A Colony at War
Georgia had to act swiftly. The Continental
Congress had imposed an embargo on the colony for its failure
to join the Continental Association. Now that the
provincial congress had agreed to adopt the articles of the association,
it had to ensure that the businessmen abided by the agreement. The
radicals were forced to use whatever means necessary to keep the
businessmen in line.
Many things were changing on the face of political
Georgia. The provincial congress was taking more and more power
from the royal governor (whether he liked it or not). Administration
was needed for the mundane issues brought before a political entity.
One of the more important issues to be decided was the appointment
of officers in the militia. To handle these issues, and to give
the colony a sense of continuity even when the provincial congress
was not in session, a "committee of safety" was appointed,
taking power when the provincial congress officially ended on August
Officers who were to be commissioned had been elected
and sent to Royal Governor James Wright for approval.
The committee of safety asked Wright to commission the duly elected
officers and Wright refused, at which time the committee began to
commission them, including Colonel Lachlan McIntosh,
Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Elbert, and Major
A cool November in Philadelphia did nothing to calm
tempers in the Second Continental Congress. Things
were not going well for the newly arrived Georgia delegation, thanks
to Reverend John J. Zubly, a Presbyterian
minister whom John Adams described as "...a
doctor of divinity, well read, and with pretensions as a linguist."
First came debates on the Continental Association
and some of the disagreements Georgia had with the requirements.
Then Reverend Zubly argued to raise the trade embargo. He met stiff
opposition, especially from Samuel Chase.
While the other delegates from Georgia were closely
aligned with men such as Adams, Thomas Jefferson,
and Patrick Henry, Zubly never strayed from his
belief that an independent America was a bad idea. Adams supported
a "republican government," which Zubly called "..little
better than a government of devils..." Although they were willing
to accept Zubly in spite of his beliefs, they viewed his writing
to Wright to report the actions of the congress as treason. He left
the congress in mid-November and returned to Savannah
to argue his beliefs among Georgia's Whig society.
Creek Indians on the frontier remained a major concern
for Georgia (and South Carolina as well). British agent John
Stuart was competing with both colonies on keeping the
Creek happy. Since the Whigs were seizing incoming shipments of
goods, getting British goods through Savannah and
Charleston was nearly impossible. Stuart made an
arrangement with the Spanish to allow the trading goods to come
in through St. Augustine.
Radical power had been increasing in Georgia. By
January, 1776 little occurred in the colony politically without
the committee's blessing. When British ships entered the Savannah
River, the council of safety ordered Wright and his governor's council
be arrested. They were quickly released, but Wright got the message.
On February 11, 1776
James Wright boarded an English vessel and sailed
to Cockspur Island.
British ships had been dispatched to get food for
the hungry troops in the northeast. In early March, 1776, these
ships moved up the Savannah River and seized boats, their cargo
(they were loaded with rice), and the men on board. Aware that British
ships had sailed to Savannah harbor, the Committee of Safety
ordered some men to remove the riggings of the ships, which would
render them useless. The men were welcomed and detained by the British
seamen who had boarded the vessel.
|Reports of the number of men at the battle
vary widely, and no accurate total will probably ever be calculated.
There were an additional 400 South Carolinians a short distance
from Savannah, and probably 100 more Whig militia in the city,
but not at the bluff.
A group of men attempted to negotiate the release
of the men sent to remove the rigging and the return of the boats.
These men were also detained when they boarded the ship. The committee
issued a call to arms and quickly more than 500 Georgia Whigs, aided
by a hundred South Carolina Rebels positioned themselves along the
bluff overlooking the harbor, preparing for a land-based attack
as the ships attempted to leave for the British base on Cockspur
Island. An attempt was made to float a burning ship (the Inverness)
into the rice boats, which resulted in the destruction of the Nelly.
Two or three other ships suffered some damage from fire.
The British used a channel on the far side of Hutchinson
Island to escape the wrath of the Whigs. They would be
Next: A State and Union Formed
Acts Of War
Georgia in 1763
Sugar Act; Stamp Act
The House dissolved
Radicals Gain Power
Georgia joins the Continental Congress
A Colony at War
A State and Union Formed
The First Florida Expedition
A Leader Dies
The Second Florida Expedition
The Third Florida Expedition
Britain Attacks Georgia
Georgia Fight Backs
The Siege and Battle of Savannah
There Comes a Reaper
The Liberation of Georgia