IN THE American Revolution, South Carolinians fought a bloody civil war and not simply a war between opposing armies. "Savage" is the way many contemporaries described the often brutal fighting that raged across the state, especially after 1780. "The Whigs and Tories," wrote General Nathanael Greene, "pursue one another with the most relentless fury, killing and destroying each other wherever they meet."1
As many as one-fifth of South Carolina's whites may have taken the path of loyalty to Great Britain in 1775. After the fall of Charlestown to the British in 1780, another substantial group of white Carolinians, "protectionists," came forward and took an oath of allegiance to the king. Some of these protectionists were rebels at heart--some, including Rawlins Lowndes, Charles Pinckney, Daniel Horry, and Arthur Middleton, had even been leaders in the Revolution--but believed the British had all but won the war and that it was time to accept defeat. Others were Loyalists at heart but had accepted the earlier American victories and remained in the state under the revolutionary government. Thus a neat classification of people into either a Loyalist or a Patriot camp was not always easy to make, for as the fortunes of war ebbed and flowed for one side or the other, Carolinians were forced to decide their allegiance not one time but several. Of course there were also those who took their stand early and did not deviate. Some refused to abandon their allegiance to Britain and regarded those who did as lawbreakers and rebels. Others were uncompromising revolutionaries determined that the land be free of foreign control.2
Given such divisions, it is not surprising that those in the low country who stood in the Reformed tradition also divided and that their divisions were bitter and sometimes ambiguous. The Revolution brought forcefully into the open the tensions and antithetical impulses inherent in the Reformed tradition, illustrated the role of social context in shaping which impulse would dominate which part of the Reformed community in the low country, and pointed toward the ways the community would seek in the years ahead to find some via media between the competing tendencies of its tradition.
The divisions within the Reformed community were most clearly revealed