Biographical Sketches of Royal Militia Commanders in the South Carolina Backcountry, 1780–82

The War Years (1775-1783)

November 30, 2020
by Ian Saberton Also by this Author


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After the British capture of Charlestown in mid May 1780 the Crown hoped to raise substantial numbers of militia not only to maintain the King’s peace in the South Carolina Backcountry but also to participate eventually in the invasion of the province to the north. Yet the formation of regiments was by no means easy, for so many of the principal, influential men were of the revolutionary persuasion that initially it was a major problem for the British to find suitable field officers[1] to appoint to the senior ranks. As to completing the lower ranks, it is true that some fifty percent of the Backcountry population were loyalists,[2] but when the men were compelled to enroll, they soon proved to be less committed, more pacific, than the revolutionaries. Disinclined to go out on a limb in support of the Crown, they preferred, in short, to leave the prosecution of the war to the regular forces. Consequently their fighting qualities were suspect. British reliance on the militia was further diminished, first by not screening out the admittance of disaffected persons, and second by incorporating “Quiet men,” as Major Patrick Ferguson, the Inspector of Militia, called them,[3] to the extent of no more than one for every three loyalists.
Unsurprisingly—and ill armed and slow to turn out as it was—the militia displayed a patchwork of confidence, timidity, fidelity, and disloyalty in the face of the revolutionary forces taking to the field. Most of the Rocky Mount and Enoree-Tyger Regiments promptly defected, whereas the Jackson’s Creek Regiment was the most zealous. Other militia regiments were for the most part hesitant and in need of support, particularly those toward the North Carolina line.
The royal militia in the Backcountry ceased to be any kind of a materially effective force when Ferguson, his small corps of British American troops, and a body of some 800 militiamen were defeated at the Battle of King’s Mountain on October 7, 1780. All were either killed or captured.

Commanding Officers

James Cary
Cary (?-1794) was a Virginian of some education and legal training who had been a man of local prominence in Northampton County, North Carolina, before migrating to the South Carolina Lowcountry in 1764. Six years later he moved to the west side of the Wateree near Camden Ferry to manage a plantation which he later purchased together with other property. By mid 1780 he was raising indigo and tobacco and owned a sawmill, an orchard, and a dozen or more slaves. A one-time regulator, he had been appointed a justice of the peace for Camden District in 1776 under the temporary revolutionary constitution adopted in that year. Soon after Cornwallis’s arrival at Camden on June 1, 1780 he commissioned Cary as colonel of a militia regiment whose catchment area lay in the fork between the Wateree and Congaree rivers. Two months later, on August 15, Cary with thirty of his men was captured by Brig. General Thomas Sumter while guarding Camden Ferry. He subsequently escaped and his men were released by Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton in the action at Fishing Creek three days later. Accused soon after by Balfour of mismanagement, credulousness and inactivity, he was stoutly defended by Cornwallis: “I will answer with my life for Carey, but he has had infinite difficulties to struggle with and is a modest, diffident man. Five out of six of his whole district are rebels and he has been constantly called out with part of his regiment on actual service during the whole summer. He opposed Sumpter in arms until he was deserted by his people, and afterwards contrived to make his escape before Tarleton’s action. So far from being desirous of command, it was with the utmost difficulty I could prevail on him to take it, and I am very sure that nothing but his determined zeal for the cause could make him continue in it.” When in November Balfour hinted at Cary’s misappropriating private property, Cornwallis replied, “In regard to Carey you know I am more partial [than to William Henry Mills (see below)], altho’ I will not be godfather to any man’s honesty in this province.” In the following month Cornwallis observed to Colonel Francis Lord Rawdon, when declining Cary’s proposal to raise a kind of district troop of horse, “I have no opinion of Carey’s raising any good cavalry. However loyal he may be, he certainly is not much of a soldier.” On the abandonment of Camden in May 1781 Cary fled to Charlestown, where he was paid as a refugee militia officer till its evacuation in December 1782. Sailing with a number of slaves to Jamaica, he attempted to produce sugar but fell into debt, finally turning over his land and slaves there to creditors in 1790. In the meantime, having been banished and having had his property in South Carolina confiscated, he moved first to Nova Scotia, and then to England, in order to pursue his claim for compensation before the royal commission. Settling in Bristol, he received a pension backdated to 1783 and an award from the commission, both of which enabled him and his wife to live in modest comfort.[4]

