Presentation on theme: " With British troops occupied in the North, Georgia was spared from battles during the early years of the war, but still there was no real peace at home."— Presentation transcript:
With British troops occupied in the North, Georgia was spared from battles during the early years of the war, but still there was no real peace at home. Only about one-third of Georgians were Whigs, another third were Tories, and the rest remained neutral waiting to see what would happen. Counting on the help of loyalists and Indian allies, Britain in 1778 decided to try to regain control of the Carolinas and Georgia. In December, a British army from New York reached Savannah and a force of 700 patriots faced more than 2,000 British soldiers.
The battle was over quickly and the Whig government barely escaped capture by the redcoats. British troops moved on to Sunbury, Augusta and Ebenezer and by the end of January 1779 every important Georgia town was in the hands of the British. Meanwhile Sir James Wright who had fled in 1776 returned to Savannah to reestablish royal authority and with his return many loyalists came out of hiding to openly support British authority. Some wealthy coastal planters did take an oath of allegiance to the king but the backcountry farmers held out for independence. Far inland from the coast, state leaders tried to carry on the fight meeting wherever they could but the British and the Tories however kept them on the run.
Prior to the American Revolution, almost half of Georgia’s 33,000 people were black slaves. During the war some slaves helped the patriots but far more fought with the British to earn their freedom. Early in 1776 British commanders began offering freedom to any slave who would join their fight against the American colonists. For black slaves, it was not a matter of disloyalty but rather freedom from slavery was more important than freedom from Great Britain.
In some cases, slaves helped the British not as soldiers but as spies or guides. In the battle of Savannah, Quamino Dolly led a British invasion force through little known swamp paths to bypass a patriot force and because of this help the British were able to attack the Americans from the rear and win a total victory, capturing Savannah.
By war’s end Georgia’s coast and Savannah had become a haven for escaped slaves with as many as 10,000 having won their freedom by siding with the British. After the American Revolution some of the former slaves were actually reenslaved but many fled to Indian territories in extreme south Georgia or other British Colonies.
Early in 1779, at Kettle Creek in Wilkes County, Lt. Col. Elijah Clarke led a force of Georgia patriots in an attack against British loyalists and aided by South Carolina patriots they scattered the Tories and killed their British commander. Although the Battle of Kettle Creek didn’t involve large armies, it was important to the patriot causes because they gained badly needed arms, ammunition and horses. Also their victory won over many Georgians who been lukewarm in their support of the war and never again would the Tories gather a large force in the backcountry.
During the fall of 1779, patriots aided by France, which had joined the American side tried to retake Savannah. An American army and French fleet laid siege to the city for three weeks, and after a fierce bombardment the Americans attempted to take the city by storm. In a daring cavalry charge Count Casimir Pulaski,a Polish nobleman who had come to America to help the patriots was killed and the attack failed. In the end the British were able to hold Savannah and lost only 150 mean to the Americans 1,000.
During 1780, the British controlled most of Georgia and it was the only one of the 13 colonies in which the king’s government was restored, but the Whigs and Tories continued their bitter fighting in the backcountry. In 1781 the Whigs recaptured Augusta, but overall the Patriot cause looked bleak despite the entry of Spain and France as American allies. British General Charles Cornwalllis had moved his army to Yorktown, Virginia in an attempt to take control of the South. Aided by a French fleet, the patriots were able to mount a siege and when George Washington was about to order the attack Cornwallis surrendered and the end of Revolution, but it took a while for the British to withdraw their troops. The American Revolution ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783.