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Militia Resistance to the Professional Military:
The American Revolution from the Rank and File’s Perspective


3. Small Producer Beliefs.

8. Origins of resistance.

12 Resistance to Continental Recruitment.

16. Tactical resistance.

19. Leadership, Operations and supplies.

26. Conclusion.


            In recent times there has been resistance to the use of America’s National Guard troops in foreign countries. The public outcry resulting from the Vietnam War and the deployment of the National Guard there helped bring the abolition of the draft. Even with the voluntary military, resistance to foreign deployment has continued. There have been ten-thousand desertions from the Iraq War.[1] Others have filed lawsuits invoking the Nuremberg Principles, international law and the principle that disobedience is not reprehensible, criminal wars are. There was similar resistance to Kosovo, the Persian Gulf War, and Afghanistan. Starting in January 1985 the governors of California, Massachusetts, Ohio, Vermont, Washington and Maine attempted to exercise their authority to prevent National Guard troops from deploying to Honduras.[2] Many youth refuse military recruitment despite promises of economic success, job training, educational benefits, health care, travel and adventure. Voters turn out presidents and politicians for supporting the military.

Such resistance has a lengthy history. This article will look at an aspect of it during the Revolutionary period. One of the challenges of such study, as one of its students, Frank Owsley has commented upon, is to overcome the tradition of writing from the perspective of prominent figures such as George Washington.[3] The views offered by those symbolized by Washington were not necessarily those of the rank and file. Even worse according to another scholar, is that most studies dealing with the militia are nothing but “ad hominem and from authority” attacks done by those that are beholding to the career military.[4]

In Owsley’s view, when history is written from the basic sources, a story emerges that is different from that previously written. Following Owsley, the methodology here will be to focus on the militia through the experience of several Fairfield-Winnsboro South Carolina farmers, James Wilson (1752-1836) and William Hogan (1760-1836). They are studied because there is extensive documentation about them and because they were representative in being, like a majority of the population, subsistent producers and neither rich nor poor. From 1778 to 1782 they participated in eight documented militia tours, each of which lasted from two weeks to three months and going distances from 30 to 365 miles from their homes. These tours involved them in little-known operations and in well-known events found in published histories, among which were the Third Florida Expedition (June-August 1778), the Granby Campaign (May 1781) and the Moncks Corner and Quinby Plantation Campaigns (July 17, 1781).[5]

From the perspective of the Fairfield-Winnsboro militia the Revolution can be said to have gone through three phases. For a year after Charleston defeated the British invasion of South Carolina at Fort Sullivan in June 1776, the war and the militia were dormant in the South. But when the British were again defeated at Saratoga, New York in October 1777, London’s strategy refocused on the South. This sparked the war’s second phase in South Carolina and one of the Fairfield-Winnsboro militia’s earliest, longest and most difficult tours. This was their participation in the 700-mile round-trip Third Florida Expedition in the summer of 1778. The purpose of the tour, which was not achieved, was to rout the British out of St. Augustine. They had been stirring up the Loyalists in Georgia and the Carolinas and making raids. The third and most active phase of the southern war was the two-year period following May 1780 when Charleston surrendered and the British invaded the upcountry.

Small-Producer Beliefs. Popular resistance as manifested by James Wilson and William Hogan to the regular military consisted in the first instance in their refusal to enlist in the Continental Army and in the tendency of their militia companies not to subordinate themselves to or cooperate with the regulars in terms of tactics, leadership, operations and supplies. Historians such as Gary Nash have called the religious, economic and political beliefs held by the militias and that reflected their resistance the “small-producers creed.”[6] Small producers were characterized by self-sufficiency. With a majority of the population being farmers, they produced all they needed without the market. They had a negative view of debt and usury along with the “envy, fame and wealth” associated with commerce.[7]

The militias mirrored the small producer creed. Like self-sufficient farming, they were independent from the market. They focused on neighborhood protection, not on profit. Wilson and Hogan served without pay and provided their own supplies and weapons.[8] In contrast the Continentals were wage workers, whose job was to kill. A French professional soldier in the Continental Army complained that farming people were negative toward him because of his illegitimate career.[9] The Continentals were not for the most part mercenaries in the Geneva Convention sense of being from a foreign country, but they were commodities in a mercenary economy.[10]

From the perspective of the small producer’s creed, there was nothing to be gained by war and the farmers resisted it and the Continental Army created to promote it. Historians have noted that if anything, the upcountry viewed as its main adversary Charleston, which stood for profit and its partners, war and the consumer, credit-based life style of the English gentry.[11] An observer commented, “The people of the backcountry had taken no part in the opposition to taxation by Parliament, and the slogan of no taxation without representation evoked little sympathy from people who had but slight representation in the colonial Assembly. Nor were they concerned with the struggles of the Assembly against the governor and Council. The backcountry population had as much or more reason to resent the actions of the Assembly as those of the British government.”[12]

Illustrative of the small-producer’s anti-war feelings was the reception given Charleston Presbyterian cleric and Revolutionary leader, William Tennent. He made a circuit in August 1775 to the Camden District where Wilson and Hogan lived. He found few who would sign an endorsement of the Association, which was the Revolutionary organization that the South Carolina Provincial Congress had just approved.[13] Neither Wilson nor Hogan signed. Tennent recorded in his diary that the people believed “that no man from Charleston can speak the truth, and that all the papers [newspapers] are full of lies.”[14] To the Council of Safety in Charleston he described the “unchangeable malignity of their minds and  . . . bitterness against the ‘gentlemen’ as they are called.”[15]

The Fairfield-Winnsboro small producers were not alone in their anti-war beliefs. One study speculates that less than a third of the American population supported the war:

A century ago some historians believed that, with the coming of the Revolution, the white population of the Thirteen Colonies divided into thirds: one third rebel, one-third loyalist, and one-third indifferent. The current view is that the proportion of those neutral in the war should be revised upward at the expense of the other two groups, particularly the loyalist one.[16]

Several students have argued that even as late as May 1780 when they took Charleston, the British would have won the war, if they had left the farmers alone.[17] The small producers did not care who ruled in Charleston and would have remained neutral. But London wanted more than neutrality and its brutality lost them any chance of loyalty. Clinton issued a proclamation which gave the South Carolinians two choices: to swear allegiance to the Crown and fight their countrymen, or to be considered as “rebels and enemies to their country,” subject to strong reprisals.[18]

The neutralist influence of the small-producer creed, it has been argued, extended to a Continental Congress minority which opposed the nationalist party and George Washington’s Continentals. In July 1780 this “militia party” even sought to replace Washington with General Horatio Gates. Historian John Dederer comments, “Gates and the Congressional faction who sponsored him believed that a strong militia was sufficient to fulfill America’s military requirements, not the regular army advocated by Washington, Greene, Hamilton, and the pro-nationalists.”[19]

For their part, the market interests symbolized by Washington sought the weakening or destruction of the militias, since these organizations obstructed the establishment of the regular army and, as will be seen, tended to level the market in the localities where they controlled. In the words of historian Robert Pugh, the militias came to be viewed by the market forces in the war period and after as nothing less that a “black beast.”[20]

Origins of Resistance. Popular resistance to merchant war-making in South Carolina dated to the seventeenth-century settlement. The farmers brought the militia tradition with them from Europe. They used them for neighborhood self-protection.[21] Their tradition included the mid-seventeenth-century English Civil War in which working people under Cromwell leveled both the Royalist gentlemen and Parliament’s Presbyterian merchants. Charles I, whom they beheaded, observed that “Kingly power is but a shadow without command of the militia.”[22]

From the view of the farmers, there was generally little need for militias in the colonial period, so they were often dormant. Charleston attempted to enact rules concerning periodic militia training, but the self-subsistent farmers were a rule unto themselves.[23] In the 1750s they refused to be used against the Indians to make the province safe for the Charleston’s land speculators. As one observer commented, “The authorities had very limited success in getting provincial troops to fight beyond the area of immediate danger.”[24] During the Regulator period in the 1760s, the South Carolina Council in Charleston initially authorized Colonel Joseph Scoffel’s militia to bring the Regulators under control. Historian Rachael Klein characterizes the Regulators as upcountry land speculators and would-be slave holders. Scoffel’s militia consisted of small farmers and squatters, whom the Regulators sought to victimize. The Council later withdrew Scoffel’s authorization because his militia followed its own direction, not Charleston’s.[25]

The small producers’ veto of the rules was noted by George Washington when he complained about the militiamen who fought at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in March 1781, that they were “totally unacquainted with every kind of Military skill” and in addition were unaccustomed to the “Restraint which is indispensably necessary to the good order and government of an Army.”[26] When the farmers did appear for musters, which in the Wilson and Hogan neighborhood, was semi-annually at the Winnsboro muster field, it appears they used the time, as their descendants did in the nineteenth century, to worship, vote, socialize, enjoy a barbecued meal, talk farming and anything else except to conduct military drills.[27]

