The British Take Savannah

December 1778 - January 1779

In the early 1770's Georgia was the least populated of the all the colonies. There were about 50,000 people living in Georgia. Most of them were living near the seacoast and about half of them were African slaves. When King George III started his taxation on the colonies, most of the people in Georgia were not affected. The Georgia Colony was invited to attend the First Continental Congress and they sent delegates, but the Colony was not committed to the Congress. Their delegates did sign the Declaration of Independence during the Second Continental Congress.

Until 1778, none of the southern colonies were very involved in the War. They were represented in the Continental Congress, but there were a lot of Loyalists not supporting the Colonies' fight for independence. The Southern colonies did not give many men or much money to the Continental Army.

The Continental Army didn't have the men to send to the South. There were Continental regiments in Virginia and Maryland, because there was a lot of support in those colonies for independence. The British Army was confident the Loyalists in the south would them keep control and the few people who did support the revolution would not present any threat to them.

On September 19, 1777 the British Army won the Battle of Freeman's Farm, but the victory did not last long. A little over two weeks later the Continentals were able to seriously defeat the British at Bemis Heights. Saratoga was a major loss for the British, because by taking total control of the Saratoga they would have divided the Northern Colonies from the Southern Colonies. This would have put Britain in a very good situation.

But that wasn't the situation. In 1778 General Sir Henry Clinton, the British Command In Chief, decided to take total control of the South. General Clinton believed there were a lot strong Loyalists in the South and that could basically just walk in and take over the South state by state. General Clinton started moving his ships out of New York Harbor to the South Carolina and Georgia coast.

In December 1778, Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Campbell and 35,000 British, Hessian and Tory soldiers were sent to invade Georgia. At the same time Brigadier General Augustine Prevost and 2,000 men were moving north from Florida.

Continental General Robert Howe (not General Howe or Admiral Howe of the British Army and Navy) from North Carolina moved his regiment of 800 to 1,000 soldiers to get between Campbell's and Prevost's armies and Savannah.

Lieutenant Colonel Campbell was able to take Savannah with little resistance and the city was now in the control of the British.

Brigadier General Prevost's path to Savannah from Florida took him through Augusta. On January 29, 1779, they took control of that city. Augusta is located on the Savannah River and was an important victory for the British because it gave them control over the river and opened the doors for transporting their equipment.

British control of Savannah and Augusta gave the Red Coats control all of Georgia. In September of 1780 the Continental Army reinforced by French troops tried to take back Savannah, but they again failed.

The Story of Nancy "Warwoman" Hart

One of the first stories to be found about
Nancy "Warwoman" Hart is found in the
Milledgeville Southern Recorder of 1825.

One day six Tories paid Nancy a call and demanded a meal. She soon spread before them smoking venison, hoe-cakes, and fresh honeycomb. Having stacked their arms, they seated themselves, and started to eat, when Nancy quick as a flash seized one of the guns, cocked it, and with a blazing oath declared she would blow out the brains of the first mortal that offered to rise or taste a mouthful! She sent one of her sons to inform the Whigs of her prisoners. Whether uncertain because of her cross-eyes which one she was aiming at, or transfixed by her ferocity, they remained quiet. The Whigs soon arrived and dealt with the Tories according to the rules of the times."

Many historians believed this story was only a legend. Then in 1912, a work crew was grading an area near where Mary Hart lived. They uncovered the grave of six men and tests proved that they had been there since the 1700s. This has changed historians' minds and they now think this story is true. There is a county in South Carolina named Hart and it is the only county in South Carolina named after a woman. (This information was found on the State of Georgia Home Page and is put with The Battle of Savannah, because I assume Mary Hart's property was in the Georgia Colony.)