The Quaker and the Gamecock: Nathanael Greene, Thomas Sumter, and the Revolutionary War for the Soul of the South

As the newly appointed commander of the Southern Continental Army in December 1780, Nathanael Greene quickly realized victory would not only require defeating the British Army, but also subduing the region's brutal civil war. "The division among the people is much greater than I imagined, and the Whigs and the Tories persecute each other, with little less than savage fury,” wrote Greene.

Part of Greene’s challenge involved managing South Carolina's determined but unreliable Patriot militia, led by Thomas Sumter, the famed "Gamecock." Though Sumter would go on to a long political career, it was as a defiant partisan that he first earned the respect of his fellow backcountry settlers, a command that would compete with Greene for status and stature in the Revolutionary War's "Southern Campaign."

Despite these challenges, Greene was undaunted. Born to a devout Quaker family, and influenced by the faith's tenets, Greene instinctively understood the war's Southern theater involved complex political, personal, and socioeconomic challenges, not just military ones. Though never a master of the battlefield, Greene's mindful leadership style established his historic legacy.

The Quaker and the Gameccock tells the story of these two wildly divergent leaders against the backdrop of the American Revolution's last gasp, the effort to extricate a British occupation force from the wild and lawless South Carolina frontier. For Greene, the campaign meant a last chance to prove his capabilities as a general, not just a talented administrator. For Sumter, it was a quest of personal revenge that showcased his innate understanding of the backcountry character. Both men needed the other to defeat the British, yet their forceful personalities, divergent leadership styles, and opposing objectives would clash again and again, a fascinating story of our nation's bloody birth that still influences our political culture.

Battle of Cowpens: Primary & Contemporary Accounts

The Battle of Cowpens is considered to be one of the most important American victories of the American Revolution. On January 17, 1781, Continental General Daniel Morgan led his ragtag army of Continental regulars and local militia into battle on a South Carolina cow pasture against a superior force of British Army regulars commanded by Banastre Tarleton. Thanks to Morgan’s innate understanding of American frontier psychology, and a unique battlefield formation, Morgan defeated Tarleton in a victory many historians credit as leading indirectly to the British surrender at Yorktown. Battle of Cowpens: Primary & Contemporary Accounts collects correspondence and memoirs of the soldiers who participated in the battle. Included here are first-person accounts from both Daniel Morgan and Banastre Tarleton, along with Roderick Mackenzie, William Seymour, and other soldiers who participated in the battle from both the British and American side. Also included are battle narratives written in the years directly following the American Revolution, along with correspondence from other principal actors of the “Southern Campaign,” including Nathanael Greene, Charles Cornwallis, and George Washington. With an introduction by the editor, Battle of Cowpens: Primary & Contemporary Accounts takes the reader onto the fields of this historic American victory with the soldiers who fought there and those who knew them. 

On Jordan's Stormy Banks: Personal Accounts of Slavery in Georgia

During the Great Depression, the Federal Writers’ Project engaged jobless writers and researchers to interview former slaves about their experiences in bondage. Most of the interviewees were by then in their eighties and nineties, and their memories were soon to be lost to history. The effort was a huge success, eventually encompassing more than two thousand interviews and ten thousand pages of material across seventeen states. This collection presents the personal narratives of twenty-eight former Georgia slaves. As editor Andrew Waters notes, the “two ends of the human perspective―terror and joy” are often evident within the same interviews, as the ex-slaves tell of the abuses they endured while they simultaneously yearn for younger, simpler days. The result is a complex mix of emotions spoken out of a dark past that must not be forgotten.

 

The Quaker and the Gamecock: Nathanael Greene, Thomas Sumter, and the Revolutionary War for the Soul of the South

As the newly appointed commander of the Southern Continental Army in December 1780, Nathanael Greene quickly realized victory would not only require defeating the British Army, but also subduing the region's brutal civil war. "The division among the people is much greater than I imagined, and the Whigs and the Tories persecute each other, with little less than savage fury,” wrote Greene.

Part of Greene’s challenge involved managing South Carolina's determined but unreliable Patriot militia, led by Thomas Sumter, the famed "Gamecock." Though Sumter would go on to a long political career, it was as a defiant partisan that he first earned the respect of his fellow backcountry settlers, a command that would compete with Greene for status and stature in the Revolutionary War's "Southern Campaign."

Despite these challenges, Greene was undaunted. Born to a devout Quaker family, and influenced by the faith's tenets, Greene instinctively understood the war's Southern theater involved complex political, personal, and socioeconomic challenges, not just military ones. Though never a master of the battlefield, Greene's mindful leadership style established his historic legacy.

The Quaker and the Gameccock tells the story of these two wildly divergent leaders against the backdrop of the American Revolution's last gasp, the effort to extricate a British occupation force from the wild and lawless South Carolina frontier. For Greene, the campaign meant a last chance to prove his capabilities as a general, not just a talented administrator. For Sumter, it was a quest of personal revenge that showcased his innate understanding of the backcountry character. Both men needed the other to defeat the British, yet their forceful personalities, divergent leadership styles, and opposing objectives would clash again and again, a fascinating story of our nation's bloody birth that still influences our political culture.

