Battle of Brier Creek

Battle of Brier Creek

The Battle of Brier Creek was an American Revolutionary War battle fought near the joining of Brier Creek with the Savannah River in eastern Georgia. This has no relationship to the Brier Creek Country Club and other developments near Raleigh, North Carolina.

Revolutionary war context

The Battle of Brier Creek occurred on March 3, 1779. This was only two weeks and three days following the Patriot (Whig) success at the Battle of Kettle Creek in the upper part of then extant Georgia. The outcome of the battle near the confluence of Brier Creek and the Savannah River was a resounding British victory and terrible defeat for the Patriot cause.

However, the British command took the wrong lesson from the battle and proceeded to pursue a strategy that took them to places & battles such as the Battle of Kings Mountain, the Battle of Cowpens, the Battle of Guilford Court House, and finally - the Siege of Yorktown. Both the Battle of Kings Mountain and the Battle of Cowpens are broadly recognized as the precipitating actions that led Lt. General Lord Charles Cornwallis to his surrender at Yorktown, Virginia.

It has been suggested that the outcome of the Battle of Brier Creek was the triggering event that led to the renewed pursuit of the strategy which Lord Cornwallis was ordered to follow in his occupation and attempted subjugation of South Carolina (the "Southern Strategy"). Following the victory of Daniel Morgan over Cornwallis' light troops at the Battle of Cowpens, Generals Morgan and Nathanael Greene led Cornwallis on a wild chase across North Carolina. Cornwallis' pursuit ended with his Pyrrhic victory at the Battle of Guilford Court House. Thereafter, Cornwallis withdrew his ruined army to the coast and then positioned himself at Yorktown, Virginia. The rest was, as is said - history.

Geographic and topographic context

Brier Creek itself is a riverine watercourse traversing much of eastern Georgia between the Ogeechee River and the Savannah River. It arises between Warrenton (in Warren County) and Thomson (in McDuffie County) in the lower portion of the Piedmont. The upper portion of the creek is surrounded by open pit kaolin mines as it passes through the fall line. From there it enters the upper coastal plain and courses down past towns like Wrens and Waynesboro before joining the Savannah River at "Mouth of the Creek" (near old "Haga Slaga", a place which existed at the time of the Revolutionary War) in eastern Screven County (near Sylvania). This waterway has a length of approximately 80 miles (130 kilometers). In many places along the length of its course it is 30 to 50 feet (9 to 16 meters) in width. Near its mouth it is sometimes as broad as 80 feet (25 meters). In many ways it is more a river than a creek. Much of the lowest portion of the creek is bordered by the Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area, which contains some portion of or the greatest part of the battle site.

The joining of Brier Creek with the Savannah River forms a significant geographic constraint upon movement in that area between the forks formed by the creek and river. The land surrounding the creek and river is often swampy. Movement across both waterways is greatly constrained. This is many ways forms one of the defining characteristics for the 'lay of the land' that brought about the Battle of Brier Creek.

= Local historical markers and battle site

The battle

The Battle of Brier Creek occurred within a series of see-sawing advances and retreats by the British and Patriot forces up and down the Georgia side of the Savannah River valley. The battle itself occurred on the point of land formed between the forks of the creek and the river. The American Patriot forces were trapped by British forces advancing into their rear. This resulted in the dissolution of the Patriot force and its dispersal amongst the river swamps that lay on two of the three sides of the battle site.

The several external links provide actual descriptions of the battle. The most detailed account of the battle is that written by newspaper editor Dixon Hollingsworth from notes prepared by Screven County genealogist and amateur historian Arthur Gross. This account of the battle can be found in "The History of Screven County, Georgia"; which was edited by Hollingsworth. This book is found in many libraries around the United States.


*Hollingsworth, Dixon. "The History of Screven County, Georgia": Topical Section T14; The Battle of Brier Creek, pages 12-15. Curtis Media Corporation, 1989.
*Hollingsworth, Clyde D. "Pioneer Days: A History of the Early Years In Screven County" Part II, The Battle of Brier Creek, pages 9-12. The Partridge Pond Press; Sylvania, Georgia, 1947, 1975, 1979, 1993.


External links

*Revolutionary War in Georgia: 1779 []
*Battle of Brier Creek State Historical Marker []
*Map on Battle of Brier Creek State Historical Marker []
*Battle of Briar (BRIER) Creek []
*Pages 353 & 354 - An Historical Account of the Settlements of Scotch Highlanders in America Prior to the Peace of 1783. From Google Book Search. [,M1]
*Pages 343 to 345 - The History of South Carolina in the Revolution, 1775-1780. From Google Book Search. [,M1]
*Pages 363 & 364 - History of South Carolina. From Google Book Search. [,M1]
*Pages 295 & 296 - The Pictorial History of the American Revolution; with a sketch of the early history of the Country. []
*Brannens Bridges on Brier Creek - site of Battle of Brier Creek, March 3, 1779; entrance to Tuckahoe WMA - is at coordinates coord|32.811631|-81.482829|type:landmark|name=Brannens Bridges on Brier Creek
*Bridge over Brier Creek at Millhaven - site of skirmish at Paris' Mill, March 2, 1779 - is at coordinates coord|32.933397|-81.650646|type:landmark|name=Bridge over Brier Creek at Millhaven

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