The Southern Expedition of 1776: The Best Kept Secret of the American Revolution

The War Years (1775-1783)

September 20, 2016
by Roger Smith Also by this Author


Journal of the American Revolution is the leading source of knowledge about the American Revolution and Founding Era. We feature smart, groundbreaking research and well-written narratives from expert writers. Our work has been featured by the New York Times, TIME magazine, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Smithsonian, Mental Floss, NPR, and more. Journal of the American Revolution also produces annual hardcover volumes, a branded book series, and the podcast, Dispatches

One of the most enjoyable aspects of researching the history of the American Revolution is the process of looking beneath and/or beyond those events and factoids that survive simply because they are a “given.” “Givens” are the greatest indicators of opportunities to search for missing pieces to any historical puzzle and new questions are the primary tools of discovery. For instance, one of the more common notions about the American Revolution is that the southern colonies were not significant until after General Burgoyne’s defeat at Saratoga in 1777, and the war would not “turn south” until the siege of Charleston in 1780. Why, then, did Sir Henry Clinton sail an invasion fleet into Charleston Harbor in the summer of 1776? For that matter, as Washington was pounded across Long Island and down through New Jersey in 1776, why were there no southern regiments in his army when he was so desperately short of men and munitions? Why is there so little information concerning the southern colonies during the first five years of the war? Why is there no discussion on East Florida and West Florida? Since neither of those colonies, acquired from Spain in 1763, chose to rebel against king and country, would they not have created the same concerns for Washington’s southern defenses that Canada triggered in the north?[1] If put to an unannounced pop quiz and asked to name the battles that occurred in the southern colonies prior to the siege of Charleston in 1780, most would answer with Clinton’s aforementioned blunder at Charleston in June 1776, and perhaps the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge, North Carolina, on February 27, 1776.

The tendency to geographically compartmentalize the chronology of events of the American Revolution is a primary example of one of the “givens” that need review. It is generally accepted that in 1775 and 1776, the war was primarily fought in New England, then shifted to the mid-Atlantic colonies from 1776 through 1777, and did not concern the southern colonies until 1780 and 1781.[2] Such an uncomplicated view makes for wonderful, albeit inaccurate, history class discussions that are more legend than fact. So the question begs, what were southern troops doing from early 1775 through 1779? Is it not possible that simultaneous, equally significant events south of the Chesapeake Bay precluded the contribution of southern troops to Washington’s northern defenses and campaigns during that time frame? If so, we must then reconsider the widely accepted timelines of events, especially as they involve the southern colonies.[3]

Part of the problem with the traditional American perspective of the Revolutionary War is that while our nation’s fight for existence is the stuff of heroes and legends here in the United States, this distant colonial struggle was far from the center of the then-known universe. The British Empire was much larger than just thirteen colonies and a motherland, and held overall political concerns that reached global proportions. Many noted historians have recognized the value of viewing the American Revolution from a British perspective and have extended the historical lens to view the war from that vantage point.[4] Unfortunately, while widening the lens to consider the impact of imperial needs and decrees globally, it is often in regards to how they affected American colonists from New Hampshire to Georgia. The lens, therefore, needs to be adjusted a little further, as the British Americas were comprised of thirty-three colonies that stretched from Nova Scotia in the north to Grenada in the southern Caribbean. There were seventeen colonies in North America alone: the thirteen of Revolutionary fame along with the aforementioned East Florida and West Florida, as well as Nova Scotia and Quebec, which were also brought into the empire (along with Grenada) as the result of the 1763 Treaty of Paris.[5]

Much more significant to imperial finances were the British West Indies. Simply put, the production of sugar, indigo, coffee, and cocoa in these islands afforded empire.[6] The impact of sugar alone on eighteen-century imperial coffers might even be compared to the relevance of crude oil on global economics today. The primary interest that the British Empire had in North America was easy access to inexpensive supplies needed to support the industry of West Indian agriculture.[7] To Parliament, the North American colonies held little more economic value than that of a factory/wharehouse for inexpensive supplies for their interests in the Caribbean.[8] John Adams went so far as to write that it was common belief that the imperial significance of the North American colonies had been forsaken in favor of the production of sugar.[9] Therefore, political stability in the southern colonies of North America meant consistancy of supplies for the British West Indies, particularly foodstuffs and flax, which was used to make simple clothing for the slave population that produced the sugar. When the British colonies from Virginia to Georgia fell in domino-fashion to the rebellion in 1775, the delivery of much-needed supplies to West Indian sugar factories faced an immeasurable threat.[10] The Continental Congress was quick to impose a trade embargo on Great Britain, Ireland, and the British West Indies to cut them off from American goods and food supplies.[11] Adding to West Indian woes, hurricanes, famine, drought, and disease ravaged the islands throughout the Caribbean.[12] As death tolls reached the thousands from natural disasters the region became a hotbed of slave revolts.[13] The impact of an embargo of such basic neccessities of life as food and clothing would be unfathomable on the production of Caribbean agriculture and, as a result, imperial economics.

