"At this period Georgia occupied a very critical situation. Of all the colonies, none was so ill prepared to dispute the claims of the mother country. On the south, she was exposed to the attacks of the British from Florida; on the east, her coast was at the mercy of the foe; on the north and west, countless tribes of savages were ready to make inroads upon her population." - White's Hist. Coll. Of Georgia.

John Treutlen. JOHN ADAM TRUETLEN, the first governor of the State of Georgia, was at once inaugurated. The Council of Safety was dissolved, and an Executive Council was elected under constitution. During the months that followed, the people were busy fortifying the towns, collecting provisions, and preparing to stand the shock of war. Colonel Samuel Elbert succeeded McIntosh in command of the Georgia troops. Tories and Indians in East Florida made frequent raids into southern Georgia, murdering citizens, burning houses, and stealing cattle. These marauders were under the command of the notorious Colonel McGirth.

When the legislature met on January 17, 1778, John Houstoun was elected governor, Governor Treutlen being ineligible under the constitution for reelection. Governor Houstoun, like Gwinnett, 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 Houstoun'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 had been happening in Georgia, the War for Independence was being fought 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 States as independent, and promised to send soldiers and ships of war to assist them in resisting the king. Washington forced the British to abandon Philadelphia, and gradually all the lost territory was regained, so that, as the year 1778 drew to a close, nothing 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. McGirth, with three hundred Tories and Indians, accompanied Lieutenant-Colonel Prevost. On the 19th of November the invaders entered Georgia and proceeded toward Sunbury. Colonel John Baker hastily collected some militia to oppose them, but was compelled to retreat. On the 24th a fight occurred near the 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 at 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.

On the 27th of December, 1778, the fleet from New York under Colonel Campbell entered the Savannah River and anchored below the city. The news was brought to General Howe, and he at once set to work to defend Savannah.

The British landed a few miles south of Savannah, where they waited to learn Howe's position and strength. The Americans had chosen a strong position between a wooded swamp and the Savannah River. Their front was protected by a stream, the bridge over which had been burned, and by a ditch filled with water from the marsh. Here they awaited the attack confidently, although they had less than seven hundred men to oppose nearly three thousand British regulars.

The British commander thought the American position was too strong to be attacked in front, and he 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 who knew the roads and pointed out a path leading through the swamp directly to the rear of General Howe's army. 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 through the swamp by the path, 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 in vain, and they were driven from the field. Salzburger Church. The British pursued them into Savannah. Some were taken prisoners, some were wounded, and many were run through with the bayonet in the streets of Savannah by the British soldiers. 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 superseded 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 Jonathon Bryan, were arrested and confined to prison ships. Colonel Campbell pressed on to Ebenezer, which he captured, and 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 for their horses. This church is standing to-day.

General Augustin Prevost, marching overland from Florida with several thousand soldiers, reached Sunbury on the 9th of January, and captured Fort Morris, with its garrison of two hundred and twelve officers and men and all the stores of war. He then proceeded to Savannah, where he took command of the British forces in Georgia. Colonel Campbell, with a thousand men, was sent out from Savannah to capture Augusta, the only post in Georgia held by the Americans. Colonels Brown and McGirth commanded the advanced guard, and were defeated in Burke County by a band of Georgians under Colonels John Twiggs and Benjamin and William Few. Two days later they were again defeated, but Colonel Campbell coming to their assistance, the Georgians were forced to retreat, and Augusta was captured without a struggle. Colonel Brown, notorious for his cruelty, was left in command, and Colonel Campbell marched into Wilkes County. Many families fled to South Carolina. Georgia was thus completely occupied by the armies of the king.

Parties of royalists and Tories went through the country, burning houses, stealing property, and terrifying the people. A noted Tory named Boyd led a large band of these plunderers into Wilkes County. Colonel Pickens, of South Carolina, and Colonel John Dooly, of Georgia, with a small force, had crossed the Savannah River and had defeated the British forces at Carr's Fort, which they were besieging. They abandoned the siege and started in pursuit of Boyd, and were reenforced by one hundred dragoons under Colonel Clark. On the night of the 13th of February they camped at Clark's Creek, and early the next morning they surprised Boyd in his camp at Kettle Creek, where his men had turned out their horses and were preparing breakfast. A bloody fight followed, in which Boyd was killed and his band captured or scattered. The Americans captured six hundred horses and a large quantity of arms and clothing. This victory at this time gave renewed courage to the patriots of Georgia, and is known as the battle of Kettle Creek.

Instances of adventure and hair-breadth escapes were frequent at this time. Desiring to know more about the defences of Augusta, Colonel Samuel Elbert sent a young lieutenant, named Hawkins, to get the information. Near an outpost Hawkins came suddenly upon three Tories. To avoid them was impossible, so he advanced and boldly inquired: "Who are you and where are you going?" They replied that they were on their way to join the British commander McGirth. Hawkins had on a British uniform, and so he said: "I am McGirth; but I take you to be rebels, and shall turn you over to my camp, near by." They protested their innocence, and upon the order of Hawkins placed their guns on the ground. No sooner had they done this than he levelled two pistols at them and shouted: "Hold up your hands!" They were greatly astonished, but obeyed the order, and were marched in front of Hawkins back to the American camp.

[Button Gwinnett was born in England, and came to Georgia in 1772. In 1776 he represented Georgia in the Continental Congress, and his name is affixed to the Declaration of Independence. He was a member of the convention of 1777 to frame a constitution for Georgia. On the death of Archibald Bulloch he became President of Georgia.]

[Of the birth and education of John Adam Treutlen but little is known. He was a member of the Provincial Congress of 1775, from the parish of St. Andrew. Having been driven out of Georgia by British and Tories, he moved to South Carolina, where he established himself, with his family, in a block-house. Here he met a most tragic death. Attacked by British and Tories, who deceived him by declaring that all they wanted was food, he unbarred his doors, when he was immediately taken out and "drawn and quartered" in the presence of his family. His grave is unmarked, and Georgia so far has failed to respect his memory by naming any county in his honor.]

[John Houstoun was among the earliest and most zealous patriots in the colony. He was appointed in 1775 to represent Georgia in the Continental Congress, and also in 1776. His name would have been signed to the Declaration of Independence, but he returned to counteract the evil influence of Dr. Zubly, who was opposed to the measure. In 1777 he was elected a member of the Executive Council, and, in 1778, became Governor of Georgia. He died at White Bluff, near Savannah, July 20, 1796.]

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