On December 29, 1778, British Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Campbell and his force of between 2,500 and 3,600 troops, which included the 71st Highland regiment, New York Loyalists, and Hessian mercenaries, launch a surprise attack on American forces defending Savannah, Georgia.
American Major General Robert Howe and his paltry force of between 650 and 900 men were severely outnumbered. Campbell also outflanked the Continental forces by locating a path through the swamp to the right of the American position. Howe ordered the city to be evacuated and the army to withdraw from combat. During the process, the Georgia Brigade took heavy losses when it was cut off from Howe’s other forces. The Patriots lost 83 men and another 483 were captured, while the British lost only 3 men and another 10 were wounded.
Savannah remained in British control until the Redcoats left of their own accord on July 11, 1782. French and American forces held Savannah under siege from September 23 to October 18, 1779, but failed to reclaim the city.
The French troops included 500 free Haitians of African descent, calling themselves the Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Dominigue. Soldiers of African descent fighting for the Patriots was an anomaly during the southern campaign–most American slaves attempted to flee and join British forces, as they had no desire to defend their Patriot masters’ right to enslave them. Many of the Volontaires themselves later went on to rebel against French control of Haiti. In fact, the Volontaires’ twelve year old drummer, Henri Christoph, commanded Haiti’s revolutionary army and later became king of Haiti.
American Revolution: Battle of Savannah
The Battle of Savannah was fought September 16 to October 18, 1779, during the American Revolution (1775–1783). In 1778, the British commander in chief in North America, Major General Sir Henry Clinton, began to shift the focus of the conflict to the southern colonies. This change in strategy was driven by a belief that Loyalist support in the region was significantly stronger than in the North and would facilitate its recapture. The campaign would be the second major British effort in the region as Clinton had attempted to capture Charleston, SC in June 1776, but had failed when Admiral Sir Peter Parker's naval forces were repulsed by fire from Colonel William Moultrie's men at Fort Sullivan. The first move of the new British campaign was the capture of Savannah, GA. To accomplish this, Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Campbell was dispatched south with a force of around 3,100 men.
The Battle of Savannah
The Battle of Savannah took place in Savannah, Georgia on December 29, 1778. General Sir. Henry Clinton led his 3,500 troops from New York all the way to the South in hopes to receive greater help from the excess amount of Loyalties that live around there. As they predicted, there were many Loyalties eager to help out the British and they soon captured many towns before they arrived at Savannah, Georgia. News soon arrived by the ear of General Archibald, Campbell of the attacks that were happening, but even with that news Campbell’s troops were defeated. About 83 American soldiers died and 453 soldiers were captures. The soldiers that were able to escape from the hands of the British fled to join General Benjamn Lincoln in South Carolina. As for the British, only 3 soldiers died and 10 were wounded.
On October 18, 1779, American Troops, having won victory in their early conquest, set out to reclaim Savannah. American Commanders General Benjamin Lincoln, with the help of soldiers who fleet led by Admiral Hector, and the comte d’Estaing set their troops to fight of the British. However, they were unaware that spies had been lurking in through their attack plan. By the end of the battle only 150 British men died, while General Lincoln’s subordinate died, Casimir Pulaski, and about 1,000 French and American troops died. D’Estaing, humiliated and angry, took his fleet back to a French colonial port in the West Indies while Lincoln withdrew to Charleston. The Siege of Savannah end on October 18, 1779, not only take lives of fighting men, but hope that led American troops believe they had a chance to fend off the British from American Territory.
For more information of the Revolutionary War Timeline follow this link:
Siege of Savannah
Anon., "Account of the Siege of Savannah, from a British Source," Collections of the Georgia Historical Society 5, pt. 1 (Savannah, Ga.: Braid and Hutton, 1901).
Mark Mayo Boatner III, Encyclopedia of the American Revolution, Bicentennial Edition (New York: David McKay Company, 1974).
John Faucheraud Grimké, "Order Book of John Faucheraud Grimké," South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine 17 (January 1916): 82-86.
Elizabeth Lichtenstein Johnston, Recollections of a Georgia Loyalist, ed. Arthur Wentworth Eaton (New York: M. F. Mansfield, 1901 reprint, Spartanburg, S.C.: Reprint Co., 1972).
Alexander A. Lawrence, Storm over Savannah: The Story of Count d'Estaing and the Siege of the Town in 1779 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1951).
