By Terri Burgin
The activities of our Long Cane Patriot soldiers were frequent and varied. They fought in numerous skirmishes and battles; most sites lost to posterity. However, two places are well preserved and are near enough to visit on a day trip.
The first is the "The Battle of Kettle Creek." Located eight miles outside of Washington, GA, that battle began on January 30, 1779 when Col. Andrew Pickens and around 270 militia were dispatched to harass the British Tories in and around Augusta, GA.
They jumped back and forth over the Savannah River for several days, encountering a few British Regulars. They attempted to siege a Tory fort. On February 10, Pickens received word that a large British militia force of 700-800 men, under the command of Col. James Boyd, was making their way toward Augusta. Boyd's group had been burning and pillaging on their way south.
A cat and mouse game ensued, except the much larger cat was being pursued by the tiny mouse for days without the cat becoming aware. On February 14, the Tories were surprised at Kettle Creek by Pickens's group and a four hour battle took place. Despite being outnumbered nearly two to one, the Patriots gained a decisive victory.
If you choose to visit, plan on driving a little more than an hour and stopping in the delightful town of Washington for lunch and a bit of shopping. Washington, GA has a very charming feel, almost like downtown Abbeville, with its tiny shops and antebellum mansions.
The second site is "The Siege of Ninety Six at Star Fort" in the town of Ninety Six. There were actually two sieges that took place there. The first was in 1775. A group of 500 Patriots, under Col. Andrew Williamson, assembled inside the stockade of what was then known as the Old Savages Field. The Long Cane militia was part of that group, as was a young Jeremiah Williams, my ancestor.
A much larger British force, consisting of 1,900 men, set up a siege against it. After a few days of fighting, a tentative peace was negotiated, but not before the death of a Long Cane Militiaman, James Birmingham. James is considered the first Patriot casualty of the war in the South.
The second siege took place in the spring of 1781 in a much expanded, star shaped fort with 550 Loyalists in control of the fort against 1,000 Patriots seeking to gain entry. After a month, the siege was abandoned, as Patriot Nathaniel Greene learned that a large party of Tories was on their way to assist their fellows.
If you haven't visited the Star Fort in Ninety Six, it is a delightful experience. Go early and expect it to be hot. Wear good shoes, as there are a few different trails. They have a great inside theater and a collection of artifacts found at the site. Bring a picnic and end your morning at the Lake Greenwood State Park, which is nearby.