American Revolution/ War for Independence
b. Analyze the significance of people and events in Georgia on the Revolutionary War; include Loyalists, patriots, Elijah Clarke, Austin Dabney, Nancy Hart, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton, Battle of Kettle Creek, and siege of Savannah.
The Loyalists, as their name implies, were loyal to England and did not want the colonies to break away from the mother country. Many influential colonial Georgians remained loyal to England including Royal Governor James Wright, land owner Thomas Brown, and minister John J. Zubly. Some, such as Brown, took up arms against their fellow Georgians who sided with the patriots. Most of the loyalist landowners forfeited their land to the patriots and left after the war. Loyalists were also called Tories.
Patriots were those were not loyal to England and wanted independence from England. Patriots were also called Whigs.
One of the more well-known Georgia patriots was Lieutenant Colonel Elijah Clarke (1742-1799). Clarke was a poor farmer from North Carolina who moved to Georgia around 1773. Interestingly, his name was listed on a petition to support the King in 1774, but he quickly joined the Georgia militia when the fighting broke out in the colony. Early in the war, Clarke fought both the Creek and Cherokee who had sided with the British. Clarke’s most famous act was his leadership during the patriot victory at the Battle of Kettle Creek. During this battle, Clarke led a charge against loyalist troops that helped win the battle and boost morale for the Georgia patriots. After this battle, Clarke led Guerilla fighting against British troops in Georgia and South Carolina. Based on his military accomplishments, Clarke County was named in his honor.
After the war, Clarke led a checkered life. In 1789, he tried to create his own country, called the "Trans-Oconee Republic," after defeating the Creek Indians in present day Walton County. He was also involved with the Yazoo Land Fraud, and became entangled in two plots to illegally invade East Florida. Clarke died in 1799, discredited and almost bankrupt. Nonetheless, despite his questionable actions, Clarke’s descendants continued to be involved in Georgia politics, including his son John Clark, who became governor of the state.
Austin Dabney (1765-1830) was a slave who fought under Elijah Clarke during the Battle of Kettle Creek. Dabney served in the place of his master Richard Aycock, who used Dabney as a substitute in order not to fight himself. Dabney is thought to be the only African American who fought at the Battle of Kettle Creek. He was an artilleryman and was severely wounded during the fighting. One of his fellow soldiers, Giles Harris, took Dabney to his home and cared for Dabney while he recovered. Harris’s kindness fostered a close bond between Dabney and the Harris family, who Dabney continued to work for after he was granted his freedom. Dabney even paid for Giles Harris’ son’s college expenses at the University of Georgia.
Due to his bravery during the Battle of Kettle Creek, the state of Georgia paid for Dabney’s freedom from his former master. The state also gave Dabney a grant for 50 acres of land for his service during the Revolution; the only African-American to receive one. Later, Dabney received an additional 112 acres from the state and a federal "invalid pension" of 60 dollars a month (which was increased to 96 dollars a month) due to the wound he received at Kettle Creek.
Nancy Hart was a Georgia patriot who is most well known for capturing and killing several loyalist soldiers who invaded her cabin during the Revolution. With a combination of bravery and deception, she was able to take the rifles of the men who barged in to her home. Besides this famous escapade, Nancy Hart was known for being a six foot tall, fiery red-haired and crossed-eyed "war woman." A cousin of Revolutionary War General Daniel Morgan, Hart served as a patriot spy during the war and is rumored to have fought in the Battle of Kettle Creek. Hart County was created and named in her honor in 1853. In addition to the county, Hart has been honored in Georgia by both a town and lake being named after her, as well as a Georgia Highway.
Button Gwinnett (1735-1777) was born in England and arrived in Georgia in 1765. Upon arriving in Georgia, he bought St. Catherine’s Island, Mary Musgrove’s former home. Gwinnett was a merchant and plantation owner and became involved in Georgia politics in 1769, though financial troubles caused him to withdraw from public life in 1773. During the Revolutionary War Period, Gwinnett reentered the political scene, and in 1776 was selected to attend the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. As a member of the Congress, he strongly supported Independence from England. Upon his return from Philadelphia, Gwinnett served as chairman of a committee that wrote the Georgia Constitution of 1777, he was instrumental in the creation and passage of the Georgia Constitution of 1777. Also in 1777, Gwinnett became governor of Georgia after the death of Governor Archibald Bulloch. During his short time as Governor he became embedded in a political rivalry with Lachlan McIntosh, which would prove to be deadly. After McIntosh publically criticized Gwinnett, Gwinnett challenged him to a dual. The dual took place in May 1777. Both men shot one another; however, Gwinnett’s wounds were fatal. He died on May 19, 1777. Gwinnett County was named in his honor.
