Lesson Plan: Overview

South Carolina: Loyalist or Patriot?

Grade Level: 8th


Academic Standards

Standard 8-2: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the American Revolution—the beginnings of the new American nation and South Carolina’s part in the development of that nation.

8.2-1 Explain the interests and roles of South Carolinians in the events leading to the American Revolution, including the state’s reactions to the Stamp Act and the Tea Act; the role of Christopher Gadsden and the Sons of Liberty; and the role of the four South Carolina signers of the Declaration of Independence—Edward Rutledge, Henry Middleton, Thomas Lynch Jr., and Thomas Heyward Jr.
8-2.2 Compare the perspectives and roles of different South Carolinians during the American Revolution, including those of political leaders, soldiers, partisans, Patriots, Tories/Loyalists, women, African Americans, and Native Americans.
8-2.3 Summarize the course and key conflicts of the American Revolution in South Carolina and its effects on the state, including the attacks on Charleston; the Battle of Camden; the partisan warfare of Thomas Sumter, Andrew Pickens, and Francis Marion; the Battle of Cowpens; and the Battle of Kings Mountain.
Social Studies Literacy Elements
K. Use texts, photographs, and documents to observe and interpret social studies trends and relationships
O. Consider multiple perspectives of documents and stories
P. Locate, gather, and process information from a variety of primary and secondary sources including maps

Historical Background Notes

In 1779 the British planned a major southern campaign encouraged by reports of the large number of Loyalists living in the backcountry of the Carolinas."They envisioned a quick victory that would roll up the southern states one by one" (Edgar 49). The South Carolina backcountry was divided and"...the co-religionists in the Camden area supported the king (Edgar 30).

Lord Charles Cornwallis, the second in command to Sir Henry Clinton, took over the control of the British forces in the South after the siege of Charleston in April 1780. Very quickly, the British moved into the South Carolina backcountry to seize"market towns of Camden, Cheraw, Georgetown, and Ninety Six" (Edgar 53). While attempting to halt this British occupation, the Patriots suffered a military disaster at Camden.

On June 1, 1780, Lord Charles Cornwallis and 2, 500 British troops marched into Camden, S.C. On August 13, 1780, Cornwallis fought the Americans at Camden. The battle was devastating for the Americans who suffered over 1000 men killed and 1000 men captured. Following the win at Camden, Lord Cornwallis issued the August 1780 Order to hopefully crush the Patriot following in the backcountry.

Camden became one of the most important of the inland garrisons maintained by the British during the 1780-1781 Southern Campaign. Following the win at Camden against Horatio Gates, Cornwallis tracked General Nathanel Greene, Gates' replacement, around the Carolinas. Due to the Patriot victories at Cowpens, Kings Mountain, and Guildford Courthouse, Cornwallis marched the British out of the Carolinas northward. On October 19, 1781, Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington and the French troops at Yorktown, Virginia.


Primary Sources
Cornwallis, Lord Charles. August 1780 Order issued after the Battle of Camden. In Kirkwood Thomas J., and Robert M. Kennedy, Historic Camden, Part One: Colonial and Revolutionary, 1905.
Faden, William.  “Plan of the Battle Fought Near Camden, 16 August 1780.”  Manuscripts Division.  South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina.  Columbia, South Carolina. 
Tarleton, Banistre, 1787."Plan of the Battle Fought Near Camden, August 16, 1780" in Lieutenant-Colonel Tarleton's A History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781 in the Southern Provinces of North America. South Caroliniana Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina.
Secondary Sources
Battle of Camden Website: This site is particularly well done-full of primary source documentation.
Edgar, Walter. Partisans and Redcoats. New York: Harper Collins Publishing, 2001
Primary Source Document Analysis Handout