Baily Cheney
A settler on Big Creek in the Backcountry, Baily Cheney as a young man had accompanied Moses Kirkland (see below) in 1775 on his mission to seek aid and advice from Lord William Campbell, the royal Governor, on behalf of fellow non-associators.[5] In midsummer 1780 we find Cheney commanding a militia company in his locality, but with the loss by the British of the Backcountry in the spring of 1781 he fled to Charlestown, where by October he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the royal militia. When the town was evacuated in December 1782, he moved to East Florida, where he became implicated with others in pillaging settlements near the frontier with Georgia. Wishing to begin his administration peaceably, the new Spanish Governor, Zespedes, offered the outlaws safe conduct out of the province. Cheney accepted, obtaining a pass to go to Tensaw above Mobile in West Florida.[6]

Daniel Clary
A committed and influential loyalist who had been involved in the Backcountry rising in 1775, Daniel Clary was in the summer of 1780 commissioned major in command of the Dutch Fork Regiment of the royal militia. Barely mustering one hundred men, it was to provide a detachment led by him in the disastrous action at Musgrove’s Mill on August 19, 1780. Later in the year he would be persuaded by Lt. Colonel John Harris Cruger, who considered him a very clever, spirited man, to raise two badly needed troops of horse for the District of Ninety Six, which Cruger commanded, but Clary was superseded by Major James Dunlap, formerly of Ferguson’s corps, at Cornwallis’s behest. Promoted at the beginning of December to colonel, Clary would, with the loss of the Backcountry in spring 1781, flee to Charlestown, where he was paid as a refugee officer till its evacuation. Being well liked despite his politics, Clary was removed from the Banishment and Confiscation Act in 1784. Amerced instead, but disqualified from public office, he settled once more in what became Newberry County.[7]
Contemporaneous with Clary’s promotion to colonel was the appointment of William Ballentine of Orangeburg as his lieutenant colonel and Moses Buffington as his major. Of Ballentine little is known, but Buffington (1751–1782), who belonged to a family of Backcountry loyalists, had in 1779 taken part in the defense of Savannah as an ensign in the South Carolina Royalist Regiment, resigning his commission the following year. Now, on December 14, 1780—only days after becoming a major—he with 25 men was posted at Widow Duggan’s three or four miles south of the Enoree on Indian Creek. There, at dusk, having as usual no sentry out, they were surprised by 40 to 50 revolutionary militia under Lt. Colonel Joseph Hayes. Buffington was thought to be mortally wounded but did in fact survive, three of his men were seriously wounded, and seven or eight were carried off. Six months later he went on to be promoted to the militia rank of colonel during the siege of Ninety Six. In early July he fled to Charlestown, where he was paid as a refugee militia colonel till his death in August or November 1782, perhaps from the lingering effects of the wounds he received at Widow Duggan’s.[8]

