The best books about the "Race to the Dan" and the American Revolution in the South

Why am I passionate about this?

Although I’ve been an avid reader of histories and biographies all my life, I didn’t become passionate about the American Revolution until moving to South Carolina in 2013. That’s when I began to learn about the South’s rich American Revolution history and become fascinated with Nathanael Greene’s role in it. So far, this fascination has inspired me to write two histories on Nathanael Greene, and I hope to keep going. Today, we tend to think about the American Revolution in terms of its northern battles, but if you want to understand the war’s end game, you need understand what happened in the South. These books are a great place to start.


I wrote...

To the End of the World: Nathanael Greene, Charles Cornwallis, and the Race to the Dan

By Andrew Waters,

Book cover of To the End of the World: Nathanael Greene, Charles Cornwallis, and the Race to the Dan

What is my book about?

Thrilling escapes. Daring river crossings. An American general stranded alone. The British army scorching the southern countryside. A neck-and-neck chase to Virginia’s Dan River with the fate of the American South in the balance. Though today it is a little-known footnote of the American Revolution, the “Race to the Dan” featured all of these exploits, and more, making it one of the most compelling chapters of our nation’s birth.

To the End of the World tells the story of this epic confrontation in compelling narrative style. Written by Andrew Waters, the author of The Quaker and the Gamecock, the book not only showcases the incredible dramatics of the American Revolution’s “Great Escape,” but also provides a fascinating look at the psychological and intellectual distinctions between two of history’s great generals,

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Road to Guilford Courthouse: The American Revolution in the Carolinas

Andrew Waters Why did I love this book?

Anyone who wants to learn about the American Revolution in the South should start here.

Buchanan not only weaves a thrilling narrative of the events beginning with the British capture of Charleston and ending at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, he does it in a literary style, perfectly weaving primary accounts with his own insights and observations.

This book changed my life! Not only did it introduce me to events of the Race to the Dan, it convinced me to write my own version of it. Anyone who wants to compliment me as a writer of histories, please compare me to John Buchanan.

By John Buchanan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Road to Guilford Courthouse as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A brilliant account of the proud and ferocious American fighters who stood up to the British forces in savage battles crucial in deciding both the fate of the Carolina colonies and the outcome of the war.

""A tense, exciting historical account of a little known chapter of the Revolution, displaying history writing at its best.""--Kirkus Reviews

""His compelling narrative brings readers closer than ever before to the reality of Revolutionary warfare in the Carolinas.""--Raleigh News & Observer.

""Buchanan makes the subject come alive like few others I have seen."" --Dennis Conrad, Editor, The Nathanael Greene Papers.

""John Buchanan offers us…


Book cover of Daniel Morgan: A Revolutionary Life

Andrew Waters Why did I love this book?

Forget about George Washington. Daniel Morgan was the best American battlefield general of the Revolutionary War. And anyone who wants to tell the story of the Race to the Dan has to start with Daniel Morgan’s miraculous victory at the Battle Cowpens on January 17, 1781.

Zambone’s book is by far the best contemporary biography of this important but little-known American hero, not only explaining the genius of Morgan’s Cowpens victory, but also covering how Morgan’s early life in the American frontier prepared him to be the American Revolution’s most significant innovator in military tactics. 

By Albert Louis Zambone,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Daniel Morgan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A Major New Biography of a Man of Humble Origins Who Became One of the Great Military Leaders of the American Revolution
On January 17, 1781, at Cowpens, South Carolina, the notorious British cavalry officer Banastre Tarleton and his legion had been destroyed along with the cream of Lord Cornwallis's troops. The man who planned and executed this stunning American victory was Daniel Morgan. Once a barely literate backcountry laborer, Morgan now stood at the pinnacle of American martial success. Born in New Jersey in 1736, he left home at seventeen and found himself in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. There he…


Book cover of Partisans and Redcoats: The Southern Conflict That Turned the Tide of the American Revolution

Andrew Waters Why did I love this book?

To understand the American Revolution in the South, you need to understand what happened in South Carolina in the summer and fall of 1780, after the British captured Charleston that May. And you also need to know about the bitter civil war that divided South Carolina in the years leading up to 1780.

Walter Edgar is a South Carolina treasure, now known primarily for his popular NPR radio show on South Carolina history and culture. But he’s also the state’s preeminent historian, and in Partisans and Redcoats, he expertly introduces readers to the unique conditions and culture in South Carolina that led to this prominent role in the American Revolution. 

