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Georgia Expedition of Wayne

Georgia Expedition of Wayne

GEORGIA EXPEDITION OF WAYNE. January-July 1782. On 12 January, General Anthony Wayne crossed the Savannah River with one hundred dragoons commanded by Colonel Anthony White and a detachment of artillery; their mission was restoring American authority in Georgia. Wayne was soon joined by 300 South Carolina mounted infantry under Colonel Wade Hampton and 170 Georgia militia under Colonel James Jackson. Lacking sufficient men for his goals, Wayne urged the state to create an African American regiment but was rebuffed. Wayne was also held back by a paucity of arms and other supplies.

Although Savannah was too strong to be taken with the means at his disposal, Wayne drove the enemy's outposts back into the town, suppressed Loyalist bands, and cut off supplies. Lieutenant Colonel Alured Clarke, commander of British forces in Georgia, ordered a scorched earth policy, and his withdrawing outposts burned what they could not carry back into Savannah. Clarke also called for help from the Cherokees and Creeks, sending out a force to open the way for the Indians. But they encountered stiff resistance from Jackson's militia. Wayne drove reinforcements sent from Savannah back into British lines. On the night of 22-23 January, three hundred Creeks approached Wayne's bivouac with the intention of attacking the pickets, but they accidentally fell upon the main body at 3 A .M . In a fierce action, the Indians were driven off with the loss of their leader, Guristersigo, and seventeen others killed. Wayne's pursuit netted another twelve, who were executed at sunrise. British desertions accelerated, especially among the German and Loyalist troops. General Alexander Leslie, British commander in the South, was concerned that he could not continue operations and proposed a truce to General Nathanael Greene, who saw right through the ploy. Clarke and Governor James Wright suggested a truce to Wayne, with the same results.

After six months of siege, the British evacuated the city for Charleston on 10 and 11 July, taking four thousand Loyalists and five thousand slaves with them. Wayne's troops entered Savannah immediately after the last British troops embarked.

                              revised by Michael Bellesiles

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