Framing the Dialogue

Partisans & Redcoats

You all know the story of a famous ride by a citizen to warn of an imminent attack by the British.  Rushing from home to ride hours to give word of an attack.  The story in this book is different in that the rider was named Jane Black Thomas. 

“Her ride of more than fifty miles through hostile Tory countryside was truly heroic.  She was willing to risk her life to alert her family and friends to the planned British attack.  As a result of her courage and pluck, the partisans were prepared and won another victory.”

With the exception of the movie Patriot starring Mel Gibson, most information we received about the Revolutionary War is centered on George Washington and the more northern conflicts.  Patriot is one of our family’s favorite movies, though due to the violence it really is not a “family” movie.

In Partisans & Redcoats, Walter B. Edgar recounts the brutal conflict that took place in the south during the American Revolution.  The conflict in the south pitted friend against friend, neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother, and in some cases father against son.  Many Americans supported the king (Tory) while others wanted independence (Partisans). 

A seminal character in the history is Banastre Tarleton who was a leader of one of Britain’s Legion.  An early encounter with Tarleton at Rugeley’s Mill turned vicious and was reported that events;

“Stimulated the soldiers [Tarleton’s men] to a vindictive asperity not easily restrained.  No only were men who tried to surrender cut down, but the wounded were bayoneted as they lay on the ground.  One officer survived twenty-three stab wounds.”

The British “unofficial” policy of applying pressure to local citizens to join or be considered an enemy in most respects failed.  The actions of the British galvanized the partisans to commit their own atrocities.  Partisan leaders adapted to their strengths to battle the British.

“Officers had been preparing their men to fight a new kind of warfare.  Partisan, or guerrilla, warfare would require strength, endurance, and guile.  Rather than work on parade-ground drilling – which was useless in the forests of the backcountry – the men engaged in something resembling and eighteenth-century version of today’s ranger training.”

Through the efforts of the southern Partisans, the British were not able to “roll up the South” and move north.  Their efforts were no less important than more famous northern battles.

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