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Revolutionary Era in North Carolina: A Guide to Sources

This guide will assist researchers studying the Revolutionary era (1763-1789) in North Carolina using materials in the North Carolina Collection, located in Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This is intended only as a starting place -- researchers are encouraged to search the UNC library's online catalog and the North Carolina Collection's card catalog for further information.

Compiled by Laura Smith, October 2005

Subject Headings

To begin your search using the library's online catalog (www.lib.unc.edu), choose "LC Subject" from the drop-down menu and type in the subjects terms.

North Carolina---History---Revolution, 1775-1783

North Carolina---History---Regulator Insurrection, 1766-1771

North Carolina---Politics and government---1775-1783

General Reference Sources

The Blackwell Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. ed. Jack P. Greene and J.R. Pole. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwells, 1991. C970.3 B632g

Collection of articles on the American Revolution. Good source for readings on the colonies as well as major contemporary issues. Articles have bibliography at the end.

Revolutionary America, 1763-1789: A Bibliography. Compiled by Ronald M. Gephart. Two volumes. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1984. C016.9703 G35r

Bibliography of sources about the Revolutionary War in the Library of Congress. Extensive coverage of all regions and topics, listing both primary and secondary sources.

Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. Mark Mayo Boatner III. New York: D. McKay Co., 1966. CR970.3 B66e

Alphabetical listing of key people, places, and events.

Atlas of the American Revolution. Map selection by Kenneth Nebenzahl, narrative text by Don Higginbotham. Chicago: Rand McNally, 1974. FC912 A88

Contemporary maps of various campaigns and battles as well as a wealth of additional illustrations.

General Readings

A Chronicle of North Carolina During the American Revolution, 1763-1789. Jeffrey J. Crow. Raleigh: North Carolina Dept. of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History, 1975. CR970.3 C95c

Pamphlet "examines significant events and developments from the implementation of Great Britain's 'new colonial policy' in 1763 to North Carolina's ratification of the Federal Constitution in 1789."

North Carolina and the Coming of the Revolution, 1763-1776. Lindley S. Butler. Raleigh: North Carolina Dept. of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History, 1976. CR970.2 B98n

Traces the development of the Revolution from the initial resistance to the outbreak of violence. Excellent bibliographic essay is included in the back.

The Colonial and State Records of North Carolina, 1662-1790. compiled and edited by William L. Sauders and William Clark. 28 volumes. Wilmington, N.C.: Broadfoot Pub. Co., 1993-94. CR328 R32

Includes state laws, census of 1790, index, and historical review.

The Black Experience in North Carolina. Jeffrey J. Crow. Raleigh: North Carolina Dept. of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History, 1977. C326 C95b

Includes bibliographic essay.

Military History and Major Battles

The North Carolina Continentals. Hugh F. Rankin. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1971. CR970.3 R21n1

Examination of the activities of the North Carolina Continental troops throughout the Revolutionary War.

Battles of the Revolutionary War, 1775-1781. W.J. Wood. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1990. C970.33 W88b

Chapter seven examines the Battle of King's Mountain and chapter nine examines the Battle of Guilford County Courthouse.

North Carolina's Revolutionary War Navy. William N. Still, Jr. Raleigh: North Carolina Dept. of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History, 1976. CR970.35 S85n

Examination of the role of North Carolina in the maritime fight for independence. Bibliographic essay in the back is an excellent reference for researchers seeking primary source material on the subject.

Revolutionary War Patriot Militiamen of Southeastern North Carolina. John Marion Holden. Graduate thesis. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1988. C378 UO2 1988 Holden, J.M.

"This study examines the nature of Patriot militia service during the American Revolution and the socioeconomic status of citizen-soldiers. Profiles of eighteen militiamen of southeastern North Carolina are based on pension applications, tax lists, wills, and estate inventories."

The Role of the North Carolina Militia in the Beginning of the American Revolution. E. Milton Wheeler. Graduate thesis. Tulane University, 1969. C970.3 W56r

Examines the role of the North Carolina militia from 1774-1776.

