The Loyalists who supported the British during the American Revolution have frequently been neglected in accounts of that conflict. Nevertheless, Loyalists made significant efforts to assist British forces in restoring royal control of the thirteen colonies. This was especially true in South Carolina, where backcountry Loyalists under almost-forgotten leaders such as Joseph Robinson and Euan McLaurin challenged the Revolutionary movement in 1775. Although their initial efforts were unsuccessful, Robinson, McLaurin and hundreds of their followers eventually made their way to British East Florida, where they organized into a provincial regiment called the South Carolina Royalists. Operating in concert with British efforts, the Royalists were part of many notable actions from 1778 to 1781, including the defenses of East Florida and Savannah, Georgia, and the battles of Briar Creek, Stono Ferry, Musgrove’s Mill and Hobkirk’s Hill. A second provincial regiment created in 1780, Maj. John Harrison’s South Carolina Rangers, saw considerable action in operations against partisans under Francis Marion. When the British were forced to evacuate their backcountry posts in 1781, the Royalists, Rangers and three troops of Provincial Light Dragoons raised earlier in the year withdrew first to Charleston and then East Florida. From there, many went to Canada at the war’s end, with others dispersing to different British colonies to begin new lives after their strenuous but unsuccessful effort on behalf of king and country. Historian Jim Piecuch discusses the role of South Carolina’s Loyalists who took up arms to assist the British in quelling the American rebellion in the South.
About the Speaker
Jim Piecuch, Ph.D., is a former professor of history at Kennesaw State University who has authored several articles and books on colonial and Revolutionary history, including The Battle of Camden: A Documentary History (History Press, 2006); Three Peoples, One King: Loyalists, Indians, and Slaves in the Revolutionary South (University of South Carolina Press, 2008); Cavalry of the American Revolution (Westholme, 2012); and General Nathanael Greene and the American Revolution in the South, co-authored with Gregory Massey (University of South Carolina Press, 2012). He earned his B.A. and M.A. Degrees in history at the University of New Hampshire and his Ph.D. in history at the College of William & Mary.