Our Georgia History
 
Our Georgia History

Georgia and the War of 1812

The Coastal War

When historians look at the War of 1812 and Georgia's involvement, they tend to look only at the Creek War, west of the new western boundary of the state. Georgia, however, did see some action along her coastal region, mostly offshore thanks to a British imposed blockade of the southern coast.

Liberty County, Georgia is sometimes called the cradle of the American Revolution in Georgia because two of the three signers of the Declaration of Independence lived there. Lyman Hall, who was a doctor at Midway and Button Gwinnett, who tried his hand at agriculture on St. Catherine's Island both called Liberty County home, at least for a while. Liberty County's Sunbury, near the coastal waters and an excellent deep-water port, well remembered an invasion of the town by the British during the Revolution.

Early in the War of 1812 British vessels plowed the coastal waters of Georgia and South Carolina. Residents of Sunbury reported frequently seeing sloops and schooners ablaze at sea. The port city wanted protection for herself and the many craft that plowed the inland waterway nearby. The United States decided to curtail the so-called "commerce raiding" of the English.

For the operation several shallow-draft boats were fitted with small cannon in Charleston. Other weapons were not as easy to find. Neither was crew for the eighteen-man barges. The expedition left Charleston on July 29, 1812, without its commanding officer, who had been delayed. In his place a junior naval officer by the name of Charles Grandison led the boats south to their new home at Sunbury.

Rumors of three British vessels in the area reached the group of barges. They searched for the ships as far south as Sapelo Island, where Grandison found the British vessels had been there but left. Grandison decided to leave a barge at Sapelo and head to Sunbury, where he hoped to meet Captain G. W. Reed, the commander of the expedition who had been left behind.

Grandison made way to the Medway River and headed inland to Sunbury, a fine, deep water port, with three barges. Unfortunately, the residents of Sunbury had heard of the three British vessels in the water off the coast, and nobody bothered to tell the townspeople that an American fleet was coming. When the residents saw the barges approaching a call went out to the militia, which had formed in the town square and begun defensive work when an American flag was spotted on the incoming barges.

No provision had been made in the town for the incoming crew. As August wore into September nerves became frayed and nearly a third of the crewmen deserted. Fights broke out between just about everybody. When word came that the British privateer Caledonia had captured the American sloop William, the men in Sunbury were either unwilling or unable to launch any of the barges. The mission was a complete failure and the men were eventually withdrawn.

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Return to Index


FrontHistory 101Early GeorgiaAmerican IndiansSearch
WarsPeopleTimelineListsPlacesPoetry




Golden Ink
Georgia's innovative design group


Legal Notice
Privacy Policy
Copyright