However, during the Revolution the need for neighborhood self-protection caused the farmers to increase their militia activity. As noted the population was opposed or indifferent to the Revolution, but there were individual Loyalists and entire militia companies so against the Revolution that they became a menace by attempting to make their neutralist neighbors take oaths of allegiance to the British, by requisitioning and impressing their horses, cattle and other supplies, by only paying with promissory notes, and by even conducting military raids against them.[28] The first campaign of Wilson and Hogan, which was the Third Florida Expedition in the summer of 1778, was in response to these Loyalist activities. Hogan recalled in his pension application that expedition 50 years later and how the Loyalist leader, Thomas “burnt-foot” Browne obtained his name:

The British believed Burns [Thomas Brown] had burnt his fort on St. Mary [River, Jacksonville, Florida] and fled before the army arrived. It was said that Burns [Thomas Brown] was tarred and feathered by the Americans [at the beginning of the Revolution] for refusing to sign Independence Resolutions and was called burn foot Burns [Brown] from the circumstances that fire had been put to his feathers.[29]

As the Loyalist raiding heated up in the backcountry in 1778, parts of the Wateree-Camden district where Wilson and Hogan lived started to hold musters after church on the first and third Sundays of the month.[30] Between 1780 and 1782, when the British Army invaded the upcountry, the farmers military activity expanded into prolonged campaigning to drive them out.[31]

Resistance to Continental Recruitment. Because the farmer-controlled militias were neutral, the merchants and planters were forced to establish what was viewed as in fact, if not in the words of its creators, a mercenary army in June 1775.[32] By decree of the South Carolina First Provincial Congress, it consisted of two regiments of foot and one of rangers or cavalry, which were taken into the Continental Line the following year as South Carolina’s quota.[33] Continental recruits were offered wages as much as four times that of workers.[34] But the small producers seem to have viewed the wage system as a form of slavery and Continental units remained skeletons.[35]

In their recruiting efforts, the merchants and planters, in addition to wages, offered uniforms, arms, equipment, training, esprit de corps, organization, “patriotism,” adventure and travel as inducements. But the farmers, as one military scholar notes, “had little desire to obtain these.”[36] They were decentralizers and localists, not attracted to “newspaper patriotism” and the polished preaching of the Charleston clergy.

When Continental General Nathaniel Greene requested militia leader Thomas Sumter, under whom Wilson and Hogan sometimes served, to march his troops to Virginia to help in the fight there, he begged off, voicing the thinking of the small producers. They would defend their neighborhoods but not go out of state:

It is hard to say what number I could join you with, provided they had to march out of the State, as by that means the whole state would again devolve to the British. Since the men would have to leave their families under a hostile government, few would be willing to take the field. For these and other reasons it is much to be wished that the enemy could be met with here, where there is the greater plenty of provisions than to move out of the state.[37]

George Washington complained that brief campaigning with the militia lured “many excellent men” away from more prolonged service with the Continentals.[38] Wilson and Hogan were among those who learned in their early militia campaigning the negative, if not ignominious nature of military life and were lured away from the career military. Their early education was the Third Florida Expedition of 1778. Many lives were lost because of the summer heat, mosquitoes, dysentery and disease. Hogan later succinctly remarked, “The troops [were] very sickly and a great many died of the flux.[39] The British killed 250 Americans but 1,200 died from illness.[40]

The Continental soldiers whom Wilson and Hogan encountered for the first time during this tour were not glorious. They were experiencing repeated troop desertions, mutiny, court-martials, lashings, firing squads and hangings. The Continental rank and file were desperate because of the sickness, hot weather, low morale and failure to be paid.[41] William Hogan noted his curiosity to view, but not join, the regulars:

There were some regular troops encamped below on the St. Mary's. Deponent was led by curiosity to go and see the place of encampment, half mile from the place of militia encampment.[42]

Merchant efforts at drafting the farmers involuntarily into the Continentals proved no more successful than monetary inducements. Thomas Sumter, who early on had ambitions of being a “gentlemen,” led a militia regiment involuntarily into the national army on September 20, 1776. It became the Sixth Regiment of the South Carolina Continental Line. But the troops deserted. He ended up resigning his commission and going back to leading a militia unit.[43] Two years later in March 1778 the South Carolina legislature enacted the Vagrant Act which sought to draft “idle men, beggars and strolling or straggling persons” as privates in South Carolina’s six Continental regiments.[44] One study found that despite such legislation, “troop strength remained down.”[45]

Tactical Resistance. The resistance of militiamen to recruitment into the regular army was matched by their resistance to professional military tactics.[46] The British and American regular armies dictated a top-down approach to tactics, such as close ordered battle lines and disciplined bayonet fighting. This allowed maximum control to those on top, but brought slaughter to those on the bottom. Militia tactics called for taking cover, moving silently, shooting accurately, effecting surprises and ambushes and developing the loose teamwork necessary in irregular fighting.[47] Militiamen had no use for bayonets, swords and sabers and the close-order discipline necessary for their use. They fought in fluid battle lines, which allowed them the option to quit when necessary.[48]

Along with close-order discipline, militia tactics rejected the psychology that accompanied it, the notions of duty, honor, service, country and glory. According to a student of South Carolina history, even the Continental troops did not accept such notions, “Lectures, pious and patriotic appeals appear to have fallen on deaf ears. The exhortations may have even rankled the enlisted men. They showed no inclination to conform to regulations. And they demonstrated particularly a disposition to ‘hassle’ their officers.”[49]

The regulars suffered repeated defeats because the merchants apparently feared to adopt egalitarian tactics. Where the farmers and their militias ruled, the profit system was compromised.[50] Charleston protested frequently against the militia tactic of leveling Loyalist planters.[51] The merchants had class, family and economic ties to these people. They were hurt by the leveling and the Continental Army itself was sometimes used to defend the Loyalists from the militiamen. James Wilson personally experienced this during the Fort Granby campaign in June and July 1781. Some 500 militiamen including Wilson, Hogan and their militia company under General Thomas Sumter and Colonel Thomas Taylor had the British and Loyalists under siege near present-day Columbia. When Sumter temporarily split off 250 troops to capture Orangeburg, the Continentals under Nathaniel Greene and Light Horse Harry Lee moved in and surrendered.

The British and Loyalists in the fort were “paroled” and allowed to rejoin their comrades in Charleston. Most importantly, they were allowed to keep the plunder they had stolen from the upcountry. The plunder included cattle taken from John Wilson, II. Had it been within their power, the militiamen would have leveled both the Continentals and the British at that point. As one account puts it:

When Taylor’s militia heard the terms and saw Lee’s handsome troops parading in captured uniforms, they almost mutinied. They threatened to overpower the guards and kill the prisoners.[52]

For the farmers the most disastrous result of fears about leveling was the merchant surrender of Charleston and of the southern Continental Army in May 1780. The threat that British canons would disrupt their property was all it took to make the merchants servile. This opened the door to the British invasion of the upcountry and to two years of struggle to drive them out. The militiamen had reason to condemn Charleston for starting the war for profit, then surrendering for the same reason.

Leadership, Operations and Supplies. Militia resistance over enlistment and tactics also extended to leadership, operations and supplies. Unlike the regular army, the rank-and-file militiamen chose their leaders. They chose men such as Thomas Sumter, Francis Marion and Richard Winn, who fought “Indian style,” were not adverse to leveling and were not servile to the regular army and merchants.[53] Sumter was so unpopular with the Charleston gentlemen that Governor John Rutledge designated James Williams to replace him in October 1780. A witness later remembered that the troops “refused to have anything to do with him [Williams] or his commission and if he had not immediately left the camp he would have been stoned out of it.”[54] In contrast Richard Winn, who often led the Fairfield-Winnsboro militia and for whom John Wilson, II served as a wagon master, was well regarded because he minimized risk. A student of the war summarized, “he does not seem to have been all that active in the field.”[55] Like the rank and file, he did not condone suicide for the sake of the market.