Lesson Plans

"Loyalist or Patriot" asks students to choose sides during the American Revolution! Students are challenged to weigh the issues influencing the choices made by South Carolina residents during that turbulent and bloody period. The lesson should take one class period of approximately 90 minutes.
1. Introduce lesson with a review of the terms Patriot and Loyalist. Discuss reasons that citizens of South Carolina might have had for being a Patriot or Loyalist. In which region of the state would Patriots have been found? Loyalists?
2. Referencing the"Plan of the Battle Fought Near Camden" , and selected primary sources from the Battle of Camden Website, review the events of the Battle of Camden, stressing the importance of the British occupation of the city during the winter. Lead students in a discussion of the difficulty of living in a city surrounded by the enemy. How would life be different for Patriots? For Loyalists?
3. Divide students into pairs and distribute the primary source"August 1780 Order" issued by Lord Charles Cornwallis after the Battle of Camden. Distribute the Primary Source Document Analysis Sheet. Working in pairs, have students complete the document analysis sheet and review. Lead students in a discussion of the contents of the order. What would have happened to a Patriot in the Back Country of South Carolina after this order was issued? What could Loyalists have received for their loyalty to the king after the order was issued? What would have happened to a member of the militia who switched from the British side to the colonial side?
4. Independently have students complete a journal entry written from the viewpoint of a Loyalist or Patriot. Have students imagine they were a Loyalist or a Patriot living in the Camden area in 1780. Have students write a journal entry expressing their opinion about Lord Charles Cornwallis and the British occupation of Camden. Students need to include their opinion of the August 1780 Order and how that order will effect their life. The journal entry should include a total of three opinions about Cornwallis, the British, and the August 1780 Order. In addition, students must share one quote from the August 1780 Order to support their viewpoint as a Patriot or Loyalist.

Teacher Reflections

Eighth grade students have little or no comprehension of the civil war that waged in our state during the American Revolution. The main purpose of this lesson was to utilize a primary source document-August 1780 Order issued by Lord Charles Cornwallis after the Battle of Camden-to encourage students to ponder the impact of life in an area under military occupation. Hopefully students would be led to discover that not only were citizens in our state faced with dealing with British Regulars, but also these citizens were faced with dealing with neighbors who were still loyal to the king and on the side of the invading forces.

There were several parts of this lesson that worked very well. To begin with, the students were able to comprehend the content of the primary source with little or no direction from the teacher. Next, the question on the Document Analysis handout -"List two things that the document tells you about life in the US during the time it was written" led to an interesting discussion. Student discussion turned to the relationship between neighbors in Camden who were patriots and who were loyalists. Although students could recite the definitions for Loyalists and Patriot from an earlier lesson, they did not seem to comprehend how neighbors on opposite sides of the Independence issue dealt with each other. Students were eager to find out if citizens were actually hung in the Camden area by the British. Finally, students began to draw a parallel between American military occupation of Iraq and British occupation of Camden. This led to a delightful exchange of similarities and differences between two very different historical events.

Several parts of the lesson did not turn out as expected. Normally directions for all student activities are typed on a handout or projected at the front of the classroom on the screen. This avoids a continual repetition of the directions throughout the student activity. For this lesson, the directions were administered orally with several examples from the classroom discussion included as models. Students did not appear to work well without concrete directions in front of them. Valuable classroom time was wasted with a continual repetition of the directions for the journal activity. Students ended up completing the assignment for homework since additional time was needed to clarify the assignment.

One of the best ways to improve this lesson would be to expand the use of primary sources from Patriots and Loyalists in the state of South Carolina. The lesson might have been more engaging if a letter of a Camden resident or of another backcountry resident had been made available to students. Furthermore, students needed supplementary background information about life in Camden during the American Revolution. For example, if the school budget permitted a field study to Historic Camden, then the students may have been better able to relate to the citizens of Camden in an earlier era. It is difficult to write about an area one has never visited. Additionally, this primary source-- August 1780 Order issued by Lord Charles Cornwallis after the Battle of Camden-would have worked very well paired with a supplementary novel about the relationship between Loyalists and Patriots in the South. Student writing might have reflected more depth.
All students showed a clear understanding between the reaction of a Loyalist to the August 1780 Order and a Patriot to the same order. At the same time, students revealed a basic understanding of the problems created in families, businesses, and everyday life as citizens chose their side in the American Revolution. Four student samples have been included with this essay. In student journal entry #1, the student wrote from the viewpoint of a backcountry store owner who wanted to be left out of the conflict between Loyalist and Patriot. In student journal entries #2 and #4, students wrote from the viewpoints of outraged Patriots who felt that they have been backed up against a wall. In the final student sample, student journal entry #3, the student did a great job of showing the conflict in a family when opposing sides were selected during the war.

In the past, students have continuously mixed up the difference between a Patriot and a Loyalist on the American Revolution test. After completing this lesson, all students correctly explained the role of both groups in the war in the state of South Carolina. Apparently the order issued by Cornwallis, paired with a writing assignment, helped students to make a connection with these two revolutionary groups of the past.

Student Assessments

Assessment for Loyalist or Patriot? is performance based. Teachers may rate student performance on their journal assignments on standards based criteria according to the rubric.

Examples of Students Work

  • Oh, now I am angry!
  • Part of this madness


    Cheryl Baker
    White Knoll Middle School, South Carolina