A Student of History

February 5, 2008

“AN EXTREME VIOLENT SPIRIT”

Filed under: Early America,NC History,Wars — John Maass @ 1:23 pm

My paper topic at the 2008 Society for Military History meeting at Ogden, UT in April will be “An Extreme Violent Spirit: War, Peace and Enmity in Revolutionary North Carolina.”  Here’s my introduction:

More than anything else, the struggle for American independence in North Carolina was a civil war, especially after the British concentrated their Southern offensive there in late 1778.  This was not only a traditional military contest between regular armies in the field, but a bloody internal struggle marked by plundering, property destruction, violence and murder as well.  These concurrent conflicts created great difficulties for Patriot military and civilian leaders in all of the nascent southern states in their attempt to establish and maintain order and stability.  The need to secure the state was of paramount importance for North Carolinians, who recognized even before 1783 the necessity of ending uncontrolled violence among the citizenry as the most imperative part of this process.  Patriot leaders during this period had to balance the need for an end to violence as the war ended, with the strong desire among many Whigs to seek vengeance and reprisals against their disaffected enemies.  Although moderates sought to limit the retributive violence and calls for punishment during and after the war, and worked to foster a spirit of conciliation in order to bring peace, prosperity and order to the state, this was a position not universally shared by all supporters of the American cause, which frustrated efforts to insure leniency toward Tories as the state moved from war to peace.

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