Plan Your Trip
Georgia’s Major Battles
A Summary of 8 Battle Sites
Although Steven Rauch of Fort Gordon Army Military Base has identified over
150 events which occurred in Georgia during the American Revolution, the Georgia Society Sons of the American Revolution focuses on
primarily 8 major battle sites and have produced 8 brochures concerning these eight “campaigns”. The Augusta battle site was really
more than one battle and so was Savannah and Sunbury. In all, most all of the battles originated as an outcome of the “Southern Strategy”
created by the British beginning in 1778.
#1- Fight at Van(n)’s Creek - February 11, 1779
Encouraged by the capture of Savannah,
the British commissioned Loyalist Col. Boyd to raise militia in the Carolina and Georgia backcountry. With over 700 Loyalists,
Boyd attempted to cross the Savannah River at Cherokee Ford where the
Patriots thwarted his approach. He moved five miles upstream and on February 11, 1779, crossed at Van(n)’s Creek in present-day Elbert
County. However, Patriot opposition seriously weakened Boyd’s forces by about 100 men, many of whom deserted and returned to the Carolinas.
Cherokee Ford - Van(n)’s Creek Monument is located at Richard B. Russell State Park, Elbert County, GA. Telephone (706) 213-2045.
GPS: N34.162 W82.744
#2- Battle of Kettle Creek - February 14, 1779
In early 1779, Patriot Colonels Andrew Pickens, John Dooly and
Elijah Clarke joined forces to overtake Colonel Boyd and his Loyalists. On February 14, 1779, Boyd halted his troops for breakfast
in a flat area between a steep hill and Kettle Creek. Outnumbered more than two to one, Pickens attacked with 200 South Carolina Militia
in the center, and 160 Wilkes County Georgia Militia on his flanks. Boyd led about 100 men up the hill where he was mortally wounded.
After intense fighting for over an hour, the Loyalists were routed with a loss of 70 killed or wounded, and 150 captured. The Battle
of Kettle Creek was one of Georgia’s most memorable victories during the American Revolution. The Kettle Creek Battleground is located
10 miles from Washington off SR 44 in Wilkes County, GA. An exhibit of artifacts is displayed at the Washington Historical Museum,
Washington, GA. Telephone (706) 678- 2105. GPS: N33.691 W82.886
#3- Heroes of the Hornet’s Nest: Elijah Clarke and John Dooly
of Georgia’s heroes of the American Revolution -- Elijah Clarke and John Dooly -- rest today on the land where over 230 years ago
they “stung like hornets,” routing British, Loyalists and Indians alike. In addition to the Georgia battles, Clarke and other leaders
of the Georgia Continentals and Militia, including LtCol. Francis Henry Harris, took decisive roles in the fighting in the Carolinas
from May 1780, through September 1781, while Georgia witnessed a relative lull in the war. Grave markers of Elijah and Hannah Clarke
are located at Elijah Clark State Park, near John Dooly’s home site where Loyalists murdered him. The Park maintains log cabins, furnished
and equipped much like a Georgia backcountry home of circa 1780. Elijah Clark State Park, Lincoln County, GA. Telephone (706) 359-3458.
GPS: N33.856 W81.466
#4- Augusta in the American Revolution
A backcountry town of approximately one hundred families, Augusta was
the site of two major battles and was Georgia’s Revolutionary capital after the capture of Savannah.
First Siege of Augusta- On September
14, 1780, Patriot LtCol. Elijah Clarke led Georgia and South Carolina Militia in an attack on Loyalist LtCol. Thomas Brown’s garrison.
Clarke besieged Brown for four days, but when a British relief force appeared, he had to break off the siege. Clarke was forced to
leave behind many wounded of whom thirteen were hanged by the Loyalists.
