surrendered at Yorktown. The implication was that the only battles of consequence took place within 200 miles of Boston and Bunker Hill.

Don't believe me?

True or false: More Revolutionary War soldiers were killed in South Carolina than in all the other colonies combined. True, according to Walter Edgar, author of "Partisans and Redcoats: The American Revolution in the Southern Backcountry."

Over the last two weeks, K-12 history teachers from across the country have converged in the western Piedmont to learn about the South's pivotal role in winning the American Revolution. They listened to historians like Edgar and read books like Lawrence Babits' "A Devil of a Whipping: the Battle of Cowpens."

They were here through a grant with the National Endowment for the Humanities and its Landmarks of American History Workshops. This year's classes are hosted by Converse College in Spartanburg.

On Tuesday I caught up with the group at Historic Brattonsville. They listened as Kitty Wilson-Evans told in period costume what a slave's life was like during the late 1700s. From Kay Moss, adjunct curator for 18th Century Backcountry Studies at Gastonia's Schiele Museum, they learned the role herbal medicine played during the Revolutionary War in the days before antibiotics They watched Revolutionary War re-enactors fire black powder muskets and studied the battlefield of Huck's Defeat. They also made visits to the Kings Mountain Battleground, Cowpens and Ninety-Six, S.C.

"U.S. history books have never really told the role the South played in helping win the American Revolution, and it's not just in high school, but college, too," said Melissa Walker, an associate professor of history at Converse and director of the summer workshops.

Walker, who grew up in eastern Tennessee, said that with the exception of the Overmountain Men from Tennessee who fought at Kings Mountain, she knew practically nothing about the Southern campaigns and how Patriot victories at Kings Mountain and Cowpens turned the direction of the war.

She said that even a relatively minor skirmish such as the Battle of Huck's Defeat at Brattonsville deserves to be studied and included in the pantheon of the Revolution.

On the morning of July 12, 1780, Capt. Christian Huck of the British Legion was in command of about 120 soldiers. They were camped at Brattonsville on the Williamson Plantation. Around 5 a.m. a group of about 140 Patriots attacked the British, shot Huck from his horse, wounded several others, and the rest of the British troops surrendered.

"The significance was that it was a tremendous moral victory for the Patriots because it was the first time our local militia had defeated British troops since the American Army had surrendered two months before in Charleston," Walker said. "When you add that to the victories at Kings Mountain in October and Cowpens in January, you begin to understand how an American defeat was turned into victory. ... And most of that began right here in the Carolina backcountry."

Kathy Clampett is an 11th-grade history teacher from Carrollton, Texas. It was her first visit to the Carolina battlefields. She said the biggest lesson she's learned from her visit has been the economic importance of the Southern colonies to the British.

"It's the concept of cash crops -- the rice and the indigo. That's why the South was so important to the British. Money makes the world go round, and it was even a global economy back then," Clampett said. "I can go back to my classroom this fall with a much stronger sense of how close we came to losing the war, if not for the victories down here -- far away from New England."


Want to Know More?

E-mail Melissa Walker at or visit the Web site: Dan Huntley

TOPICS: History; Military/Veterans
KEYWORDS: americanrevolution; dixie; milhist; revwar; southcarolina; southernbattles; thesouth; yankeetreachery
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To: aculeus
Any book on the Scots-Irish contributions to the western world is must-read material, IMO. I say that as someone who is completely unbiased...
21 posted on 07/23/2007 10:01:48 AM PDT by Dysart
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To: Pharmboy
Just in case this thread somehow develops into a defense of the Confederate States of America, the Overmountain Men and the soldiers from the Watauga settlement were in an area which later became one of the strongest pro-Union areas in the nation, North or South, during the Civil War. I suspect a good number, maybe even the majority, of the descendants of the Overmountain Men were Union supporters in the later war.

If the central role of the South in the Revelation is a generally unknown fact, the presence of significant southern mountain sentiment for Lincoln and the Union is another.

22 posted on 07/23/2007 11:28:54 AM PDT by Colonel Kangaroo
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To: Colonel Kangaroo

Interesting point that I, for one, was TOTALLY unaware of. Why were the descendants of the Overmountain Men Union-sympathizers?

23 posted on 07/23/2007 1:28:06 PM PDT by Pharmboy ([She turned me into a] Newt! in '08)
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To: the OlLine Rebel

Well, the “Shot Heard Round the World” was significant enough to be famous even w/o The General.

24 posted on 07/23/2007 1:29:39 PM PDT by Pharmboy ([She turned me into a] Newt! in '08)
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To: the OlLine Rebel
The map came from here (scroll down a bit) and is said to be based on an illustration from Draper, p. 257.
25 posted on 07/23/2007 1:38:03 PM PDT by Pharmboy ([She turned me into a] Newt! in '08)
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To: Pharmboy
There were a lot of Loyalists in South Carolina, so much of the early fighting was between American factions, not with the British. The Scots of North Carolina also tended to support the monarchy, and the battle of Moore's Creek in North Carolina in 1776 pitted Patriot militia against a Loyalist militia largely composed of the local Scots.

In the later years of the war, the British assumed that they could win over a majority of South Carolinians to their cause, but Banastre Tarleton's brutality and other Redcoat outrages worked to the benefit of the revolutionaries. The Waxhaw massacre and other atrocities turned the state against the monarchy.

The first phase of the war occurred in New England. After the New England Colonies were freed of British forces the action moved to the Middle Colonies and then the South. The British reckoned they'd have more support in provinces where the Anglican influence was stronger, so there was no attempt to retake New England.

A lot of the troops who fought in the later phases of the war were still New Englanders who'd signed on earlier, though. That was particularly true in the Middle Colonies -- New York and Philadelphia were still in British hands and troops were tied up in battles there. But the 1st Rhode Island Regiment fought at Yorktown. It had been reorganized in 1778 as an all African-American unit.

26 posted on 07/23/2007 2:37:09 PM PDT by x
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To: LS

American History PING, in case you weren’t included in the earlier ping.

27 posted on 07/23/2007 3:34:10 PM PDT by MikeD (We live in a world where babies are like velveteen rabbits that only become real if they are loved.)
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To: Pharmboy

I was educated in the North and had about the same amount of ink in my public school textbooks regarding the Revolutionary War battles and strategies. It was always a mystery to me why the blood was drawn out of that war but not our Civil War, which got considerably more coverage.

In the last several years I’ve been reading books on the campaigns, leaders, and character of the Revolutionary War. It remains a mystery to me why this information is shunted aside and almost all of the *glory* goes to the guys with quill, paper, and debating skills, for founding our nation.

28 posted on 07/23/2007 7:08:47 PM PDT by GretchenM (What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul? Please meet my friend, Jesus)
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To: GretchenM
You make excellent points.

While the orators and quill-pushers were obviously important, without the men in the field with sword, musket and cannon it all would have been an exercise in debating skills and the Union Jack would still have flown.

29 posted on 07/23/2007 7:50:33 PM PDT by Pharmboy ([She turned me into a] Newt! in '08)
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To: Pharmboy
Many of the descendants stayed in the mountainous areas of the state. This was always a Whig Party stronghold, and as also an area with little slavery, these two factors produced a region that never approved of the secession movement arising in the lower western regions.

And what I've found from our own East Tennessee family, all the Civil War descendants of the two Watauga/Sevier associates in our ancestry were either Union soldiers or very strong Unionist sympathizers.

30 posted on 07/23/2007 7:56:00 PM PDT by Colonel Kangaroo
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