Southern Colonies > Province of Georgia

Province of Georgia


The Province of Georgia, the southernmost of the original Thirteen Colonies, played a unique and complex role during the American Revolutionary War. Established in 1732 as a buffer against Spanish Florida and a haven for debtors, Georgia's strategic location and social composition influenced its involvement in the war. Here's an overview of Georgia's role during the Revolutionary War:


  1. Founding and Early Development:

    • Georgia was founded in 1732 by James Oglethorpe, with the dual purposes of providing a new start for English debtors and serving as a defensive buffer against Spanish Florida.
    • The colony initially had restrictions on slavery and land ownership, but these were lifted in the 1750s, leading to the development of a plantation economy based on rice and indigo, worked by enslaved Africans.
  2. Political and Social Context:

    • Georgia's population was relatively small and included a mix of English settlers, Scots, Irish, and a significant number of enslaved Africans.
    • The colony had a higher proportion of Loyalists compared to other colonies due to its frontier status and economic ties to Britain, leading to internal divisions during the Revolution.

Georgia in the Revolutionary War:

  1. Initial Resistance and Early Conflicts:

    • Despite internal divisions, many Georgians supported the Patriot cause. In 1775, the Provincial Congress of Georgia sent delegates to the Continental Congress and established a Council of Safety to govern in defiance of British authorities.
    • Early conflicts included skirmishes between Patriots and Loyalists, as well as actions to secure weapons and supplies. Notable incidents included the seizure of gunpowder from the royal magazine in Savannah in 1775.
  2. British Control and the Siege of Savannah:

    • In December 1778, British forces captured Savannah, Georgia's largest city and key port, establishing control over much of the colony. This was part of a broader British strategy to reclaim the southern colonies.
    • The Siege of Savannah occurred in October 1779, when combined American and French forces attempted to retake the city. The siege was unsuccessful, resulting in heavy casualties for the allied forces and solidifying British control over Savannah.
  3. Partisan Warfare and Backcountry Struggles:

    • Much of the fighting in Georgia during the Revolutionary War took the form of guerrilla warfare and skirmishes between Patriot and Loyalist militias, especially in the backcountry.
    • Leaders like Elijah Clarke and the "Swamp Fox" Francis Marion conducted effective partisan campaigns, disrupting British supply lines and engaging in hit-and-run tactics against Loyalist forces.
  4. The Battle of Kettle Creek:

    • One of the significant Patriot victories in Georgia was the Battle of Kettle Creek on February 14, 1779. Patriot militia forces, led by Elijah Clarke and John Dooly, defeated a larger force of Loyalists, boosting Patriot morale and disrupting Loyalist recruitment in the region.

Aftermath and Impact:

  1. End of British Control:

    • The tide turned in favor of the Patriots in the later stages of the war. By 1781, the British began to lose their grip on the southern colonies, and Savannah was evacuated by British forces in July 1782.
    • The return of Patriot control marked the end of significant British influence in Georgia.
  2. Post-War Recovery and Development:

    • Georgia faced the challenge of rebuilding and recovering from the war's devastation. The return of Patriot governance brought about efforts to restore economic stability and rebuild infrastructure.
    • The war also accelerated changes in Georgia's social structure, including the expansion of plantation agriculture and continued growth in the population of enslaved Africans.
  3. Political Evolution:

    • After the war, Georgia played an active role in the formation of the new United States. The state ratified the U.S. Constitution on January 2, 1788, becoming the fourth state to join the Union.
    • The post-war period saw political and economic developments that laid the foundation for Georgia's future growth.


The Province of Georgia's involvement in the Revolutionary War was marked by early resistance, significant battles, and internal strife. Despite British control of key areas for much of the war, the eventual Patriot victory and post-war recovery solidified Georgia's place in the new United States.

Thirteen Colonies


Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 11

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