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American Revolution
In Coastal Georgia


Three Florida Expeditions

Historical Markers in Georgia and Florida

Caution: Many comments on the markers are incorrect; see descriptions of the Three Expeditions for proven factual accounts)

                                                      COW FORD

During the First Florida Expedition, the Georgia Continental Army and Militia advance guard reached the St. Johns River and fought a band of pro-British Indians at the Cow Ford (now Jacksonville.) A graded road with a ferry crossing at the Cow Ford on the St. Johns River in Colonial times, the Kings Road bisects Jacksonville today, approximately the route of U.S. Highway l.

Text: "This narrow part of the St. Johns River, near a clear freshwater spring was a crossing point for Indians and early travelers. The Indian name Wacca Pilatka, meaning "Cow's Crossing", was shortened by the English to Cow Ford, and Jacksonville was known by this name for many years. This crossing was used by the English when they made an old Timucuan Indian Trail into King's Road." Florida Board of Parks and Historic Memorials.

Located: On the grounds of the Duval County Courthouse in downtown Jacksonville, Florida.

                                                         FORT MCINTOSH

In 1776, during the First Florida Expedition, the Georgia Continental Army and Militia rebuilt Fort Howe on the Altamaha and Fort McIntosh, named for General McIntosh. The fort was placed on the banks of the Satilla River, in present day Brantley County, to protect the cattle on plantations north of the St. Marys River.  

Text: “Near this town, on the northeast side of the Satilla River, Fort McIntosh was built early in the Revolutionary War, to protect extensive herds of cattle ranging between that river and the Altamaha. It became an important post on the southern frontier. The fort, a small stockade 100 feet square with a bastion at each corner and a blockhouse in the center, was garrisoned by 40 men from the 3rd Carolina Regiment and 20 Continentals from the Georgia Brigade, under command of Captain Richard Winn.

On February 17, 1777, a large force of Tories and Indians, commanded by Colonel Brown, Colonel Cunningham and Colonel McGirth, attacked Fort McIntosh, besieging it for more than 24 hours. Captain Winn refused all demands for surrender, until there was no longer hope for reinforcements from Fort Howe and he was forced by superior numbers to evacuate the post. Under terms of surrender, a British company was to escort the Georgia troops to the Altamaha to protect them from massacre by the Indians. These terms were not honored, and Captain Winn and his small company marched unguarded by night through the dense forest and swamp to Fort Howe.”  GHM 013-3 GEORGIA HISTORICAL COMMISSION 1958

Location: At intersection of U.S. 82 and Ga. 110 in Atkinson, Brantley County, Georgia.

                                                          FORT TONYN

British Fort Tonyn, named for East Florida Governor Patrick Tonyn, was constructed in present-day Nassau County, Florida, near the hamlet of Mill's Ferry, about twenty-five miles upstream on the St. Marys River near the King’s Road ferry crossing.  The Florida Rangers, who were stationed at Fort Tonyn, provided the front line of defense for British East Florida, and also conducted cattle raids in the southern part of the colony of Georgia.                                                     

POINT PETER Historical Marker Text: “East of here, at the junction of Peter Creek and St. Mary’s river, the British built Fort Tonyn in 1776; controlling the southern part of the colony of Georgia for two years.                                                     

In 1778, American Revolutionary forces, both land and water, forced evacuation of the exposed position. The English retreated N.W. along North river into Pagan Creek Plantation, home of the Tories, Charles and Jermyn Wright, brothers of Royal Governor JamesWright.                                                                                                                                               

On high land along Alligator (now Borell) creek, they built log and sand breastworks and repulsed the American Cavalry under Col. Elijah Clark. It appears that in the War of 1812, Fort Pickering was built on the Fort Tonyn site.”  020-8 GEORGIA HISTORICAL COMMISSION 1953

Location: Point Peter Rd. near intersection with Osborne in St. Marys, Georgia

                                                          KINGS ROAD

During the early 1760’s, the Kings Road was built by the British on an old Timucuan Indian Trail from St. Augustine to the St. Marys River, and then connected with the Kings Road in Georgia. This major north-south route 200 miles long and 16 feet wide, stretched all the way from Savannah to St. Augustine. In the 19th Century, the road became known as Post Road.