The egalitarian authority of militiamen in designating their leadership led to their resistance to Continental Army efforts to give them orders in the field or elsewhere. On one of William Hogan’s tours, a party of militiamen risked capture because they refused to obey two Continental captains seeking to command them.[56] On another occasion in July 1779 a militiaman, when chided by his captain for being absent from a sentry post, answered roughly. After being arrested, the militiaman then tried to shoot the captain. But when Continental General Benjamin Lincoln sought to intervene and convene a court-martial, the militia officers refused to serve on the grounds that militiamen could be tried only under the militia laws of South Carolina. They forced Lincoln to concede that he had no authority.[57]

Contrasting with small-producer views about authority, those of the regular army generally reflected market beliefs. Soldiers were valued seemingly like cattle or slaves, for the profit they could derive. Those who were deserters, thieves and incompetents were valueless, or as George Washington put it, “subversives,” and treated harshly.[58] After the Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill, which was 30 miles from the Wilson and Hogan homesteads, Continental General Nathaniel Greene “was pleased” to order the execution of five deserters.[59] The Winnsboro-Fairfield militia would not have permitted this.

While the market placed little value on the lives of working people, killing ran counter to the small-producer creed and as expressed in their evangelical religion. William Hogan and his family were Methodists. A fellow Methodist summarized, “I was determined I would have nothing to do with the unhappy war; it was contrary to my mind, and grievous to my conscience, to have any hand in shedding human blood.”[60] From its early days the commandment against killing brought the church’s rank and file into conflict with empire and market builders. Church historian Terry Sullivan documents that starting in the fourth century, the Emperors Constantine (272-337) and Constans (320-350) and their ecclesiastical collaborators such as Augustine (354-430) began the persecution of the rank and file because they refused military service and participation in the perennial war-making.[61]

William Hogan did not live up to his religion’s commandment. He was involved in a killing which haunted him for the rest of his life. Fifty years after the war, when he could not remember the names of various battles, comrades and leaders, he could still remember the name of the man he was said to have killed. He commented in his pension application:

Was out on short tours against the Tories frequently during the war. At one time a Tory named James Humphrey was killed by one soldier who placed it to deponents credit. In this tour was out one week.[62]

A student of Revolutionary psychology points out that militiamen who killed also inflicted a wound upon themselves:

Casualties often were few but psychological damage ran deep. When small numbers are involved, a few deaths have as much impact as hundreds or thousands when armies clash, and the significance is magnified when those involved are friends and neighbors and kin, some on one side, some on the other. This kind of fighting would go on for almost two years.[63]

Also unlike the regular army, the Winnsboro-Fairfield militia had an egalitarian view not only about leadership but about their operations. For example, only part of the district went out on tour at any one time. Tours were sometimes voluntary, sometimes obligatory.[64] Taking turns allowed the farmers time to attend their crops. William Hogan commented about taking turns in describing one of his tours, “It was deponents turn to go, with a part of the company.”[65]

In their militia operations Wilson and Hogan were not unusual in being quick to cut short their length of service when near the regular army. In their eight documented tours they came late or left early in half such outings, so as to miss some of the bloodiest encounters.[66] The Continentals, who were enlisted for years or the duration, as one account puts it, “were of the opinion that their part-time comrades in arms were forever taking leave on the eve of battle.”[67] The merchants spoke of cowardness and lack of manhood; the farmers, as demonstrated by their tactics, marveled at the gullibility of those who believed merchants.

Egalitarian resistance to the regular army extended to supplies. The militiamen were generally well fed and mounted because they raised their own food and horses.[68] They did not dress in uniforms, but wore work clothes or hunting shirts, which were loose fitting, long-sleeved, inexpensive homespun, belted at the waist.[69] They were used to going barefoot but also knew how to fashion moccasins from hides even in the field.[70]

In contrast the 1,500 Continental troops that General Greene had in South Carolina from Virginia during the winter of 1780-1781 were half-starved, nearly naked and lived in make-shift huts because there were no tents. Many deserted and even their officers, including Major General John Peter Muhlenberg (1746-1807) and George Weedon, went on "furloughs" back to Virginia because they were not paid. This was because neither the Continental Congress in Philadelphia nor Governor Thomas Jefferson in Virginia wished to tax the merchant and planter class.[71]

A particular area of militia resistance to the regular army over supplies concerned horses. Except for their cavalry, the regular army had no horses. Continental General Nathaniel Greene complained that he needed horses for mounting scouts, foragers, and Colonel Washington’s dragoons. In 1781 he became obsessed with confiscating militia horses. He pelted Sumter, Marion and Pickens with requests, “Do not fail to get us all the good Dragoon horses that you can, for we are in the utmost distress for want of them. . . It is a pity that good horses should be given into the hands of people [the militiamen] who are engaged for no limited time.”[72]

From the agrarian perspective horses were only secondarily for transportation and war. They mainly were for farm work. Militia leader Marion, under whom Wilson and Hogan sometimes served, told Greene that if he attempted to confiscate the militias’ horses, “we will never get their service in future,” and that they would merely slip bridles and saddles on the horses and abscond.[73] William Hogan owned a single black mare worth £70. He rode it on the Granby tour in May 1781 and it was lost. He was unable to replace it and walked the 30 miles home from Granby. He walked again on his next tour. At home he had to adjust to farming without his horse.[74]

Not only were the militiamen protective of their horses but those such as Hogan who had lost theirs were liberal about leveling the low country planters of their stock. This was complained about to General Greene by Continental colonel Light Horse Harry Lee, whose own dragoons were well mounted on thoroughbreds from Virginia. For example, of the Chickasaw Reds that were rustled by the militias in 1781 from the Tories in the limestone region around Eutaw Springs, Lee maintained that Marion should spare a number of these blooded chargers to the Continentals.[75] Of such coveting, a student of the militia commented:

A Continental, relying upon his disciplined Continentals, Greene had little respect for the militia. He did not understand that the Carolinians, serving without pay, furnishing their own equipment, and providing their own transportation, felt justified in taking thoroughbreds from the Tories.[76]

Conclusion. Militia resistance to the war and to Continental recruitment, tactics, leadership and operations followed the colonial small-producer tradition. After the war the militiamen resisted the Constitution, the funding of the national debt and the federal government.[77] Such resistance helped prevent the establishment of a regular army in the Constitution and none existed for several decades afterwards.[78]

In return commercial interests condemned the militias because they were a barrier against militarism.[79] In the War of 1812 the militias refused orders to cross the Canadian border on the ground their job was to repel invasion, not menace their neighbors.[80] They similarly refused to participate in the pillaging of Mexico in the 1840s.[81] During the Civil War the southern merchants and planters were forced to create a professional army and draft recruits because the small producers in the militias resisted leaving their neighborhoods. Significant numbers of draftees deserted, especially after 1863 when it became clear the war was about slavery.[82] A theorist of the professional military bemoaned that “to admit that military power is equivalent to militarism is tantamount to confessing that we are without faith in our national integrity.”[83] But the faith of the small producers such as Wilson and Hogan was indifferent to nationalism. They resisted the Constitution and had no faith in the militarism upon which it was based.[84]

During the debate over the Constitution and ensuring resistance to the standing army, James Wilson and his wife Mary, whom he had married in 1778, raised five children. William Hogan and his wife Jemima Sanders, whom he married in the midst of the war in 1779 when he was 19-years old also raised five children. Both Wilson and Hogan died within five months of each other in 1836. They remained subsistence farmers throughout their lives. In 1829 Hogan made an inventory of his belongings in connection with applying to the South Carolina state legislature for a pension. He characterized himself as “a very poor man.”[85] From his Methodist perspective, poverty was a virtue, even if the “gentlemen” taught otherwise.[86]

Wilson and Hogan’s neighbor, Thomas Cooper (1759-1839) reflected the small producer creed of the “democratic decentralizers and provincialists opposed to nationalism and cosmopolitan corruption.”[87] He signed his articles “Back County Farmer” but in time taught at the University of South Carolina. He protested the government’s attempts to protect Americans foreign commerce with a standing military. He maintained that such commerce was worth less than the expense of supporting it. He pointed out that American exports consisted of articles “of the first necessity” and that they would be carried away in foreign vessels if American were not available. He stated, “Thus the only part of our commerce really defended by the American ships of war is the carrying trade.”[88]

In making his argument against the regular army, Cooper noted that for the benefit, not of the farmer or mechanic but primarily of British agents in commercial towns, heavy taxes were levied upon the entire community and a standing navy was created which led the nation to continuous belligerency and war. As he put it:

I know of no body of men, so ready to postpone the interests of their Country to their own Interests, as Merchants. They are truly a swinish multitude: touch but the bristle of one of them and the whole herd cryout murder. Profess to defend your own territory and that only, and you will have no wars; profess to defend your distant Commerce, and you are never safe for a Day.[89]

In speaking the logic of the small producers, Thomas Cooper contended that “If wars are necessarily attendant upon commerce, it is far wiser to dispense with it: to imitate the Chinese and other nations who have flourished without foreign trade: your commodities, the nations who want them will fetch away:--if they will go to China for tea cups, they will come to America for Bread.”[90]

The regular army maintains it is carrying on the American tradition. But if one follows Frank Owsley’s methodology, it is evident that American values were not necessarily those of the professional military. Rather, traditional values in recent times have been manifested in societies that have duplicated the economic security of the self-sufficient farmer by modifying or eliminating the market and by establishing government-guaranteed jobs, housing, health care and similar blessings. These values have required the rising up as a class at the expense of the gentlemen. Obedience to market is not necessarily a traditional value.