King's Mountain: The Defeat of the Loyalists, October 7, 1780. Battleground America series. J. David Dameron. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2003. C970.3 D157k

Examination of the battle with information about touring the site; includes pictures of the site as it appears today.

Military Engagement and Military Casualties in North Carolina During the American Revolution. [Abstracted from Howard H. Peckham, editor, The Toll of Independence: Engagements & Battle Casualties of the American Revolution. (Chicago: 1974).] [19--?]. C970.3 P36t1

Lists all battles and casualties in North Carolina during the war.

The Lost Battle of the Alamance, also Known as the Battle of Clapp's Mill: A Turning Point in North Carolina's Struggle with Their British Invaders in the Very Unusual Year of 1781. Rollin M. Steele, Jr. 1993. C970.3 S814L

Fight or Flee: The Combat Performance of the North Carolina Militia in the Cowpens-Guilford Courthouse Campaign, January to March 1781. James Boone Bartholomees, Jr. Graduate thesis. Duke University, 1977. C970.33 B28f

The Road to Guilford Courthouse: The American Revolution in the Carolinas. John Buchanan. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1997. C970.33 B91r

Comprehensive examination of the revolution in the Carolinas; includes an annotated bibliography.

This Destructive War: The British Campaign in the Carolinas, 1780-1782. John S. Pancake. Tuscaloosa, AL: The University of Alabama Press, 1985. C970.33 P188t

Includes excellent bibliographic essay.

The Battle of Ramsour's Mill. William L. Carpenter. [Lincolnton, NC]: Lincoln County Historical Association and Lincoln County Museum of History, 1995. Cp970.33 C297b

Includes map showing chronological progression of the battle.

The Moores Creek Bridge Campaign, 1776. Hugh F. Rankin. Conshohocken, PA: Eastern National Park and Monument Association, c1986. Cp970.33 R21m

Includes fold-out map of the battlefield.

Guilford Courthouse: Nathanael Greene's Victory in Defeat, March 15, 1781. Battleground America series. John Hairr. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press, 2002. C970.33 H154g

Examination of the battle with information about touring the site; includes pictures of the site as it appears today.


Creation of an American State: Politics in North Carolina, 1765-1789. Penelope Sue Smith. Graduate thesis, two volumes. Rice University, 1980. C970.2 S656c

Traces the political climate of North Carolina throughout the Revolutionary period. Volume two contains an extensive bibliography.

"Poor Carolina": Politics and Society in Colonial North Carolina, 1729-1776. A. Roger Ekirch. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1981. C970.2 E36p1

"This book attempts to describe North Carolina's embroiled politics and, in doing so, to analyze the social determinants of political instability..." Includes bibliographic essay and useful appendix.

Biographical Sources

Dictionary of North Carolina Biography. ed. William S. Powell. Six volumes. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979-1996. CRBo D55p

Short entries on prominent North Carolinians throughout the state's history; entries include bibliographies.

Revolutionary War Leaders of North Carolina. R.D.W. Connor. Greensboro, N.C.: North Carolina State Normal & Industrial College, 1916. CRBo C75r

Detailed biographies of major leaders of the Revolution in North Carolina.

North Carolina's Signers: Brief Sketches of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Memory Mitchell. Raleigh, 1964. CRBo M68n

North Carolinians in the Continental Congress. David T. Morgan and William J. Schmidt. Winston-Salem, N.C.: J.F. Blair, c1976. CR970.3 M84n

Chronological discussion "of the North Carolinians who served in the Continental Congress between 1774 and 1789, including the years of the Revolutionary War."

The North Carolina Delegates in the Continental Congress, 1774-1781. William John Schmidt. Graduate thesis. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1968. C378 UO2 1968 Schmidt, W.J.

Intends "to determine whether these North Carolinians, collectively and individually, played a major or minor role in the proceedings of Congress, and to distinguish between the outstanding and the secondary figures from the North Carolina delegation."

Genealogy Sources

Abstract of Pensions of North Carolina Soldiers of the Revolution, War of 1812 & Indian Wars. compiled by Annie Walker Burns. 15 volumes, index in each volume. Washington, D.C., n.d. C970.341 B43a

Roster of Soldiers from North Carolina in the American Revolution, With an Appendix Containing a Collection of Miscellaneous Records. The National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution of North Carolina. [Durham, N.C.], 1932. CR970.341 D23r

Provides name, rank, company, dates of enlistment and commission, period of service, and any notable occurences.