By Walter Edgar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Partisans and Redcoats as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From one of the South′s foremost historians, this is the dramatic story of the conflict in South Carolina that was one of the most pivotal contributions to the American Revolution.

In 1779, Britain strategised a war to finally subdue the rebellious American colonies with a minimum of additional time, effort, and blood. Setting sail from New York harbour with 8,500 ground troops, a powerful British fleet swung south towards South Carolina. One year later, Charleston fell. And as King George′s forces pushed inland and upward, it appeared the six-year-old colonial rebellion was doomed to defeat. In a stunning work on…


Book cover of Devil of a Whipping: The Battle of Cowpens

Andrew Waters Why did I love this book?

Babits is the master of what I call “forensic history,” combining a comprehensive survey of primary accounts with archaeology, geography, and any other scientific or historical source he can utilize to craft military histories unparalleled in detail and analysis.

Here he turns his forensic eye to the Battle of Cowpens, providing groundbreaking research and perspective on this important American victory. 

By Lawrence E. Babits,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Devil of a Whipping as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The real-life battle and heroes that inspired The Patriot On January 17, 1781, in a pasture near present-day Spartanburg, South Carolina, Daniel Morgan's army of Continental troops and militia routed an elite British force under the command of the notorious Banastre Tarleton. Using documentary and archaeological evidence to reconstruct the fighting at Cowpens, now a national battlefield, Lawrence Babits provides a riveting, minute-by-minute account of the clash that turned the tide of the Revolutionary War in the South and helped lead to the final defeat of the British at Yorktown.


Book cover of The War of the Revolution

Andrew Waters Why did I love this book?

There have been a lot of comprehensive histories of the American Revolution published since, but Christopher Ward’s The War of the Revolution is still the gold standard.

Want me to prove it? Pick up a Ferling or Philbrick or any other historian writing about the American Revolution today and see how many times they use it in their work.

Expertly documented, with clean, concise writing that can be read end-to-end or used as a reference for specific campaigns and battles, this is my go-to source for everything American Revolution.  

By Christopher Ward,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The War of the Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the first crack of musket fire at Lexington and Concord to the downing of the British colors at Yorktown, Christopher Ward does not tell the whole history of the American Revolution, but rather, illuminates the history of the war caused by that revolution-the military operations on land in the War for Independence. When The War for the Revolution was first published almost sixty years ago, it was instantly recognized as a modern classic of American historical scholarship, as well as a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction Revolutionary War history. Today it is probably the most cited single work on the…


You might also like...

Wrightsville Beach

By Suzanne Goodwyn,

Book cover of Wrightsville Beach

Suzanne Goodwyn Author Of Wrightsville Beach

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been writing all my life, but was never able to find my voice until I had my daughters. It was for them I wrote “Wrightsville Beach”. I wanted to show them what a good relationship should look like and how their decisions make a difference in where they will go. I want my readers to relive that feeling of falling in love and to be sent in unexpected directions, as life so often does to us. I want you to enjoy it so much, you don’t want to put the book down until it’s finished and once you do, to sit and reflect on it, savoring the feeling it has left behind.

Suzanne's book list on smart women trying to figure it all out

What is my book about?

Two years ago, devastated by the sudden death of his older brother, Hank Atwater went on a drinking rampage that ended in his being arrested. Since then, he has been working to rebuild his reputation in his hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina, with little luck. But everything changes after a chance meeting with Jess Wade, a UNCW student studying to be a marine biologist. Hank and Jess feel connected to each other in a way neither has ever felt before.

But when Hank’s past leads to a frightful incident, it ends their relationship. Jess leaves to work on the beach…

Wrightsville Beach

By Suzanne Goodwyn,

What is this book about?

Two years ago, Hank Atwater made a terrible mistake. Devastated by the sudden death of his older brother, Rob, he went on a drinking rampage that ended in his being arrested for aggravated assault. Sober since then, he has been working to rebuild his reputation in his hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina, with little luck.

Working a dead-end delivery job, Hank uses surfing and running to deal with being ostracized as he waits for his probation to end. But everything changes after a chance meeting with Jess Wade, a UNCW student studying to be a marine biologist. Hank and Jess…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the American Revolution, North Carolina, and South Carolina?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the American Revolution, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

The American Revolution Explore 237 books about the American Revolution
North Carolina Explore 127 books about North Carolina
South Carolina Explore 48 books about South Carolina