[1]See Lolita Baldor, “Desertion rate leaps in Army,” Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Ill.: November 17, 2007), p. 11 (4,698 soldiers deserted in 2007 alone).

[2]Norman Beckman, “Limiting State Involvement in Foreign Policy: The Governors and the National Guard in Perpich v. Defense,” Publius (1991), vol. 21, p. 117; Samuel Newland, “The National Guard: State Versus National Control,” Public Administration Review (January 1989), vol. 49, pp. 68-73.

[3]Frank L. Owsley, as quoted in Leah Rawls Atkins, A Manual for Writing Alabama State and Local History (Montgomery: Alabama Historical Commission, 1976), front piece.

[4]Robert Pugh, “The Revolutionary Militia in the Southern Campaign, 1780-1781,” William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 14 (April 1957), pp. 159-160.

[5]James Wilson gave a brief account of his Revolutionary activities in “Revolutionary War Pension Application of James Wilson to the South Carolina State Senate,” (manuscript, Columbia: South Carolina State Archives, 1831); see also A.S. Salley, Jr. (ed), Stub Entries to Indents Issued in Payment of Claims against South Carolina Arising Out of the Revolution: Books U-W (Columbia, S.C.: State Publishing Co., 1918), p. 84. William Hogan gave an account of his service and that of James Wilson in William Hogan, “Revolutionary War Federal Pension Application,” (manuscript, Washington, D.C.: “Revolutionary War Pensions and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application Files,” National Archives Microseries M804, #20848), (March 2, 1832 [1965)]; and in William Hogan, “Auditor’s Record # A 3663 (April 20, 1787),” “Revolutionary War File of William Hogan,” (manuscript, Columbia: South Carolina Archives); and in William Hogan, “Revolutionary War Pension Application of William Hogan to South Carolina State Government,” (November 24, 1829), manuscript, South Carolina State Archives, Columbia, S.C.. A transcription of these records is available from Anonymous, “Hogan Family History in Blythewood/Doko (Richland/Fairfield, Counties), South Carolina 1800s-2000s,” at

[6]Gary Nash in “Also There at the Creation: Going Beyond Gordon S. Wood,” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 44 (July 1987), pp. 606, 609-610, comments, “The political ideas of the majority of Americans who toiled with their hands, as farmers in the countryside, as artisans, mariners, and laborers in the towns, were not, of course, without variety. But the bulk of these laboring people cleaved to what has been called a small-producer ideology. . . . Stressing the social value—and virtue—of labor, this thought emphasized economic equality and economic justice. . . . The popular ideology of the Revolutionary period, with its emphasis on the virtuousness and community value of productive labor and on equality and social justice, provided an ideological legacy for those of a later period.” See also, Gary Nash, The urban crucible: social change, political consciousness, and the origins of the American Revolution (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1979), pp. 343, 347 (speaks of the egalitarian and communalistic nature of evangelical religion, which led to the sabotage the market system and celebration of the seventeenth-century Civil War levelers).

[7]While they did not always live up to it, their creed taught “endless riches without money” and rejection of the “world.” One of their hymns, as quoted in D. H. Goble (ed.), Primitive Baptist Hymn Book, for all lovers of sacred song (Greenfield, Indiana: D. H. Goble Printing Co., 1887), nos. 168 (823-0-524), 256, see also nos. 218 and 239, stated:

Poor and afflicted, Lord, are thine;
Among the great unfit to shine;
But through the world may think it strange,
They would not with the world exchange.

[8]James Wilson and William Hogan received no wages, but after the war they benefited from the former Continental and militia leaders who dominated the South Carolina legislature. These militarized politicians awarded themselves generous land and monetary benefits. Modest benefits also trickled down to the rank and file. Reflecting perhaps what the war was actually about, Washington and the other generals voted themselves land grants and pensions immediately after the war. It took 50 years before Wilson and Hogan were offered a small pension. See John Richard Alden, A History of the South, III: The South in the Revolution, 1763-1789 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1957), p. 267.

[9]Orville Murphy, “The French Professional Soldier’s Opinion of the American Militia in the War of the Revolution,” Military Affairs, vol. 32, no. 4 (February 1969), p. 194.

[10]See “Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts,” (Protocol I), 8 June 1977, Art. 47 (Geneva: 1977; reprinted Canberra, Australia: AGPS, 1991); Michael Bothe, Karl Partsch and W.A. Solf, New rules for victims of armed conflicts, Commentary on the two 1977 Protocols additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 (Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1982).

[11]George Washington and his class imported English furniture, silver, linen, pictures, architecture, politics, religion, a class view of labor and a decadent life-style of gambling, duels, and balls. The merchants instigated the Revolution because they were hurt by imperial policies such as the Navigation Acts, Quebec Act of 1764, Stamp Act (taxation) and Indian treaties (Hard Labor Treaty of 1763). Land speculator George Washington’s western real estate investments were worthless as long as the British set foreign policy. In the early 1770s the British took the Indian side against land speculators. This was because the British did not want to fund another Indian war, for which the speculators generally refused to fight or pay taxes.

As historian Richard Morris in “Class Struggle and the American Revolution,” William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 19, no. 1 (1962), pp. 10, 19, put it, the Revolutionary leaders were “entrepreneurial operators” who considered land as an instrument for speculative gains. The Crown’s land reforms of 1774 hurt them by banning large grants and giving protection to settlers by advertised auction sales. Robert Olwell in “’Domestick Enemies’: Slavery and Political Independence in South Carolina,” Journal of Southern History, vol. 55 (1989), pp. 27, 32, maintains that an added push for Revolution in South Carolina came from the planter-merchants who feared that the British, in attempting to hold on to power, were seeking to turn over the colony to the blacks.  See also, Martha Searcy in “The Georgia-Florida Campaign in the American Revolution,” p. 26; Gary Olson, “Loyalists and the American Revolution: Thomas Brown and the South Carolina Backcountry, 1775-1776,” South Carolina Historical Magazine, vol. 68 (1967), p. 203.

[12]Olson, “Loyalists and the American Revolution,” p. 203.

[13]John Buchanan, The Road to Guilford Courthouse: the American Revolution in the Carolinas (New York: Wiley, 1997), p. 97.

[14]William Tennent, “Fragment of a Journal Kept by the Rev. William Tennent,” ed. Robert Wilson Gibbes, A Documentary History of the American Revolution (3 vols., Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Co. [1853-1857], 1972), vol. 1, pp. 225-238; see also Buchanan, The Road to Guilford Courthouse, p. 95.

[15]Buchanan, The Road to Guilford Courthouse, p. 95. Writing soon after the war, South Carolina historian David Ramsey, as quoted in Alexander S. Salley, History of Orangeburg County, South Carolina from its first settlement to the close of the Revolutionary War (Baltimore: Regional Pub. Co., [1898], 1969), p. 337, remembered the same antiwar beliefs among the farmers. He noted, “They were induced to believe that the whole was an artful deception imposed upon them for interested purposes, by the gentlemen of fortune and ambition on the seacoast.”

[16]John Gordon, South Carolina and the American Revolution: A Battlefield History (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003), pp. 101-102. A study by Paul Smith, “The American Loyalists: Notes on their Organization and Numeric Strength,” William & Mary Quarterly, vol. 25 (April 1968), pp. 269-270, estimates that in 1775 with the American population at 2.5 million, about 20 percent or 500,000 people were Loyalists and their families. This 20 percent estimate does not include the 500,000 blacks, some of whom believed, as a Loyalist among them put it, as quoted in Peter Wood, “Taking Care of Business,” ed. Jeffrey J. Crow, The Southern Experience in the American Revolution (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1978), p. 284, “the war has come to help the poor Negroes.” British General Clinton in June 1780 issued a proclamation promising freedom to all rebel-owned slaves on the condition that they agree to serve the British throughout the war. Thousands of slaves followed Clinton’s troops, becoming foragers, spies, workers and soldiers. By 1782 there were black British infantry and cavalry regiments. See Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the American Revolution (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1961), pp. 138, 149; Rachael Klein, “Frontier Planters and the American Revolution: The South Carolina Backcountry, 1775-1782,” ed. Ronald Hoffman, The Uncivil War: The Southern Backcountry during the American Revolution (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1985), p. 65.