Roberta Leighton, "Meyronnet de Saint-Marc's Journal of the Operations of the French Army under D'Estaing at the Siege of Savannah, September 1779," New-York Historical Society Quarterly 36 (July 1952): 255–87.
Benson John Lossing, The Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution or, Illustrations, by Pen and Pencil, of the History, Biography, Scenery, Relics, and Traditions of the War for Independence, vol. 2 (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1852).
Hugh McCall, The History of Georgia, 2 vols. (1811, 1816 reprint, Atlanta: A. B. Caldwell, 1909).
Gordon Burns Smith, Morningstars of Liberty: The Revolutionary War in Georgia, 1775-1783, vol. 1 (Milledgeville, Ga.: Boyd Publishing, 2006).
George White, Historical Collections of Georgia (New York: Pudney and Russell, 1854).
He was the last Georgia governor who answered to the King.
James Wright, born in London in 1716, came to South Carolina as a teenager when his father became the colony’s chief justice. In 1760, he was named by King George III as the third royal governor of Georgia. He thoroughly invested in the colony, eventually owning 11 plantations and more than 500 slaves. A master at dealing with Native Americans, Wright made treaties that opened Georgia’s frontiers to white settlement, boosting his popularity.
When the American Revolution began, Wright had to make a terrible choice. He served the English crown, but he loved his Georgia neighbors -- there was never any doubt what side he would choose.
Wright’s strong leadership dampened Georgia’s early support for the revolution. But when armed conflict erupted in 1776, he left. He returned briefly when the British captured Savannah in 1778. His stay was short. When the British evacuated Georgia he left again, this time for good.
The man who served as Georgia’s governor longer than any other was buried in Westminster Abbey after his death on November 20, 1785, Today in Georgia History.
Patrick Allen, ed., Literary Savannah (Athens, Ga.: Hill Street Press, 1998).
Walter J. Fraser Jr., Savannah in the Old South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2003).
Slavery and Freedom in Savannah, ed. Leslie Harris and Daina Berry (Athens, University of Georgia Press, 2016).
Whittington B. Johnson, Black Savannah, 1788-1864 (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1996).
Jacqueline Jones, Saving Savannah: The City and the Civil War (New York: Knopf, 2008).
Mills B. Lane, Savannah Revisited: History and Architecture, 5th ed. (Savannah, Ga.: Beehive Press, 2001).
Alexander A. Lawrence, A Present for Mr. Lincoln: The Story of Savannah from Secession to Sherman (Macon, Ga.: Ardivan Press, 1961).
Preston Russell and Barbara Hines, Savannah: A History of Her People since 1733 (Savannah, Ga.: Frederic C. Beil, 1992).
Derek Smith, Civil War Savannah (Savannah, Ga.: Frederic C. Beil, 1997).
Revolutionary War Sites in Georgia
The first act of the Revolutionary War in Georgia occurred after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, when revolutionaries broke into a powder magazine in Savannah on May 11, 1775. After violence in the backcountry and the seizure of rice-laden merchant ships in the Savannah harbor by British warships, George Walton and Button Gwinnett joined Dr. Lyman Hall to sign the Declaration of Independence.
As the war reached a stalemate, British commanders turned south. Augusta was captured and then quickly abandoned after the Battle of Kettle Creek, the state's most infamous battle on Feb. 14, 1779. Visitors today can tour the battlefield and historic sites named for the battle's heroes, including Elijah Clark.
The same year, Fort Morris fell, the British governor returned to Savannah, and Georgia became the only colony to be restored to royal allegiance. In 1782, however, the British were driven out, and the state elected its first post-colonial government, ending the war in Georgia.
Browse the descriptions below to plot your tour of Revolutionary War sites through seven of Georgia's travel regions - from The Coast into the Northeast Georgia Mountains.
The oldest city in Georgia, and the colonial capital, experienced much of the colony's political conflict during the Revolutionary War. When a British fleet appeared in the Savannah River, the Council of Safety placed the provincial governor under house arrest, and the Georgia militia engaged the warships in the Battle of the Rice Boats on March 2-3, 1776. Savannah would later be recaptured by British forces, where they would remain in control until the war's end.
Savannah History Museum
Preserving Savannah's colorful history, the Savannah History Museum contains artifacts from the Revolutionary War, in which the city played a key role for Georgia.
