The roles of the Scots and Scotch-Irishmen in the southern campaigns in the War of American Independence, 1780-1783
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The roles played by the Southern Scots and Scotch-Irish in the War of American Independence have been generally neglected by American and European historians. If any reference at all is made to persons of Scottish heritage, normally only high-ranking officers or government figures are mentioned. This study identifies men of Scottish origin on every level of life and illuminates their roles in the War. In 1775 and 1776, the Scots and Scotch-Irish in the Southern colonies were not uniform in their political, social, and religious ideologies, nor were they totally of one mind in their posture toward the growing demands for independence in the American colonies. Several factors--community relationships, family ties, economic interests, and religious convictions--influenced each individual in making his decision to support the Royal government or to join the Rebels. When the British invaded the South in 1780, the Rebels and the Loyalists rekindled the internecine war which had begun in 1775. The British victory at Charles Town encouraged the Loyalists to repay the Rebels for real and imagined injuries and insults. As a result, civil strife became widespread throughout the Carolines and Georgia. Although the populace was upset over the internal struggle, it was the introduction of terror tactics by British and Loyalist officers that caused the greatest alarm among the Up-Countrymen, who were chiefly Scottish and Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. These acts of unrestrained warfare caused numerous uncommitted Up-Countrymen to join the ranks of the Rebels. Unfortunately for Cornwallis, this mistake in tactics by his subordinates forced him to fight several long and costly campaigns. In order to disperse the Rebels, the British and their allies marched into the strongholds of the South Carolina Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. This development greatly alarmed the North Carolinians. The resulting uprising of the North Carolina Scotch-Irish masses on the one hand and the subsequent military engagements in South Carolina on the other postponed Cornwallis's invasion of North Carolina. Meanwhile, as Cornwallis attempted to regroup his army and to formulate a new strategy to meet the situation, the predominantly Scottish and Scotch-Irish Rebel forces won major victories at Kings Mountain and Cowpens. Once it was apparent that militia units could defeat British regular units, many Southerners, some of whom had remained uncommitted and some of whom renewed their resistance, entered the daily growing ranks of the Rebels. At the same time, the Loyalists became reluctant to further ally themselves with the British army. These unexpected developments doomed to failure Cornwallis's plan to subjugate the Carolinas. Instead, the chain of events begun at Kings Mountain and Cowpens ended with Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown. This study, based primarily on the Whigs' personal accounts of military involvement recorded in the Federal pension claims, in memoirs and recollections of the soldiers on both sides, and in the audited accounts of the Loyalists, demonstrates that from the very beginning of the Revolution to its end Scots and Scotch-Irishmen on all levels played major and decisive roles in the outcome of the Southern campaigns in the War of American Independence.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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