January 26

This Day in History

American Revolution

Jan 26, 1779:

Engagement at Burke County Jail

On this day in 1779, after the British capture of Savannah, Georgia, a group of Patriots meets at the city's Burke County Jail to determine how they will deal with any possible defections from the Patriot cause. They were worried by a recent British offer of immunity to those who would affirm their loyalty to the British king.

After the meeting, the Patriots attempted to apprehend some Loyalists in the area as proof of their determination. The ensuing skirmish, fought on the banks of McIntosh Creek between 400 men loyal to Britain and Patriots led by Major General John Twiggs and Lieutenant Colonel William Few, was indecisive.

William Few had a uniquely American upbringing. He was born in Maryland in 1748, but moved with his family to North Carolina at the age of 10. In the early 1770s, he, along with his father and brother, was involved in the extra-legal "Regulator" movement in the North Carolina backcountry. Unhappy with county officials with ties to the governor using backcountry farmers' taxes to line their pockets, the Regulators attempted to instigate reform using various tactics, some of them violent. Few's brother was one of seven men hanged after the Regulators were defeated by the governor's militia. William and his father fled to Georgia, where he became involved with the movement for American independence.

Later, John Twiggs and William Few would both become representatives of the Georgia Union Company in its attempt to buy 35 million acres of land in what is now Alabama and Mississippi in 1794 and 1795. The attempted purchase came as part of the fury of land speculation leading up to the Yazoo land fraud of 1802.

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