James Wright had been governor of Georgia for ten years. He had purchased valuable lands, owned many negro slaves, and cultivated several plantations. He desired to visit England to attend to his private affairs, and applied for leave of absence from Georgia, which was readily granted. He sailed for England in July, 1771.
James Habersham, president of the Council, was appointed by the king to discharge the duties of governor during Wright's absence. Habersham was one of the people and sympathized with them, but he was also a firm friend of law and order, and believed in obeying the commands of the king. As an officer of the crown he was loyal to his trust, and felt bound by his oath to carry out the instructions of the government.
One of the orders of the king was that Noble W. Jones should not be chosen speaker of the House of Assembly. The Assembly elected him twice, and each time Habersham refused to sanction the choice. The third time, Jones declined to serve, and the Assembly elected Archibald Bulloch. All this was put in the journal of the house, and when the acting governor directed the Assembly to leave it out of the minutes, they refused. For this he dissolved the Assembly.
Governor Wright returned to Savannah in February, 1773. He had been made a baron while in England, and treated with much respect. His position as royal governor of Georgia, at this time, was a very trying one, but he acted throughout with justice and loyalty, and did his duty, as he understood it, to the king.
As soon as he returned he went to Augusta and met the chiefs of several tribes of Indians. He obtained from them the territory of the present counties of Wilkes, Taliaferro, Greene, Elbert, Oglethorpe, and Lincoln, about 2,100,000 acres in all. This was in payment of a debt of $200,000 which the Indians owed the traders. In this way, by frequent treaties, the lands were being bought from the Indians and opened for the whites to settle upon. No lands were taken by force.
Among the many traders interested in the cession of lands in 1773 was George Galphin. His home and depot of supplies was at Silver Bluff, on the Carolina side of the Savannah River, a few miles below Augusta. His trade extended to Charleston, Savannah, St. Augustine, Pensacola, and Mobile. Silver Bluff was a place of general resort and of much trading. Here were distributed the annual presents to the Indians. Here the savages brought their skins, furs, and game to exchange for guns, powder, blankets, knives, and other things dear to the Indian heart. From this point traders left with their wares to peddle them among the red men in the far West. Here were storehouses, cattle pens, and cabins for the Indians and traders to live in during their visits. Here also came the pioneer planter to get supplies for his family and tools for his farm in the wilderness. Along the bank barges were anchored, loading and unloading for the river traffic, and Indian canoes glided back and forth, carrying the dusky savages to and from their villages.
Upon one occasion an old chief came into Galphin's store and, pointing to the shelves, said to him: " I dreamed last night that you gave me that coat." Galphin thought for a moment and handed him the coat, saying, ''All right, we must do whatever our dreams tell us to do." In about a week the old chief came back, and Galphin said to him, " Chief, I dreamed last night you gave me all the land in this fork of the creek." The chief's face fell, but he said, " All right, but we will not dream any more."
The Indians owed Galphin a large sum of money. This debt Governor Wright refused to pay because Galphin sympathized with the colonists. The Revolution came on and the claim was transferred to the United States. It was not until 1848 that the "Galphin Claim" was settled by the general government and paid to the heirs of the Indian trader of Silver Bluff.
In spite of the gathering war clouds and the discontent with the mother country, Georgia continued to increase in population and to extend its trade relations. Ships arrived at Savannah, Sunbury, and the other ports of the colony and loaded for Great Britain, the West Indies, and the northern colonies. The ships brought over cloth, iron ware, hats, shoes, stockings, rum, sugar, and flour. They departed loaded with rice, corn, peas, lumber, shingles, cattle, horses, hogs, tar, and pitch. The people were opening up their farm lands, so that by 1773 there were 120,000 acres in cultivation in 1400 farms.
The population had increased to eighteen thousand white persons and fifteen thousand negro slaves. There were forty thousand Indians living to the west and south of the Georgia colony, with ten thousand warriors. It was fortunate that their friendship was secured during the trying times of the Revolution which was fast approaching.
Let us now return to those affairs which hastened the coming of the Revolution. The British Parliament repealed the tax on all articles except tea. They kept a tax on this, in order to show their right to tax the colonists. But the American people resolved not to use tea. The tea ships were sent back from New York and Philadelphia. In Charleston the tea was landed, but was stored away instead of being placed on sale. At Boston a company of men, dressed like Indians, went on board the tea ships and threw the chests into the sea.
