November Tea Party Winners: Carrie Fancett Pagels' copy of The Great Lakes Lighthouse Brides Collection - Debbie Curto, Christmas tea - Andrea Stephens, Golden Tea body wash Joy Ellis, lighthouse earrings -- Pegg's SIL from Lake Ann and Perrianne Askew, Pegg Thomas's Leather journal - Shelia Hall, and Writing Prompts book goes to - Connie Porter Saunders

Monday, February 12, 2018

Nothing but Blood and Slaughter

The Battle of Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina
One cannot study the American Revolution for long before stumbling over the ugly reality of partisan conflict—family and neighbors divided by politics and loyalties and the necessity of war.

I say “necessity” because sides weren’t necessarily chosen by ideals, but whatever seemed best in order to protect one’s family and/or holdings. Sometimes it was a matter of whichever side offended a person the most, or how driven by vengeance one might be, as we saw in the case of William Cunningham.

Though the stance of the Tory has often been painted as that of a coward, often those who chose loyalty to the crown felt that rebellion was the coward’s
way, and irresponsible, if not outright ungodly. Scriptures such as Romans 13:1 seemed to them to point toward unconditional obedience to the king.

The Whigs, on the other hand, felt that King George overstepped his God-given authority. In fact, many of the Protestant groups, such as the Scots-Irish Presbyterians of the South Carolina backcountry, believed he was actually usurping the place of Christ in the Church, and for that reason alone should be resisted with utmost fervor. (Thus the Presbyterian Rebellion of 1780.) Add to that the insult of things such as the Stamp Act, which from the British perspective was merely to defray the mounting cost of defending the colonies from invaders (i.e., during the French and Indian War), and many saw the unrest in the colonies as a powder keg, ready to explode.

At the least, is it any wonder that in the absence of regional lines being drawn, as in the later War Between the States, the conflict turned so bitter between family and neighbors?

When the British launched the Southern Campaign from Savannah northward, they expected quick support and an easy quelling of the rebellion, but what they found was a mess of infighting and loyalties that swayed either way, depending upon the outcome of various battles. After the Siege of Charleston, however, they made a steady push into the Carolina backcountry that remained successful for a while, and were greatly encouraged by the complete rout of Continental forces during the Battle of Camden. General Horatio Gates of the Continental forces was later court-martialed for fleeing the battlefield, mostly ahead of his own troops, and General Nathanael Greene was given command in his place. When he arrived on the scene several months later, this normally unflappable former Quaker had this to say about the situation, and one can almost hear his exasperation:

Nothing but blood and slaughter has prevailed among the Whigs and tories, and their inveteracy against each other must, if it continues, depopulate this part of the country.

Greene’s concerns were well founded. At the least, the constant depredations from both sides led to much want and near famine. (And thus the title of one of my favorite resources on the Revolutionary War in the Carolinas.)

Tory Refugees by Howard Pyle
Such situations, where both sides devolve into mere taking vengeance back and forth, also make it very hard to delineate between a “right” side and a “wrong.” Patriotic Americans can appreciate afresh the freedom we enjoy while understanding at what bitter cost it came, and Christians can take it a step further and recognize that our country came to be, not necessarily by military strength or purity of cause, but by the very grace and mercy of God.

And I find it interesting, as a student of history, that not much has ever changed where human nature is concerned. Greene’s remarks about the partisan conflict in the Carolinas are echoed in the lyrics of a song from a much later, but similar conflict, this one between Catholic and Protestant in Ireland:

But centuries of hatred have ears that cannot hear.
An eye for an eye was all that filled their minds
And another eye for another eye till everyone is blind.
(“There Were Roses,” Tommy Makem)


  1. In researching our family tree, I learned that my dad's paternal line were Tories and his maternal line were Patriots. Good golly. My family never could get along! ;)

    1. Wow, Pegg! That's awesome, though. I love the diversity even in political histories. Thanks for sharing!!

    2. Thank you for sharing this very interesting & informative post Shannon. I find our history so much more interesting now in my..uh-hum..later years than I ever did while attending school. That is largely due to the research gifted authors like you do for your books & why Christian historical fiction has become my favorite genre.

  2. Thank you for this interesting post Shannon. I find that I am so much more interested in our history now at these..uh-hum..later years in life than I ever was while attending school. That is largely due to the research gifted authors like you, and many others, do and include in your books. And the reason I love reading Christian historical fiction, which has become my most favorite genre to read.
    Blessings, Tina

    1. Wow, Tina, what a huge compliment!! And this is a good part of why we do what we do. :) I too have become much more interested in the political ins and outs as I get older, but I admit none of it really jelled for me until I started studying RevWar history from the British viewpoint. Not that I don't still appreciate how our country came to be--in fact, if anything I appreciate it all the more!


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