In many ways the American Revolution was as much a civil war as a revolution. Not every colonist took up arms against the British; many of them were loyal to their homeland. One of these loyalists was my ancestor, Michael Eisan. Though he was born in Germany, King George III himself had intervened to save him when he was destitute and gave him 100 acres of land in South Carolina.
On a visit to South Carolina, we found Michael’s name in the Loyalists Official Rolls in the Edgefield Library. It was spelled phonetically as Isham. He was a private in the Ninety Six Brigade, Colonel John Cotton’s Regiment, Stephenson’s Creek militia. There it says that he served with Major Ferguson.
This led us to the King’s Mountain battlefield in North Carolina, where we purchased a book called The Loyalists at Kings Mountain. We found him listed here, his name spelled at Isham or Isom. As Bobby Gilmer Moss states in the Preface to this book: “There are great variations [in spelling]. This occurred because many of the men could not read or write and the military clerk spelled the name phonetically based on his hearing the name pronounced.”
The battle at King’s Mountain was very much a civil war because all of the combatants on both sides were American colonists, with the notable exception of the British commander, Major Patrick Ferguson. He was a colorful character who led his men to the top of King’s Mountain where they were soundly defeated by the combined forces of American militia and Virginia mountain men. All of the British militiamen were either killed, wounded or captured, there being no escape from the top of the hill.
The American militia had no idea what to do with the prisoners, so they marched them around the countryside for several weeks, during which time many of them slipped away and made their escape, surviving to fight another day. [More about this in my next blog.]
There are only two more days to pre-order my book The Loyalist at a reduced price.