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Bulloch History with Roger Allen: Georgia's militia helps protect early settlers in area
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Roger Allen

Note: The following is part of a series of columns looking at the founding and general history of southeast Georgia and Bulloch County.


When Bulloch County was nothing but wilderness, the area's Native Americans regularly hunted throughout the area. Settlers were attacked and driven back into the settlements around Savannah.

In fact, on Feb. 17, 1788, Brig. Gen. James Jackson, the commander of Georgia's First District Militia, ordered that scouts were to be sent "up and down from Fort Argyle" to search for Indian hunting or war parties. 

On March 1, 1788, Lt. Sheftall, the commander of the Chatham Detachment at Fort Argyle, was warned by Capt. Mann that "fresh signs of the Indians were discovered yesterday up Conunchee (the Canoochee River), about 10 miles above you." 

Mann continued, further advising Sheftall that "you had best keep a good look out and keep yourself in the best of order for an attack, for no one knows from what quarter they may fall on you."

Little is written of actual battles with hostile indians, but it is well-known that the "First Fort" was soon abandoned as an untenable defensive post. 

Therefore, a second Fort Argyll was built, closer to Savannah, and easier to both provision and support in case of an attack.

In the Regimental Book (1789), 1st Lt. Benjamin Sheftall of the West Company of the Savannah Militia wrote that the situation had become so tense that troops of the Chatham Militia were to be ready at a moment's notice to set out on a march that might last for as long as 10 days.

Col. Gunn, commander of the Chatham Militia ordered that three captains and six subalterns be ready to lead the men into possible battle. His orders allowed, however, that those who had furnished the company with 100 pounds of powder and 200 pounds of lead were to be exempted from this duty.

Orders stated these men were to be led by captains Rees, Bullock and Mann, along with first lieutenants Sheftall, King, Simmons and Maxwell, as well as second lieutenants Sewcer, Theus and Cox. They were ordered to proceed to the village of Ogeechee, near the "first Fort."

Here, the men were to be stationed at Col. Gunn's, Dr. McLeod's or Mrs. Read's plantations. McLeod's overseer was to provide them with a barrel of rice and sufficient beef to feed the men if the company's commissary wagon(s) had not yet arrived.


Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at

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