Conference Program


85th Annual Meeting of the Society for Military History

 Landscapes of War and Peace

April 5 - 8, 2018, Louisville, Kentucky


Title: Young Scholars Panel - The First Civil War: Loyalists and Patriots During and After the American War of Independence
Abstract: The American War of Independence was more than a freedom struggle of American colonists against their motherland. The conflict that raged between 1775 and 1783 was also an imperial struggle between the French, Spanish, and English empires in the Atlantic world. It was a desperate struggle by North American natives who wanted to preserve their lands and hunting grounds against ever-expanding white settlements. Many slaves in North America attempted to free themselves from bondage. And this long conflict, as Alan Taylor has recently emphasized again, was a massive civil war in which Patriots and Loyalists fought brutally against each other across the continent, on all fronts and battlefields.
The three papers in this panel examine various aspects of this first American civil war. Emma Bryan presents on Loyalist leaders and their motives to stay with and fight for Great Britain. Anna Cecil Pepper studies the Carolinas and attempts there by Loyalist militias to fight against Patriots independently from the British army. Both sides, Loyalists and Patriots, thereby engaged in a particularly harsh war of retaliation. Raymond Myers carries the story into the postwar era by examining how Patriots in Massachusetts and New York not only fought Loyalists on the battlefield but also tried to make their everyday lives hard and difficult through property confiscations.
 
Daniel Krebs, University of Louisville
Emma Bryan, University of Louisville
Participant's Paper Title: Loyalty and Betrayal: A Look Into the Minds of the American Tories
Participant's Paper Abstract: The American Loyalists during the time of the Revolutionary War have been regarded throughout the nation's history as some of the most hated members of society. The men and women who had remained Loyal to the British government during this time period were even more hated than the English enemies from across the Atlantic. Because British Loyalists were Americans, and yet refused to join the fight for independence, the Loyalists became the physical embodiment of betrayal towards the principles of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Considering the risk of losing their government positions, their wealth, status, homes, and even lives, what made those who stayed true to the mother country refuse to join the Patriot movement? Was it some deeply profound religious or political affiliation that they did not want to relinquish? Was it a sense of obligation to England, which continued to protect and support them? Or was it for more personal reasons, and each individual Tory had a different reason for their continued loyalty to the imperial government? The diversity of the thousands of Loyalists in North America is thereby astounding; from rich, white gentry, to African Americans, both slave and free, to indigenous Indians.

This papers presents several case studies from Loyalist leadership and elites such as Thomas Hutchinson and Joseph Galloway but also Perry Shippen and Benedict Arnold. To reveal their motives, the paper presents both an examination of prominent writings but also the current literature on these men and women. Consulting these sources will ultimately show how the Loyalist agenda played a major role in the transformation of the Patriot rebellion to the Patriot Revolution.
Anna Cecile Pepper, University of Louisville
Participant's Paper Title: British Counter-Insurgency in the American Revolution: Loyalist Militias and the Escalation of the Carolinas' Civil War
Participant's Paper Abstract: After failing to suppress the Patriot rebellion in the North, the British by 1780 shifted their main war effort in North America to the South. During their Southern Campaign, Britain reevaluated its strategy to include civilian efforts. The British hoped to utilize the Loyalist population in Southern colonies to bolster regular British forces, subdue the backcountry, and reestablish royal governance. The new Southern strategy at first appeared successful, but soon the British found that they were unable to control Loyalists and Patriot populations in a North and South Carolina backcountry engulfed in civil war.
In other words, Britain attempted to conduct one of the first examples of counter-insurgency warfare. This has recently led to renewed interest in the Southern Campaign and potential lessons that could be drawn from these British efforts. The current literature on these issues, however, fails to adequately examine the Loyalists' points of view.
This paper attempts to give the Loyalist a voice by examining Loyalists in North and South Carolina who actively supported and fought alongside the British regular army during the Southern Campaign. It argues that the Loyalists in the Carolinas not only contributed to Britain's war effort, but were particularly successful when they used the same total war tactics that Patriots used in this brutal civil war. In the process of fighting the civil war, both Loyalists and Patriots combined the culture of vengeance found in North and South Carolina with select military law and international legal theory to justify their war of retaliation. The local forces of North and South Carolina thereby wanted to act independently, outside the desires of the occupying, British force, by pursing their own goals and creating their own code of conduct.
Raymond Myers, University of Louisville
Participant's Paper Title: "Violating the Spirit of the Revolution": The Loyalist Problem and Property Confiscation Laws in Revolutionary New York and Massachusetts
Participant's Paper Abstract: In the historiography of the American Revolution, many scholars have contended that the conflict was a civil war within the American colonies. On the one side, Patriot revolutionaries wished to replace the colonial system with a new republican form of government better suited to meet the needs of the people. On the other hand, conservative Loyalists sought to preserve those monarchical ties to the English Crown. When the disagreement turned into open rebellion, military conflict ensued.
However, flintlocks and cannons were not the only weapons these combatants used to inflict harm upon one another. From restricting their voice in government to bills of attainder that directly named Loyalist sympathizers, colonial legislatures across the continent passed various laws to restrict the everyday life of local Loyalist populations. This paper analyzes the anti-Loyalist bills passed in Massachusetts and New York during the later years of the armed conflict and into the 1780s. This paper pays specific attention to the property confiscation laws that seemingly contradicted the Patriot's cry for property rights during the American Revolution.
Based on the laws passed in these two states, this paper argues that the Patriot legislatures primarily passed property confiscation laws for two reasons. First, the confiscation and redistribution of Loyalist estates provided the American colonies?later states?with an additional stream of revenue to payback debts accrued during the military conflict. Second, either because they viewed Loyalists as internal threats to their new governments or as fundamentally opposed to the very notion of those governments, they did not believe Loyalists enjoyed the same protections as other citizens. In conclusion, this essay uses this episode in Untied States constitutional and legal history to illustrate the instrumental nature of law and its role in America's founding conflict.
T. Cole Jones, Purdue University