Kettle Creek, A Rough Place For Tories & Loyalists

Tom Poland

Posted June 7, 2021

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer

I was driving back into history. On to Washington, Georgia, I went where I hit Route 44 toward Union Point. In a matter of miles I crossed Kettle Creek. Then Stoney Ridge Road, Highway 68, took me to Highway 22, Court Ground Road, and it took me to War Hill Road. When I saw the handsome stonewall and gate erected by the Kettle Creek DAR Chapter, I knew I was just below the hill where one of the most important battles of the American Revolutionary War took place and that would be Wilkes County, Georgia.

February 14, 1779—400 patriots surprise attacked a force of Loyalists twice their number. Things had not been going well for Patriots. The British had taken Savannah, Georgia, December 29, 1778, as part of a “southern strategy” designed to separate Georgia from the middle and northern rebellious colonies. No need to detail the battle. Online you can easily learn how Colonels John Dooley, Andrew Pickens, and Elijah Clark destroyed Colonel James Boyd’s forces, killing Boyd himself. The victory proved pivotal.

“Kettle Creek was the severest check and chastisement the Tories ever received in South Carolina or Georgia.” —Colonel Andrew Pickens

I walked the hill with its cemetery and massive monument erected in 1930 by the United States Government upon request of what would be the Kettle Creek Chapter of the DAR. I stood on the hill imagining shots, shouts, screams, and high-pitched neighing of horses. The air was still, humidity high, and all was as quiet as a tomb, save for birdsong. While there reinforcements arrived, five ladies on a history tour. They said they were headed to Plains, Georgia.

The forested Kettle Creek battlefield, including “War Hill,” is a 40-acre tract encircling a 500-foot high hill. The Georgia Historical Commission placed two historical markers in 1958 atop the hill and in 1962, 1973, and 1974 additional monuments came to be placed and Revolutionary soldiers reburied atop the hill.

Among others thank the Daughters of the American Revolution for their diligence and patriotism here. A chapter of the DAR was organized in Washington, Georgia, September 11, 1895. The chapter’s name, “Wilkes County,” honored members’ residence. Chapter members were eager to purchase the land where the Battle of Kettle Creek was fought. A survey was made in 1899, and in January 1900, the chapter purchased 12.5 acres for $75.00. The chapter later became the Kettle Creek Chapter.

Back in school all I heard about was the Boston Tea Party and the shot heard around the world, but battles like Kettle Creek and South Carolina’s Cowpens did their part to stave off British accents. Sometimes, like those five ladies, you have to seek history on your own. Kettle Creek is a good place to start.

Kettle Creek Battlefield was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on June 26, 1975.

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