 OLD POST ROAD Historical Marker Text: “This road, formerly an Indian trail which paralleled the coast, was used by the Spanish and British. In 1778 it was traveled by Revolutionary soldiers who marched against Fort Tonyn. The first mail service south of Savannah was established over this road in 1763. Later it became a regular stagecoach route. At Coleridge, a short distance north of the present Waycross Highway, Job Tyson maintained a tavern for travelers along the post road. it was the only hostel between the Altamaha and Satilla rivers and was a regular stagecoach stop.”  063-4B GEORGIA HISTORIC MARKER 1996                                                                                                                                                    

Location: Ga. 32 and Post Road at Brantley and Glynn County line


                                                          AMELIA ISLAND 

 Continental Colonel Samuel Elbert landed on the north end of Amelia Island on May 18, and dispatched a patrol to prevent the inhabitants from relaying his position to Loyalists on the mainland. Some Loyalists fired on the Continentals, and in retaliation, Elbert ordered the burning of every house on Amelia and destruction of livestock. For six days, the Georgia galleys tried to get through the Amelia Narrows into the Nassau River to rendezvous with Lt.Colonel John Baker, but with too much draft and too much weight on board, they could not.


Historical Marker Text: “In May 1777, Colonel Samuel Elbert’s Continentals landed on the north end of Amelia Island at Oldtown Bluff, approximately one mile north of this marker, for a planned invasion of Florida. A patrol engaged in a skirmish with British troops on the south end of the island. An officer, Lt. Robert Ward, was killed and two soldiers were wounded. In retaliation, Colonel Elbert ordered houses burned and the destruction of all cattle.”

Location: Railroad Depot Plaza in Fernandina Beach


                                                         BATTLE OF THOMAS CREEK

 In the spring of 1777, Colonel Samuel Elbert planned a Second Florida Expedition. He ordered Lt. Colonel John Baker with Continental Light Horsemen and mounted Georgia Militia to proceed overland and rendezvous on May 12 at Sawpit Bluff near the mouth of the Nassau River. Elbert then embarked his Continentals on vessels to travel through the Inland Passage to Sawpit Bluff at the south end of Amelia Island. Baker arrived at the rendezvous point at the appointed time; found that Elbert had not arrived; and he moved to a better protected position on Thomas Creek. There they were ambushed by British Regulars, Loyalist Florida Rangers, and Creek Indians, and Baker's forces were routed with many killed, wounded and captured.

Historical Marker Text: “When the American War of Independence began, the new British colonies of East and West Florida did not seek separation from England. East Florida remained comparatively free from serious fighting throughout the course of the Revolutionary War. In the summer of 1777, however, Americans initiated an invasion aimed at capturing St. Augustine. The expedition was composed of Continental Army troops and Georgia militia forces under the command of Lt. Col. Samuel Elbert. Preparations for the defense of East Florida involved the East Florida Rangers, a force of mounted provincials, British Regulars, and Indian allies. On May 17, 1777, a portion of the invading American expedition was attacked by a detachment of British Regulars under Maj. J.M. Prevost assisted by Rangers under Col. Thomas Brown and Indians. The battle took place at a site on Thomas Creek south of its confluence with the Nassau River. After suffering heavy casualties, the Americans, already discouraged by lack of supplies and the heat, began their retreat from Florida. Only one more unsuccessful invasion of East Florida occurred during the remaining years of the American Revolution.” Florida Society, Children of the American Revolution in cooperation with Florida Department of State.

Location: On U. S. Highway 1 where it crosses Thomas Creek south of Callahan.