Note: Because Gwinnett died shortly after signing the Declaration of Independence, he is the signer with the fewest known signatures in existence. Due to this, Gwinnett’s signature is highly sought after by autograph enthusiasts. In 2010, a letter he wrote sold for $722,500.
Lyman Hall (1734-1790) was born in Wallingford, Connecticut. He graduated from Yale University and became an ordained minister in 1747, but after several controversies, he gave up the ministry to practice medicine. Hall moved to Georgia in 1760. Hall was the only Georgia representative in the Second Continental Congress in 1775. Though he participated in debates he abstained from voting because he did not represent the entire state. Once Gwinnett and Walton joined him in 1776, he voted for independence from England and signed the Declaration. Upon returning to Georgia, Hall was elected Governor in 1783 and was instrumental in the founding of the University of Georgia. Important issues during Hall's term in office included rebuilding the state's economy and dealing with problems involving Loyalists and Indians. Hall county was named in his honor.
George Walton (1749?-1804) was arguably the most politically successful of Georgia’s three signers. Walton was born in Virginia around 1749, though his exact year of birth is unknown. He moved to Georgia in 1769, and established himself as one of the most successful lawyers in the colony. In 1776, he was appointed as a representative to the Second Continental Congress where he signed the Declaration of Independence.
Upon returning to Georgia, Walton served in the Georgia militia as a colonel and was eventually wounded and captured by the British during the assault on Savannah. After being released in a prisoner exchange, Walton was elected governor. His first term was short lived, as he was elected to Congress after serving as governor for two months. Following the war, Walton served as Chief Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, a second term as governor in 1789, as an U.S. Senator, and finally as a superior court judge. Walton's total political career was 30 years. Walton died February 2, 1804. Walton county was named in his honor.
Battles of the American Revolution
Complete the chart as you read through the Battles of the Revolution
Early On in the American Revolution
Early on in the American Revolution, the British Army experienced a great deal of victory. The Continental troops were beginning to feel defeated and losing hope in the cause. Many of them had been fighting for months without adequate supplies; even shoes were hard to come by! Knowing that many of the troops would soon be up for reenlistment, General Washington knew that he would need a big victory to win back the support of his troops and the colonists. On Christmas Night, General Washington successfully led his troops in a surprise attack on the British in the Battle of Trenton. As a result, Patriots regained their hope and began to support the Continental Army by enlisting and donating much needed supplies, making the Battle of Trenton the turning point of the war.
Battle of Kettle Creek
Though the Battle of Kettle Creek was not as important as other major American victories such as Trenton, Saratoga, and Yorktown, this battle raised the morale of the Georgia patriots, gave them much needed supplies, and set the stage for several victories in the southern back country toward the end of the Revolutionary War.
The Battle of Kettle Creek took place on February 14, 1779. The Georgia militia, led by Elijah Clarke and Thomas Dooly, attacked an encampment of 600 British Loyalist. Though outnumbered, the patriots routed the Loyalist troops, bringing a much needed victory to the patriot cause after several prior defeats. Based on their heroic actions in the battle both Clarke and Austin Dabney became Georgia heroes.
Siege of Savannah
In 1778, the British recaptured Savannah making Georgia the only colony to be officially retaken by the British during the war. In reality, there were "two" Georgia’s during the war. The patriot held countryside and the British held cities of Augusta and Savannah. In October 1779, a joint force of French and patriot troops attacked Savannah in hopes of retaking the city. This attack was a dismal failure. After five days of intense shelling from French ships and patriot batteries, little damage was done to the British military but several civilians in the city were killed. When the French and American troops finally attacked the city, they were easily defeated by the British troops. When the fighting ended, over 800 allied troops were killed compared to 18 British soldiers. Savannah stayed in British hands until 1782.
Though the Siege of Savannah was a failure for the patriots, several American heroes emerged from the battle. One was Count Casmir Pulaski, a Polish nobleman who was killed leading a charge. Another hero, Sergeant William Jasper, was also killed while attacking a British position. Additionally, a group of black soldiers from Haiti heroically protected the allied retreat and saving hundreds of allied soldiers’ lives in the process.
Battle of Rice Boats
The first fighting in Georgia began in March 1776. The British sent ships to Georgia to the Savannah Harbor to buy supplies. The British Royal Governor (James Wright) pushed for Georgians to cooperate with the British.
Georgia had several ships loaded with rice anchored near Savannah. The British wanted the colonists to give them these rice ships. Rather then give up the ships the colonists burned them. After this, the British sailed away bringing Governor Wright with them. This battle marked the end of the Royal Government in Georgia.
Battle of Yorktown/ Treaty of Paris
The war ended with the Battle Yorktown, where General Washington’s troops and a French fleet were able to successfully surround the British forcing their surrender. The Treaty of Paris of 1783, which officially ended the American Revolution and acknowledged the United States of America as a nation independent from Great Britain, was signed in Paris in 1783.
America: The Story of Us