Over two hundred Revolutionary War battles and skirmishes earned South Carolina the 1970s slogan "Battleground of Freedom." Historians widely regard battles here in late 1780 and in 1781 as turning points of the war. Yet many South Carolina patriots were reluctant revolutionaries, slow to opt for independence, and the state’s many loyalists made much of the conflict a bloody civil war.
The fall of Charleston to the British on 12 May 1780 was the worst patriot defeat of the war. Soon South Carolina and Georgia were overrun. A year earlier Continental Congress had urged both states to meet the impending disaster by arming slaves. Both refused. In 1780 and early 1781 serious consideration was given to making peace by letting Britain keep these southernmost slaveholding colonies.
The South Carolina Department of Archives and History is a major center for research on the American Revolution. This on-line exhibit calls attention to some of our rich holdings on the war and highlights some little-known aspects of a struggle that almost left South Carolinians as British subjects.