To shake up our view of the British Americas even further, when the distance between the capitals of Nova Scotia and Grenada is measured, the geographic center of George III’s American holdings is just a few miles north of the St. Johns River in present-day Jacksonville, Florida. Taking that information into account with the fact that St. Augustine, the capital of East Florida, possessed the only tandem of masonry fortresses south of the Chesapeake Bay, it becomes indefensible to assume that the ministers of Whitehall had no military, political, or economic interests in the southern colonies. The same may be said of George Washington, for on December 18, 1775—while personally involved in the extensive seige of Boston and simultaneously concerned with an army invading Canada—he requested Congress to authorize an invasion of East Florida. This would be the first of five such requests from 1775 to 1780.[14]

In order to avoid the devastating effects of a North American trade embargo against the British West Indies by the Continental Congress, the monarchy needed to act swiftly. A series of counterstrikes was devised in the fall of 1775, calling for the British military, Loyalist militias, and Native American allies in the region to participate in the active reclamation of the southern colonies. The first stage began on September 12, 1775, with an order from Gen. Thomas Gage, commander of all British troops in North America, to John Stuart, Indian Superintendent to the Southern Region, for Native Americans allies to attack all disloyal colonists.[15] On October 16, King George III authorized a full-scale military invasion of the South, dubbing it the “Southern Expedition,” with Savannah the primary target.[16]

The first attack fleet sailed from Ireland for the Cape Fear River, North Carolina, around December 1, 1775, under the command of the Gen. Charles, Earl Cornwallis, where it was to rendezvous with a second fleet carrying Gen. Sir Henry Clinton and his troops—about 2,500 redcoats total.[17] In addition, Lord George Germain, Secretary of State of the American Colonies, specified that Adm. Sir Peter Parker was to command the fleet and provide naval reinforcements to the expedition, which included “a squadron of warships (two 50-gun two-decker ‘fourth rates,’ four 28-gun frigates and a half dozen other vessels of substantial potency) plus transports … fifty sail in all.”[18] In addition, based upon the promise of ten thousand volunteers by North Carolina’s deposed governor Josiah Martin, Cornwallis came equipped with an additional ten thousand stands of arms.[19] Once ships were provisioned and the North Carolinians armed, the combined fleet was to carry Clinton and Cornwallis south to Savannah. Germain was under orders by George III to allow Clinton the option of where to strike first, but His Lordship would encourage Clinton in every way imaginable—over the length of seven pages of text—to strike first at Savannah. Germain went so far as to pinpoint the landing site for the army at Cockspur Inlet in the mouth of the Savannah River.[20]

From East Florida, Gen. Augustine A. Prevost would augment the assault with approximately eleven hundred British regulars stationed in St. Augustine.[21] An unexpected addition to the invasion came when a brash, young Yorkshireman named Thomas Brown claimed to have the names of four thousand Loyalists sworn to secure the Carolina and Georgia backcountries for the Crown.[22] Though Brown had no real military experience, John Stuart agreed to secure the enlistment of Creek warriors into Brown’s frontier army. Stuart was a master political tactician and Brown the great-grandson of Sir Isaac Newton and the son of an immensely wealthy shipping magnate. Such an alliance would no doubt be a feather in Stuart’s cap. Brown’s plan was to haul powder and shot from Pensacola into the southern backcountries, gathering his army as he went. He would then strike at Augusta, the western hub of the southern Indian trade routes, which would “distress the rebels beyond measure.”[23] Once Augusta was secured Brown’s army could either hold fast to allow Loyalists a firm base in the backcountry or proceed down the Savannah River to join Clinton’s assault on the Georgia capital.

