Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Crescent Moon over Carolina: William Moultrie and American Liberty

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Crescent Moon over Carolina: William Moultrie and American Liberty

Article excerpt

Crescent Moon over Carolina: William Moultrie and American Liberty. By C. L. Bragg. (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2013. Pp. [xviii], 362. $29.95, ISBN 978-1-61117-269-0.)

In Crescent Moon over Carolina: William Moultrie and American Liberty, C. L. Bragg invites the reader into the world of William Moultrie, elite planter, Patriot, and man of the early republic. Bragg begins with a thorough genealogical treatment of the Moultrie family, paying attention to its Scottish and Huguenot roots. Moultrie's early career was shaped by militia service in South Carolina's Cherokee War as personal assistant to Governor William Henry Lyttelton. The book's title comes from the silver crescent moon emblem of the infantry cap worn by Moultrie's unit in that war. Like other planters, Moultrie was well established among the militia leadership by the Revolution.

In Part 2, the author discusses Moultrie and South Carolina during the Revolution amid disagreements between the Loyalist backcountry and the Patriot-leaning Lowcountry. Planter elites like Moultrie tried to navigate the turbulence while remaining firmly planted on the path toward honor, military advancement, and social status. Bragg's treatment of the battles in and around Charles Town and its harbor, particularly the battle of Sullivan's Island, will leave most military historians more than sated with flanking and enfilading details. The work focuses much time and attention on both the early and later British efforts to conquer Charles Town, which fell in May 1780.

Social and cultural historians are treated to rare glimpses of a world where British and American officers debated surrender terms that satisfied planter sensibilities about honor. Other details include an accidental munitions storage explosion that required both the British and Americans to work side by side to put out the blaze, which destroyed both the local poorhouse and the local whorehouse. Medical historians are also treated to an epidemiological approach to the war, focusing on British prison ships. However, Bragg always brings the war's impact back to South Carolina itself by pointing out that the South Carolina Patriot government was the first independent government among the thirteen states.

Bragg demonstrates in Part 3 how both Moultrie and South Carolina made the transition to the postwar era amid crop failures, estates lost to debt, and the entanglements of the French Revolution. …

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