July 4th, 1776 — William Goulden and South Carolina in the Revolution

July 4th, 1776 — I haven’t a clue what our family was doing or thinking on that July 4th. Much of the backcountry and central Carolina where our family lived strongly favored the loyalist side.

Our grandfather William Goulden (Golden) was approximately 26 in 1776.

We really know nothing specific about our family until after the Fall of Charleston (April 1780) — a total disaster for rebels, with the British and loyalist forces essentially clearing opposing forces from South Carolina … at least for a while. 5,000 rebel troops surrendered at Charleston, the largest American military defeat in a single battle until the Civil War. Troops from Georgia, both Carolinas and Virginia were lost.

By summer of 1780, the last bastion of rebel forces in Carolina lost badly when the remainder of the Continental Army in South Carolina were either lost or routed at Camden.


In December 1780, General Nathanael Greene was given the job of rebuilding rebel forces in the South.

What did our family do? Loyalist attitudes had largely switched sides in the back country by this time. Yet, many Americans still did their best to stay out of the way of anyone with a gun and an attitude. The war in South Carolina was especially brutal for the families of both loyalist and rebel forces — with attacks targeted on families when male members were away serving — as much as the focus of attack on military members themselves.

Our grandfather William Goulden would have been of prime age to fight in the Revolution. There are a number of William Goldens that fought in the Continental Line of Virginia — we have no family histories for these Williams so maybe one is our own.

Note: the back country of South Carolina was heavily under the influence of Virginia and many Carolinians served in Virginia units. However, very local to our family home at that time was ‘the Spartan Regiment’ of Spartanburg, South Carolina. There was a William Goulding that served in the regiment after the fall of Charleston (April/May 1780). There is no known associated family history with that William Goulding. … However, there was also a William Golden from this very same area that served as a Private with the Ninety Six Brigade, Captain Vachel Clary’s Company of men who came to Orangeburgh with Lieut Colonel John H. Cruger, 183-days pay, 14 Jun-13 Dec 1780.

Whether our William Goulden fought or not, he certainly chose to declare where his loyalties were by naming his first son “Nathaniel Greene Goulden” in 1783.

Special Note: It is very unlikely that our grandfather William was a loyalist, or if he was then he switched sides. Towards the end, the war in South Carolina was truly so brutal that the British government decided to evacuate loyalist families and to move them to Canada, British islands in the Caribbean and sometimes even back to England. We obviously continued to live and to thrive in South Carolina until early 1860 … when the clouds of war again came to Carolina, and our family history starts a new chapter in Tennessee.

You are welcome to add to or to correct this story by contacting: Bill Golden, Norfolk1956@gmail.com

BTW – I look forward to sharing your stories, photos and in-search-of quests. Contact me at the email address above.