Second Siege of Augusta- During May 1781, Patriot fortunes
had improved in the Carolinas and Continental Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene ordered Gen. Andrew Pickens and LtCol. "Light Horse Harry"
Lee to join LtCol. Elijah Clarke in besieging Augusta. In the course of a two-week battle, Lee's engineers constructed a wooden tower
from which a cannon could reach the interior of the British Fort Cornwallis. Loyalist LtCol. Thomas Brown held out until June 5, 1781,
when he was finally induced to surrender. The capture of Augusta gave American peace negotiators in Paris reason to demand the independence
of Georgia even though Savannah remained in British hands for the ensuing year. The Fort Cornwallis Historical Marker is located behind
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Augusta, GA. GPS: N33.476 W81.961
#5- Battle of Brier Creek – March 3, 1779
In a plan to retake Savannah,
Continental Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln ordered Gen. John Ashe’s 1,300 North Carolina Militia to rebuild the Freeman- Miller Bridge
at Brier Creek in current Screven County and await reinforcements. After capturing Savannah, British Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell proceeded
to Augusta to recruit Loyalists. In mid-February, he decided to retreat to Hudson’s Ferry south of Brier Creek. Learning that the
Patriots were camped at Brier Creek, Campbell instructed Lt. Col. Mark Prevost with over 1,000 men to proceed northwestward to Paris
Mill, cross Brier Creek and attack Ashe from the rear. The British skillful maneuver encircling the Patriots, successful decoy and
surprise charge into the Patriots camp ensured the British victory.
One of the most gallant stands against overwhelming odds during
the Revolutionary War was made by Continental Col. Samuel Elbert. With his back to Brier Creek and surrounded on the other sides,
he attempted to fight his way through the British lines. Of the 150 Americans killed, more than half were Elbert`s men. The total
rout of the Patriots re-established Georgia as a Royal Colony until the British were forced to evacuate Savannah in 1782. The Brier
Creek Battle Site is located off Brannen Bridges Road in the Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area, in Screven County, GA. GPS: N32.811
#6- Savannah in the American Revolution
Savannah, Georgia’s largest city, was the site of three major battles and served as
Royal and Revolutionary capital.
Battle of the Riceboats- When British warships arrived in the Savannah River in January 1776, the
Whigs placed Governor Wright under arrest and instructed Col. Lachlan McIntosh to defend the city. During March 2-7, 1776, British
ships took possession of several rice-laden merchant ships, leading to a heavy exchange of cannon fire with the Patriots. The British
sailed away with the fugitive Royal Governor, and the Patriots cleared the river of Loyalist raiders.
Capture of Savannah- By 1778,
the American Revolution had reached a stalemate, so the British initiated a “Southern Strategy.” Lt.Col. Archibald Campbell was ordered
to invade Georgia, restore British rule, and prepare for the British capture of other Southern colonies. Campbell’s 3,500 troops landed
below Savannah at Brewton’s Hill, brushed away token resistance, and on December 29, 1778, routed the Patriots, commanded by Continental
Gen. Robert Howe. The British lost only seven men killed and ten wounded, while the Patriots lost 83 men killed and 483 captured.
Governor James Wright returned to Savannah in July of 1779, and revived the governments of the Colonial Parishes.
Seige of Savannah- In
September 1779, French Count Henri d’Estaing, arrived off the Georgia coast, and disembarked 4,000 troops at Beaulieu on the Vernon
River. Continental Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln arrived from Charleston with 1,500 men. On September 16, 1779, d’Estaing demanded the
surrender of Savannah, but 800 Highlanders on a remarkable forced march through the marsh and swamps, slipped through the blockade
into Savannah. Thus reinforced, British Gen. Augustine Prevost refused to surrender, and completed his defensive fortifications.
at Spring Hill- The Franco-American attack began early on October 9, 1779, at the Spring Hill redoubt. British artillery and musketry
ripped the attackers as they advanced. Scottish bagpipes responded to the French battle cry, “Vive le roi!” British, Loyalist, and
Hessian defenders cut down those who reached the parapet and planted their colors. The Allied attack failed with the loss of 1,094
killed, of whom 650 were French. Patriot Gen. Casimir Pulaski, “Father of American Cavalry,” received a mortal wound while conducting
a reconnaissance. Patriot Sgt. William Jasper, hero of the repelled British attack on Charleston, also received a mortal wound as
he defended the South Carolina standard on the parapet. The British reported a loss of 16 killed and 39 wounded. British Gen. Sir
Henry Clinton stated that the British victory at Savannah was “the greatest event that has happened in the whole war.”