Fort Morris State Historic Site, Midway
“Come and take it!” A defiant Continental Congress and Army established Fort Morris on the Medway River to protect their growing seaport from the British. On Jan. 9, 1779, Fort Morris fell after a short but heavy bombardment by the British fleet. Today, visitors can see the earthwork remains and watch battle reenactments.
Effingham Historical Society and Museum, Springfield
Discover artifacts from pre-colonial, Revolutionary War and Civil War periods in a renovated jailhouse, now the Effingham Historical Society and Museum.
Augusta served as the location for Georgia's provisional congress after the arrest of the colonial governor in Savannah. Two battles were fought for control of this important city sitting on the Savannah River and South Carolina border. Monuments of Georgia's Revolutionary War history can still be found in the heart of Augusta, such as the Signers' Monument, a tall obelisk marking the final resting place of two of Georgia's three signers of the Declaration of Independence: Lyman Hall and George Walton.
Kettle Creek Battlefield, Washington
In the most infamous battle of the Revolutionary War in Georgia, patriots defeated loyalist troops to remove British influence from Georgia (with the exception of Savannah). The Daughters of the American Revolution developed the Kettle Creek Battlefield into a monument that hosts a parade, battle reenactment and pageantry during Revolutionary Days each February.
Washington Historical Museum
Each year, Washington, Georgia, hosts a Revolutionary War battle reenactment, celebrating old-time mule power. The town reportedly was the first incorporated community in the country to be named for George Washington and is the seat of Wilkes County, named for John Wilkes, an Englishman who supported the colonists' cause in the British House of Commons. An important example of antebellum architecture, the Washington Historical Museum includes relics from the Revolutionary War, including George Washington’s gravy boat.
Sandersville was established as the seat of Washington County, the first county in the country to be named for Revolutionary War hero, and later president, George Washington.
Elijah Clark State Park, Lincolnton
Named for a frontiersman and Georgia war hero who led pioneers during the Revolutionary War, Elijah Clark State Park is located on the western shore of Clarks Hill Lake, one of the largest lakes in the Southeast. Visitors can enjoy water activities, a spacious campground, rental cottages and a replica of Clark's log cabin, featuring furniture, utensils and tools from the 18th century.
Greensboro City Cemetery
Discover the gravesites of several Revolutionary War soldiers at the Greensboro City Cemetery, including Major Jonas Fauche and Jeremiah Sanford – a neighbor to, close friend of and soldier under George Washington.
Revolutionary Cemetery, Louisville
Situated in Georgia's first designated capital, Louisville, this cemetery contains the graves of several servicemen who served in the Revolutionary War.
British Capture of Savannah
From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.
A correspondent in Philadelphia, gives the following account of this affair:—”Scarcely had the enemy retired from the back parts of Georgia, when a fleet and armament entered Savannah River, and on the 29th of December, about three thousand men landed within two miles of the town of Savannah. A proper disposition of the few Continental troops (about six hundred, under Colonel Elbert) we had there, was made to oppose them, but the game day, about noon, the enemy doubled the colonel’s right flank, and very near cut off his retreat, which, however, he effected through a very heavy fire of the enemy for near a mile, but with the loss of many men either killed or taken. Colonel Elbert and a Colonel Grimke escaped by swimming a creek. The enemy soon after took possession of Savannah. The last accounts from the above quarters say, that our troops had retired to a place called Ebenezer, forty miles up the river above Savannah, where they were waiting for reinforcements, which were on their march from the Carolinas to join them. It is impossible to ascertain the design of the enemy in this expedition so late in the season —whether to take up their quarters for the winter, to procure provisions, or to be joined by the force from Florida. But certain it is, that the inhabitants of the State of Georgia will be greatly distressed by this visit.—L. W. Elliot.
Council of Safety
Revolutionary fervor was slower to take hold in Georgia than other American colonies. Yet when news reached Savannah that British troops fired on American Minute Men in Massachusetts, acts of rebellion became much more prominent in the colony. Such acts included a raid by Savannah’s Liberty Boys, a local group of patriots, on the public powder magazine. In July 1775, a Provincial Congress was established to act as a separate government in Georgia in opposition to Royal authority. The Congress also established a sixteen-member Council of Safety.
The Provincial Congress exercised executive and judicial powers as a body through committees. When the Congress was not in session the Council of Safety served as the executive committee with the power to raise troops, direct military activities, undertake Indian negotiations, issue monies, provide expenditures and oversee the publication of a newspaper. The December 19, 1775 sample of the recorded minutes of the Council of Safety meetings, seen above, reflects the types of day-to-day responsibilities of the Council. After the adoption of the state Constitution in 1777, the Council of Safety was dissolved.