Thomas Brown was not your average militia leader. He was driven by revenge after refusing an “invitation” on August 2, 1775, by Augusta’s Sons of Liberty to sign an oath of loyalty to the rebellion. Though there were several reports of the incident, all agree that after suffering a fractured skull from a rifle-butt blow Brown was severely beaten, stripped naked to his boots, and tied to a tree. There he was scalped at least three times then tarred and feathered. Reports are mixed as to whether it was the hot tar collecting in Brown’s boots that burned off two or more of his toes or if that occurred when his boots were pulled off and hot brands or lighted sticks put to his feet. He was then tossed into the back of a cart and paraded through the streets of Augusta.[24] Amazingly, Brown survived and by December made his way to St. Augustine. Gov. Patrick Tonyn took a special liking to the bitter young man and listened intently to Brown’s plan for a Loyalist uprising. Tonyn was in a position to help Brown coordinate this action with the impending Southern Expedition.[25]

Click to enlarge. Map by author.
Click to enlarge. Map by author.

So why have these valuable pieces of the southern puzzle gone missing? Unfortunately, the Southern Expedition was so poorly orchestrated that while bits of the event are well known, a full composite of the invasion is absent from virtually every history text. The map demonstrates what was supposed to occur compared with what actually took place. We should look at the events as they occurred chronologically, beginning with (you guessed it) the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge on February 27, 1776. As mentioned, Gov. Josiah Martin guaranteed an army of ten thousand Loyalists to assist British regulars in reclaiming North Carolina. Only sixteen hundred men, however, answered the call and they were in need of the arms that Cornwallis carried from Ireland. The rendezvous at the Cape Fear River with the invasion fleets was scheduled for March 1, but the Loyalists were intercepted by a well-informed, well-armed rebel militia of one thousand men at Moore’s Creek Bridge, terminating this phase of the Southern Expedition.[26]

Clinton’s fleet from New York appeared at the Cape Fear on March 12—nearly two weeks late, which is not bad timetabling for the age of wind and sail. Three days later John Stuart arrived to announce that his Creek warriors would not be joining Brown’s frontier army.[27] In spite of Clinton’s furious protests, Stuart claimed that was not safe for the Creek men to travel so far to the east and leave their homes unprotected against a serious Choctaw threat to the west.[28] Governor Tonyn believed this was nothing more than Stuart’s rethinking of his alliance with Brown.[29] Victories on distant battlefields brought much glory in London. Stuart fancied himself in that role instead of Brown, a twenty-five year old aristocrat who had not been in the southern region very long.[30] Stuart went to such lengths to guarantee the failure of Brown’s backcountry uprising that he called a congress in Pensacola to draw Native American headmen in the opposite direction of Augusta and Savannah.[31] Stuart’s actions confused American leaders such as Gen. William Moultrie, who would later command the defenses at Fort Sullivan in Charleston Harbor. Moultrie wrote in his memoirs

If the British had set their Indian allies upon us a few months before Sir Henry Clinton and Sir Peter Parker made their descent on South-Carolina, they would have disconnected us very much, by keeping thousands of our back country people from coming down; because they must have staid at home to protect their families from the savages.[32]

Thomas Brown roamed the backcountry of West Florida and Georgia in search of a Creek army that was never to materialize.[33] General Clinton was of the understanding that Brown’s western pincer actions were not canceled, just postponed until Lord Germain could be consulted.[34] He was wrong. An embittered Brown would not make his way back to St. Augustine until September. Tonyn compensated Brown with a commission of lieutenant colonel of militia and command of the East Florida Rangers, the governor’s personal contribution to the war.[35]

To add to the calamity that befell the Southern Expedition, Cornwallis had been blown out to sea by a hurricane and would not arrive at the Cape Fear River until May 3.[36] The next debacle came later in May when Georgia militia drove into East Florida, digging in on the banks of the St. Johns River, just thirty miles north of St. Augustine. While holding that line, Continental regulars encamped on the north banks of the St. Marys River on the Georgia-East Florida border. Prevost, concerned for the safety of of his own colony, withdrew from the attack on Savannah to bolster St. Augustine’s defenses. As Clinton sat brooding at the Cape Fear River it became obvious that the Southern Expedition was a fiasco. Clinton then called an audible in the field and determined that if he must strike at a rebel port city with no cover from Prevost or Brown then he might as well make that effort at Charleston for greater spoils and glory. Sir Peter Parker voiced extreme concerns and insisted that the invasion be cancelled. Clinton chose otherwise. The rest, as they say is history. The British attack on Charleston was soundly defeated, providing an unnecessary boost in moral for the rebellion. Clinton’s ego would bear this humiliation for the next four years and he and Sir Peter Parker would incessantly blame the other for this humiliating defeat.[37]