The British Parliament then passed the Boston Port Bill. This act was designed to close the port of Boston, thus keeping any ships from coming in or going out, until the people should pay for the tea destroyed. The charter of Massachusetts was taken away, and a law was made requiring persons charged with committing crimes in America to be carried to England for trial. These measures made the people more and more discontented. Those who sided with the colonists and were in favor of liberty were called " Whigs," while those who favored the king were called " Tories." " Tory " soon became a term of bitter reproach.
On August lo, 1774, a band of patriots met in Savannah, passed resolutions of sympathy for the people of Boston, and declared the acts of the mother country unjust. A subscription was started for the Boston sufferers, and six hundred barrels of rice were given and sent to that place. Among the patriots at the meeting where the subscription was taken was Jonathan Bryan, again a member of the Council of Georgia. When Governor Wright called the Council together, a motion was made " to expel Mr. Bryan " from his seat in the Council. '' I will save you the trouble," said Bryan, and at once handed his resignation to the governor and walked out.
A Provincial Congress composed of delegates from all the parishes in Georgia was called to meet in Savannah in January, 1775. Governor Wright did all he could to prevent this meeting. When the congress met, only five out of the twelve parishes were represented. One of the objects of the congress was to elect delegates to a general Continental Congress, to meet in Philadelphia in May. The Georgia Provincial Congress elected three delegates, Noble W. Jones, Archibald Bulloch, and John Houston. These delegates did not attend the Continental Congress, however, because they were not appointed by a majority of the parishes, and hence there might be a question as to their right to represent the sentiment of the province. They wrote a letter to the Continental Congress, in which they said: '' There are still men in Georgia who, when an occasion shall require, will be ready to evince a steady religious, and manly attachment to the liberties of America,"
The parish of St. John was represented in the Provincial Congress, but was not satisfied with the action of that body. The parish was a wealthy and influential one, and resolved to send its own delegate to the Continental Congress. Dr. Lyman Hall was chosen, and took his seat in the Continental Congress " as a delegate from the parish of St. John in the colony of Georgia." For the patriotic and independent spirit of its people and this prompt and courageous movement, the legislature, in after years, conferred the name of Liberty County on the consolidated parishes of St. John, St. Andrew, and St. James. Governor Wright said that the head of the rebellion was in St. John's Parish.
Not all the people of Georgia were in favor of the Revolution. It is true that there were those who were anxious to act at once, throw off the yoke of Great Britain, and proclaim the liberty of the American colonies. There were others, however, who were conservative in their views, and who hesitated to involve the province of Georgia in war. They still loved the mother country and believed that the disputes between the Parliament and the colonies would be settled in a friendly manner. This feeling was creditable to Georgia, for, of all the colonies, she had least cause to complain and take up arms against the mother country.
The British government sent General Gage to Boston with a fleet and an army to subdue the American colonies. By April, 1775, three thousand British troops were collected in Boston. Soon afterward the battle of Lexington occurred, in which the British were defeated.
To learn how these regular British soldiers were routed by the American farmers with their shotguns and old rifles, you will have to read the history of the United States, where not only this but ah the other battles of the Revolutionary War are described. The tidings of the battle of Lexington removed all hesitation, and, excepting a few members of the Council, united all the people of Georgia in the determination to resist the British rule. Georgia cast in her lot with her sister colonies. The patriots determined to act promptly.
A magazine on the eastern side of Savannah, built of brick and twelve feet underground, contained a large quantity of powder. It was so strong a building that Governor Wright did not even put a guard over it. All over the country the patriots were crying for powder to fight the British. Late in the night of May 11, 1775, six prominent citizens, led by Joseph Habersham, broke open the magazine and took away six hundred pounds of powder. A part of it was sent at once to Beaufort, South Carolina, for safe-keeping, and the rest was hidden in the cellars and garrets of the houses of the bold patriots.
Governor Wright offered a large reward for information regarding the deed, but no one told him the names of the men, though they were generally known in Savannah. The tradition is, and it may easily be true, that some of the powder was secretly stored on board a vessel along with some rice and other things, and that the powder was actually used in the battle of Bunker Hill.
The king's birthday was to be celebrated June 5, 1775. On the night of June 2, a party collected, spiked the battery guns, and threw them off the bluff into the river. The royalists hoisted them up again, drilled new holes, and went through the ceremony of celebration, hooted and jeered by the people. On the same day a liberty pole was put up by the " Liberty Boys," and a flag placed at the top. About five hundred people paraded through the town with noise and defiance.