Council of Safety Minutes, 19 December 1775. From the Georgia Council of Safety minute books, MS 282.
British capture Savannah, Georgia - HISTORY
The Battle of Savannah, also called the Siege
of Savannah, was fought during the American
Revolution for control of the vital coastal city
of Savannah, Georgia.
The memory of the battle is preserved today
at Battlefield Park and the nearby Savannah
History Museum. Both face Martin Luther
King, Jr., Boulevard on the west side of
The Battle of Savannah was one of the most
unique actions of the Revolutionary War
because it involved not just Patriot and British
soldiers, but men from France, Haiti, Ireland,
Scotland, Germany and Poland. The future
king of Haiti, Henri Christophe, served as a
drummer. Count Casimer Pulaski, a Polish
nobleman, gave his live. American Indian
warriors and African-American soldiers also
took part in the fighting.
The Siege of Savannah began on September
16, 1779, when French admiral Charles
Hector, comte d'Estaing began moving his
4,000 man army into position south of the
city. His troops included both white soldiers
from France and black soldiers from what is
d'Estaing hoped to intimidate the British, who
at that point had only around 2,500 regulars
and 200-300 African American slaves
laboring to dig trenches and build defenses.
A demand for the surrender of the city was
sent forward, but its commander - General
Augustine Prevost - requested 24 hours to
consider his options.
It was a trick. Prevost knew that 900
reinforcements were on their way from
Beaufort, South Carolina, under Colonel
John Maitland. This force came through the
winding channels connecting the two cities
and arrived in Savannah just hours before
the 24-hour truce expired. Prevost refused to
lower his flag.
At the same time, American general
Benjamin Lincoln arrived from Charleston,
South Carolina, with 2,000 U.S. Continentals
Instead of launching an immediate attack,
the allied forces began a siege of the city.
Trenches and parallels were dug, batteries
were erected and heavy cannon were
brought ashore from the French warships off
the coast. The American forces were
primarily west of the city, while the French
army was to the south.
Forsyth Park, now one of the most beautiful
spots in Savannah, was the scene of French
camps and approach trenches during the
A massive bombardment of Savannah took
place October 3-8, but despite widespread
damage and destruction inflicted on civilian
homes and shops, the British clung to their
defenses. The number of civilians killed is
The failure of the bombardment led to a rash
decision by the allied forces to launch frontal
assaults against the heavily fortified city. The
key point of the attack was the Spring Hill
Redoubt, a small square earthen fort on the
west side of the city. It was believed to be
held only by Loyalist militia as opposed to
British regulars and d'Estaing believed it
could be overrun.
The attack fell apart even before it could
begin. A heavy fog rose during the predawn
hours of October 9, 1779, and the troops
moving into position for the assault became
lost in the nearby swamps and were delayed
in reaching their planned positions. To make
matters worse, General Prevost learned of
the planned surprise attack.
Then, when the allied troops finally broke into
the open and began their charge on the
Spring Hill Redoubt, they were stunned to
find it held not only by militia, but by Scottish
regulars as well. Some of the British militia
were armed with rifles and they shot down
the French troops, who wore white uniforms,
almost as fast as they appeared. Admiral
d'Staing himself was wounded twice.
The first wave, made up largely of American
troops, was driven back in disorder. Count
Casimer Pulaski, a Polish cavalry officer
fighting alongside the Patriots, was killed by
a British grapeshot.
A second wave, led by Count Curt von
Stedingk of Sweden, planted an American
flag on the British works, but soon was driven
back as well. Its commander later lamented
the "cries of our dying comrades."
The Battle of Savannah was a disaster for the
allied forces. The siege was abandoned on
October 17, 1779, and the American and
French forces withdrew. For the time being,
Great Britain held Savannah.
Allied casualties were 244 killed, nearly 600
wounded and 120 taken prisoner. The British
lost 40 killed, 63 wounded and 52 missing.
Begin your visit of the battlefield at the
Savannah History Museum at 1100 Martin
Luther King, Jr., Boulevard in Savannah. After
exploring the exhibits there, cross the street
to Battlefield Park which features the actual
site of the Spring Hill Redoubt, reconstructed
fortifications, displays and a monument.