In 1775, the British ministry and George III expressed their intentions “to proceed upon an Expedition for reducing to Obedience the Southern Provinces of North America, now in Rebellion.”[38] This was a calculated plan in which the “Object & purpose of this Expedition is to endeavour, with the Assistance of the well affected Inhabitants in the Southern Colonies, to effect the Restoration of legal government.”[39] From this correspondence from Lord Germain to Sir Henry Clinton we find evidence that the restoration of a “legal government”—a British government—in all of the southern colonies was the focus of the Southern Expedition. That could not have occurred simply from a random attack on Charleston in 1776, but only from a coordinated, full-scale campaign of conquest. There is no tone in this document that speaks of southern interests being secondary to events in the North, refuting the misconception that the southern colonies were insignificant during the first five years of the American Revolution. So many new pieces to the puzzle simply because we looked beyond the “given” and asked new questions.




[1] To understand Washington’s concerns for the political loyalties of East Florida, for example, consider that once news of the Declaration of Independence reached St. Augustine, an angry crowd gathered in the city plaza on August 11, 1776, and hung effigies of Samuel Adams and John Hancock before setting fire to them. Martha Condray Searcy, The Georgia-Florida Contest in the American Revolution (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1985), 54.

[2] For just a few examples of esteemed scholars who have advocated this school of thought concerning the dearth of Revolutionary events in the southern colonies prior to 1780, see Robert Middlekauff, The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763–1789 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982); Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1967); Gordon S. Wood, The American Revolution: A History (New York: Random House, 2002); Edward Countryman, The American Revolution (New York: Hill and Wang, 1985—Revised Edition 2003); John Pancake, This Destructive War: The British Campaign in the Carolinas, 1780–1782 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1985); Simon Schama, Rough Crossings: The Slaves, the British, and the American Revolution (New York: HarperCollins Publishing, 2006).

[3] Examples of timelines constructed by sources that are highly regarded by the general public:  (January 2008).

[4] For just a few examples of esteemed scholars who have advocated this position, see Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy, An Empire Divided: The American Revolution and the British Caribbean (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000); Eliga H. Gould, The Persistence of Empire: British Political Culture in the Age of the American Revolution (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina, 2000); Lester D. Langley, The Americas in the Age of Revolution, 1750 – 1850 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996); Eliga Gould, “Revolution and Counterrevolution,” in David Armitage, Michael Braddick, ed., The British Atlantic World, 1500-1800 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002 – Second Edition 2009); Richard B. Sheridan, “The Crisis of Slave Subsistence in the British West Indies during the American Revolution,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., 33, no.4 (October 1976): 615-641; Gary B. Nash, The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America (New York: Viking Penguin, 2005); Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (Boston: Beacon Press, 2000).


[6] Jan Rogoziñski, A Brief History of the Caribbean: From the Arawak and Carib to the Present (New York: Plume Group, 1999), 108.

[7] Philip D. Curtin, The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex: Essays in Atlantic History, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 153.

[8] Philip D. Curtin, The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex, 153.

[9] Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy, An Empire Divided, 66.

[10] Britain lost the southern colonies of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia as follows:

[11] Sherry Johnson, Climate and Catastrophe in Cuba and the Atlantic World in the Age of Revolution (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2011), 132-134, 136; see also Richard B. Sheridan, “The Crisis of Slave Subsistence,” 615-641; Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy, An Empire Divided, 143, 161-162.

[12] For a full study of the ecological disasters and ensuing calamities brought to the Caribbean region from the El Niño/La Niña cycles of the Revolutionary War era see Johnson, Climate and Catastrophe, 92-153; see also Sheridan “Crisis of Slave Subsistence,” 615-641; O’Shaughnessy, An Empire Divided, 143, 152.

[13] Johnson, Climate and Catastrophe, 133; see also O’Shaughnessy, An Empire Divided, 145, 151, 161-162.

[14] The George Washington Papers, “George Washington to Continental Congress, Cambridge, December 18, 1775.” (gw070293); see also Kathryn T. Abbey, “Florida as an Issue During the American Revolution” (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Illinois, 1926), 184–85; the George Washington Papers, “George Washington to Robert Howe, Edward Rutledge, and Jonathan Bryan, Morris Town in Jersey, March 17, 1777;” “George Washington to Robert Howe, Head Quts., Camp at Morris Town, July 4, 1777;” George Washington to John Rutledge, Head Quarters, Morris Town, July 5, 1777;” “George Washington to Benjamin Lincoln, Head Quarters, Morris Town, April 15, 1780;” “George Washington to Jean B. Donatien de Vimeur, Comte de Rochambeau, and Charles Louis d’Arsac, Chevalier de Ternay, New Windsor, December 15, 1780;” “George Washington to Nathaniel Greene, Head Quarters, Verplanks Point, September 23, 1782.”; ( gw070292); (gw080305); (gw180288); (gw200526); (gw250217)

[15] Thomas Gage to John Stuart, September 12, 1775,” Gage Papers, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan (hereafter WLCL), in Edward J. Cashin, William Bartram and the American Revolution on the Southern Frontier (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2000), 189.

[16] Lord Dartmouth to General William Howe, October 22, 1775, PRO 30/55/1, doc. 83, p. 1; see also Ira D. Gruber, “Britain’s Southern Strategy,” in Robert W. Higgins, The Revolutionary War in the South: Power, Conflict, and Leadership; Essays in Honor of John Richard Alden (Durham: Duke University Press, 1979), 210; see also Lord George Germain to Henry Clinton, December 6, 1775, CO 5/92, f. 375–82, pp. 759–84

[17] In this correspondence, Lord Germain specified that the seven regiments involved were the 15th, 37th, 53rd, 54th, and 57th Regiments of Foot, with the 53rd being replaced by the 33rd for the actual expedition; the king added the 28th and 46th Regiments of Foot after they were blown off course by a storm on their way to Quebec. “Lord George Germain to Sir William Howe, November 8, 1775,” PRO 30/55/1, doc. 80, pp. 1–8; “Lord George Germain to Henry Clinton, December 6, 1775,” CO 5/92, f. 375–82, pp. 759–84; see also John W. Gordon, South Carolina and the American Revolution: A Battlefield History (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003), 37.

[18] The warships ships listed in this letter were the “Bristol, Acteon, Solebay, Syren, Sphinx, and Deal Castle, the Hawk Sloop, and Thunder Bomb.” “Lord George Germain to Henry Clinton, December 6, 1775,” CO 5/592, f. 375–82, pp. 759–84; see also Gordon, South Carolina and the American Revolution, 37. For a full detailed account of battles at Moore’s Creek Bridge and Fort Sullivan (first British assault on Charleston Harbor) see John S. Pancake, 1777: The Year of the Hangman (Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 1977), 22–25; Gordon, South Carolina and the American Revolution, 36–46; see also “May 31,” in William Moultrie, Memoirs of the American Revolution, so far as it related to the States of North and South Carolina, and Georgia (Vol. 1 and 2; New York: Printed by David Longworth, for the Author, 1802; reprinted New York: Arno Press, Inc., 1968), 1:140.

[19] “Lord Dartmouth to General William Howe, October 22, 1775,” PRO 30/55/1, doc. 83, p. 1; see also Gruber, “Britain’s Southern Strategy,” in Higgins, The Revolutionary War in the South, 210.

[20] “Lord George Germain to Henry Clinton, December 6, 1775,” CO 5/92, f. 375–82, pp. 759–84.

[21] While there are no records available concerning deployment of troops to East Florida to support the expedition from St. Augustine, there is a budgetary item found in the Treasury Papers that documents the need for funds to “victualize” fifteen hundred British regulars in St. Augustine on March 28, 1776. That is approximately eleven hundred more troops than St. Augustine normally garrisoned. “John Robinson to John Pownall, Treasury Chamber, March 28, 1776,” PRO 30/55/2, doc. 148, pp. 1–2.

[22] Thomas Brown to Jonas Brown, November 10, 1775, in possession of Joan Leggett, descendant of Thomas Brown,” in Cashin, William Bartram, 209.

[23] Thomas Brown to Patrick Tonyn, February 24, 1776, in Patrick Tonyn to Sir Henry Clinton, June 10, 1776, Sir Henry Clinton Papers, WLCL, in Edward J. Cashin, The King’s Ranger: Thomas Brown and the American Revolution on the Southern Frontier (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1989), 44.

[24] Patrick Tonyn to Lord Germain, November 23, 1776, CO 5/557, pp. 20–21. For the collective account of multiple reports concerning Thomas Brown’s assault see also Cashin, William Bartram, 134; Cashin, The King’s Ranger, 27–29; Searcy, The Georgia–Florida Conflict, 13; Charles B. Reynolds, Old St. Augustine: A Story of Three Centuries (St. Augustine, FL: E.H. Reynolds, 1884), 92-93.