Robert Cunningham
Accompanied by three brothers, Robert Cunningham (1739–1813) had settled in the Backcountry in 1769, having migrated from Pennsylvania by way of Virginia. Almost immediately he was looked on in his neighborhood as a man of consequence, becoming a militia captain, deputy surveyor, and justice of the peace. A prominent regulator, he was dismissed from his offices by Lord Charles Montagu, the royal Governor, but seems to have retained the respect of leaders in the Backcountry. Opposed to British taxation of the colonies without their concurrence, he did not go so far as to favor severing the constitutional ties to the Crown, believing that it would lead to arbitrary, oppressive rule by the revolutionary party. Accordingly in 1775, with his brother Patrick (see below) and others, he led loyalist opposition in the Backcountry to the subversive measures of the Provincial Congress. As a result he was confined in Charlestown jail from November to the following summer. Typically of the times, Brig. General Andrew Pickens, the noted revolutionary, was to malign his motives, ascribing them to thwarted ambition with respect to revolutionary appointments in the militia line. When in 1778 an election was held under the new revolutionary constitution for South Carolina, he was returned as senator for the Middle District of the Dutch Fork, but did not take his seat, being unwilling to swear the oath of allegiance. On November 22, 1780, five months after the arrival of the British in the Backcountry, Cornwallis was to commission him a brigadier general in the royal militia of the Ninety Six District, but by then it was a spent force after the Battle of King’s Mountain. By mid 1782, having been subjected to banishment and confiscation by act of the revolutionary assembly, he was receiving pay as a militia refugee in Charlestown. At the close of the war he was, exceptionally, placed on the Provincial half-pay list and eventually settled in New Providence in the Bahamas, having been refused permission to return to South Carolina. He was awarded £1,080 by the royal commission for his losses. He signed himself with a double “n” in his surname whereas his brother Patrick signed himself with one.[9]

Patrick Cuningham
Patrick (1743–1796) accompanied his brother Robert (see above) to the Backcountry in 1769 and, acquiring several tracts of land, established himself as a planter in the Little River area of the Dutch Fork besides receiving a steady income from fees earned as a surveyor. Apparently deferring to Robert in political matters, he too had become in 1775 a leader of the Backcountry loyalists opposed to the subversive association of the nascent revolutionaries and, like Robert, was consigned to Charlestown jail. After the British arrived in the Backcountry in June 1780, he was commissioned a major in command of the Little River Regiment of the royal militia, a regiment whose catchment area lay not only on Little River but also on Beaverdam, Cane and Bush Creeks as well as on the north bank of the Saluda itself. Interestingly, he would in November support Moses Kirkland (see below) instead of Robert for the post of brigadier general commanding the royal militia in the Ninety Six District. With the loss of the Backcountry by the summer of 1781 he would flee to Charlestown, where he was to be promoted to lieutenant colonel and receive pay as a refugee militia officer till its evacuation. In the meantime he had been subjected to banishment and confiscation by act of the revolutionary assembly. Moving on with some thirty slaves to East Florida, he engaged in preparing lumber from live-oak timber before persuading the South Carolina legislature to annul his banishment and confiscation. They were replaced by an amercement of twelve percent. Prospering on his return, he owned forty-six slaves by 1790 and was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. He signed his surname with a single “n” whereas his brother signed himself with two.[10]
A captain in Patrick’s regiment was a noted loyalist, William Payne. Whether he was the person of that name who had been a leading regulator in Orange County, North Carolina, is uncertain, but by 1775 he had settled at Cane Brake in the Ninety Six District of South Carolina. In the same year he was serving in Colonel Thomas Fletchall’s Upper Saluda Regiment of the royal militia, which to a man refused to sign the association subversive of the Crown. Maintaining his loyalty, he was captured during the Snow Campaign at year’s end and was among the prisoners sent to Charlestown jail, being considered one of the leading and most active members of the loyalist party in the Backcountry. Five years later part of his company was captured at the Battle of King’s Mountain, but he did not take part. Instead, he had been assigned to the blockhouse on the Old Indian Line,[11] abandoning it on November 11, 1780 when menaced by a party of revolutionaries under Lt. Colonel Elijah Clark. When the Backcountry was given up by the summer of 1781, he fled to Charlestown and by May 1783 was residing in East Florida. From there he presented a claim to the royal commission for the loss of 300 acres, a house, etc. in South Carolina.[12]

