But this is not all. Vigorous measures are absolutely necessary. If a dozen persons [Loyalists] are allowed to be at large, our progress has been in vain, and we shall be involved in a civil war in spite of our teeth. In giving you this information, I tell a melancholy truth, but I do my duty. Report to the S. C. Council of Safety by William Henry Drayton, from Lawson’s Fork, 21 August 1775.

GENTLEMEN: — Being on my return from the frontiers of South Carolina, where the Honorable Mr. Drayton and myself were sent by the Council of Safety of our Province, I think it my duty to acquaint you that there exists in those parts a most dangerous conspiracy against the lives and liberties of these Colonies. William Tennent, Report to the S.C. Council of Safety, from St. Mathew’s Parish, 10 September 1775.[1]

The “melancholy” predictions of Drayton and Tennent of a “dangerous conspiracy” and “civil war” in the South Carolina backcountry were prophetic. The inability of the Continental Army under Nathanial Greene to defeat Sir Henry Clinton in South Carolina resulted in the Patriot cause being carried forward by various militia groups, at times augmented by militia from North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia. When Clinton returned to the northern colonies leaving a much reduced force of British Regulars under Cornwallis to secure their gains in South Carolina, Cornwallis was forced to make use of militia recruited from Loyalists in the colony. The result was that much of the fighting in SC was between fellow colonists. The effect was to make the Revolutionary War the first civil war in South Carolina.

People in South Carolina who remained loyal to the English Crown during the Revolution came from all parts of the colony and from all walks of life, and their reasons for remaining loyal varied. But, in the words of Dr. David Ramsey, “… the only settlement in which they outnumbered the friends of Congress, was in the fork between the Broad and Saluda rivers”.[2] In his 1808 history, Ramsey goes on to describe the political climate in the area:

“Motives and designs were reciprocally attributed to each other of the most ungenerous nature and mischievous tendency. The royalists embodied for reasons similar to those which had induced the other inhabitants to arm themselves against Great Britain. They suspected their adversaries of an intention to dragoon them into a compliance with the measures of Congress; and they, in their turn, were suspected of a design to commence hostilities against the associators for disturbing the established royal government. Camps were formed in opposition to each other, and great pains were taken to increase their respective numbers.”[3]

To some extent, the divide between the Loyalists and Patriots in upstate South Carolina mirrors the earlier division over the actions of the Regulators. While the initial actions of the Regulators may have been generally well received by the majority in the upstate, a tendency of the movement to degenerate into petty feuds and settling of grudges led to an anti-Regulator movement (called Scoulites, after one of the movement’s leaders).

“When the revolution commenced, the actors in these late scenes of contention took opposite sides; and the names of Scoulites and regulators were insensibly exchanged for the appellation of tories and whigs, or the friends of the old and new order of things.”[4]

However, Robert Stansbury Lambert, in his study of the SC Loyalists[5] has concluded that few of the Loyalists from the Ninety Six district of the backcountry were former Regulators.

Both sides veered between inducement and threat in an attempt to gain the support of otherwise uncommitted individuals.

“A proclamation was soon after issued, “requiring… all the inhabitants and owners of property in the town, to repair to the American standard,… under pain of confiscation.”” Ramsey, quoting an order of Governor John Rutledge, Charlestown, February, 1780.

“I have given orders that all the inhabitants of this province, who have subscribed and have taken part in this revolt, should be punished with the greatest vigor… and their whole property taken from them or destroyed.” Ramsey, quoting orders, Lord Cornwallis to the garrison at Ninety Six, 1780.

One of the “royalists” in the “fork between the Broad and Saluda rivers” was Peter Pettypool, my 4th great grandfather. A land transaction and other circumstantial evidence place him in the Fair Forest area of the Ninety Six district at the commencement of the Revolutionary War[6], and the list of Tories in the Spartanburg Militia District prepared by Colonel Thomas Brandon in 1783 includes Peter Pettypool.

Unfortunately, the original of Brandon’s list has been lost; all that remains is a typescript transcription. In addition to the name “Peter Pettypool”, the list includes the name “Peter Pool”. It is unclear if this Peter Pool is another individual, or if the same individual was listed twice in the compiled list submitted by Brandon. At this time, many Pettypool families had begun to use the shorter “Pool” name, so it is reasonable to assume that Peter may have been known by both names in the district[7].   The identity of the listed Peter Pool is at this time unknown. The surviving militia pay abstracts from the Southern Campaign show that Peter Pool was in the Camden Militia, commanded by Captain John Fanning and Colonel William Ballentine.  See The Loyalists in the Siege of Fort Ninety Six, Bobby Gilmer Moss, 1999 for details. Dr. Moss, in common with most researchers, combines the records of Peter Pool and Peter Pettypool. I am grateful to Michael Scoggins of the Southern Revolutionary War Institute, York, SC for clarifiying this issue.

 If you are interested in more information about Loyalists in South Carolina, an excellent reference is South Carolina Loyalists in the American Revolution, by Robert Stansbury Lambert.


^ 1. Both quotations are taken from: National Humanities Center Resource Toolbox Making the Revolution: America, 1763-1791; Recruiting Backcountry Settlers to the Patriot Cause, 1775.
^ 2. Ramsey’s History of South Carolina from its First Settlement in 1670 to the Year 1808, Kessinger Publishing Legacy Reprint, page 144.
^ 3. Ramsey, pp. 144-145.
^ 4. Ramsy, p. 127.
^ 5. South Carolina Loyalists in the American Revolution, published by Clemson University Digital Press at the Center for Electronic and Digital Publishing, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, 2010, ISBN 978-0-9842598-8-5. See page 33 and footnote 41, p. 39.
^ 6. See the website The Pettypool Family in America, http://www.pettypool.com/, for a biographical sketch of Peter Pettypool’s life with evidence citations.
^ 7. An extensive search of the extant records in upstate SC has thus far not identified another “Peter Pool”.