[25] “Governor Patrick Tonyn to Sir Henry Clinton, February 15, 1776,” Sir Henry Clinton Papers, WLCL, in Cashin, William Bartram, 215.

[26] Gordon, South Carolina and the American Revolution, 37.

[27] Gruber, “Britain’s Southern Strategy,” in Higgins, The Revolutionary War in the South, 213; see also Cashin, William Bartram, 215.

[28] Cashin, William Bartram, 215.

[29] Patrick Tonyn to General Henry Clinton, May 8, 1776, CO 5/556, 172.

[30] Cashin, The King’s Ranger, 45.

[31] Cashin, The King’s Ranger, 54-55.

[32] Moultrie, Memoirs, 1:185.

[33] Searcy, The Georgia–Florida Contest, 28.

[34] Cashin, The King’s Ranger, 45. On May 5, 1776, Brown stated that he could raise 2,000–3,000 Loyalists in just one month’s time. Letter from Thomas Brown Concerning Indian Issues, May 5, 1776, CO 5/556, f. 172–180.

[35] CO 5/556, 173-180, in the “Lawson Files” at the P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History and Special Collections at the University of Florida. The East Florida Rangers were a military unit drawn from former Georgia and South Carolina backwoodsmen and small planters. Many of these refugees from revolutionary upheaval in their home colonies were hand-picked by Governor Tonyn and he saw them as his personal army, over which he claimed “absolute authority.” Patrick Tonyn to Augustine Prevost, July 5, 1777, CO 5/557, 148–49; see also Colin G. Calloway, The American Revolution in Indian Country: Crisis and Diversity in Native American Communities (Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, 1995), 259; Cashin, The King’s Ranger, 59, 61-62, 64-65, 74, 78-79, 89-90.

[36] Gruber, “Britain’s Southern Strategy,” in Higgins, The Revolutionary War in the South, 213.

[37] Frances Reece Kepner, “A British View of the Siege of Charleston, 1776,” Journal of Southern History 11, no. 1 (February 1945), 94.

[38] Lord George Germain to Henry Clinton, Dec. 6, 1775, CO 5/92, f. 375, p. 759.

[39] Ibid.; see also Gruber, “Britain’s Southern Strategy,” in Higgins, The Revolutionary War in the South, 211.


  • Roger Smith describes the severe way Thomas Brown was treated by Patriots. We might try to immortalize Brown now with his nickname among the Southern Campaigns Revolutionary War Pension applicants–“Burntfoot,” “Burnt footed,” or “old Burnt Foot.” Levi Mote S7245 relishes his details: “we attacked Brown at Augusta we used to call old Col. Brown (Tory) old Burnt foot (as the Whigs had once caught him and set him a fire after treating him to a Coat of Tar and Feathers).”

  • This type of report which reveals much of history that is not in the popular history documents. It is for a similar reason that I have been researching the Battle Road through Arlington, Cambridge, and Somerville on April 19, 1775. Having aquired about 50 books on the subject I hope to reveal “lost” information on the happenings in this part of the retreat. Perhaps for a future paper or report.

  • This article reveals my prime frustration with American Revolution literature. The subject is so large and takes up so much territory – as Mr. Smith points out – that authors fell they must, by default, follow the Boston to New York to Philadelphia to Yorktown route, endlessly. It seems that we do not have (and might never have?) a comprehensive history. I’m thinking Winston Churchill’s six volumes on WW II, or Lawrence Gilpin’s fourteen volumes on the French and Indian War. Consider this: the Boston Tea Party happened in December, 1773; the British evacuated New York in December, 1783. This is 520 weeks, so any book 500 pages long would cover one week per page. Tack on a basic background starting with the Treaty of Paris or the Stamp Act and that’s another chunk needing hundreds of pages. Derek Beck has started a series (two volumes so far) but so far it centers on the northern colonies. Rick Atkinson is working on a trilogy covering 1774 – 1781. But even this will inevitably skim the subject because 1776 alone can fill a thousand pages. The alternative would be a series ten or twenty volumes long (which could easily be done if you think on it) but difficult to get published, or sell. Thus, as Mr. Smith shows here, we leave the whole Gulf Coast and the Caribbean out of the accepted story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *