Terming the American Revolution as it was fought in South Carolina's backcountry the country's "first civil war," Edgar (history, U. of South Carolina) traces the root of the nature of the conflict to the rise of the Regulators and other extralegal organizations. He lays the blame for the scale of violent atrocities on British regulars and their Tory allies, while not completely absolving revolutionary forces. These atrocities and the overconfidence of the British led to the uprising of the backcountry against the British helped turn the tide of the entire Revolution, suggests Edgar. Annotation (c)2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
Violence, endemic in a frontier society, was even more deadly in the Carolina back country. University of South Carolina historian Edgar, who has produced the well-regarded South Carolina: A History among eight other books, presents a quickly reconstructed account of the fratricidal civil war that took place in South Carolina during the American Revolution. Years before the Revolution, writes Edgar, patterns of terrible violence had already been set, as white settlers tried to maintain their hold on their lands, fighting among themselves and with the Indians they had displaced. But when the British captured Charleston in 1780 and set out on a policy of subduing the southern colonies, their efforts were doomed by the colonists' siege mentality. Lord Cornwallis, the British commander, misjudged the situation and tried to intimidate the population by repressive measures. His policy failed miserably and only enraged the rebels even more, Edgar shows. Partisan bands such as those led by Thomas Sumter and Francis Marion kept the enemy guessing, while Tories and rebels alike battled each other, killed family members, dispersed slaves, burned crops and houses, and generally kept South Carolina in a state of anarchy. Edgar's lucid, unflinching account shows the American Revolution in the south was truly the nation's first civil war. 8 pages of illus. and maps not seen by PW. (Nov.) Forecast: Regional sales of this title should be relatively strong, but without a compelling hook outside the Carolinas, national sales should be confined to buffs. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.