Elbert, Samuel

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Elbert, Samuel

ELBERT, SAMUEL. (c. 1740–1788). Continental general. Born in either Savannah, Georgia or Prince William Parish, South Carolina to a Baptist clergyman, Samuel Elbert was orphaned as a young child. He became a very prosperous merchant and West Indies trader, and made his home in Georgia. He served in the colonial militia, forming the Georgia Grenadiers in 1772. Having been a Son of Liberty and member of the first local Council of Safety (June 1775), he was commissioned a lieutenant colonel of the First Georgia Continentals on 7 January 1776. After serving under Lachlan McIntosh he was made a colonel of the Second Georgia Continentals on 5 July 1776 and in May of the following year he commanded the Continental troops on the abortive expedition against eastern Florida. He made a successful landing on Amelia Island, but the heat, lack of supplies, and loss of surprise led him to abandon plans to attack the mainland. Elbert succeeded McIntosh as commander of Continental troops in Georgia and was accepted by Georgia's factionalized leadership. He attempted to train his forces, who found him approachable and concerned with their morale. After General Robert Howe arrived to take command in Georgia and undertook an invasion of eastern Florida, Elbert led 300 men and three galleys to capture Fort Oglethorpe in Frederica, near the mouth of the Altamaha River. Recalled to Georgia to help in the defense of Savannah in December 1778, he unsuccessfully urged that the main defense be made on Brewton's Hill. At Briar Creek, Georgia, on 3 March 1779, his 100 regulars put up about the only real resistance before the American force was routed. Elbert was wounded and captured. Some historians claim that he was wounded and captured a second time, on 12 May 1780, but this is incorrect. Included in a prisoner exchange in June 1781, he commanded a brigade at Yorktown. He was breveted as a brigadier general in the Continental army on 3 November 1783. After the war he became Governor of Georgia and a major general in the militia.

SEE ALSO Briar Creek, Georgia; McIntosh, Lachlan.


Hoffman, Ronald. "The 'Disaffected' in the Revolutionary South." In The American Revolution: Explorations in the History of American Radicalism. Edited by Alfred F. Young. De Kalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1976.

Pancake, John S. This Destructive War: The British Campaign in the Carolinas, 1780–1782. University, Ala.: University of Alabama Press, 1985.

                          revised by Leslie Hall