On this day in 1779, a force of more than 340 men from the South Carolina and Georgia militias, led by Colonel Andrew Pickens of South Carolina with Colonel John Dooly and Lieutenant Colonel Elijah Clarke of Georgia, attack a group of approximately 200 Loyalists under the command of Colonel John Hamilton at Robert Carr’s Fort, in Wilkes County, Georgia.
After quickly taking the upper hand in the battle, the Patriots were on the brink of victory when they received word that the Loyalists would soon be getting assistance from several hundred reinforcements then marching to North Carolina to join the battle under the command of Colonel John Boyd, a South Carolina Loyalist. Boyd’s mission was to recruit colonists for the British army from behind Patriot lines. The Patriot commanders decided to abandon the siege at Carr’s Fort and surprise the approaching Loyalists under Boyd. The Patriots marched for four days, then successfully surprised and routed the Loyalists in the Battle of Kettle Creek, during which Boyd was mortally wounded.
Wilkes County, the site of both battles, was founded in 1777 and named in honor of John Wilkes, the radical British pamphleteer. Wilkes supporters, or Wilkites, constituted one quarter of the British population. They advocated for electoral reforms and publication of parliamentary debates. They also supported the American colonial protests of the late 1760s and early 1770s. The colonists responded with money for Wilkes’ legal defense and supportive pamphlets including a mock Apostle’s Creed beginning: I believe in Wilkes, the firm Patriot.