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Battle of Kettle Creek, Washington, Georgia  commemorated February 14, 2004

History of the Battle and Ceremonies            2004 PHOTOS

Georgia was the youngest of the thirteen colonies and was sparsely populated. There were an estimated 25,000 Georgians in the colony who were located principally in the Savannah River corridor from the coastal settlement of Savannah through Wilkes County to Augusta. The majority of the people were Tories (Loyalists), with sympathies for the Crown.

Mainly for this reason, the British adopted what is called the “Southern Strategy”, and in late 1778 moved the fighting in the Revolutionary War to the Southern Colonies. Except for the victory at Yorktown, the conflict focused on South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina for the remaining years of the war.

In 1995, the Georgia Compatriots of the Sons of the American Revolution joined with North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia to initiate SAR participation in anniversary observances of the battles at Kings Mountain, Cowpens and Guilford Court House, where Georgians had fought. The annual treks became so popular that after three years, Georgia went in search of a Revolutionary battle of their own.

So it happened that the Georgia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (GASSAR) Historical Sites and Celebrations committee Chairman, Compatriot Robert F. Galer, and his wife, Mary Jane, began a search to identify some worthy candidates. The site selected was known as Kettle Creek, located in a remote spot in historic Wilkes County north by northwest of historic Washington town. The battle was less significant than Kings Mountain and Cowpens, but its importance lay in being early in the war, almost two years before those victories. The Patriot victory at Kettle Creek prevented a serious rallying of Tories in the South at a crucial early time. It served to open up the backcountry and encouraged Lord Cornwallis, overall Commander of the occupying forces, to evacuate Augusta.

The Tory leader during the engagement was Colonel Boyd in command of some 700 North and South Carolina Tories. Patriot leaders were Colonels Andrew Pickens, John Dooly and Elijah Clarke. Pickens, who assumed overall command, had some 250 South Carolina Militia. Dooly and Clarke had a hundred or more Georgia troops.

Encouraged by the British Lt. Col. Campbell’s capture of Savannah, and a subsequent advance on Augusta, Colonel Boyd raised a force of Tories in Anson County, NC, near the SC border, and marched to join Lt. Col. John Hamilton in Georgia. Hamilton was a NC Tory and a veteran of the Scot battle of Culloden, respected by Whigs and Tories alike. He had organized a regiment of Tory partisans, mainly in Florida, and was directed by Campbell to rally Tories in the backcountry.

As Boyd crossed SC, he was joined by other Loyalists who swelled his ranks to about 700. It was early in February 1779 when SC and GA militia joined forces to pursue Hamilton. Hamilton however, was besieged by rebels at Carr’s Fort and was in bad straits when Pickens learned of Boyd’s approach. The rebels considered Boyd bigger game than Hamilton, and started after him in South Carolina.

Oblivious of his danger, Boyd crossed the Broad River near its junction with the Savannah River the morning of February 13, 1779 and camped that night on the north side of Kettle Creek. Pickens re-crossed the Savannah River, and followed Boyd into Georgia soundly defeating the British on February 14th.