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I’ve gone far afield with my latest contribution to the Journal of the American Revolution, delving into the Southern campaign that others have written about so expertly—and I do so with trepidation and a sense of intruding into an aspect of the American rebellion that should be left to others. Be that as it may, this article focuses on what may have been the most savage and was one of the longest contests in our struggle for independence, the Battle of Eutaw Springs (depicted above in a print based on Alonzo Chappel’s mid-eighteenth-century painting).
Why Eutaw Springs? Several reasons, I suppose:
— the unvarnished brutality of the event, which I think truly brings home William T. Sherman’s reminder that “War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it”;
— the fact that this was the last major open-field battle of the Revolutionary War;
— focusing on it reinforces one’s perception of the conflict as a civil war, given the prominent role played by both Patriot and Loyalist militia in this engagement;
— its ambiguous outcome begs the question, which the article explores, of how one defines “victory” in a military context;
— the idea that this was the capstone engagement in General Nathanael Greene’s prolonged endeavor to fulfill his ambition of achieving a triumph that would earn him the acclaim of his and future generations;
— the irony of someone from New Jersey, known as the “Crossroads of the Revolution,” writing about a battle in South Carolina, which competes with the Garden State in claiming to have hosted more military encounters in the war than any other state—over two hundred battles, skirmishes, and raids; and
— finally, why not?
So if you’re interested, enter here, and I hope you find it worth your while.