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SoGa, Bulloch play key role in run-up to Revolution
Bulloch History
roger allen
Roger Allen

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.


Savannahian R.M. Freeman's Blog, Freeman's Rag, shares interesting stories of Savannah's past. One, entitled "Savannah's Boys of Summer" shares exploits of Savannah's "Liberty Boys."

This piece shares how the "Sons of Liberty of Savannah (represented) a generational divide. As Noble Wimberly Jones, Joseph Habersham and others were patriots, their fathers were Loyalists."

And, it lists others: "Archibald Bulloch, John Houston, George Walton, Peter Tondee, Edward Telfair, John Milledge, Joseph Clay, William Gibbons and Mordecai Sheftall."

After what had happened in Boston, the news of the exploits of patriotic Bostonians had "captured the second generation and they created Savannah’s Sons of Liberty. 

The article continued, "On Aug. 10, 1774, a historic meeting was held at Tondee's Tavern in Savannah. There were thirty men present. (It) had been nine months since the Boston Tea Party.

William Wells’ book, The Life and Public Services of Samuel Adams (1865), tells the story of Savannah’s version of Boston’s Tea Party and the events which took place.

In Savannah, Gov. Wright enforced the new British taxes on sugar, newspapers, and more. On February 15, 1775, Collector Wells seized eight hogsheads of Molasses and six of French Sugars.

A hogshead was a reinforced cask or barrel that would hold between 59 and 64 gallons of molasses. Then, Savannahians attacked back. Wells related what happened next.

“On the night of the 15th of February, an armed party disguised...faces smutted, attacked the wharf, threw the guard of seamen into the river.”

Then, they “tarred and feathered the tide-waiter, and carried off the hogsheads of sugar. It was thought that one of the guards was drowned.”

As a result, “Sir James Wright offered a reward of 50 pounds for the detection of any of the rioters. He also promised pardons for those who turned ‘state's evidence.’

Nevertheless, the sugar was never recovered. According to Wells, “Andrew Elton Wells (was) the originator of this “sugar party” (and helped forward supplies) to Boston (in) 1775.”

George Smith’s book, The Story of Georgia (1901), tells a very similar story. Smith wrote, “At midnight, Feb. 15, 1775, Savannah’s “Sons of Liberty” dealt a blow to His Majesty’s taxation.”

“Disguised as sailors with their faces blackened, these “Liberty Boys” gathered near the Trustees’ Garden on the Savannah River at the wharf of Andrew Elton Wells.”

The Liberty Boys quickly “threw two sailors from the armed schooner H.M.S. St. John into the river.” They “liberated eight hogsheads of molasses and six of French sugar from impoundment.”

They then “tarred and feathered a guard and paraded him through the City Commons." James Johnson’s book, Militiamen, Rangers, and Redcoats... (1992), revealed Gov. Wright’s influence lessened.

Johnson said, “Disguised as sailors, a group of townspeople from Savannah, with blackened faces on that Friday night reclaimed sugar and molasses seized earlier in the day by the customs collector.”

Then, “The mob threw into the water two sailors from His Majesty’s Schooner St. John (eight guns), sent by the captain, Lt. William Grant, to guard the goods; one of these men drowned.”


Roger Allen is a local lover of history who provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail him at rwasr1953@gmail.com.

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