Revolutionary War

The English did not fully support the war in America. England had only a part of its manpower available in Amer­ica because it was involved in other wars with France, Spain, and Holland. England was wealthy but had a large national debt. It was difficult to supply the English army in America with supplies.


The American colonies obtained loans from friendly powers such as France and Holland. But the Continental army was maintained with difficulty. France furnished aid to the colonies with money. a naval fleet. and army supplies. The state militias harassed invading English troops. The colonists were convinced that they were right and therefore had a deep determination to win. George Washington was a remarkable leader.


All major combat actions during the first three years of the Revolutionary War took place in the northern colonies. The Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775 caused the British to evac­uate Boston, Massachusetts. and establish a headquarters in New York. George Washington and elements of the Con­tinental army crossed the Delaware River in 1776 and cap­tured the Hessians at Trenton. New Jersey.


Major General John Burgoyne and British forces sought to split the New England colonies in 1777. They were de­feated by Major General Horatio Gates and American forces at the Battle of Saratoga, New York. The battle became known as the turning point of the Revolutionary War.


The first permanent constitution of Georgia was adopted on February 3, 1777, and ratified three days later. The twelve parishes were divided into eight counties. The parishes of Saint Johns, Saint Andrews, and Saint James were combined and named Liberty County because of the independent spirit of the people of Saint Johns Parish.


Liberty County, when it was instituted. was the largest county in Georgia. It fronted the Atlantic Ocean from Bryan County on the north to Glynn County on the south. Its western border, about 75 miles inland, ran from the upper reaches of the Ogeechee River to the upper reaches of the Altamaha River.


Chapter XXXV of the new Georgia constitution specified that each county having a minimum of 250 men eligible to serve in the state militia, was authorized a battalion of militia. Additional battalions could be formed in a county depending on the size of its population. Counties with fewer than 250 men eligible to serve in the state militia would have inde­pendent companies. Liberty County was authorized a battal­ion of militia. Colonel Andrew Maybank commander of the Saint Johns Militia Battalion since September 20, 1776, became commander of the newly authorized battalion.


The new Georgia constitution established a superior court in each of the eight counties. The court consisted of a chief justice and three or more of the justices residing in each county. In the absence of the chief justice, the senior justice would act in his stead, with the county clerk, attorney for the state, sheriff, coroner, constable, and the jurors.


If Button Gwinnett of Liberty County had remained in England instead of emigrating to America, he may have lived to a ripe old age as a lowly shopkeeper. Instead, he died a young man in a foreign land for a purpose perhaps he never fully understood or supported. He was a quick-tempered and vindictive man of limited abilities. He obviously wanted power and saw the political or military arena as the place he could gain it in the shortest period of time. He became a close friend and ally of Lyman Hall, who was a physician, an intellectual, a man of almost unlimited abilities, and a polished and persuasive leader. Hall needed an energetic man with ambitions to help him achieve his goal of becoming one of the foremost figures in Georgia’s bid for independence of England. perhaps instilled in him by his puritan wife. He found such a man in Gwinnett, who failed to adequately manage his own business affairs, and proved himself hope­lessly inept as a political and military leader. Hall helped pave the way for what proved to be Gwinnett’s eventual destruction.


The General Assembly passed a resolution in 1776 to form a brigade of three infantry battalions and a squadron of dragoons and add them to the Georgia troops already serving in the Continental army. John Baker of Liberty County was commissioned in April 1777 as colonel of the Georgia Con­tinental Light Horse Regiment. Colonel Lachlan McIntosh was named to command a new brigade. with a rank of briga­dier general to be effective September 16, 1776. Button Gwinnett had sought that command position and was embit­tered by the success of Colonel McIntosh.


Archibald Bulloch, president of the Council of Safety, died early in 1777. There can be no doubt but that Lyman Hall was largely responsible for the election of Button Gwin­nett to replace Bulloch until a governor could be elected by the General Assembly as specified in the new constitution.


President Button Gwinnett, as soon as he assumed the mantle of power, commenced a campaign to discredit Colonel McIntosh and lessen his command prerogatives. His interfer­ence with command matters caused a spirit of insubordination among the officers toward Colonel Mclntosh , and affected the discipline of the troops.