About Wayne Lynch:
Wayne Lynch is an independent researcher and frequent writer of American history. Since 2010, he has been researching and writing a book about the Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution. With several ancestors who were active on both sides of Revolutionary fighting in the south, Wayne has enjoyed a lifelong attachment to American history with a specialization on the American Revolution. He is a certified public accountant and tax attorney in Galveston, Texas.
What inspired you to start researching and writing about the Revolution?
I have always enjoyed history but really got into it around 2001 when my mother died. At that point I inherited her 35 years of genealogical research in which she had taken both sides of my family back to old Virginia. Working without the aid of computers or the internet, she traveled to courthouses and wrote letters in a similar fashion to that of Lyman Draper in the 19th century. The sheer volume of what she had collected took me months to assemble which then led me to a desire to place all these wonderful people and stories into historical context.
So, why the revolution and the southern campaigns?
It took a couple of years to work my way from Jamestown to the Revolution. Apparently, I have ancestors in Bacon’s Rebellion and the French & Indian War who deserved some attention before arriving at the Stamp Act and revolutionary period. However, once I arrived at the revolution things got serious and I was stuck. First I studied the founders and the causes/events before the war. I couldn’t help but notice the historical bias toward events in Boston and New England because all of my ancestors lived in the southern colonies. So I started soaking up what I could and discovered family on both sides of the war in the south. If that weren’t enough to get my enthusiasm going, it appeared that most historians sort of throw up their hands and declare the whole story of the southern campaign to be something of a mess. Well, I am a CPA and Tax Attorney experienced with forensic projects and expert witness testimony on damage reconstructions, sometimes looking back several decades to rebuild tax return, etc. I took it as a personal challenge and determined that not only would I understand the southern campaigns but I would someday write about them and shed light on people who might otherwise remain in the dim shadows of history. That a few of those people are my ancestors, well, gravy.
What historians or books have most influenced your work? Why?
There is little doubt that John Buchanan’s work, The Road to Guilford Courthouse went a long way toward pulling me into the southern campaigns. Not only did he tell the central story of Greene v Cornwallis well but the short biographical stuff on various partisans really hooked me. At that point I remembered an old Robert Bass book on Thomas Sumter called Gamecock. In reading the book I couldn’t help but notice the events central to Bass’s understanding of the war in the south differed from Buchanan who, like many historians, chose to focus primarily on battles involving the Continental Army. I moved on to another Bass work called, Ninety-Six, which opened up yet another set of events and mix of participants. I became totally intrigued and started what has become a decade long (so far) search for all the primary sources and details regarding each of the major groups or partisans in the south. Many of the South’s major players aren’t even honored with mention in the encyclopedias that I commonly use (Boatner and also the multi-volume set of Fremont – Barnes and Ryerson).
So, what have become your ‘go to’ resources?
I have a number of primary source sets that I use on a regular basis. The Cornwallis Papers by Ian Saberton probably tops my list but there are other very excellent sources. The Papers of General Nathaniel Greene are a must for any research done for 1781 and beyond. However, the year 1780 is more challenging for the Patriot side of things. For that period, I like to use individual narratives from the Draper Manuscript collection (some of which are published separately or in the pension files) for operations involving the militia. Some notable examples come from Col. William Hill, Col. Richard Winn, Samuel Hammond, and Joseph McJunkin but there are a number of others available. One excellent source for information on back country residents is Joseph Johnson’s Traditions and Reminiscences chiefly of the American Revolution in the South. Johnson was an 19th century writer whose work came out just as the last of the old veterans were disappearing.
Which of your own JAR articles is your favorite or most rewarding? Why?
Last summer I started in on a new project documenting (as much as possible) all the primary sources that mention the back country partisans. My first subject was Elijah Clarke, who happens to be a long standing personal favorite among those who refused subjugation in June of 1780. Wounded in every engagement yet still charging on like a bull, Clarke truly deserved the adjective, ‘indomitable’. However, even with his incredible activity, Clarke remains a little known character whose exploits are very deserving of attention. I enjoyed the series and am absolutely delighted that all three parts made the annual JAR volume coming out in May.
Other than your own contributions, what are some of your favorite JAR articles?
Mr. Schellhammer’s article on the Mutiny of the Pennsylvania Line stands out in my memory as an example of incredibly interesting writing combined with a good subject matter. The result was a very gripping story that left the reader wanting more. If only my own prose flowed so well.
Also, I enjoyed Prof. Piecuch’s piece on Richard Pearis. Pearis is a southern campaign participant whose loyalty seems a bit vague, to say the least. I knew little of the man prior to the article and since my particular passion is the study of these partisan individuals (both sides), the article struck right at home for me.
What new research/writing projects are you currently working on?
Over the past couple of months I have played with some ideas for turning my writings into a book. While true that I have a collection of research notes to cover a number of subjects, I suffer greatly from what I like to call the Tom Sawyer Syndrome. In other words, once the writing projects turn into work instead of play I find myself dawdling about the house, cleaning out closets, playing with the cat, basically anything other than work. A major influence on me recently suggested I need an editor/co-author who also knows the subject matter to keep me focused and on track. Probably just what I need.
Why is Journal of the American Revolution important to you?
The JAR has provided me with an outlet for my writings. Not only does it represent a quality presentation for the articles but also a wonderful association with others who study the Revolution. I cannot say enough about how hard Todd, Hugh, and Don work to provide the format and the necessary editorial work. They are amazing.
What additions would you like to see in the JAR format?
I like debates, not arguments, that offer differing opinions on like subject matter. For instance, I would really like to see a series of 4 or 5 articles come out in succession (or within a couple of weeks) advocating the author’s position on whether the Continental Army or the Militia forces deserve the lion’s share of credit for winning the American Revolution. Or perhaps on whether or not Banastre Tarleton is deserving of his proper place as a villain of the war.
Another good use of a series of differing points of view on a single subject might be coverage of larger events. At the JAR they do a wonderful job covering trivia and small details of the war but large battles and campaigns are difficult due to format and length restrictions. It would be great to have five authors tell a story from differing points of view, and, hopefully, with an emphasis on different actors within the action. For example: Morgan at the Cowpens, Militia operations at the Cowpens, The British Legion fails to charge at the Cowpens, and Cavalry operations at the battle of Cowpens.