                                                         FREDERICA NAVAL ACTION 

During the preparation for the Third Florida Expedition at Fort Howe, Elbert learned that four British vessels were sailing in the St. Simons Sound, between St. Simons and Jekyll Islands. Sailing from Darien, Elbert’s flotilla arrived near Fort Frederica on April 18. Colonel Elbert observed the British attack preparations, and at daybreak on April 19, 1778, he initiated an attack against the British vessels anchored at the fort. The British attempted to retaliate, but were out-gunned and out-maneuvered.  As they tried to gain an advantage by moving down river their ships grounded, were abandoned, and captured by Elbert’s forces.   

THE GEORGIA NAVY Historical Marker Text: “During the American Revolution four heavily-armed row galleys were constructed in Savannah for the Georgia Navy, all underwritten by the Continental Congress.  In nearby Frederica River, beginning at dawn on April 19, 1778, Georgia galleys Lee, Washington, and Bulloch, commanded by Colonel Samuel Elbert, attacked HM brigantine Hinchinbrook, the armed sloop Rebecca, and an armed watering brig.  The British attempted to retaliate, but were out-gunned and out-maneuvered.  As they tried to gain an advantage by moving down river their ships grounded, were abandoned, and captured.  This remarkable victory boosted patriot morale and delayed by more than eight months the British invasion of Georgia.” Erected by the Georgia Historical Society, Georgia Society Sons of the American Revolution, Coastal Georgia Historical Society, and Fort Frederica National Monument.


Location: The Georgia Navy Historical Marker which describes the Frederica Naval Action is located at the entrance to Fort Frederica National Monument on Frederica Road


                                                         BATTLE AT ALLIGATOR CREEK BRIDGE

In May, 1778, on the third attempt to drive the British back toward St. Augustine, Governor John Houston led the Georgia Militia; Georgia and South Carolina Continentals were under General Robert Howe; South Carolina Militia was commanded by Colonel Andrew Williamson; and Georgia Naval vessels were under the command of Commodore Oliver Bowen. Dissension among the commanders, heat and illness among the troops caused the invasion to fail in a battle near Alligator Creek Bridge on June 30, 1778.

The destruction of Fort Tonyn was one of the principal goals of Gen. Howe’s Continentals. On June 28, Howe’s 400 Continentals finally began their march to Fort Tonyn, but their delay crossing the St. Marys had given Brown’s 200 Rangers time to remove their supplies and burn the fort. On June 29, Howe’s forces “captured” the burned fort and occupied it through mid- July.

Governor Houstoun was determined to march his 300 Militia on the Kings Road toward St. Augustine, forcing a confrontation with Major Prevost’s 500 Regulars and 200 South Carolina Royal Americans posted fifteen miles away.  They had constructed a redoubt of logs and brush with a wide moat to defend the Alligator Creek Bridge over that tributary of the Nassau River.

On June 30, 1778, General Screven’s 100 mounted Georgia Militia pursued Brown’s Rangers as they retreated south from Fort Tonyn toward Alligator Creek. Colonel Elijah Clarke led 100 mounted Georgia militia on an attack on the weakest British flank, so Screven could advance on the British front. The British Regulars and Rangers met Clarke’s forces, Clarke was shot through his thigh, and barely escaped capture. With the failure of Clarke’s attack, Screven’s main reserve force did not attack and many narrowly escaped being trapped before Screven ordered the retreat.

Alligator Creek Historical Marker Text: SKIRMISH OF AMERICAN REVOLUTION- June 30, 1778, a force of 300 American Cavalry commanded by Colonel Elijah Clarke, participating in General Robert Howe's invasion of Florida, attacked a column of British at this place (Alligator Creek Bridge), but were unable to penetrate the nearby entrenchments of 450 British Regulars and South Carolina Royalists under the command of Major James Marc Prevost. In this skirmish, Colonel Clarke was wounded and the Americans withdrew. The next day, the British retired in the direction of the St. Johns River. Casualties: Americans 13 British 9.”  Erected by Jacksonville Chapter, Florida Society Sons of the American Revolution.

Location: On the east side of U.S. Highway 1 in Callahan in Nassau County, located approximately 20 miles northwest of Jacksonville.     

Prepared by Bill Ramsaur, Marshes of Glynn Chapter, Georgia Society Sons of the American Revolution, Revised 2/15/2014