2. Contrary to JA's account, the Regulator movement was less a nursery for loyalists than an early example of East-West conflict. Established in 1768, the Regulator movement stemmed from the desire of settlers in the Piedmont counties to control or “regulate” their local government. North Carolina's population had grown fastest in the Piedmont, but a large majority of representatives in the legislature continued to come from the older Tidewater counties. Moreover, most county officials were appointed by the governor, whom the back country settlers saw as dominated by the Tidewater interests. The movement ended in 1771 when a large group of armed Regulators was defeated at Hillsboro by a militia force under Gov. William Tryon. The same result might have been achieved without the battle, for the legislature already had enacted reforms aimed at alleviating the Regulator's grievances.
JA's account of what occurred after the battle at Hillsboro is also misleading, but probably reflects current perceptions of events in North Carolina. In fact, the Regulators did not universally support the loyalist cause and available data indicates that most were either neutral or supported the patriots. The Regulators' defeat probably led both pa•
triot and loyalist leaders to assume that the Regulators would oppose the American cause. Thus in 1776 when Gov. Josiah Martin called out the loyalists to put down the rebellion, he doubtless expected the Regulators to rally to his cause, but there is no indication that this occurred. At the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge on 27 Feb. 1776, the loyalist force was composed largely of newly arrived Highland Scots and there is no evidence of a general uprising by the Regulators in 1780, following the British capture of Charleston, S.C., and the movement of British forces northward (John R. Alden, The South in the Revolution, 1763–1789
, Baton Rouge, 1957, p. 153–163, 197–198; A. Roger Ekirch, “Whig Authority and Public Order in Backcountry North Carolina, 1776–1783,” in Ronald Hoffman, Thad W. Tate, Peter J. Albert, eds., An Uncivil War
, Charlottesville, 1985, p. 99–124).