William Downes
A former major in the Royal Irish Artillery, Downes had settled as a blacksmith near Camden and went on to hold a commission in the royal militia, almost certainly in Colonel Henry Rugeley’s Camden Regiment. After Rugeley (see below) and 103 of his men had abjectly surrendered to the enemy on December 1, 1780 without firing a shot, Downes approached Cornwallis with proposals for making use of the rest. What became of the proposals we do not know. Downes met his end just before the Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill in April 1781. A party of revolutionary irregulars surrounded his home and demanded that he surrender. He and his overseer defended the house, killing several of the attackers with firearms loaded by his wife and children. She later testified that, when he surrendered, the attackers granted him a “Georgia parole,” that is to say, they “fired nine balls into him.”[13]

Thomas Edghill
In 1775 Edghill had acted as commissary to some 1,500 Backcountry loyalists raised by Colonel Thomas Fletchall and for his sin had been imprisoned by the nascent revolutionaries in Charlestown jail for several months. After the arrival of the British in the Backcountry in the summer of 1780 he was commissioned lieutenant colonel of a regiment of royal militia in the District of Ninety Six, but proved to be a bird of passage. Impaired health, perhaps from being shot through the thigh in a skirmish, seems to have led him to relinquish his command less than two months later. With the loss of the Backcountry in 1781, he fled to Charlestown, where, as an inspector of refugees, he was partly responsible for administering relief to those from his district. When Charlestown was evacuated in December 1782, he sailed for Jamaica, where he remained for four and a half years before embarking for England. In January 1789 he presented a claim to the royal commission for his losses in supplying cattle and wheat to the loyalists.[14]

Matthew Floyd
Floyd (?–1826) was an Irishman who had migrated from Pennsylvania to the Backcountry many years before 1780. A settler on a branch of the upper Broad River, he had been a justice of the peace and militia captain before the Revolution. In 1775 he was dispatched by the Backcountry loyalists to seek advice from Lord William Campbell, the royal Governor, after a treaty was concluded ending hostilities between them and nascent revolutionaries at Ninety Six. After conversing with Campbell on the Tamar in Charlestown harbor he was seized on landing and jailed by order of the Council of Safety. On being commissioned a colonel of the royal militia in the summer of 1780, he assumed command of the regiment between and about the Tyger and Enoree Rivers, but apart from some sixty men, all went over to the enemy. He and the rest were fortunate not to be with Ferguson at the Battle of King’s Mountain.[15]

Zacharias Gibbs
Born in Virginia, Gibbs (1741–?) migrated to South Carolina about 1763 and settled in the Backcountry. A staunch loyalist, he took part as a captain in the action at Ninety Six in November 1775 and was among the band of loyalists defeated in the action at Kettle Creek in February 1779. Made prisoner, he was marched in irons to Ninety Six, where he was sentenced to death, reprieved, and imprisoned for fifteen months. Then, in the summer of 1780, he was commissioned a major commanding the Spartan Regiment of the royal militia, whose catchment area lay towards the border with North Carolina. After spending the summer marching and countermarching with no time to tend to his two plantations, he was away on assignment when the Battle of King’s Mountain took place. He nevertheless lost near one hundred men in the engagement. When the Backcountry was abandoned by the summer of 1781, he repaired with the remains of his regiment to Charlestown, where he received pay as a refugee militia officer till its evacuation. Included in the Banishment and Confiscation Act, he moved on to Nova Scotia, settling at Rawdon, but in 1791 gave notice that he intended to sell his two farms and leave in the spring. His destination is unknown. Having obtained certificates of merit from Cornwallis, Balfour and Cruger, he was awarded £1,200 by the royal commission for his losses in South Carolina. His wife, who also made a claim, was awarded £955 and a pension of £40. James, his brother, was a captain in his regiment.[16]