for Independence- In January 1782, Continental Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene ordered Gen. Anthony Wayne to restore Whig authority in
Georgia and conduct a war of attrition against the British defenders of Savannah. Wayne established his headquarters at Ebenezer,
and after a series of brutal fights, cut off the British supplies. In a serious battle at Gibbons’ plantation in June, Wayne defeated
an attempt by Creek Chief Guristersigo and 300 warriors to break into Savannah. On July 11, 1782, the British began to evacuate the
city, and Patriot Lt.Col. James Jackson led his Georgia Legion into Savannah. The last battle of the Revolution in Georgia took place
on July 25, 1782, between Jackson and British Marines at Delegal’s Plantation on Skidaway Island. The Savannah History Museum includes
several Revolutionary War exhibits- Telephone (912) 238-1779. The Battlefield Memorial Park and Spring Hill Redoubt is located at
the southwest corner of Louisville Road and M.L. King, Jr. Boulevard, Savannah, GA. GPS: N32.076 W81.100
#7- Sunbury, Fort Morris
Siege November 1778- As the British “Southern Strategy” formed, Gen. Augustin Prevost sent his younger brother, LtCol.
Mark Prevost on a forging expedition against the Liberty County settlements. He also directed Col. Lewis Fuser through the inland
waterways to capture Sunbury, the second largest town in Georgia. On November 19, 1778, Prevost crossed the Altamaha River with 750
men, ravaged the plantations, mortally wounded Patriot Gen. James Screven in an ambush, and burned the Midway Meeting House. Fuser’s
naval force of 500 men occupied Sunbury without firing a shot and he demanded the fort's surrender on November 25, 1778. Patriot LtCol.
John McIntosh, defiantly replied, "We, Sir, are fighting the battles of America … as to surrendering the fort, receive this laconic
reply: Come and Take it!" Fuser refused to attack and returned with his flotilla to British East Florida.
Capture January 1779- After
the British captured Savannah on December 29, 1778, Continental Gen. Robert Howe ordered Patriot Maj. Joseph Lane to evacuate Fort
Morris. In January of 1779, after failing to comply with Howe’s order, Lane found both Fort Morris and Sunbury surrounded by over
2,000 British Regulars, Loyalists and Indians. On January 9, 1779, after a three day siege and a brief heavy bombardment, Lane surrendered
Fort Morris with 24 cannons and large quantities of provisions. The Patriots lost four killed, seven wounded and about 200 captured,
and the British lost one killed and four wounded. Fort Morris State Historic Site, Georgia’s only Revolutionary Historic Site with
earthworks, is located in Liberty County, GA. Telephone (912) 884-5999. GPS: N31.224 W81.393
#8 - Frederica Naval Action- April 19,
During 1776 and 1777, four heavily-armed row galleys were constructed in Savannah for the Georgia Navy, all underwritten by the
Continental Congress. In the Frederica River at St. Simons Island, beginning at dawn on April 19, 1778, Georgia galleys Lee, Washington,
and Bulloch, commanded by Continental Col. Samuel Elbert, attacked HM brigantine Hinchinbrook, the armed sloop Rebecca, and a brig.
The British attempted to retaliate, but were out-gunned and out-maneuvered. As they tried to gain an advantage by moving down river
their ships grounded, were abandoned, and captured. This remarkable victory boosted Patriot morale and delayed by more than eight
months the British invasion of Georgia. The Georgia Navy Historical Marker is located at the Fort Frederica National Monument, St.
Simons Island, GA. Telephone (912) 638-3639. GPS: N31.224 W81.393
Prepared by Bill Ramsaur of the Marshes of Glynn Chapter, Georgia
Society Sons of the American Revolution.