North Carolina Revolutionary Army Accounts: Secretary of State, Treasurer's & Comptroller's Papers. compiled by Weynette Parks Haun. 8 volumes. Durham, N.C.: W.P. Haun, c1989. C970.314 H373n

Volunteer Revolutionary War Soldiers from North Carolina. Carol Leonard Snow. Toast, N.C.: C.L. Snow, c1993. C970.341 L581v

Revolutionary War Soldiers of Western North Carolina. E. White. Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1984. C970.341 W58b

List of entires in alphabetical order that provide details about the individual soldiers of the Revolutionary War from the western part of North Carolina.

"Fortitude and Forbearance": The North Carolina Continental Line in the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783. Lawrence E. Babits and Joshua B. Howard. Raleigh: Office of Archives and History, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 2004. C970.341 B114f

List of regiments, officers, engagements of the North Carolina Continentals, with useful appendix.

Roster of Troops Who Fought at Guilford Court House March 15, 1781. Compiled by Nellie Rowe Jones and Louise A. Sharp. [19--?]. C970.341 J78r

"Contains bibliographic citations for where discussion of each soldier can be found."


Religion and the American Revolution in North Carolina. Robert M. Calhoon. Raleigh: North Carolina Dept. of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History, 1976. C970.3 C15r1

Collection of primary materials relating to the experiences of various religious groups in North Carolina during the Revolution.

North Carolina Quakers in the Era of the American Revolution. Steven Jay White. Graduate thesis. University of Tennessee at Knoxville, 1981. C289.6 W58n

Traces the role of the Quakers throughout the Revolutionary period in North Carolina, with special attention to peace movements and abolitionism.

The North Carolina Moravians in the American Revolution: A Study of Pacificism in a Christian Communal Society. Michael Keith Kapp. Honors essay. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1976. C378 UO7 1975/76 v.2

Includes bibliographic essay.

Through Fiery Trials: The Revolutionary War and the Moravians. C. Daniel Crews. Winston-Salem, N.C.: Moravian Archives, 1996. Cp970.3 C92t

Discussion of the Moravian experience during the Revolutionary War, with close analysis of their controversial position in terms of loyalty, geography, and religious values.

Article Databases

Databases containing articles about the Revolutionary War can be found by going to the library's main page and clicking on the article databases link. The following are the most prominent collections of relevant material:

America, History and Life: "An index for North American history consisting of journal articles, books, book chapters, dissertations & book reviews." Also indexes articles from the North Carolina Historical Review. America, History and Life can be found here: http://eresources.lib.unc.edu/eid/description.php?EIDID=218

Early American Imprints, Series I. Evans (1639-1800): "Evans is the definitive resource for information about every aspect of life in 17th- and 18th-century America." Early American Imprints, Series I., can be found here: http://eresources.lib.unc.edu/eid/description.php?EIDID=1050

18th Century Collections Online: Search here for full text access to "nearly 150,000 English-language titles and editions published between 1701-1800." Contains only published materials. 18th Century Collections Online can be found here: http://eresources.lib.unc.edu/eid/description.php?EIDID=985

JSTOR: Search here for full text articles from a large range of scholarly journals including William & Mary Quarterly. JSTOR can be found here: http://eresources.lib.unc.edu/eid/description.php?EIDID=243


The Loyalists in North Carolina During the Revolution. Robert O. DeMond.

Examines military action, legislation, and social factors.

The Loyalist Experience in North Carolina. Carole Watterson Troxler. Raleigh: North Carolina Dept. of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History, 1976. C970.3 T86L

Examines the loyalist response to the Revolution, the experience of the loyalists with the war itself and resultant legal battles, and the social position and location of North Carolina's exiled loyalists.