[17]Lyman Draper, Kings Mountain and Its Heroes (Cincinnati: Thomson, 1881), pp. 143; Edward McCrady, The History of South Carolina in the Revolution, 1780-1783 (New York: Russell & Russell, 1969 [1902]), vol. 1, 533-560.

[18]Henry Clinton, The American Rebellion: Sir Henry Clinton’s Narrative of his Campaigns, 1775-1782, with an Appendix of Original Documents, ed. William B. Willcox (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1954), p. 181; see also, John Dederer, Making Bricks without Straw: Nathaniel Greene’s Southern Campaign and Mao Tse-Tung’s Mobile War (Manhattan, Kansas: Sunflower Press, 1983), p. 29. The British also made military duty compulsory for all South Carolina citizens in June 1780. At the same time, they betrayed those who fought on their side by not providing protection to them from the plundering of the Revolutionary militia.

[19]Dederer in Making Bricks without Straw, p. 31. After Gates was defeated at Camden on August 16, 1780, Alexander Hamilton in “Letter to James Dwane,” (September 6, 1780), ed. Harold Syrett, The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York: Columbia University Press, 1961-1979), vol2, p. 420, stated that “Gates’ defeat was a very good comment on the necessity of changing our system. His passion for militia, I fancy will be a little cured, and he will cease to think them the best bulwark of American liberty.”

[20]Robert Pugh in “The Revolutionary Militia in the Southern Campaign,” p. 158, writes about the hatred of the militias:

American advocates of a large army found themselves pleading their cause with small effect in the face of hostile public sentiment. Frustrated in their cherished projects and denied a regular establishment of the size which they considered to be adequate, these retired officers, legislators, and military analysts came to see in the national reliance upon militia their bête noire.

Another student, Mark Pitcavage in “An Equitable Burden: The Decline of the State Militia, 1783-1885,” (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State University, 1996), traces the unsuccessful efforts of the antebellum “gentlemen” to switch the militia age which was 18 to 65, so that only young men served. Working people successfully opposed the change. By keeping the burden equitable, they retained control of the militia and obstructed its subversion by the merchant class.

[21]At common law there was no standing army and militia operations were limited. William Blackstone in Commentaries on the Laws of England, (4 vols., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1765-1769), vol. 1, p. 399, summarized the English history, militiamen “are not compellable to march out of their counties, unless in case of invasion or actual rebellion, nor in any case compellable to march outside of the kingdom.” See also, Harris Prendergast, The Law Relating to Officers in the Army (rev. ed., London: Parker, Furnivall, Parker, 1855), p. 1; Don Higginbotham, “The Federalized Militia Debate: A Neglected Aspect of the Second Amendment Scholarship,” William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 55 (January 1998), p. 47.

[22]Charles I, quoted in John Reid, In Defiance of the Law: The Standing Army Controversy, The Two Constitutions and the Coming of the American Revolution (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1981), p. 81; see also, Lois G. Schwoerer, “‘The Fittest Subject for a King’s Quarrel’: An Essay on the Militia Controversy, 1642,” Journal of British Studies, vol. 11, (1971), p. 45.

For a century after the English Civil War, the militia in Britain was left weak because the landlords and merchants in Parliament had a “fear of arming the people” and maintained, as historian J.R. Western in The English Militia in the Eighteenth Century: The Story of a Political Issue, 1660-1802 (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1965), pp. 116-117, describes it, that “any militia would be a disorderly rabble drawn from the lowest class and that whether efficient or not it would be more dangerous politically than the army.” In contrast the regular army was controllable through wages and neither “foes of the constitution” nor friends of “fanaticism and democracy.”

[23]According to the enactments of the provincial government, musters were required, usually six times a year in company and once in regiment. There were physical and economic sanctions for those who failed to appear without a good excuse. See John Shy, “A New Look at Colonial Militia,” The William and Mary Quarterly (April 1963), vol. 20, p. 181. The “First Charter of South Carolina,” (1663), as recorded in Thomas Cooper and D.J. McCord, eds., Statutes at Large of South Carolina (Columbia: 1836-1841), vol. 1, p. 29, mandated the establishment of militias “to muster and train all sorts of men, of what condition or wheresoever born.” Initially blacks were part of the militias, but after 1740 the militias’ main function was to control the blacks. In the upcountry with few blacks, the militias were neglected.

[24]Wallace Brown, “The American Farmer during the Revolution: Rebel or Loyalist?” Agricultural History, (October 1868), vol. 42, p. 329. See also, Matthew Ward in Breaking the Backcountry: The Seven Years’ War in Virginia and Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003).

[25]South Carolina Council, Manuscript, March 22, 1769 (Columbia: S.C. Department of Archives and History); Klein, “Frontier Planters and the American Revolution,” pp. 42-43; Richard M. Brown, The South Carolina Regulators (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1963), pp. 83-95. Militiamen likewise in other colonies leveled the merchant-controlled land and court systems. See Edward Countryman, “’Out of the Bounds of the Law’: Northern Land Rioters in the Eighteenth Century,” in The American Revolution: Explorations in the History of the American Revolution (ed. Alfred Young, Dekalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1976), pp. 42-43.

[26]George Washington, as cited in Russell Weigley, Towards an American Army: Military Thought from Washington to Marshall (New York: Columbia University Press, 1962), p. 5; see also, Jean Flynn, The Militias in Antebellum South Carolina (Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Company, 1991), p. 41.

[27]The Winnsboro-Fairfield militia was also part of the annual district-wide muster at Camden. See Flynn, The Militias in Antebellum South Carolina; p. 32; Holton, Forced Founders, p. 105; Saul Cornell, A Well Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 136 (nineteenth-century militia as institutions for socializing and barbeques).

[28]David Ramsay, History of South Carolina: from its first settlement in 1670 to the year 1808 (Spartanburg, S.C., Reprint Co., [1809], 1959-60), vol. 1, p. 259; Klein, “Frontier Planters and the American Revolution,” p. 62; Edward Cashin, “’But Brothers, It is Our Land We Are Talking About’: Winners and Losers in the Georgia Backcountry,” in Ronald Hoffman (ed), The Uncivil War: The Southern Backcountry during the American Revolution (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1985), p. 256. Loyalism in backcountry South Carolina, as in Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia and Vermont, was tied to what historian Wallace Brown in “The American Farmer during the Revolution,” pp. 335-336, calls “The common farmer quarrel with the established seaboard.” Small farmers were squatting on land claimed by merchant-speculators. Leveling benefited the farmers. See also, Albert Tillson, “The Localist Roots of Backcountry Loyalism: An Examination of Popular Culture in Virginia’s New River Valley,” Journal of Southern History, vol. 54, no. 3 (August 1988), pp. 389, 399.

Among the upcountry South Carolina Loyalist militiamen was Joseph Scoffel, who had earlier opposed the Regulators. His militia unit included blacks and both red and “white” Indians. See Klein, “Frontier Planters and the American Revolution,” pp. 55-56; Richard Richardson, “Letter to Council of Safety,” (January 2, 1776) in Gibbes (ed.), A Documentary History of the American Revolution, vol. 1, pp. 249-253. There were anti-merchant counterparts to Scoffel’s militia in each colony. Historian Keith Mason in “Localism, Evangelicalism and Loyalism: The Sources of Discontent in the Revolutionary Chesapeake,” Journal of Southern History, vol. 56 (February 1990), p. 25, see also p. 41, has studied what he calls the Chesapeake backcountry “subversives.” He states, “They [evangelicals] were hostile to many of Chesapeake society’s pivotal institutions including the Anglican church and slavery, averse to gentry pretensions, and, given their religious sensibility, unenthusiastic about the revolutionary war.” Similarly, in North Carolina, as Jeffrey Crow in “Liberty Men and Loyalists: Disorder and Disaffection in the North Carolina Backcountry,” in Ronald Hoffman (ed), The Uncivil War: The Southern Backcountry during the American Revolution (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1985), p. 127, puts its, “Loyalism also grew out of a particular set of political, economic, and social circumstances that caused people to ignore, accommodate themselves to, or resist the onerous demands of an aggressive Revolutionary government that was dominated by and conducted in the interests of an upper class consisting of planters, merchants, and lawyers.”

[29]Hogan, “Revolutionary War Federal Pension Application” (March 2, 1832). See also, Olson, “Loyalists and the American Revolution,” p. 207.

[30]Robert Bass, Gamecock: The Life and Campaigns of General Thomas Sumter (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Company, 1961), p. 26.

[31]The initial agrarian indifference to the Revolution was not unlike that experienced by workingmen in Boston and the other seaports. Paul Revere and the mechanics of Boston took up arms in 1775 only after the British soldiers began to menace them. See Alfred Young, The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution (Boston: Beacon Press, 1999), p. 130.