On June 22 a ''Council of Safety" was created, consisting of fourteen members elected by the people of Savannah. They had the entire control of the affairs of the parish. William Ewen was chosen president. In the discharge of their duties they were opposed by the royalists, who followed Governor Wright and his orders.
Governor Wright was alarmed at the way things looked in Georgia. He wrote a letter to the British general, Gage, asking for help. This letter was opened in South Carolina, the papers taken out, and another letter placed in the envelope, stating that Georgia was quiet and needed no help. Thus the royal government in Georgia received no aid from the British troops. The reason was not found out until years after, when Governor Wright, meeting General Gage in London, asked him why he had not sent soldiers to his relief.
Governor Wright had good reason to be alarmed. Another Provincial Congress met at Savannah, July 4, 1775. On that day every parish was represented by its leading men; the assembly was thus the first Provincial Congress that represented all of Georgia. The delegates came by authority of the people and in defiance of the authority of the king. This Congress has been called '' Georgia's first secession convention." Resolutions were passed indorsing all that the Continental Congress had done at their meeting in Philadelphia.
While the Provincial Congress was in session, news came that a British ship would arrive shortly with fourteen thousand pounds of powder. The patriots resolved to capture this prize if they could. Commodore Bowen and Major Habersham, with a number of volunteers, went quietly down the river on a schooner armed and commissioned by the Provincial Congress. They boarded the ship as soon as it appeared off Tybee Island, and captured it. This was the first naval capture of the Revolution, and their schooner was the first war vessel commissioned by an American congress. Nine thousand pounds of powder were kept by Georgia, and five thousand sent to General George Washington, to help him drive the British from American soil.
Royal power was now at an end in Georgia. The militia companies met and expelled all royalists from their ranks. A new Council of Safety, elected by the Provincial Congress, took charge of the affairs of the province. A battalion of soldiers was raised for defense against the British vessels and troops.
The Council of Safety ordered the arrest of Governor Wright and his assistants in January, 1776. Major Joseph Habersham undertook to make the arrest, aided by a few friends. He went to the house of the governor, and, boldly entering, passed Joseph Habersham’s sentinel and found the governor surrounded by his council. Walking up to the governor he put his hand on his shoulder and said, '' Sir James, you are my prisoner." Thinking his captor was well supported, the governor surrendered, and the members of the Council fled. A guard was placed over his house, but the governor escaped after three weeks by slipping out of the rear entrance to his house at night. Before his absence was discovered he was safe on board a British ship that was lying at the mouth of the river. Thus, after nearly sixteen years of residence in Georgia, during which time he had been the loyal agent of the king, as well as a most respected governor, a prosperous planter, and a man of affairs, Governor Wright left the province and all semblance of royal authority disappeared.
Another Provincial Congress met in Savannah, January 22, 1776. Five delegates were elected to represent Georgia in the next Continental Congress at Philadelphia, and a committee was appointed to buy arms and ammunition for the province. The Provincial Congress elected Archibald Bulloch president and commander-in-chief of Georgia. This distinguished patriot had been president of both Provincial Congresses, and now had the honor of being elected the first president of the first republican government organized on Georgia soil.
According to the custom when royal governors were in charge of affairs, the commander of the provincial troops in Savannah posted a sentinel at the residence of President Bulloch. To this Bulloch objected, saying, “I act for a free people in whom I have the most entire confidence, and I wish to avoid, on all occasions, the appearance of display."
A number of vessels loaded with rice lay at the landing of Savannah. British ships of war were at the mouth of the river watching for any vessel that might attempt to sail. One night troops from those ships seized several of the vessels of rice lying in the river and put men on board to hold them. Captain Rice boarded one of the vessels the next morning and was captured by the British. When the people heard this they were much excited.
Colonel McIntosh, with three hundred men, marched down to Yamacraw Bluff, opposite the vessels, and sent two officers on board to demand the release of Captain Rice. But these officers were also seized and held prisoners. Colonel McIntosh, through a speaking trumpet, demanded the return of his men. This was refused, and a number of shots were exchanged, but the British remained in possession of the vessels.
The Council of Safety ordered the ships in the harbor to be set on fire in order to drive away the British vessels. The ship Inverness was set on fire and cut loose. It drifted against the brig Nellie, which also took lire. These two burning ships drifted among the vessels which had been seized by the British. Several of these vessels caught fire, and men and officers jumped overboard, some being drowned and others captured. Two ships escaped to the mouth of the river, carrying the Georgia officers with them. The Council arrested the royal chief-justice and other royalists and held them as hostages for the return of Rice and the other officers. After a long delay the officers were exchanged.
