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Countdown to Savannah: Savannah's First War

Kathy Wood (kaydee)

In early 2007, we started our official Countdown to Savannah. Each Sunday, we posted a different topic about this special city where we met for our first Great Slow Travel Gathering in Spring 2008.

With 63 posts over 14+ months, we learned a lot about the many facets of this historic, hospitable and intriguing American city. Our weekly posts touched on Savannah's history, famous people, architecture, food, culture, surrounding area and much more. We hope this information acquaints you with Savannah, entices you to visit this historic city, and prepares you for a very memorable trip.

The American Revolution Impacts Savannah

On Memorial Day in America, we honor those who have died in military service, so this seems an appropriate week to talk about the first war to impact Savannah: the American Revolution (article written 5/28/07).

Georgia was the last of the 13 original colonies, so many of the residents of Savannah still had direct ties to England and were somewhat slower to call for freedom. But by mid-1774, protests were growing and a group of dissidents called the Liberty Boys began meeting in Savannah. Georgia's three signers of the Declaration of Independence (Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall and George Walton) all had ties to Savannah. A newly-formed provincial government seized control from colonial governor James Wright in early 1776.

Vulnerable Position

Savannah’s position on the southeastern edge of the new United States made it vulnerable to attack. The population of Georgia was also small, with just 3,000 men of military age. On December 29, 1778, British troops invaded Savannah, took control of the city, and reinstalled James Wright as the colonial governor of Georgia. The rebel defenders lost 550 men who were captured or killed, and the remaining patriot forces were swept from the state. Georgia was the only American colony reconquered by the British.

In September and October 1779, a multi-national force of Americans and Frenchmen (including 550 “free men of color” from Haiti) attempted to retake Savannah from the British, first in an extended siege and then in a direct attack on October 9 known as the Battle of Savannah. This short battle was one of the bloodiest battles of the American Revolution and was a disaster for America. The British lost only a few dozen men, but the attackers lost more than 1,000 men. Two of Savannah’s most famous military heroes were killed in this battle—Sergeant William Jasper and General Casmir Pulaski. Pulaski Square is named for Pulaski, a Polish count who is considered the Father of the American Calvary.

Savannah remained under British rule until after the Battle of Yorktown, and American forces finally took control on July 11, 1782. A memorial and park is at the site of the Battle of Savannah, near the Visitors Center and the Railroad Museum. Exhibits about the Revolutionary War and the battle are included in the Savannah History Museum.

Learn More

Revolutionary War in Georgia
Siege of Savannah during the American Revolutionary War

Resources

All About Savannah: Links to many information pages about Savannah (where to eat, where to stay, places of interest, getting around town, and more)

Woods Family Grand Tour of Europe: List of articles and photo albums by Kathy Wood


Kathy is a former Human Resources executive who now works as a consultant and part-time college professor. She and Charley also lead The Luberon Experience (www.luberonexperience.com), a week-long, small-group trip based in Provence.

© Kathy Wood, 2007


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