Richard Walsh in Charleston’s Sons of Liberty: A Study of the Artisans, 1763-1789 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1959), pp. 3, 92-92, 135, finds Charleston’s working people split over the war, but unified in opposition to the regular army, if failure to tax themselves to pay for or enlist in it is a measure of opposition. Those involved in international trade such as shipwrights and barrel makers were Loyalists. Those being undercut by the imported British manufactured goods, such as furniture makers and silversmiths, welcomed the war and market disruption. Wage workers were neutral and after the British occupation in May 1780 everyone one, including militiamen and regular soldiers were neutral, with many slaves freeing themselves.

[32]A Frenchman fighting on the American made this point about the Continental soldiers when he noted that “One could only raise and sustain them by force of money.” See Duc de Lauzun (Armand Louis de Gontaut de Biron), Memoires du duc de Lauzun et du comte de Tilly (ed. Francois Barriere, Paris: Didot, 1882), p. 330; see also, Murphy, “The French Professional Soldier’s Opinion of the American Militia,” p. 197.

[33]Bobby Gilmer Moss, Roster of South Carolina Patriots in the American Revolution (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1983), pp. xii-xiii.

[34]See Charnel Durham, “Revolutionary War Federal Pension Application,” (Washington, D.C.: “Revolutionary War Pensions and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application Files,” National Archives and Records Administration Microseries M804, NARA # W9418c, [1965)].

[35]Walter Fraser, “Reflections of ‘Democracy in Revolutionary South Carolina?’: The Composition of Military Organizations and the Attitudes and Relationships of the Officers and Men, 1775-1780,” The South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine, vol. 78 (1977), p. 205; Alden, A History of the South, p. 227. As early as the English Civil War agrarians such as Gerrard Winstanley in The new law of Righteousnes (London: Giles Calvert, 1649), reprinted in The works of Gerrard Winstanley, ed. George Holland Sabine (New York: Russell & Russell, [1941], 1965), 247-266, were protesting against mercenaries, “There shall be no buying or selling, no fairs nor markets, but the whole earth shall be a common treasury for every man.”

If there was a virtue which the “gentlemen” valued and which they believed their money could buy, it was obedience. George Washington, as quoted in Russell Weigley, Towards an American Army: Military Thought from Wasington to Marshall (New York: Columbia University Press, 1962), p. 5 (see also, Flynn, The Militias in Antebellum South Carolina, p. 40), deplored that Congress in 1775 put a one-year limit on enlistment in the national army. As he put it, “To bring men to a proper degree of subordination is not the work of a day, a month or even a year.”

[36]Frederick Todd, “Our National Guard: An Introduction to its History,” Military Affairs (Summer 1941), vol. 5, p. 74.

[37]Bass, Gamecock, p. 170. Robert Middlekauff in “Why Men Fought in the American Revolution,” The Huntington Library Quarterly, vol. 43, no. 2 (Spring 1980), pp. 143, makes the observation that “the nearer the American militia were to home the better they fought, fighting for their homes and no one else’s.”

[38]George Washington, “L:etter to Comte de Rochambeau,” (New Windsor, February 27, 1781), ed. John Fitzpatrick, The Writings of George Washington  (Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1931-1944), vol. 21, p. 312.

[39]Hogan, “Revolutionary War Federal Pension Application” (March 2, 1832).

[40]Pierre Colomb, “Memoirs of a Revolutionary Soldier,” The Collector (November 1950), vol. 63, p. 223; Searcy, “The Georgia-Florida Campaign in the American Revolution,” p. 417. According to John Carroll in The American Military Tradition: From Colonial Times to the Present (Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007), p. 21, about 25,000 soldiers were killed in the American Revolution. Of these, 6,500 died in battle and 10,000 succumbed to hunger, disease, exposure or wounds, and over 8,000 did not survive imprisonment by the enemy. A total of between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans took up arms during the Revolution.

[41]John Carroll in The American Military Tradition, p. 21, found that twenty percent of the Continentals deserted, despite the penalty of being shot or hung. Historian Martha Searcy in “The Georgia-Florida Campaign in the American Revolution,” pp. 404-405, lists the difficulties faced by the Continental rank and file on the Third Florida Expedition:

On 21 May a Sergeant Tyrrell of the Fourth Georgia Continental Battalion, convicted of mutiny and of trying to inveigle others to desert, was shot; General Howe announced that he had resolved “never to pardon any future desertions.” A whole group of men deserted the next day. Some returned voluntarily, and others were captured. Gray’s Indians brought in the scalp of one, and another was assumed to have died in the woods. James Lister and Cornelius Fitzgerald, First Battalion, were hanged; James Neigle, William Carpenter, Daniel McKay, Claudius Morrison, Joseph Clair, Joseph Powell, Richard Savage, John Royal, and William Conner, all privates of the Fourth Battalion, were shot. Eight Irishmen succeeded in deserting by water on 26 May. They had been sent to reconnoiter in Frederica Sound and to the southward. The lieutenant in command landed first, whereupon the boatmen pulled away from shore. Blunt, a surgeon in the “Fleet,” was released and returned to the rebel camp.

Walter Fraser in “Reflections of ‘Democracy in Revolutionary South Carolina?” p. 208, using entries in regional order books that still exist, counted 250 men out of 316 or 80 percent of the Second South Carolina Continental Regiment who were court-martialed for various offenses during an eleven-month period in 1777 and 1778.

[42]Hogan, “Revolutionary War Federal Pension Application” (March 2, 1832).

[43]Bass, Gamecock, p. 40. Richard Winn, who became a Winnsboro-Fairfield militia leader, was another Continental Army drop out. Because of farmer resistance, Continental recruiters prayed on the orphaned youth in work houses who had no skills, the feeble-minded, the alcoholics in local taverns, and what regular army leader Charles Lee called “riff-raff.” See Charles Lee, as quoted in Charles Neimeyer, America goes to war: a social history of the Continental Army (New York: New York University Press, 1996), p. 24, see also, p. 124.

[44]McCrady, The History of South Carolina in the Revolution, vol. 1, p. 309; Fraser, “Reflections of ‘Democracy in Revolutionary South Carolina?’” p. 205.

[45]Fraser, “Reflections of ‘Democracy in Revolutionary South Carolina?’” p. 205. In 1778 the North Carolina General Assembly attempted to fill the ranks of its Continental line by requiring  that each county militia company elect draftees. The Anson County militia responded by drafting their local “gentlemen,” including the lieutenant colonel of the militia, the county sheriff, the justice of the peace, the judge and the big planters, all of whom refused to be drafted. See Jeffrey Crow, “Liberty Men and Loyalists,” pp. 126, 155, who reports that resistance to the draft throughout the North Carolina backcountry remained “intense and bitter” throughout the war, with districts never meeting their quota and with those forced to serve often deserting as soon as they received their bounty.

[46]Military tactical manuals written by the “professionals” were published during the war, all of which emphasized that armies should be “disciplined” and trained in “professional” tactics. See, for example, Thomas Hanson, The Prussian Evolutions in Actual Engagements: Firing, Standing, Advancing, and Retreating (Philadelphia: J. Douglas McDougall, 1775).

[47]Jac Weller, “Irregular But Effective: Partisan Weapon Tactics in the American Revolution, Southern Theatre,” Military Affairs (1957), vol. 21, p. 120.

[48]The professional military looked on militia tactics as an aberration. Historian Ricardo Herrera in “Self-Governance and the American Citizen Soldier, 1775-1861,” The Journal of Military History (January, 2001), vol. 65, p. 32, comments:

It would seem then that some militiamen and volunteers could decide whether to fight or flee without much mental reservation since both choices fell within the construct of self-governance. Surprisingly, permanent shame was only infrequently attached to their behavior; . . . Often the soldier who ran in an act of self-preservation returned to his fellows soon thereafter. It may be that a tacit recognition existed among some soldiers that men who ran but later returned had reached a breaking point. Their return signaled to others that they were ready to resume their duties.

Negative views of “Indian Style” tactics were held by the professionals despite such fighting winning more battles and saving more lives than the “professional” approach. Robert Pugh in “The Revolutionary Militia in the Southern Campaign,” p 157, has observed that, “As defeat followed defeat, the most earnest desire of Washington and his staff was plainly to command sufficient well-disciplined troops to meet the British on equal terms in battles fought according to traditional patterns. It seemingly did not occur to them that tradition might be altered to fit the materials at hand.”

[49]Fraser, “Reflections of ‘Democracy in Revolutionary South Carolina? p. 206.

