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Why did the British Southern Strategy fail?

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The "Southern Strategy" was aimed at severing the Southern states (or colonies, as the British still imagined them) from the North. In this way, they would break the essential stalemate that had emerged in the war in the North, one which cost increasing quantities of British lives and treasure without yielding decisive victories. It was premised on the idea, promoted by former British royal governors, that the Southern colonies were full of Loyalists, who would emerge en masse after a British invasion. The British also thought that rebel leaders, especially in South Carolina, would be frightened by the prospect of massive slave uprisings, and would therefore offer little resistance.

The strategy met with initial success after the fall of the city of Charles Town, the largest city in the South, in 1780. But as the British entered the countryside, things became more confused. Many Loyalists did indeed emerge, but most Carolinians seemed reluctant to openly support the British. In fact,...

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