John Harrison
A native of Virginia, Harrison (1751–?) had migrated to Sparrow Swamp above Lynches Creek to the north-east of Camden. At the beginning of 1779 he managed to reach the British at Savannah, from where he was sent back into the interior of South Carolina to recruit loyalists. Although in June 1780 Cornwallis agreed to his proposal to raise a corps of 500 men on the British American establishment from among those residing between the Pee Dee and Wateree, he failed, raising only a motley band of some eighty horse, neither regulars nor militia. Known by the British as Harrison’s corps, they rarely numbered more than fifty or so in the field. Accompanying Major James Wemyss[17] on his punitive expedition to Cheraw Hill in September 1780, they were, remarked Wemyss, “if possible worse than militia, their whole desire being to plunder and steal and, when they have got as much as their horses will carry, to run home,” an assessment later confirmed by Rawdon. They nevertheless served a useful purpose in helping at times to subdue or keep in subjection areas to the east of Camden. In 1782 the remnant was incorporated into the South Carolina Royalist Regiment. In the same year Harrison moved to East Florida, where he settled on the St. John’s River. He was placed on the Provincial half-pay list at the end of the war.[18]

Richard King
King had migrated from Britain to South Carolina in 1763, farming and raising cattle on Turkey Creek, a branch of the Saluda near the village of Ninety Six. Having taken no known part in the war prior to the summer of 1780, he was then commissioned colonel of the Long Cane Regiment of the royal militia, from whose catchment area the noted revolutionary, Colonel Andrew Pickens, had previously drawn his men. Unsurprisingly, its loyalty was suspect. After visiting King to inspect his regiment, Cruger was soon to report to Cornwallis, “He had on the ground 120 men with arms and twenty odd without. He has about sixty in Colonel Ferguson’s camp. A great majority of the regiment (formerly Pickens’) is certainly disaffect’d, nor do I believe that, should we require their services upon any serious occasion, that 200 would join us.” By late November 100 to 150 would have been in arms for some time past but too cautious ever to go near the enemy. Nevertheless, about fifty or so would perform with spirit when taking part with Lt. Colonel Isaac Allen in routing Lt. Colonels Elijah Clark and James McCall near White Hall on December 12. On the abandonment of the Backcountry in 1781, King fled to Charlestown, where he received pay as a refugee militia officer till its evacuation. By then he had been subjected to banishment and confiscation by act of the revolutionary assembly.[19]

Moses Kirkland
Born and raised in North America, Kirkland (1715–1787) was a semi-literate, ambitious, naturally acquisitive and hard-driving man, having begun by the 1750s to take up lands in the interior of South Carolina well beyond the established townships of Amelia, Orangeburg and Saxe-Gotha. Not above selling rum to native Americans or dealing in fraudulent land claims, he soon accumulated numerous tracts, built a sawmill, and ran a ferry on the lower Saluda before amassing a sufficiency of slaves to develop a large tract on a tributary of Stevens Creek, a branch of the Savannah. In a career characterized by opportunism and skirting close to the fringes of the law he nevertheless succeeded in being commissioned a justice of the peace and an officer in the militia. In 1775, as the Revolution rapidly approached, he accepted a captain’s commission in the Provincial Congress’s regiment of rangers but soon resigned, perhaps from pique at not obtaining a higher command or from a conviction that he had chosen the wrong side. He immediately became a leading figure among Backcountry loyalists and undertook a mission to Lord William Campbell, the royal Governor, in the hope of receiving aid and advice. Campbell at once dispatched him to convince General Thomas Gage, the British commander-in-chief at Boston, that troops should be detached to support loyalism in the Backcountry, but Kirkland’s ship was captured. Taken to Philadelphia, he was imprisoned by the Continental Congress, which forwarded incriminating documents found on him to Charlestown for publication. Escaping, Kirkland made his way to Pensacola, from where he began to act as John Stuart’s deputy to the Seminoles and Creeks. At the same time he continued his efforts to convince the British that loyalism in the southern Backcountry made the Carolinas and Georgia ripe for recovery. Calling at St. Augustine in 1778, he was sent by Lt. Colonel Augustine Prevost, the military commander in East Florida, to New York, where his ideas led in part to General Sir Henry Clinton’s decision to invade Georgia later that year. Reaching Savannah after its recovery, Kirkland served during the siege in 1779 before returning to South Carolina when Charlestown fell. Soon after, he was commissioned lieutenant colonel of a regiment of royal militia, and although its pay rolls have not survived, preventing till now its catchment area from being determined, The Cornwallis Papers indicate that it lay towards the Savannah River with four companies adjoining the Long Cane settlement. Those papers also set out Kirkland’s later involvement in southern operations, principally his occupation with his men of the stockaded post that was formerly the home of James Williams, the noted revolutionary, together with his vain attempt to be appointed brigadier general of the Ninety Six royal militia instead of Robert Cunningham (see above), whom he detested. Resigning his commission on November 25, 1780 soon after Cunningham’s appointment, he retired to Ebenezer, where he owned land, and when Savannah was evacuated in 1782, he took his family to Jamaica. In the meantime the South Carolina revolutionary legislature had subjected him to banishment and confiscation. He would be lost at sea while on passage to England to press his claim for compensation from the royal commission.[20]

