The American Revolution in South Carolina

June 21, 1775

November 21, 1775

February 29, 1776

April 15, 1776

June 4, 1776

October 31, 1776

February 15, 1777

October 30, 1777

March 28, 1778

January 10, 1779

October 10, 1779

January 20, 1780

May 12, 1780

June 1, 1780

August 16, 1780

January 20, 1781

May 15, 1781

September 30, 1781

November 15, 1781

January 31, 1782

December 14, 1782


Since the early days of the colony, South Carolinians had organized militias to defend against the Indians and Spanish raiders. For nearly 100 years, the militia had a formal structure that evolved over time in concert with the political divisions of the colony, typically by parishes and/or counties. As soon as the First Provincial Congress met in early 1775, its primary concern was to call out the militia - this time asking for volunteers from each recently-formed District (as of 1769, and amended in early 1775) and from the four "old" Counties that folks simply wouldn't let go of - Craven, Berkeley, Colleton, and Granville.

As had been the custom for decades, locals began assembling militia companies from each Parish, and they elected their own Captains and Colonels to lead themselves. By early March of 1775, more folks had volunteered than the First Provincial Congress had asked for - or wanted. Six men were granted "independent companies" that reported directly to the Council of Safety, as shown above. Due to an overwhelming turnout, the Charles Town District assembled two regiments of militia - one of Horse, and one of Infantry. Joseph Kershaw had so much influence in the central section of the province that he raised his own regiment of militia that existed until the end of the war.

Since these folks were volunteers, there were not many demands placed upon them at this early date. Some units actually met frequently and went through the motions of training as well as outfitting themselves properly. Some Colonels spent considerable sums to outfit their men in decent uniforms and with decent arms and ammunition. Other units seldom, if ever, actually got together formally - perhaps individuals knew each other and they met at church or at the local tavern to discuss the "state of affairs" as men usually do. Although it took some time for "news" to travel from other colonies to the backwoods of South Carolina, by the summer of 1775 there was virtually no one within the colony who did not know what was going on all across the new country.

The war "officially started" with the Shot Heard Around the World - at Lexington, Massachusetts on April 18, 1775 - however, for more than a year all participants across the thirteen colonies hoped for a reconciliation with "mother England," and all interim fighting seemed to reflect that sentiment on both sides. With the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776, this sentiment no longer held true for either side, and the fighting became both intense and brutal. While it is possible that some of the men who volunteered in early 1775 might have foreseen what was to come, the greatest majority of them simply volunteered expecting "very little," if anything, to actually happen. And, this is exactly what happened within South Carolina for the first six months - the term that most men had signed-up for.

At this early time, many men and women "struggled" with the decision as to whether to back the Patriots or to back the King. As might be expected, about 1/3 were staunch Patriots, about 1/3 were staunch Loyalists, and about 1/3 were sitting on the fence - either truly non-committed or waiting to see how things proceeded. "Very little" of consequence did happen within the first six months - that is, until Governor William Campbell finally arrived from England at Charleston on June 16th. With his arrival, those with Loyalist sympathies became a bit more vocal and perhaps a bit more emboldened, and it was not too long before both sides were more transparently sorted out. By the end of 1775, the South Carolina military had weeded out most of those with Loyalist tendencies, at least at the key leadership positions. And by the end of 1775, there were fewer and fewer acknowledged "non-committed" or "fence sitters" within the colony - and the makings of a full-fledged civil war were rapidly surfacing.

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