Our Heritage – Wilkes County and Georgia During The American
Links and Resources and Organizations
The American Revolution began unofficially before 1770, but the dates officially used are from 1775-1783. During
the last half of the 18th century the political, social, and intellectual differences between Great Britain and
the 13 colonies finally culminated with the separation as determined by the Declaration of Independence written and signed
July 4th, 1776. The first shots were fired at Lexington and Concord April 19th, 1775. After the British
declared war on the “Rebels or Whigs” or as we now call them “the Patriots or Americans”, there were
many battles in the northern colonies in which the British army won most of them. However, after it appeared a stalemate when
the French army entered the war early in 1778 and the Battle of Monmouth was won by Gen. George Washington and his Continental
Army (it was the last major battle in the North) the British developed a “Southern Strategy” believing
the Loyalists (British sympathizers) would rally to their flag and once the British took over the South, they would then build
their army with Loyalists (and slaves) and march back north and defeat George Washington and his Army. Beginning in late 1778,
the British took Savannah and in 1780 they overran Charleston. This gave the British the potential to
overtake both Georgia and South Carolina. However, the British overestimated the Loyalist’s (or Tory’s) numbers
and the Whigs or Patriots provided some chastising engagements to
help control the advancement of the British influence. Wilkes County provided part of that resistance and ultimately provided
a small but major victory to help provide a moral victory which resonated across the South . The Battle of Kettle Creek, as
small as it was, gave incentative to the Whigs or Patriots to continue the fight and thus, Wilkes County became known as the
“Hornet’s Nest”. Below are books and articles written by noted authors which explain more about Wilkes County
The Declaration of Independence.
Dr. Karl Clay Ouzts, professor in the History Department of Gainesville College explains the passions, events, and
situations preceding the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
When in the Course of human events,
The Founders and the “Event” of Independence
By Clay Ouzts
When Thomas Jefferson died on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the nation’s independence,
he was already widely recognized as one of the most important figures of America’s revolution, largely due to his authorship
of the Declaration of Independence. By 1826, July fourth celebrations had assumed a sacred, ritual place in the hearts of
Americans, as had the ideals of freedom and liberty professed in the Declaration. Through the years since 1776, Jefferson
kept the red mahogany desk on which he penned the Declaration tucked away at his home, Monticello, in Virginia. (Click
on the link below to read the remainder…..)
When in the Course of human events
Revolutionary War Sites in Georgia
Georgia’s Major Battles
Summary of Battle Sites
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. The 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 http://www.georgiasocietysar.org/revtrail/grwt_005.htm
#3- Heroes of the Hornet’s Nest: Elijah Clarke and John Dooly
Two 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 W81.466http://www.georgiasocietysar.org/revtrail/grwt_007.htm
#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.
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 http://www.georgiasocietysar.org/revtrail/grwt_009.htm
#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 W81.466 http://www.georgiasocietysar.org/revtrail/grwt_011.htm
#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
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.
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.
Attack 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.”
Final Fight 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 http://www.georgiasocietysar.org/revtrail/grwt_015.htm
#8 - Frederica Naval Action- April 19, 1778
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 http://www.georgiasocietysar.org/revtrail/grwt_017.htm
History of Wilkes County and Georgia
Books/Articles as Listed
1.Kettle Creek Battle and Battlefield. Washington, Ga.: Washington-Wilkes Publishing, 1979. Robert Scott Davis, author.
|Professor Robert Scott Davis
Creek: The Battle of the Cane Brakes. Atlanta: Georgia Department of Natural Resources, l975. Reprinted 2004. Robert Scott
3. Thomas Ansley and the American Revolution in Georgia. Red Springs, NC: Ansley Reunion Press, 1980. Robert Scott
4. Encounters on a March Through Georgia in 1779: The Maps and
Memorandums of Lt. John Wilson, 71st Highlanders.
Sylvania, GA. Partridge Pond Press, 1986. Robert Scott Davis, author.
5. Quaker Records in Georgia: Wrightsborough,
1772-1793, Friendsborough, 1775-1777. Augusta: Augusta Genealogical Society, 1986. Robert Scott Davis, author.
in the American Revolution: At Kettle Creek (Wilkes County) and Burke
County. Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1986. Robert Scott Davis, author.
1. "The Loyalist Trials at Ninety Six in 1779." South Carolina Historical Magazine
80 (1979): 172-81. Robert Scott Davis, author.
2. "An Old Map Documents Revolutionary War Sites." Georgia
Historical Quarterly 69 (1986): 518-22. Robert Scott Davis, author.
3. “Change and Remembrance: How Promoting the Kettle Creek Battlefield Went from the
Means to Becoming the End in Itself.” Journal of the Georgia Association of Historians 24 (2003): 61-79. Robert Scott
4. “Lessons from
Kettle Creek: Patriotism and Loyalism at Askance on the Southern Frontier.” Journal of Backcountry Studies 1 (1) (May
2006), n. p. (online journal): http://www.uncg.edu/~rmcalhoo/jbs/ An expanded version of this article is in Robert M. Calhoon, ed., Tory Insurgents through
the University of South Craolina Press: http://www.sc.edu/uscpress/books/2010/3920.html
Frontier for Pioneer Revolutionaries: John Dooly and the Beginnings of Popular Democracy in Original Wilkes County.”
