True for the Cause of Liberty
The Second Spartan Regiment in the American Revolution
Oscar E. Gilbert and Catherine R. Gilbert
Casemate, Philadelphia, 2016, 328 pages
Book Review published on: March 30, 2017
Oscar and Catherine Gilbert describe the internecine warfare of the Carolina backcountry during the American Revolution in True for the Cause of Liberty. Unlike the war that took place in the northern states, the Gilberts imply it was a bitter civil war and a continuance of the centuries old conflict between England and Scotland. Thousands of Presbyterian believing Scots who had been transplanted by the English to Ireland were now being replanted in Carolina backcountry as a buffer between warring Indian tribes and the genteel English coastal plantations. Their Presbyterian beliefs and political radicalism set them apart from the English gentry who settled the coastal regions. Rigors of settling the Carolina backcountry and numerous skirmishes with warring Native American tribes had harden the Scotch-Irish, preparing them to fight not only local Tory groups, but also the British army itself. They quote King George III who declared that the rebellion in the colonies was a Presbyterian rebellion. Presbyterian ministers and meeting houses became targets for destruction by British army and their Tory sympathizers attempting to suppress the rebellion in the Carolina backcountry.
The Gilberts dispel the myth of an orderly rebellion involving Patriot citizen-soldiers on one side against British regulars on the other. A central theme throughout involves the burning of homes, murder of noncombatants, pillaging, and even, rape. While these inhumanities took place on both sides throughout the war, the Gilberts assert atrocities committed by vengeful Loyalists and opportunistic bandits following the fall of Charleston turned even more Patriot parolees into active partisans. The Gilberts claim the British Southern Strategy of pacifying the South actually triggered a greater partisan war. Such was the nature of war that took place in the Carolina backcountry.
While the Gilberts provide excellent individual accounts of patriots who may have served in the Second Spartan Regiment, there is very little on the regiment itself. There is no militia roster, command structure, or correspondence. The Gilberts rely on a variety of personal memoirs, British military correspondence, and Revolutionary War Patriot Pension applications in tracing the unit’s activities.
The violence in the Carolina did not end with Cornwallis’s surrender at Yorktown. The Patriots took the opportunity to eliminate the Cherokee threat and Loyalist exiles who had been urging the tribe to attack frontier settlements. A Patriot punitive campaign in Cherokee territory resulted in peace agreements with the Cherokees. Die-hard Loyalists continued the struggle until each side grew increasingly weary of bloodshed, or in the Tories’ case, just abandoned hope. True for the Cause of Liberty persuasively tells the savage partisan war in the Carolina backcountry during American’s war for Independence. Its meticulous research in covering numerous key skirmishes long since forgotten makes it a valuable addition to any researcher or readers interested in the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution.
Book Review written by: Jesse McIntyre III, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas