Note: In the run-up to the American Revolution and the fighting, South Georgia and the Bulloch County area played a major role. The following is one of a series of articles about some lesser known incidents surrounding the Revolution in South Georgia.
In a letter from Brig. Gen. William Moultrie to Col. Pickney, dated Jan. 26, 1779, it was written "Dear Sir, the longer we keep the field, the more inconveniency arises from having the militia part of our arm."
Gen. Lincoln, also aware of the problem controlling militiamen, allowed that "they are no more under (my) command, and (thus) were at liberty to go off when they pleased."
As the "the militia have gone off without acquainting us of their intention, the enemy (had) extended themselves as far up as Hudson's bluff, about 16 miles above the 'two sisters' (ferry)."
And, "their strong post is now at 'two-sisters' (ferry), the 71st regiment is there, 1,400 men, the others are at Ebenezer and Abbercorne; (and) they (also) have left only 400 Hessians at Savannah."
In his book, Moultrie stated "This letter shows what difficulties Gen. Lincoln had to encounter, with having such an army, mostly composed of militia, who were governed by such a public law."
As such, "for the greatest military crime they could be guilty of, they were only punishable by a small pecuniary fine." He mused, "with such an army, what anxiety, perplexity, and difficulties must a general be put to."
He continued, pondering "how uneasy must he feel, his military reputation at stake, with such odds against him, at a time when his camp was miles from an enemy, superior in force to him, and (with) veteran troops."
He decided, "a militia army should be brought into action immediately as they take the field: (they) soon tire of a camp life, get home-sick, and off they go, (without) obtaining leave, (for) the fine disobedience is so trifling."
Then, Col. Charles Pinckney sent a letter from Charlestown on Jan. 25, 1779, to the American Southern commander Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln.
He wrote, "Sir, I am sorry to inform you that the enemy came down upon us in force (at Brier Creek). The troops in my division did not stand fire, and within) five minutes many fled without discharging their pieces."
He added that he "made (his) escape into the river swamp, and made up in the evening to this place; 2 officers and 2 soldiers came off with me; the rest of the troops, I am afraid, have fallen into the enemy's hands."
And, Moultrie revealed, "we have taken a man (previously) taken by them, (who) informed (us) there were 1,700 red-coats, (a) number of new levies from New York, (as well as) Georgia militia and Florida scouts."
On top of that, Moultrie wrote, "1,500 men had marched up to Augusta, to fortify that place; that they are fortifying Hudson's (ferry) very strongly: that the day before, 7,000 men had arrived from New York."
In his book, Moultrie wrote that "Gen. Ash's affair at Brier-Creek was nothing less than a total rout; never was an army more compleatly surprized, and never were men more panic struck."
Roger Allen is a local lover of history who provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.