Thursday, October 25, 2007

"The New Rising"

When Charleston fell to the British on 12 May 1780, the British took 5,683 Continental troops as captives. State government collapsed. Charleston was the capital of South Carolina and there was no organized resistance elsewhere in the state. In fact, most residents acquiesced and allowed Lord Cornwallis and his forces to occupy South Carolina at their leisure.
York was the first, and for some weeks the only, district to refuse to accept allegiance to the British king. The "new rising," as the resistance movement in the New Acquisition (of which York was part) was called, was led by Colonels William "Billy" Hill, Samuel Watson, and Edward Lacey, along with Capt. Andrew Neel. Within the month, they agreed to gather their followers under the direction of Thomas Sumter, a Virginia-born resident of the High Hills of the Santee.
A high percentage of the farmers of the New Acquisition were Scots-Irish Presbyterians with a long history of opposition to the English and their ecclesiastical oppression in "the old country." The British forces, quite aware of this long-standing hatred, singled out Presbyterian churches for burning, calling them "sedition shops," and also targeted the libraries of Presbyterian ministers.
The first military unit to form with the goal to regain the state met in York District. William Hill and Andrew Neel were elected as leaders. They established a camp, raised the American flag, and sent word to other potential leaders of their action.
In June and July of 1780 there was much military action in the area as Thomas Sumter rallied not only William Hill's forces but those of Edward Lacey and William Richardson Davie behind him.

(Source: Gen. Thomas Sumter in York County, by Louise Pettus, 2005)