Col. David Fanning's Narrative of His Exploits and Adventures as a Loyalist of North Carolina in the American Revolution... David Fanning. Toronto: Reprinted from the Canadian magazine, 1908. CR970.38 F21n1

The Tory War in North Carolina. Mary Clayton Wyche. Graduate thesis. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1941. C378 UO2 1941 Wis-Z

Examination of the conflict between the loyalist Tories and the Patriotic Whigs from 1776-1782, with special emphasis on the loyalists' role in the British invasion of 1780 and the lasting effects of the war.

Loyalism as a Political Issue in Revolutionary North Carolina, 1775-1789. Martha Marshall Smith. Graduate thesis. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1978. C378 UO2 1978 Smith, M.M.

Study of the impact of the loyalism issue on North Carolina's early political groups, especially in terms of the effects upon the establishment of a "peaceful post-war security," "the government's respect for the provisions of the Treaty of Paris of 1783 and for private rights," and the "debates on the ratification of the Federal Constitution."

The Regulators

The Regulators in North Carolina: A Documentary History, 1759-1776. ed. William S. Powell, James K. Huhta, and Thomas J. Farnham. Raleigh: State Dept. of Archives and History, 1971. C970.25 P88r

Collection of primary sources concerning the Regulator Insurrection inculding minutes of meetings, legislation, personal accounts, etc.

Breaking Loose Together: The Regulator Rebellion in Pre-Revolutionary North Carolina. Marjoleine Kars. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002. C970.25 K18B

Close analysis of the economic, religious, and political issues and movements that influenced the Regulation in North Carolina.

Backwoods Revolutionaries: Social Context and Constitutional Theories of the North Carolina Regulators, 1765-1771. James Penn Whittenburg. Graduate thesis. University of Georgia, 1974. C970.25 W62b

Close examination of "the complexity of social forces that prompted the insurrection" and "the constitutional principles of the rebels."

Herman Husband: Penman of the Regulation. Jon Jay Hamilton. Graduate thesis. Wake Forest University, 1969. C970.25 H21h

"Rejecting interpretations of Husband as a mere agitator with an inflexible plan, Husband's influence is discussed in the light of his diverse actions during the various stages of the movement."

The Regulator Movement: Sectional Controversy in North Carolina, 1765-1771. James Loy Walker. Graduate thesis. Louisiana State University, 1962. C970.25 W18r

Addresses the issue of who joined the Regulator Movement and the idea that "the Regulation was not directly related to the Revolution."

Regulator manuscripts at UNC: manuscripts inventory can be found here: http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/r/Regulator_Papers.html

The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence

Arguing With Historians: Essays on the Historical and the Unhistorical. Richard Nelson Current. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1988, c1987. C970 C97a2

Chapter one, "An Imaginary Declaration of Independence, 1775-1975," provides an excellent discussion of both the historical and modern debate over the authenticity of the Mecklenburg Declaration.

Chain of Error and the Mecklenburg Declarations of Independence. V.V. McNitt. Charlotte, N.C.: Mecklenburg Historical Association, 1996. C970.26 M16c 1996

Modern account of the historical evidence and arguments proving the authenticity of the Mecklenburg Declaration.

Mecklenburg in the Revolution, 1740-1783. Bailey Troy Groome. Charlotte, N.C.: Sons of the American Revolution, 1931. C971.60 S69

Discussion of the role of Mecklenburg County throughout the Revolution, with special attention to the Mecklenburg Declaration.

The Mecklenburg Signers and Their Neighbors. Worth S. Ray. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1962. C929 R26m1

Study of the people of Mecklenburg County in the colonial and Revolutionary periods. Some of the material is more relevant for genealogy but there are also many maps and lists of Mecklenburg County inhabitants that may help in finding of primary source material.

Sketches of North Carolina, Historical and Biographical, Illustrative of the Principles of a Portion of Her Early Settlers. William Henry Foote (1794-1869). New York: Robert Carter, 1846. C285 F68. Available online through Documenting the American South at: http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/foote/menu.html.

See especially Chapter 1.

Mecklenburg Declaration papers at UNC: manuscripts inventory can be found here: http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/m/Mecklenburg_Declaration.html. The manuscripts are also available through Davis Microfilm, call number 1-4485