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I can always make it a rule to get there first with the most men.

-- Nathan Bedford Forrest

The Battle of Kettle Creek, Ga.

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During the American Revolution, Georgia was the youngest of the thirteen colonies and was sparsely populated. There were an estimated 25,000 Georgians in the colony and they were located principally up the Savannah River corridor from the coastal settlement of Savannah to Wilkes County in and around present day Augusta. The majority of the state's population were Tories, with sympathies for the Crown. The interior of the state was considered frontier land, largely populated by an assortment of Native Indian tribes.

The battle was less significant than Cowpens and Kings Mountain, but important to Georgia and the Revolution in that the British loss at Kettle Creek convinced southern forces under Lord Cornwallis to give up their design for Augusta and the occupation of Georgia, and diverted their attention back to the Carolinas.

The Tory leader during the engagement was Colonel Boyd in command of some six to eight hundred North and South Carolina Loyalists. Patriot leaders were Colonel Andrew Pickens commanding some three hundred South Carolina militia along with Colonels John Dooly and Elijah Clarke with a hundred or more Georgia troops. Pickens was to assume overall command.

Colonel Boyd crossed the Savannah River into Georgia, destroying all in his path as he moved to join the notorious Colonel Daniel McGirth at Little River. Boyd made camp on the banks of what is now Kettle Creek completely ignorant of the gathering storm forming around him in the dense woods. Pickens knew that to take Boyd's force he would have to do so before Boyd joined with McGirth.

On Sunday morning, while the air was heavy with the smell of breakfast campfires, Colonel Pickens formed his Americans into three columns. The right was commanded by Dooly, the left by Colonel Clarke and the center by Pickens himself. The Americans had great difficulty traversing through the dense canebrakes and frigid waters of the flooded creek. Colonel Boyd on the other hand did not have any idea that the Americans were near and was completely surprised by the attack. Those that were not in camp, around their campfires, were out foraging for food and other supplies. The British soon rallied and the fighting became very intense. The American force was outnumbered seven to four. The battle, which raged for 2 hours on both sides of the creek, seemed to be going to the British, when Clarke with fifty of his Georgians, slipped through an obscure brushwood and came onto Boyd's rear. The maneuver turned the tide of victory. Boyd fell wounded and as he fell, his men broke and ran down the hill with the Americans in hot pursuit. The fighting was hot and bloody. As the British fled, they hurled their cooking utensils, pots and pans into the creek, whence came the name Kettle Creek

Colonel Boyd's losses were: 70 killed, 75 wounded and captured. The American losses were 9 killed and 23 wounded. Boyd, mortally wounded, died a few hours after the battle.
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