John Phillips
About 1770 Phillips (c. 1730–1809) had migrated from County Antrim, Ireland, to the Backcountry of South Carolina and taken up lands on Jackson’s Creek north of the Broad River. A committed loyalist, he was confined in irons in Orangeburg jail in 1778 after vainly attempting to flee to St. Augustine. He later spent four months in Camden jail for refusing to take the test oath. In the summer of 1780, after the capitulation of Charlestown, he was commissioned colonel of the Jackson’s Creek Regiment of the royal militia, being, in the words of Cornwallis, “one of the honestest and most zealous men in this province.” In February 1781 he was to be captured by Sumter but would be exchanged. When Camden was evacuated in May 1781, he abandoned his property and repaired to Charlestown with his wife and eight children, having lost two sons and a brother in the fighting. He then led part of his regiment to the relief of Ninety Six before becoming the inspector of refugees for Camden District. In 1783 he returned with his family to the north of Ireland and went on to present to the royal commission a compensation claim warmly supported by Balfour. He was not included in the Banishment and Confiscation Act 1982 passed by the revolutionary assembly.[21]
On his migration from Ireland to the Backcountry Phillips had been accompanied by two nephews, John and Robert Buchanan, the sons of his sister Rachel. Unlike Phillips, they were of the revolutionary persuasion and became officers in the South Carolina Continental line. Both served in the 6th Regiment (of which Sumter had resigned the colonelcy in September 1777), John as a captain and Robert as a lieutenant, and both were made prisoners in the capitulation of Charlestown. On representations made by Phillips to Cornwallis John was released on parole and exchanged under the cartel in June 1781, but Robert was disinclined to accept any favor and died in captivity.[22]

Daniel Plummer
Having migrated from Pennsylvania to the Backcountry of South Carolina, Plummer settled between Fair Forest and the Tyger. A staunch loyalist, he had been among those captured by Colonel Richard Richardson during the Snow campaign in late 1775. Soon after Cornwallis’s arrival at Camden on June 1, 1780 he was commissioned a major in command of the Fair Forest Regiment of the royal militia and on October 7 took part in the Battle of King’s Mountain. When all was lost, he attempted to break out with Ferguson but was shot down and left for dead on the battlefield. He would, however, recover and resume command of the remains of his regiment (over one hundred of which were killed or captured in that affair) and repair with them to Charlestown when the Backcountry was abandoned by the summer of 1781. Promoted soon after to colonel, he remained in Charlestown till its evacuation in December 1782. Although he was not included in the Banishment and Confiscation Act passed by the revolutionary assembly, he felt it would be useless to return to his property and arranged to sell it to a relative before he moved on to East Florida. A man of pleasing personality, he is described as honest and open, kind and considerate to all.[23]