On August 10, 1776, news of the Declaration of Independence reached Georgia. It had been adopted at Philadelphia, July 4, by the delegates of the thirteen colonies. George Walton, Button Gwinnett, and Lyman Hall signed it on behalf of Georgia. It took a long time for news to travel in those days. It had to be carried by men on horseback or in stages which could not go more than thirty or forty miles a day. When the news did reach Savannah it was received with great joy. A liberty flag was run up to the top of a liberty pole, at the base of which the Declaration was read by President Bulloch to great crowds of people, who shouted themselves hoarse with excitement. A great procession paraded the streets, the batteries and the ships fired salutes, and a banquet was given. At night speeches were made and bonfires lighted in the streets.
Thus all the provinces in America rebelled against the King of England, and set up governments of their own. They were now separate States. The great Revolutionary War was going on between the king and these States to see whether they could maintain their independence. If they succeeded they would continue to be States; if they failed, they would return to the condition of provinces.
The Revolutionary War had been going on for more than a year. The king had sent over many thousand soldiers to subdue the provinces in America, but the brave patriots, led by the great George Washington, were more than a match for the British regulars. The British had been driven out of Boston, and they now occupied the city of New York. The battles of Trenton and Princeton were won by the Americans, under Washington, in the winter of 1776-1777. All these things were going on in the North while Georgia was overthrowing the royal government and preparing for its part in the great conflict.
A convention met in Savannah in October, 1776, to adopt a constitution for the State of Georgia. The convention remained in session for four months, and finally, February 5, 1777, adopted a form of government. This was the first constitution of the State of Georgia. It provided for a governor, a legislature, and for judges of the courts. The governor was to be elected by the legislature, and was to serve for one year.
Among other provisions of the constitution of 1777 was one that provided for schools in each county of the State to be supported at the general expense. All religions were to be allowed in Georgia, so long as they did not threaten the peace of the State.
The twelve parishes were abolished, and the State was divided into counties. The names of the first eight counties were Burke, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Richmond, and Wilkes. Most of these counties were named for English statesmen who had been champions of the rights of the American colonies.
Liberty County was so named on account of the devotion of the citizens of St. John's Parish to the cause of liberty. That parish alone h-d sent Dr. L Tnan Hall to the meeting of the Continental Congress, and two of the citizens, Lyman Hall and Button Gwinnett, had been signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Archibald Bulloch was to continue to act as president until a governor could be elected by the first legislature. He died, however, before the election, and Button Gwinnett was chosen by the Council of Safety to act in his place. When the first legislature of Georgia met in Savannah, May 8, 1777, John Adam Treutlen was elected the first governor of the State of Georgia. Thus we see Georgia had defied the authority of the king; had agreed to the Declaration of Independence; had arrested and imprisoned the royal governor; had attacked the royal troops; had adopted a State constitution, and elected its own governor and legislature. It was now a completely organized state.
Button Gwinnett had been a merchant in England. He came first to Charleston, and then moved to Georgia to continue his business as a merchant. Soon after his arrival in Savannah he sold his stock of goods, bought St. Catherine's Island from Thomas and Mary Bosomworth, and began life as a planter. His home was in view of the town of Sunbury. He became the personal friend of Lyman Hall, and, like him, was an ardent lover of liberty. He had been a candidate for brigadier general of the Georgia forces, but had been defeated by General Lachlan McIntosh, whose father had come over with the Highlanders in 1736 and settled in Darien. Gwinnett was greatly disappointed at his defeat. When he became president of Georgia, after the death of Bulloch, he mortified McIntosh by ignoring him in an expedition against the British in Florida. He did not allow McIntosh to accompany his own brigade. This made McIntosh very bitter.
When the election for governor came on, Gwinnett was a candidate against Treutlen, but was again defeated. When McIntosh heard of this second defeat of Gwinnett, he said that he was glad of it. This provoked Gwinnett, who sent him a challenge to fight a duel. They met at sunrise within the present limits of the city of Savannah. Shots were exchanged at a distance of twelve paces, and both men fell wounded. In twelve days Gwinnett died of his wound. McIntosh recovered and, by the advice of his friends, was transferred to the Continental army, under Washington. Here he stayed for two years, doing great service to the general cause.
Georgia now occupied a very critical position. Of all the colonies, no other was so poorly prepared to wage war with the mother country. On the south the British threatened invasion from Florida; on the coast the enemy's vessels had hardly any opposition; on the north and west countless tribes of savages hovered around the borders, ready at any moment, in spite of their promises of peace, to descend upon the white settlements.
When the legislature met, January 17, 1778, John Houston was elected governor, as the successor of Governor Treutlen. Governor Houston was very anxious to drive the British from East Florida. Major-General Robert Howe, commander of the American army in the Southern States, had his headquarters at Savannah. He was won over to Governor Houston's plans, and organized an expedition to capture East Florida. He marched the Georgia brigade to the St. Mary’s River, and waited for other troops to arrive by sea. Hearing that a force of British were within fourteen miles of his camp, General Howe resolved to attack them without waiting for the other forces. The attack failed, however, and nothing came of the expedition.
While these events were happening in Georgia, the war was going on in the North. At first the king's armies had triumphed. They captured New York City and Philadelphia, and, for a while, held the entire State of New Jersey, with parts of New York and Connecticut. But the tide had turned. One of the king's armies, under General Burgoyne, had surrendered at Saratoga, and France, encouraged by this success, had recognized the United States as independent, and promised to send soldiers and ships of war to assist them. Washington forced the British to abandon Philadelphia, and gradually the lost territory was regained, so that, as the year 1778 drew to a close, little was left to the king except New York City and Newport.
Under these circumstances, the British general, Sir Henry Clinton, determined to conquer Georgia and South Carolina. He sent Colonel Campbell from New York to Savannah with a fleet of ten vessels and thirty-five hundred men, and at the same time he ordered General Augustin Prevost (pre-vo'), commander of the British forces in Florida, to invade Georgia from the south. General Prevost organized two expeditions. One, under Lieutenant-Colonel Fuser, went by sea, and the other, under Lieutenant-Colonel Mark Prevost, marched overland. They were to meet at Sunbury. On November 10, 1778, the invaders entered Georgia and proceeded toward Sunbury. Colonel John Baker hastily collected some militia to oppose them, but was compelled to retreat.
On November 24 a battle occurred near Midway Church, in which the Georgia militia were outnumbered and driven back. General James Screven, who was severely wounded, was taken prisoner by the British, and was killed by them after he had surrendered. Finding that Colonel Fuser had not reached Sunbury, Colonel Prevost burned the Midway Church and returned to Florida, plundering and burning all the dwelling houses within reach.
Colonel Fuser, having been delayed by head winds, reached Sunbury late in November, and summoned Colonel John McIntosh, in command of Fort Morris, to surrender. To this summons Colonel McIntosh made the bold reply, '' Come and take it." Fuser, hearing of Prevost's return to Florida, raised the siege and retired to Frederica. The legislature of Georgia presented to Colonel McIntosh a sword, with the words ''Come and take it” engraved upon it.
Late in December, 1778, the British fleet from New York, under Colonel Campbell, entered the Savannah River and anchored below the city. General Howe at once set to work to defend the city. He placed his little army in a strong position between a wooded swamp and the Savannah River.
The British commander thought the American position too strong to be attacked in front, and determined to find a way through the swamp by which he could pass around their lines and attack them in the rear. By chance he met an old negro man named Quash Dolly, who knew the roads and pointed out a path leading directly through the swamp. This path had been left unguarded. Colonel Campbell posted his artillery and drew up part of his force in line of battle before the American lines, as if about to make an attack, but secretly sent his light infantry on the path through the swamp, with the old negro as a guide. While the Americans were engaged with the enemy in front, the regiments that had been sent through the swamp suddenly appeared on their flank and in the rear. At the same moment the British artillery opened fire and a charge was ordered all along the line. Surrounded and outnumbered, the Americans fought gallantly, but resistance was vain, and they were driven from the field. The British pursued them into Savannah.
General Howe, with the remnant of his army, retreated up the Savannah River, and two days later crossed into South Carolina, where he was relieved of his command, being succeeded by General Benjamin Lincoln. Savannah fell into the hands of the British, who plundered the houses of the patriots. Many of the leading citizens, including the aged Jonathan Bryan, were arrested and confined on prison ships.