[50]Militia leveling occurred in all the colonies. See Eric Foner, Tom Paine and Revolutionary America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976), p. 176 (militia leveling in 1779 Philadelphia for failure to establish price controls and suppress the market). Richard Morris in “Class Struggle and the American Revolution,” p. 7, remarks that “the Whig leadership was nearly as much concerned about the dangers from leveling forces as they were about the perils of subversion, disloyalty, and treason.”

[51]In 1782 the legislature enacted a militia law establishing severe penalties for officers and troops guilty of plundering. See “South Carolina Senate Journal,” (manuscript, February 10, 1782); “South Carolina House of Representatives Journal,” (manuscript, March 4, 1785); see also, Klein, “Frontier Planters and the American Revolution,” p. 65. Long after the war, William Hogan in his “Revolutionary War Federal Pension Application” (March 2, 1832) described how his company had leveled the Tories in the Dutch Fork area between the Saluda and Broad Rivers in May 1778:

Company rendezvoused at Winnsborough (now Fairfield Court house) marched to Captain Tunmen in the fork between Saluda and Broad River called the Dutch Fork; went there after a body of Tories said to be embodied there. They disbanded on hearing of this enterprise, and some plunder was retaken.

Continental leader Nathaniel Greene, as quoted in Bass, Gamecock, p. 120, complained against the leveling tendencies of the militias:

Plunder and depredation prevails so in every quarter I am not a little apprehensive all this country will be laid waste. Most people appear to be in pursuit of private gain or personal glory.

[52]Bass, Gamecock, pp. 173-174. In the end, when Sumter returned, he saw his angry troops. As Bass, ibid., remarks, “Raging both inwardly and outwardly contumacious, Sumter resigned from the militia.” Sumter resigned but there was no “official” to accept his resignation. By September 1781 he was back out leading William Hogan on a campaign to Orangeburg.

[53]Edward McCrady in The History of South Carolina in the Revolution, 1780-1783, vol. 2, p. 511, comments on the rank-and-file origins of militia leadership authority:

During the four months of June, July, August and September 1780, in which so much had been done by the partisan bands under Sumter, Marion, Clarke and Shelby, there had not been even a militia commission in the hands of these leaders. Davie, who was so brilliantly acting with them, had, it was true, a commission as major from North Carolina, and Marion, as an officer in the Continental line, had also one in that service; but their commissions as such were ignored, and their authority in those operations were derived only from their followers.

[54]Colonel William Hill (1740-1816), Col. William Hill’s Memoirs of the Revolution, ed. Alexander S. Salley, Jr. (Columbia: Historical Commission of South Carolina, 1921), quoted in Bass, Gamecock, p. 89.

[55]William Thomas Sherman, Calendar and Record of the Revolutionary War in the South: 1780-1781 (Fourth Edition, Seattle, Washington: Internet Electronic Book, 2008).

[56]Searcy, “The Georgia-Florida Campaign in the American Revolution,” p. 419.

[57]Bass, Gamecock, pp. 22-23.

[58]George Washington quoted in Fitzpatrick (ed.), The Writings of George Washington, vol. 18, pp. 77, 503. Washington feared his own troops and established a “life guard” of supposedly reliable native-born troops. Yet eight of these chosen troops deserted. See Carlos Godfrey, The Commander in Chief’s Guard (Washington, D.C.: Stevenson-Smith Co., 1904), pp. 120, 130-131, 152-153, 192-194, 227, 245, 264; Neimeyer, America goes to war, p. 137.

[59]Revolutionary soldier Guilford Dudley, as quoted in John C. Dann (ed.), The Revolution Remembered: Eyewitness Account of the War for Independence (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), p. 221, remembered the executions:

On the twenty-sixty of April, 1781, General Greene fell back from Saunder’s Creek and by a rapid march passed Rugeley’s Mill and took post that night about one and a half miles up the Waxhaw road, thirteen miles from Camden. Here, on the twenty-seventy, General Greene directed a court-martial to convene near headquarters for the trial of twenty or twenty-five deserters whom we had take in battle on Hobkirk’s Hill on the twenty-fifth. They were all equally guilty as to mater of fact, but some of them were more notorious offenders than the rest. The general therefore was pleased to order the execution of five of them only. The rest were pardoned and returned to their duty in their respective companies in the Maryland line.

See also, Neimeyer, America goes to war, pp. 136-152.

[60]Freeborn Garrettson, The Experience and Travels of Mr. Freeborn Garrettson (Philadelphia: Joseph Crukshank, 1791), pp. 27,42; see also Mason, “Localism, Evangelicalism and Loyalism,” p. 41.

[61]Terry Sullivan, The Church of the Empire Versus the Christian Church of North Africa, 312-430 AD (Denver, Colorado: CRP, 2003), pp. 50-1, 59, 85, 143.

[62]Hogan, “Revolutionary War Pensions and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application Files” (March 2, 1832).

[63]Buchanan, The Road to Guilford Courthouse, p. 105. A fellow southern militiaman likewise expressed his concern about killing. As quoted in John C. Dann (ed.), The Revolution Remembered: Eyewitness Account of the War for Independence (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), p. 202-203, he stated:

The evening after our battle with the Tories, we having considerable number of prisoners, I recollect a scene which made a lasting impression upon my mind. I was invited by some of my comrades to go and see some of the prisoners. We went to where six were standing together. Some discussion taking place, I heard some of our men cry out, “Remember Buford,” and the prisoners were immediately hewed to pieces with broad swords. At first I bore the scene without any emotion, but upon a moment’s reflection, I felt such horror as I never did before nor have since, and, returning to my quarters and throwing myself upon my blankets, I contemplated the cruelties of war until overcome and unmanned by a distressing gloom from which I was not relieved until commencing our march next morning before day by moonlight . . .

[64]William Graves in James Williams, p. 15, notes that heads of families were normally exempt from the draft. Failure to appear for militia duty could also indicate Tory sympathies.

[65]Hogan, “Revolutionary War Federal Pension Application,” 4th section (March 2, 1832).

[66]The battles at which Wilson and Hogan arrived late or left early were:

Florida Expedition (June-July, 1778) (came late).

Fall of Charleston (May 12, 1780) (came afterward).

            Siege of Granby (May 15, 1781) (came day afterward, May 16, 1781).

            Battle of Eutaw Springs (September 8, 1781) (left shortly before).

[67]Pugh, “The Revolutionary Militia in the Southern Campaign,” p. 156. Marquis de Marie Joseph Lafayette in “Letter to Comte d’Estaing,” (September 6, 1778), ed. Henri Doniol, Correspondance inedite de Lafayette (Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1892), p. 42, said of the militias that “even in their diligence” they were characterized by a “slowness which makes them always arrive too late.” Another Frenchman, Hans Axel von Fersen in Lettres d’Axel Fersen a son pere pendant la Guerre d’independence d’Amerique , ed. Fredrik U. Wrangel (Paris: Firmin-Didot, 1929), letter dated 9 January 1781), similarly remarked, “They assemble only when the danger is imminent; and flee when it becomes great.” See also, Murphy, “The French Professional Soldier’s Opinion of the American Militia,” p. 195.

[68]John Wilson, II, who was the father of James Wilson, served as a militia wagon master. In his mid-forties, he and his sixteen-year-old son, Theophilus, used the family’s wagon and team to transport food, supplies and wounded. See William Wilson (another son of John Wilson, II), “Revolutionary War Pensions and Bounty-Land-Warrant Application Files” (Washington, D.C.: National Archives Microfilm Publications, 1965), series M805, Roll 879, Image 460, File R11688.

[69]They carried a knapsack, blanket, soap and wooden canteen. See Buchanan, The Road to Guilford Courthouse, pp. 114, 133.

[70]Martha Searcy, “The Georgia-Florida Campaign in the American Revolution, 1776, 1777 and 1778,” (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Tulane University, 1979), p. 409. The militiamen traveled long distances on foot and had their own remedies for blisters, including soaking, balms and ointments.

[71]Elswyth Thane, The Fighting Quaker: Nathaniel Greene (New York: Hawthorne Books, 1972), p. 177; Theodore Thayer, Nathaniel Greene: Strategist of the American Revolution (New York: Twayne Publishing Co., 1960), pp. 251, 288, 295.

[72]Nathaniel Greene, as quoted in Bass, Gamecock, p. 166. About the value of horses, Greene wrote to George Washington in “Letter,” (June 22, 1781), Correspondence of the American Revolution: Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, (ed.) Jared Sparks (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1853), vol. 3, p. 342, (see also, Dederer, Making Bricks without Straw, p. 44), that in the North, “cavalry is nothing, from the numerous fences,” but in the South, “a disorder, may be improved into a defeat, and a defeat into a rout,” with the judicious use of cavalry.

