2007-02-08 / Front Page

Revolutionary Days comes to Wilkes with parade, ceremonies, programs

By KIP BURKE

Living history re-enactors will portray the victorious Patriot militia in Saturday's observance of the 228th anniversary of the Battle of Kettle Creek in Wilkes County. Living history re-enactors will portray the victorious Patriot militia in Saturday's observance of the 228th anniversary of the Battle of Kettle Creek in Wilkes County. Washington and Wilkes County will be full of Revolutionary Warera drama and pageantry starting Friday morning and continuing through Saturday as participants celebrate "Revolutionary Days" in memory of the Battle of Kettle Creek.

The Georgia Society Sons of the American Revolution, working with groups such as the Children and Daughters of the American Revolution, Washington-Wilkes Historical Foundation, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and VFW Post 5899, the SAR, said William Ramsaur, will "take a step back in time to honor our founding patriots and commemorate battles like this that 228 years ago forged American independence."

Friday morning, SAR members will visit Washington-Wilkes Elementary School and give a presentation on the battle for students.

Friday evening, early-arriving participants and special guests will meet for a reception at Wisteria Hall, and later for a special dinner in the ballroom of The Fitzpatrick Hotel.

On Saturday morning, a full day of activities begins at 9 a.m. with a showing of the Kettle Creek video at the Mary Willis Library. The video outlines the importance of this battle as a turning point leading up to the colonists' victory over the British at Yorktown.

At 10 a.m., Revolutionary War reenactors and other personalities as well as SAR Color Guard members from several states and local organizations will converge on The Square in Washington.

"Over 75 people are expected to participate in the parade which will be followed by living history demonstrations in The Square," Ramsaur said. "Benjamin Franklin, Nancy Hart, Elijah and Hannah Clarke, Andrew Pickens, John Dooly and many others in period dress will meet the public. Children will be taught colonial games and how to march with muskets, and adults will be encouraged to sign an oath of allegiance and join the militia."

To show how people communicated news in the early days, members of the Kettle Creek DAR Chapter will toll the bells at four Washington Churches at 11 a.m. on Saturday morning.

At 11:30 a.m., author Dr. Christine Swager will lead a children's discussion at the Mary Willis Library, describing the activities of the patriots after the Battle of Kettle Creek.

At the Kettle Creek Battleground located ten miles from Washington off SR 44, U.S. Army historians will conduct walking tours from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. tracing the steps of the Loyalists and the Patriots as they fought.

As always, the highlight of the day will be the pageantry at the 2 p.m. battleground memorial ceremony at the large monument on the top of War Hill. "Wreath presentations by the various organizations and descendants will honor the memory of the Patriots who fought in the Battle of Kettle Creek," Ramsaur said. "The Kettle Creek DAR Chapter will decorate the commemorative markers which list the names of the battle participants."

Memorial ceremony participants will include U.S. Army Honor Guard from Fort Gordon, Continental Regiment Fife & Drum, SAR Color Guard in Continental Line uniforms, Elijah Clarke Militia and Greene County High School JROTC.

Revolutionary War era music will be provided by the Washington- Wilkes High School Ensemble and the Children of the American Revolution will perform a flag ceremony for the original thirteen states. Rifle and musket salutes honoring the Kettle Creek Patriots will conclude the ceremony.

The Battle of Kettle Creek, fought on February 14, 1779, was one of the most important battles of the Revolutionary War in Georgia. At that time, the State was almost completely under British control. Col. Boyd with 600 British sympathizers (called Loyalists or Tories) crossed the Savannah River into present-day Elbert County en route to the British army then at Augusta. Patriots Col. Andrew Pickens, with 200 South Carolina militia, and Col. John Dooly and Lt. Colonel Elijah Clark, with 140 Georgia militia, marched to overtake the Loyalists.

On the morning of the 14th, Boyd and his men were camped at a bend in the then-flooded Kettle Creek. Their horses were grazing, sentries were posted, and most of the men were slaughtering cattle or searching for food.

The Patriots attempted to attack the Loyalist camp by surprise but failed and a desperate battle raged on both sides of the creek for three hours before the Loyalists finally broke and fled.

In the battle, Col. Boyd and 20 of his men were killed and 22 captured. Pickens and Dooly lost seven men killed and 15 wounded. Col. Andrew Pickens later wrote that Kettle Creek "was the severest check and chastisement, the Tories ever received in South Carolina or Georgia."

All activities are free and the public is encouraged to attend.

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