Lesson Plan

Brother Against Brother

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Grade Level:
Third Grade-Eighth Grade
Language Arts, Revolutionary War, Social Studies, Theatre
Group Size:
Up to 24
National/State Standards:
SC: ELA – 3rd - I-A, B, C; II-B, C; III-B: IV-B, E; 6th - I-A, B, E, J; II-B; III-E; IV-A, B, C, F, G, K; 7th - I-B, D H I; II-C, D; IV-B, C, E, F; 8th - I-B, H, I; II-B, C; IV-A Soc Stud - 3.1; 4.1.1, 4.1.7; 8.1.1; 8.1.2, 8.2.5 Drama - Comp 2, Comp 3
Brother against Brother, patriots, loyalists


GOAL:  To understand the civil war nature of the American Revolution in the South. (The highest number and most violent engagements of the war took place in the South. It was in the south that the Patriots secured victory.)


Students will explain the role of militia and strategies employed on both sides to engage local people in their cause.


The American Revolution in the South was a civil war. Most of the combatants were militia, either Tory (British Loyalist) militia, or Whig (Patriot) militia.

The American Revolution can be considered in broader terms than just great heroes, political and military events. There were certain social results of warfare and hostilities – often-overlooked events that profoundly altered colonial society. Powerful forces often affected families as various family members differed over the war. Examples abound.

One of the more famous examples, perhaps, is the story of the famous Philadelphian Benjamin Franklin, and, his son, William. The latter, appointed royal governor of New Jersey through his father’s influence, remained loyal to the Crown. His father, on the other hand, even though an envoy to London, grew embittered against the Crown. At war’s end, William fled to England, virtually disowned by his Patriot father he apparently still loved. In the process, a father’s dreams for his son were shattered.

There, too, were examples of brother against brother. One of the better known documentations in the Carolinas is of the Goforth brothers at the Battle of Kings Mountain. Preston Goforth, from Rutherford County, North Carolina, an ardent Patriot, was killed in battle. Three of his brothers, all on the Tory side, also were killed at Kings Mountain. No one has documented the cause of the split in this family.

Also, at the Battle of Kings Mountain, the historian Draper writes that after the battle, a wounded Tory by the name of Branson (Brandon, actually) asked his Whig relative, James Withrow, for help. Withrow’s reply was, “Look to your own friends for help.” This response to his brother-in-law (his wife’s brother) most certainly played a major part in the divorce petition of James and his wife, Sydney Brandon Withrow, in 1798.

In the backcountry of South Carolina, south of Ninety Six, comes the story of two sisters, Katy and Anna Adolph, daughters of Palatine German immigrants. Their story, pieced together from family documents and memorabilia, letters and historical records, tells of Katy’s marriage to Abraham Frietz, a Loyalist, and, Anna’s, to Peter Dorst, a Patriot. A great drama unfolds as the two sisters, following their husbands’ politics, find themselves at odds with each other. Ostracized in the community, Katy and other Loyalist families started a new life in Nova Scotia. The true story has a marvelous ending — the two sisters, then elderly, reunited and dealt with all the bitterness and strife of the past.

Many families, of course, were united. Fractured families were, however, at times part of the civil war aspect of the revolution — father against son, brother against brother, sister against sister, and husband against wife. This was part of a larger social drama just as much a part of the Revolution as battles and heroes. Lives were changed forever by the American Revolution.


Additional Resources

Babits, Lawrence E. A Devil of a Whipping: The Battle of Cowpens. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

Boatner, Mark M. III. Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books,1994.

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

de Villiers, Marq and Sheila Hirtle, Blood Traitors: The Saga of Families Torn Apart by the Struggle for Independence in Revolutionary War America. Toronto: Harper Collins, 1996.

Draper, Lyman C. Kings Mountain and Its Heroes. Johnson City, Tennessee: The Overmountain Press, reprinted, 1996.

Fleming, Thomas J. Downright Fighting: The Story of Cowpens - The Official National Park Handbook. Washington, DC: Division of Publications: National Park Service, US Department of the Interior, 1988.

Higginbotham, Don. The War of American Independence: Military Attitudes, Policies, and Practice, 1763-1789. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1983.

Kierner, Cynthia A. Southern Women in Revolution, 1776-1800: Personal and Political Narratives. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998.

Leach, Douglas, Edward, Roots of Conflict: British Armed Forces and Colonial Americans, 1672-1763. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1986.

Morrill, Dan L. Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution. Baltimore, Maryland:: The Nautical and Aviation Publishing Company of America, N.D.

Moss, Bobby Gilmer, The Patriots at the Cowpens, Revised Edition. Blacksburg, South Carolina: Scotia Press, 1985.

Phillips, Kevin. The Cousins' War: Religion, Politics, and the Triumph of Anglo-America. New York: Basic Books, 1999.





Last updated: April 14, 2015