Greene was never able to fully exploit the cavalry potential not only because he lacked horses but also forage. Historian John Dederer, ibid., p. 44, comments about forage, “This shortage of feed was exacerbated by the southern militia’s habit of riding to war. Guerillas rode to increase their mobility; militia rode to avoid walking. Militiamen would arrive in camp on horseback, tether their mounts to eat Greene’s dearly foraged hay and then mount up to leave when the spirit moved them.” General Morgan echoed Greene’s disgust at the southern militia’s riding to war in a letter to Greene two days before the battle of Cowpens. In his “Letter” (January 15, 1781) in William Johnson, Sketches of the Life and Correspondence of Nathaniel Greene (Charleston: A.E. Miller, 1822), vol. 1, pp. 370-371, (see also, Dederer, ibid.), Morgan lamented:

We have to feed such a number of horses that the most plentiful country must soon exhausted. Could the militia be persuaded to change their fatal mode of going to war, much provision might be saved, but the custom has taken such a deep root that it cannot be abolished. The scarcity of forage makes it impossible for us to be always in a compact body; and were this not the case, it is beyond  the art of men to keep the militia from straggling.

[73]Bass, Gamecock, p. 166. Daniel McGirt was one of Wilson and Hogan’s neighbors at Camden. Early in the war a Continental officer confiscated his horse. As a result McGirt became the leader of an interracial backcountry Loyalist militia company. See Klein, “Frontier Planters and the American Revolution,” p. 61.

[74]William Hogan, “Auditor’s Record # A 3663 (April 20, 1787),” “Revolutionary War File of William Hogan,” (Columbia: South Carolina Archives).

[75]Bass, Gamecock, p. 166.


[77]Higginbotham, “The Federalized Militia Debate,” pp. 47; Merrill Jensen and Robert A. Becker (eds.), The Documentary history of the first Federal elections, 1788-1790 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1976), vol. 3, pp. 378, 427-429 (anti-federalists resist the federalization of the militia); Herbert J. Storing (ed.), “Essay by a Farmer and Planter,” The Complete anti-Federalist (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), vol. 5:2.3; Richard Morris, The Forging of the Union, 1781-1789 (New York: Harper & Row, 1987), pp. 264-265 (debtor resistance in South Carolina); Alan Hirsch, “The Militia Clause of the Constitution and the National Guard,” University of Cincinnati Law Review (1988), vol. 56, pp. 919, 924, 943-944; Frederick Todd, “Our National Guard: An Introduction to Its History,” Military Affairs (Summer 1941), vol. 5; p. 73-86, 152-170; Frederick Wiener, “The Militia Clause of the Constitution,” Harvard Law Review, (December 1940), vol. 54, pp. 181-220.

[78]John K. Mahon, History of the militia and the National Guard (New York: Macmillan, 1983), pp. 51-54; Beckman, “Limiting State Involvement in Foreign Policy,” p. 111.

[79]A Frenchman living in Philadelphia commented in 1782 about the merchant dislike for the emerging termination of hostilities, ”It is already observable that peace has no outspoken partisans except in the countryside. The inhabitants of towns whom commerce enriches, the artisans who there earn much greater pay than before the war, and five or six times more than in Europe, do not want peace.” See Barbe de Marbois, “Letter to Count de Vergennes” (March 13, 1782), (Manuscript/Microfilm, “Correspondence Politique, Etats-Unis,” Paris: Archives des Affaires Etrangeres, 1949-1951), vol. 20, p. 413. See also, Morris, “Class Struggle and the American Revolution,” pp. 10-11.

[80]John M. Palmer, America in Arms (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1941), pp. 67-73; Carl Edward Skeen, Citizen Soldiers in the War of 1812 (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1999) (militiamen refused to follow orders, “disintegrated” under fire and were touchy about their privileges).

[81]Edward Coffman, “The Duality of the American Military Tradition,” Journal of Military History, vol. 64, no. 4 (October 2000), p. 973; Beckman, “Limiting State Involvement in Foreign Policy,” p. 112.

[82]Frank Owsley, “Local Defense and the Overthrow of the Confederacy: A Study in State Rights,” Mississippi Valley Historical Review, vol. 11 (March 1925), pp. 490-525; Emory Thomas, “Rebellion and Conventional Warfare: Confederate Strategy and Military Policy,” in James McPherson and William Cooper (eds.), Writing the Civil War: The Quest to Understand (Columbia, S.C. University of South Carolina Press, 1998), pp. 36-59; Wayne Durrill, War of Another Kind: A Southern Community in the Great Rebellion (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), pp. 166-185; Daniel Sutherland, “Guerilla Warfare, Democracy and the Fate of the Confederacy,” Journal of Southern History, vol. 68, no. 2 (May 2002), pp. 259-292.

[83]Archibald Thacher, “The Relation of the Militia Clause to the Constitutionality of Peacetime Compulsory Universal Military Training,” Virginia Law Review, vol. 31, no. 3 (June 1945), p. 656.

[84]Saul Cornell in A Well Regulated Militia, p. 9, notes that “the language found in many state constitutions set the militias and the right to bear arms against the danger of a standing army.”

[85]Hogan’s pension application to the South Carolina State Government (manuscript, Columbia: South Carolina State Archives, November 24, 1829) included a list of his possessions. These were:

                        one small horse worth $35.
                                    2 hogs $2.00
                                    cow & calf $10.00
                                    the furniture common to the house of a very poor
                                    man $25.00
                                    weaving apparel $72.00.

[86]James Wilson, helped by gifts from his parents, grandparents and in-laws, participated more actively in the capitalist-slave market system. Despite an upcountry economic depression in the last 15 years of his life that bankrupted or caused some of his grandchildren to move west in search of economic opportunity, Wilson had enough property that his children spent several years fighting over it. See “James Wilson Estate papers,” (manuscript, Winnsboro, S.C.: Courthouse, 1836-1843), Deed Book H, pp. 199-200, apt. 70-1069.

[87]Dumas Malone, The Public Life of Thomas Cooper, (1783-1839) (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1961), p. 99.

[88]Thomas Cooper, Political Essays (2nd ed.), pp. 39-42, as quoted Malone, The Public Life of Thomas Cooper, p. 99.

[89]Cooper quoted in ibid., p. 101. Taking up Cooper’s small producer rhetoric in the early twentieth century, southern populist Tom Watson condemned the World War I merchants, “Wall Street Capitalists, Chicago Trusts, Standard Oil Magnates, Steel Kings, Coal Kings, Copper Kings, Air-ship Trusts, Powder Trusts, Food Trusts, Leather Trusts, Flour Trusts—such human vultures do not precipitate wars for health, pleasure or ideals. They cause wars and panics for the money they can make out of them.” See Tom Watson, Jeffersonian (Thomson, Georgia: July 19, 1917). Historian Jeanette Keith in “The Politics of Southern Draft Resistance, 1917-1918: Class, Race and Conscription in the Rural South,” Journal of American History, vol. 87 (March 2001), pp. 1340, 1354, 1359, suggests it was the “widespread agrarian fear of international complications, militarism and monopoly,” that powered the southern Congressional delegation to prevent Woodrow Wilson from turning the National Guard into a Continental Army during World War I. During that war the South accounted for more than its share of the 338,000 Americans that deserted or failed to appear for induction. Local southern authorities were often unwilling to arrest deserters. See John Cambers, To Raise an Army: The Draft Comes to Modern America (New York: Free Press, 1987), pp. 211-213.

World War II again brought resistance from the southern National Guardsmen. They helped lead the American Legion at its national conventions in 1935, 1937 and 1939 to endorse a policy of isolation, strict neutrality and the removal of profit making from war. See Roscoe Baker, The American Legion and American Foreign Policy (New York: Bookner, 1954), pp. 156, 166. The Neutrality Act of 1935, which the Legion supported, included (1) an embargo on the export of arms to belligerent countries; (2) prohibited private loans to belligerents; (3) prohibited ships from entering the ports of belligerents; and (4) prohibited American citizens from taking passage on belligerent ships. The American Legion criticized Franklin Roosevelt for failing to apply the neutrality laws to the Sino-Japanese war and for playing the role of so-called "peacemaker." See Warren Cohen, "The Role of Private Groups in the U.S.," in Dorothy Borg (ed.), Pearl Harbor as History: Japanese-American Relations, 1931-1941 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1972), p. 434. Southern resistance continued until the war’s end in 1945, when mass demonstrations by the soldiers forced Congress to demobilize. See Lee Kennett, G.I.: The American Soldier in World War II (New York: Scribners, 1987), p. 165.

[90]Cooper, Political Essays (2nd ed.), pp. 39-42, as quoted Malone, The Public Life of Thomas Cooper, p. 100.