Colonel Campbell pressed on to Ebenezer, which he captured. This place became a British outpost for the rest of the war. The fine brick church of the Salzburgers, built in 1767, was used by the British troops, first as a hospital, and then as a stable. The people of Ebenezer were made to suffer many hardships at the hands of the British. The soldiers made their homes in the houses of the citizens, and were so rude that many of the people left the place and went to live in the country as best they could. Besides this, the people were forced to witness many acts of cruelty, for all prisoners who were taken in the surrounding country were brought to Ebenezer, and from there were carried to Savannah.
Upon one occasion, when a number of American prisoners were on their way to Savannah for trial, Sergeant William Jasper heard of it and resolved to rescue them at all hazards. With a friend, Sergeant Newton, he waited for the arrival of the party at a spring on the edge of a forest, about two miles from Savannah. The two men hid themselves from view in the thick undergrowth. Soon the party, consisting of ten British soldiers in charge of the prisoners, arrived at the spring. The soldiers were tired. Leaning their guns against the trees, they took off their knapsacks, drank deep of the water, and lay down to rest. Only two were left to guard the prisoners. "Now!” whispered Jasper to Newton. At the word the brave men sprang from the thicket, seized the guns by the trees, and shot down the two sentinels. The soldiers sprang to their feet with cries of terror to find their own guns leveled at them. “Surrender at once," cried Jasper, *' or you are dead men! “The British threw up their hands and surrendered as prisoners. Jasper and Newton at once released the American prisoners, who helped them secure the British. The party then turned about, and with their prisoners were soon across the Savannah River on their way to the camp of the American army.
We have seen how Colonel Campbell captured Savannah and took possession of Ebenezer. He made arrangements to occupy all the territory for fifty miles along the Savannah River, which he could easily do, since there were only a few soldiers to oppose him.
In the meantime General Prevost marched to Sunbury, and, planting his guns in front of the town, demanded the surrender of the fort. '' I have two thousand men and plenty of cannon," said he, “to enforce my demand." Major Lane, who had only about two hundred men in all, replied, "My duty and my inclination are to defend the fort against any force you can bring against it."
The British opened fire on the fort, and in a short time it was in such a condition that defense was no longer possible. Thereupon, the fort and the town surrendered. General Prevost then proceeded to Savannah and took command of all the British troops in Georgia.
Southern Georgia was now in a sad state of wretchedness. Unable to support themselves, and preyed upon by heartless soldiers, many of the people set out for Carolina, where they hoped to find the means of living. Sunbury received a shock from which it never recovered. At one time it numbered a thousand people, but the hand of war brought desolation to its citizens. Gradually the place diminished in size, until to-day only a few houses remain; the old fort is covered with a dense growth of trees, and the once busy streets are weed-covered roads.
Augusta was now the only place in Georgia that had not been captured by the British. About the middle of January, 1779, Colonel Campbell, with a thousand men, set out from Savannah on his way to Augusta. When Campbell reached Burke County he found his way opposed by two hundred and fifty Americans, who steadily disputed his march forward. The Americans were not numerous enough, however, and, not being supported by other troops, they slowly retired before the British. Crossing the river, they left the town of Augusta in the hands of the enemy. Thus, for a time, Georgia was completely in the hands of the British. Mounted soldiers scoured the country above Augusta and out towards Wilkes County. Whenever the few inhabitants that were left refused to take the oath of allegiance, their homes, barns, and grain were burned. The torch was likewise applied to the homes of those who were absent in the army, or who had fled to Carolina for safety.
But all hope was not abandoned. A band of patriots assembled under John Dooly, Andrew Pickens, John Cunningham and Elijah Clarke, and watched the movements of the enemy as best they could. A noted Tory, named Boyd, led a band of eight hundred marauders from the Carolinas into upper Georgia. He was bent on destroying property, stealing horses, and terrifying the people. His march was a path of destruction by fire and sword. When he entered Georgia the patriots followed and overtook him in Wilkes County.
Boyd seemed unconscious of the approach of the Americans, and in the early morning of February 14, 1779, had halted at a farm on Kettle Creek and turned his horses out to forage on the grass and weeds along the edge of a swamp. His men had been on short rations for three days, and were killing some cattle and parching corn. The Americans advanced to the attack. Boyd hastily gathered his men into line of battle, and posted them behind some fallen timber and a fence. Boyd fought with much bravery, but was overpowered and driven back. While retreating, he fell, mortality wounded, pierced by three balls. The Americans rushed upon the British, driving them into the swamp and capturing their horses, baggage, and arms. The defeat was complete. The Tories scattered in every direction after the death of their leader, some going to Florida, some fleeing to the Indians, and others finding their way to Augusta.