Explore Georgia’s fight for Independence along the Liberty Heritage Trail

MIDWAY, Ga. (WTOC) – As the country celebrates Independence Day, some of the most significant players in Georgia’s fight for freedom made their home in the Coastal Empire. You can learn more about them while traveling Georgia’s Historic Liberty Trail from Midway to Sunbury.

“This was a hotbed of freedom and independence,” Phil Odom of the Liberty County Historical Society said.

The town of Midway was settled by English Puritans who migrated from Dorchester, South Carolina. They founded the Midway Society in the mid-1700s.

“It was relatively small, especially for the amount of influence that had on on Georgia and indeed the United States,” Midway Church and Society Selectman Peter Martin said.

The first Midway Congregational Church would be destroyed during the Revolutionary War. The church built in its place in 1792 is still standing today. The site of the church played a pivotal role in Georgia’s quest for Independence.

“In the original building the British burned, they held a meeting where they elected Dr. Lyman Hall and Button Gwinnett to represent the Midway district in the Continental Congress,” Odom said.

Hall, Gwinnett and George Walton of Augusta went on to sign the Declaration of Independence for Georgia.

“They pushed the idea that Georgia needed to be separate from the King of England,” Midway Museum docent Kitty Provence said. “They were very much for the independence of from the King.”

To push the idea a step further, the parishes of St. John, St. James and St. Andrews combined to form Liberty County in 1777.

When it came time to fight, the men of Liberty County would lead the Continental troops and give their lives in the fight for freedom. Many are buried and honored in the Midway Cemetery across the street from the church.

“There are unknown dozens of enlisted men entombed here,” Odom said. “We have five captains, three majors, three colonels, and two generals of the Revolutionary War who are buried in this cemetery.”

The cemetery’s most notable feature is a towering, 50-foot tall Stewart-Screven Monument in honor of the two generals, Daniel Stewart and James Screven.

 The Liberty Trail from Midway continues to historic Fort Morris. Continental troops set up inside the fort to defend the bustling port city of Sunbury.

“This was a port city rivaling the city of Savannah, beginning in the year 1758 and up until it’s captured by the British in 1779,” Fort Morris Interpretive ranger Jason Baker said.

The earthen fort offers views of the Medway River stretching to the Atlantic Ocean. High up on the banks, the garrison would have watched and waited for the ships to come in. The town of Sunbury never recovered after being captured and thriving port city largely disappeared. The old cemetery still exists with tombstones dating back to the late 18th century.

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