Georgia Historical Quarterly 90 (Fall 2006): 315-49. An expanded version of this article is in Robert M. Calhoon, ed., Tory
Insurgents through the University of South Craolina Press: http://www.sc.edu/uscpress/books/2010/3920.html
“The Battle of Kettle Creek.” Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution 3 (2)(February 2006):
“Revolution 3” (2) (February 2006): 35-37. http://www.southerncampaign.org/
“The Loyalists at Kettle Creek.” Southern Campaigns of the
7. Revolution 3 (2)(February 2006): 43-44. http://www.southerncampaign.org/
“Carr’s Fort, Georgia-Battle Site.” Southern Campaigns
of the American Revolution 3 (2)(February 2006): 44-46. http://www.southerncampaign.org/
8. “Biography: Colonel John Hamilton of the Royal North Carolina
Regiment.” Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution 3 (5)(May 2006): 32-34. http://www.southerncampaign.org/
9. “Biography: Colonel John Dooly.” Southern
Campaigns of the American Revolution 3 (5)(May 2006): 32-34.30-32. http://www.southerncampaign.org/
10. “Cherokee Ford Fight and the Battle of Vann’s
Creek, Georgia.” Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution 5 (1) (winter 2008): 21-23. http://www.southerncampaign.org/
Articles on Elijah Clark and John Dooly in the Dictionary of Georgia
Biography (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1983).
11. “Austin Dabney” in Dictionary of African American National Biography.
Dooly” in American National Biography.
"List of Prisoners, Ninety Six Jail, 1779." South Carolina Magazine of Ancestral Research 5 (1977): 195-98.
14. "New List of Revolutionary Soldiers Who Fought at Kettle
Creek." Georgia Genealogical Magazine no. 67 (1978): 41-46.
15. "Tories Murdered in the South Carolina Upcountry During the Revolution." South Carolina Magazine of
Ancestral Research 9 (1981): 125-27.
“William Bartram, Wrightsborough, and the Prospects for the Georgia Backcountry, 1765-1774.” Pp. 15-32 in Kathryn
E. Holland Braund and Charlotte M. Potter, eds.
17. Fields of Vision: Essays on the Travels of William Bartram.
Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2010. WORKS BY OTHERS:Elliott, Daniel T., report no. 131.
up a Hornet’s Nest: The Kettle Creek Battlefield Survey”. Savannah: Lamar institute, 2009. Internet book at:
19. “A Hammett Family in Georgia History.” Columbus,
Ga.: Chereth Creek, 2008. Smith, Gordon Burns.
20. “Morningstars of Liberty: The Revolutionary War in
Volume One. Boyd Publishing, Milledgeville, Georgia http://www.factorswalk.com/morningstar/morning1.htm
21-25. Author Christine Swager is a retired educator,
having taught in the College of Education at The University of South Carolina. When teachers pointed out the scarcity of literature
for their students concerning the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution, Dr. Swager determined to address that need.
The book, Heroes of Kettle Creek puts in context for people who don’t know the whole story of Georgia’s militia
is the author of:
21. "Black Crows and White Cockades"
22. "If Ever Your Country Needs You Come to the Cowpens"
23. "The Valiant Died"
24. "The Battle of Eutaw Springs"
25. "Heroes of Kettle Creek: 1779-1783"
30. “REVOLUTIONARY WAR-TIMELINE.” Dr. Christine Swager researched this timeline and based it on Lumpkin, Henry. From Savannah to Yorktown: The American
Revolution in the South http://search.yahoo.com/r/_ylt=A0oG7t3PX4RPXDYAVElXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTE1aWE3cjRoBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMgRjb2xvA2FjMgR2dGlkA01TWTAxMl8xNzc-/SIG=121easojm/EXP=1334104143/**http%3a//utahdar.org/members/revwartimeline.pdf
31. “The Hornet's
Nest.” A Novel by President Jimmy Carter ; Carter, Jimmy. This is fiction, well-written and very interesting, and it
gives the reader a good idea of the hardships encountered by the settlers in Wilkes County.
32. Harris, Joel Chandler. Stories of Georgia. American Book Company, 1896. (Reprinted)
Gilmer, Gov. George Rockingham. Sketches of Some of the First Settlers of Upper
34. Moss, Dr. Bobby and Michael Scroggins.
African-American Patriots in the Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution. Scotia Hibernia
Press, Blacksburg, SC 2004.
35. Moss, Dr. Bobby and Michael
Scroggins. African-American Loyalists Scotia Hibernia Press, Blacksburg, SC 2004.
36. Hays, Dr. Louise Frederick, Director of Georgia
Department of Archives and History and State Historian of Georgia. Hero of the Hornets Nest; a Biography of Elijah Clark,
1733-1799. Stratford House, NY. 1946
Georgia Land Preservation and Environmental Organizations
History, Cultural and Arts Statewide Organizations
Kettle Creek Battlefield - Historical Marker Database
Inscription: Marker Front:
The Patriots whose names appear on this marker are those who have been proved to have participated in the Battle
of Kettle Creek on February 14, 1779
THE HISTORICALMARKER DATABASE: http://www.hmdb.org/Marker.asp?Marker=46285
From Oral History and Family Tradition comes a story resulting
from conflicts between the Tories and the Patriots during the time period between 1779-1781. Capt. Stephen Heard, member of
the Wilkes County Militia and Governor of Georgia fought during those difficult times of the Revolution. Apparently he had
been captured by the Loyalist and was sentenced to hang while in jail in Augusta. This is a story about how he was freed.
(Note: Heard’s Fort was named after the Heards – John Heard and his two sons Stephen and Barnard. Where Heard’s
Fort once stood became the City of Washington - named after General George Washington, the good friend of Stephen Heard and
Click Here: Stephen Heard's Rescue