Battle of Cowpens: Primary & Contemporary Accounts

The Battle of Cowpens is considered to be one of the most important American victories of the American Revolution. On January 17, 1781, Continental General Daniel Morgan led his ragtag army of Continental regulars and local militia into battle on a South Carolina cow pasture against a superior force of British Army regulars commanded by Banastre Tarleton. Thanks to Morgan’s innate understanding of American frontier psychology, and a unique battlefield formation, Morgan defeated Tarleton in a victory many historians credit as leading indirectly to the British surrender at Yorktown. Battle of Cowpens: Primary & Contemporary Accounts collects correspondence and memoirs of the soldiers who participated in the battle. Included here are first-person accounts from both Daniel Morgan and Banastre Tarleton, along with Roderick Mackenzie, William Seymour, and other soldiers who participated in the battle from both the British and American side. Also included are battle narratives written in the years directly following the American Revolution, along with correspondence from other principal actors of the “Southern Campaign,” including Nathanael Greene, Charles Cornwallis, and George Washington. With an introduction by the editor, Battle of Cowpens: Primary & Contemporary Accounts takes the reader onto the fields of this historic American victory with the soldiers who fought there and those who knew them. 

On Jordan's Stormy Banks: Personal Accounts of Slavery in Georgia

During the Great Depression, the Federal Writers’ Project engaged jobless writers and researchers to interview former slaves about their experiences in bondage. Most of the interviewees were by then in their eighties and nineties, and their memories were soon to be lost to history. The effort was a huge success, eventually encompassing more than two thousand interviews and ten thousand pages of material across seventeen states. This collection presents the personal narratives of twenty-eight former Georgia slaves. As editor Andrew Waters notes, the “two ends of the human perspective―terror and joy” are often evident within the same interviews, as the ex-slaves tell of the abuses they endured while they simultaneously yearn for younger, simpler days. The result is a complex mix of emotions spoken out of a dark past that must not be forgotten.

To The End of the World: Nathanael Greene, Charles Cornwallis, and the Race to the Dan

"In this situation . . . in the most barren inhospitable unhealthy part of North America, opposed by the most savage, inveterate perfidious cruel Enemy, with zeal and with Bayonets only, it was resolv'd to follow Green's Army, to the end of the World."

                                                                       

                               British General Charles O'Hara

                              "Letters of Charles O'Hara to the Duke of Grafton"

 

Thrilling escapes. Daring river crossings. An American general stranded alone, evading British patrols. A British general burning clean his psychological despair while the flames of his furious army scorch the countryside, roads and byways jammed with fleeing refugees, cataclysmic war erupting in the Carolinas. A neck-and-neck chase to Virginia’s Dan River with the fate of the American South hanging in the balance. One of the most important and implausible American military victories of all time.

 

Though today it is a little-known footnote of the American Revolution, the “Race to the Dan” featured all of these exploits, and more, making it one of the most compelling chapters of our nation’s birth. Yet no book by a nationally distributed publisher has ever focused exclusively on this campaign until now.

 

To the End of the World tells the story of the epic confrontation between Nathanael Greene and Charles, Lord Cornwallis, during the winter of 1780-81. Greene and Cornwallis were the war’s two most talented generals; in the South, both finally awarded the independent commands their service deserved. The aristocratic Cornwallis was bred to the codes of the British Army, where honor linked closely with doctrine and tradition. Born only to a heritage of Yankee intellectualism, self-educated in Enlightenment empiricism, Greene’s wartime experience produced a more adaptive perspective, unbound by military doctrine. "I am an independent spirit, and confide in my own resources," proclaimed Greene.

 

In the American Revolution, England’s “Southern Strategy” rested on controlling the region’s vast natural resources and rallying her Loyalist population to force the American rebels into a decisive conflict. Standing in her way only was Nathanael Greene’s starving, threadbare Southern Army. But in a decision referred to “as the most audacious and ingenious piece of military strategy of the war," Greene split his troops, forcing Cornwallis to revise his invasion plans.  With the talented Virginia Continental Daniel Morgan now harassing his western flank, Cornwallis dispatched against Morgan his most ruthless officer, Banastre Tarleton. At Cowpens, on January 17, 1781, Morgan used a superior psychological understanding of backcountry tactics to set an ingenious trap, a "compleat victory" forming "a very principal link in the chain of circumstances which led to the independence of America."

 

This complete victory also initiated the Race to the Dan, a month-long strategic retreat across the Carolinas into Virginia. In constant rain and occasional snow, Greene’s army now so destitute his soldiers tracked “the ground with their bloody feet," the Continentals raced toward a secret stash of boats on the Dan River, finally crossing just before Cornwallis’s superior force caught them from behind. Featuring three near-miss river escapes, the little-known Battle of Cowan’s Ford, and a final chase so close the fate of the American South rested on one wrong move, the Race to the Dan concluded with an American celebration on the north bank of the Dan, while the British army fumed in frustration on the other side.

 

With a background section on the southern theater in 1780, and a summary outlining the post-war lives and careers of its important officers, To the End of the World is a carefully documented, 90,000-word account of this extraordinary chapter of American history, written by the author of The Quaker and the Gamecock (Casemate Publishers, September 2019)  In comparing the lives, minds, and tactics of Nathanael Greene and Charles Cornwallis, the book not only showcases the incredible dramatics of the American Revolution’s “Great Escape,” but also provides a compelling look at the psychological and intellectual distinctions between two of history’s great generals.   

 
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