Henry Rugeley
Although nothing in his background suggested a marked partiality for loyalism before the fall of Charlestown, Rugeley was by early August 1780 commissioned colonel of a regiment of royal militia in the Camden District. Beginning with a store in Charlestown dealing in general merchandise and country produce, he had gone on to acquire property in the interior. On one such tract just north of Camden he constructed Rugeley’s Mills, where he employed twenty slaves. It consisted of a sawmill, gristmill, two bolting mills, a waterwheel, tanyard, store and several log houses. Nearby he built “Clermont,” a dwelling described by one contemporary as “elegant.” Rugeley is chiefly remembered, not for his minimal contribution to the British war effort, but for the manner of his abject surrender to the enemy. Surrounded in his fortified post at the Mills, and faced with a fake cannon made of a pine log, he and 103 rank and file submitted on December 1, 1780 without firing a shot. Exchanged in 1781, he sailed the following year for Jamaica after he was banished, and his property confiscated, by act of the revolutionary assembly. He was later removed from the act, amerced, and permitted to return to South Carolina, where most of his lands were put into trust for the benefit of his many creditors.[24]
John Cook Sr. was a major in Rugeley’s regiment and his son John Jr. a captain. On December 1 the father too would be captured with Rugeley. His will was made in 1782 and probated two years later.[25]

William Vernon Turner
In June 1780 Turner was commissioned colonel of the Rocky Mount Regiment of the royal militia—most of which promptly defected—on the recommendation of Lt. Colonel George Turnbull of the New York Volunteers, who commanded on the Wateree several miles north of Camden. It was a recommendation that Turnbull was later to regret, at least for a time. Writing to Cornwallis from Camden on October 1, he remarked, “I have superceeded Colonel Turner for absenting himself from his duty. It seems he had been at Charlestown selling tobacco, and never made his appearance till last night. It makes me blush to think I recommended such a man.” Although Cornwallis acquiesced, it appears that Turnbull relented, for in the latter half of 1782 Turner was still being paid as colonel of his regiment. He was not subjected to banishment and confiscation by the revolutionary assembly.[26]


[1]“field officers”: an expression comprising colonels, lieutenant colonels and majors.

[2]See Robert Gray, “Colonel Robert Gray’s Observations on the War in Carolina,” The South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine (SCHGM), 11 (July, 1910), 139-59, 148, previously published in the North Carolina University Magazine, 8, No. 4 (November, 1858), 145-60. The piece was written by Gray in March 1782.

[3]By “Quiet men” Ferguson meant those who had voiced neither loyalist nor revolutionary sentiments. For a reassessment of Ferguson’s service in the south, see Ian Saberton, The American Revolutionary War in the south: A Re-evaluation from a British Perspective in the Light of The Cornwallis Papers (Tolworth, UK: Grosvenor House Publishing Ltd., 2018), 32-3.

[4]Lambert, SC Loyalists, passim; CP; Anne King Gregorie, Thomas Sumter (Columbia, SC: The R. L. Bryan Co., 1931), 99, 102; Clark, Loyalists, 1: 491 et seq.

[5]“fellow non-associators”: those Backcountry loyalists opposed to the nascent revolutionaries’ association subversive of the Crown.

[6]CP; Lambert, SC Loyalists, 55, 263-4; Clark, Loyalists, 1: passim.

[7]Lambert, SC Loyalists, 111, 300-1; Lyman C. Draper, King’s Mountain and its Heroes (Cincinnati, 1881), 106, 109; CP; Clark, Loyalists, 1: passim; Edward McCrady, The History of South Carolina in the Revolution 1780-1783 (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1902), 585.

[8]Clark, Loyalists, 1: 230-1, 233, 491 et seq, 550; Moses Buffington to his father Peter, December 8, 1779 (The Moses Buffington Papers, Georgia Historical Society); CP; Draper, King’s Mountain,467-8.

