The Southern Strategy: Britain's Conquest of South Carolina and Georgia, 1775-1780

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America’s popular memory of the Revolutionary War casts New England minutemen facing off against redcoats at Concord Bridge and George Washington’s frostbitten soldiers huddled together at Valley Forge, but David K. Wilson’s new study challenges the generally accepted notion that the war was fought primarily in the North. Recalling that the ramparts of Savannah were no less bloodstained than Bunker Hill and the siege of Charleston no less important than the battle for New York, Wilson considers the waging of war ...

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Overview

America’s popular memory of the Revolutionary War casts New England minutemen facing off against redcoats at Concord Bridge and George Washington’s frostbitten soldiers huddled together at Valley Forge, but David K. Wilson’s new study challenges the generally accepted notion that the war was fought primarily in the North. Recalling that the ramparts of Savannah were no less bloodstained than Bunker Hill and the siege of Charleston no less important than the battle for New York, Wilson considers the waging of war in the southern colonies during the critical and often overlooked period from 1775 to the spring of 1780. He suggests that the paradox of the British defeat in 1781-after Crown armies had crushed all organized resistance in South Carolina and Georgia-makes sense only if one understands the fundamental flaws in what modern historians label Britain’s "Southern Strategy."

        Wilson closely examines battles and skirmishes in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia to construct a comprehensive military history of the American Revolution in the South through May 1780. A cartographer and student of geography, Wilson includes detailed, original battle maps and orders of battle for each engagement. Appraising the strategy and tactics of the most significant conflicts, he tests the thesis that the British could raise the manpower they needed to win the war in the South by tapping a vast reservoir of southern Loyalists. According to Wilson, the policy was flawed in both its conception and execution.

        The sheer amount of empirical data Wilson has amassed here distinguishes this work and makes Wilson's recounting an invaluable guide to the war in the South.

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What People Are Saying

John Buchanan
"Despite increasing attention to the partisan uprising in the Carolina Back Country that began following the British capture of Charleston and its garrison, the campaigning in Georgia and the South Carolina Low Country that preceded it remains a historical terra incognito. In a clearly written and well researched book that should appeal to specialists and history aficionados alike, David Wilson has done yeoman work in helping to reveal this much neglected prologue to the wider conflict."
author of The Road to Guilford Courthouse: The American Revolution in the Carolinas
John W. Gordon
"In the South, with a population that included substantial Loyalist elements, the American Revolution amounted to a civil war inside an insurgency, involving both regular forces and irregular forces of partisans. The Southern Strategy is a must-read for those interested in how Britain sought to apply military power to regain control of the Southern colonies. David K. Wilson provides clear accounts of engagements, detailed orders of battle, tabulations of casualties, and excellent maps of Savannah, Charleston, Stono Ferry, and other major southern conflicts. With a keen eye to documentary sources as well as historical accounts, Wilson has developed an invaluable reference for understanding a phase of the war that set the stage for Britain’s defeat at Yorktown."
Professor of National Security Affairs, Marine Corps University, and author of South Carolina and the American Revolution: A Battlefield History
Scott Bowden
"The Southern Strategy ranks among the most important recent studies of the American Revolution in the South. Wilson masterfully explains the truth behind Britain’s war aims in the southern colonies and details how the realities of the conflict contrasted with Crown expectations. Wilson brings major and minor engagements into sharp focus and illustrates how these battles influenced British pursuits of doomed policies. The narrative is complimented with superb maps, tables, and detailed orders of battle. All of these reasons-and more-make The Southern Strategy a vital contribution to our understanding of how the American colonists won their independence."
author of Last Chance for Victory: Robert E. Lee and the Gettysburg Campaign
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570035739
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2005
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Making the southern strategy 1
2 Great Bridge : the battle for Norfolk 5
Order of battle : Great Bridge 17
3 Moore's Creek Bridge 19
Order of battle : Moore's Creek Bridge 33
4 Charlestown, 1776 : the battle of Sullivan's Island 36
Order of battle : Sullivan's Island 56
5 Remaking the southern strategy 59
6 Savannah, 1778 65
Order of battle : Savannah, 1778 78
7 Briar Creek 81
Order of battle : Briar Creek 98
8 Charlestown, 1779 100
Order of battle : Charlestown, 1779 113
9 Stono Ferry 116
Order of battle : Stono Ferry 130
American casualty return : Stono Ferry, 20 June 1779 132
10 The siege of Savannah, 1779 133
Order of battle : Savannah, 1779 177
French orders of attack : Savannah, 9 October 1779 182
American orders of attack : Savannah, 9 October 1779 184
British commissary return : Savannah, 11-20 October 1779 185
American casualty return : Savannah, 9 October 1779 189
American and French camp organization : Savannah, 1779 190
11 The siege of Charlestown, 1780 193
Order of battle : Charlestown, 1780 238
12 Waxhaws 242
Order of battle : Waxhaws 260
13 The end of the beginning 262
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