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History lives at Brier Creek
Gathering honors battle in Revolutionary War
W Brier Creek 1
Members of the Sons of the American Revolution fired muskets as part of the celebration marking the anniversary of the battle of Brier Creek. - photo by CRYSTAL WALKER/Staff

       SYLVANIA - Thursday marked 232 years since what historians call "the pivotal encounter which re-established Georgia as a Royal Colony" occurred during the Revolutionary War.
      Saturday was the 90th year Screven Countians have come together to pay tribute to those who lost their lives during the Battle of Brier Creek, a site where 150 soldiers are said to be buried.
      Always held the Saturday before the date of the battle, this year provided the best weather the event has ever seen, said Osal Evans, husband to Sylvania's Mayor Margaret Evans.
      Dozens made the ride east out of Sylvania to participate in the memorial, held just past Brannens Bridges, a short distance from the Tuckahoe Wildlife Preserve, where the actual battle site can be found.
      The Battle of Brier Creek is one of eight major battles fought in Georgia during the war, and it is one of the sites that the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) have used to create Georgia's Revolutionary War Trail.
      The SAR determined the need to link the battle sites, said Bill Ramsaur, representing Marshes of Glynn SAR from St. Simons Island and leading the color guard in the posting of colors.
       Their attention to this trail prompted the publication of several brochures detailing and mapping each battle.
       They also found two sites in need of an historical marker, said Ramsaur, and the SAR helped carry out those projects and celebrate their unveiling.
      While a marker for the Battle of Brier Creek is located just past Brannens Bridges, designation at the actual battle site, also the burial ground for 150 patriots who were killed and buried there, has yet to be officially made.
      "The Remember Brier Creek Committee feels an urgency to properly designate and mark the Revolutionary Battle of Brier Creek Battle Site," said Mayor Margaret Evans, "which was included in the City of Sylvania's comprehensive plan two years ago."
      "The City of Sylvania is eagerly anticipating the results of a grant application," she said, "which if successful, will afford us that opportunity."
      Others joining Ramsaur in the color guard last week were Jay Guest, Athens SAR Chapter of Athens and Commander of Elijah Clarke Militia; Roger Coursey, Edward Telfair SAR Chapter of Guyton; Larry Wilson, Samuel Elbert SAR Chapter of Elberton; Charlie Newcomer, Washington-Wilkes SAR Chapter of Athens; and Bob Turbyfill, William Few SAR Chapter of Augusta.
      Following remarks from Jason Beard, president of the Remember Brier Creek Committee, and from Ramsaur and Newcomer, Alex Lee, another member of the Remember Brier Creek Committee, recounted the events leading up to and during the battle fought there.
      Ill prepared and armed with ammunition that did not fit their guns, militia sent from North Carolina under the command of General John Ashe faced a surprise attack from a much more experienced British army.
      Though Ashe retreated during the slaughter of his men, Gen. Samuel Elbert, who had joined him with additional men from Georgia, took the last stand against the British and became the great hero of the battle.
      A large number of the families that settled Screven and Bulloch Counties came from the North Carolina counties that provided militia units in the battle, said Lee.
      Elbert later became governor of Georgia and chartered the University of Georgia in 1785.
      An estimated 150 American patriots are buried at the battle site, which constitutes one of the largest burials of Revolutionary War dead in the U.S., said Lee, with more than 200 who were captured and an unknown number lost by drowning in their attempt to cross the Savannah River to safety.
      Saturday, wreaths were laid in memory of the patriots who fought and died in the battle of March 3, 1779.

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