[9]Lambert, SC Loyalists, passim; George Atkinson War ed., Journal and Letters of the late Samuel Curwen (London, 1842), passim; Lorenzo Sabine, Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution (Boston, 1864), 1: 346-7; Edward McCrady, The History of South Carolina in the Revolution 1775-1780 (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1901), passim; CP; Clark, Loyalists, 1: 495, 497, 500; Treasury 64/23(36) (UK National Archives, Kew).

[10]Lambert, SC Loyalists, passim; CP; Clark, Loyalists, 1: passim.

[11]The Old Indian Line was the boundary between the Cherokees and the South Carolina settlers. It was established at the conclusion of the Cherokee War in 1761 and ran forty miles east of the Keowee River in a broadly north-south direction (Fred Anderson, Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of the Empire in British North America, 1754-1766 (Bloomsbury, London: Faber and Faber Ltd., 2000), 457-471).

[12]Clark, Loyalists, 1: 253, 256, 300, 525-6; John Hill Wheeler, Historical Sketches of North Carolina from 1584 to 1851 (Baltimore, MD: The Clearfield Company Inc reprint, 2000), 2: 14; Benson J. Lossing, The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution (New York, 1855), 2: 367; Peter Wilson Coldham, American Loyalist Claims (Washington DC: National Genealogical Society, 1980), 141, 293, 382; McCrady, SC in the Rev 1775-1780, 38; Robert W. Gibbes, Documentary History of the American Revolution (Spartanburg, SC: The Reprint Company, 1972), 1: 249-253.

[13]Lambert, SC Loyalists, 201-2; CP.

[14]Coldham, Loyalist Claims, 141; CP; Clark, Loyalists, 1: passim.

[15]Lambert, SC Loyalists, 119; McCrady, SC in the Rev 1775-1780, 93, 94, 590; CP; Benjamin Franklin Stevens ed., The Campaign in Virginia 1781: the Clinton-Cornwallis Controversy (London, 1887-8), 2: 430.

[16]E. A. Jones ed., “Journal of Alexander Chesney: A South Carolina Loyalist in the Revolution and After,” Ohio State University Bulletin, xxvi, No. 4 (1921), 79-82; Lambert, SC Loyalists, 111, 145, 275; Clark, Loyalists, 1: passim; Draper, King’s Mountain, passim.

[17]Wemyss: pronounced “Weems”.

[18]Lambert, SC Loyalists, passim; CP; Treasury 64/23(15 and WO 65/165(10) (UK National Archives, Kew).

[19]Lambert, SC Loyalists, 110; CP; Clark, Loyalists, 1: passim.

[20]Lambert, SC Loyalists, passim; McCrady, SC in the Rev 1775-1780, 37-8; CP.

[21]Lambert, SC Loyalists, passim; CP.

[22]Information from Judith Sandage Murphy and H. Shannon Phillips Sr.; Bobby Gilmer Moss, Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co. Inc., 1983), 118).

[23]Lambert, SC Loyalists, 111, 212, 265; Draper, King’s Mountain, 276, 483; Clark, Loyalists, 1: 323-7, 491 et seq; McCrady, SC in the Rev 1780-1783, 586; CP.

[24]Lambert, SC Loyalists, passim; Christopher Ward, The War of the Revolution (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1952), 2: 745.

[25]Clark, Loyalists, 1: 147; Richard K. Showman et al. eds, The Papers of General Nathanael Greene (Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press, 1991), 6: 600; Information from M. Bernard.

[26]CP; Clark, Loyalists, 1: 152; McCrady, SC in the Rev 1780-1783, 586, 785.


  • Mr. Saberton, as a resident of NJ I see a lot of books and articles on the war in the northern theater, and I appreciate the work you have been doing on the southern theater, and the Cornwallis project specifically. I am sure others notice your expertise as well.

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