Captain Samuel Spencer, commanding an American privateer off the Liberty County coast, in 1779 heard that the British at Sunbury were planning a party. He sailed up the Midway River early on the afternoon of the festivities and made an unannounced appearance.
He and his men took as prisoners-of-war, Lieutenant Colonel Kruger, commanding a New York Loyalist Battalion at Sunbury, and some of his staff officers. He later freed the staff officers, but kept Lieutenant Colonel Kruger, who he later exchanged for Lieutenant Colonel John Mclntosh, captured by the British.
Party for the King
Captain John Howell, a Continental Navy officer, was in command of an American privateer operating off the coast of Georgia. It was on June 4, 1779, that he brought his ship into the Midway River intent on doing damage of some kind to the British garrison at Sunbury.
Captain Howell learned from a slave in a boat catching fish that there was to be a party at Sunbury that night in honor of the birthday of King George III. He and a dozen of his men surprised guests at the party just before midnight and took 12 prisoners. Among those captured was Colonel Roger Kelsall, who had treated Captain Howell badly when he was earlier a British prisoner.
Captain Howell was going to drown Colonel Kelsall in the Midway River, but the lady of the house where the party was being held prayed so loud and long for his life that Captain Howell turned all of his prisoners loose, after making them .swear that they would not again take up arms against the patriots. Captain Howell and his men then returned to their ship without the loss of a single life. After the Revolutionary War, Captain Howell became a notorious pirate.
One of the most intense patriots in Liberty County during the Revolutionary War was Robert Sallette, who resided in the western part of the county. He may have been one of those Acadians forcibly removed by the British from Nova Scotia to Georgia in 1755. His brother may have been killed by the British. For one, or perhaps both of these reasons, Sallette hated the British and the Tories with an unrelenting passion.
Sallette, sometimes with Andrew Walthour of Liberty County, roamed the countryside aiding the patriot cause and killing British troops and Tories. During the occupation of the county, Sallette sometimes joined groups of “refugee” militia in raids on the British.
Sallette was particularly vicious during his attacks on the British and Tories. Some sources say he may have killed more than 100 British troops and Tories during the Revolutionary War and occupation of the county. His favorite weapon was the sabre.
Sallette once heard of a wealthy Tory in Liberty County who had offered a substantial amount of money to anyone who would bring him the head of Robert Sallette. Sallette put a pumpkin in a sack, took it to the Tory, collected the reward, and then killed the Tory.
Robert Sallette was a farmer after the Revolutionary War in that part of Liberty County which became Long County in 1920. His only son, Robert Sallette , Jr., in 1815 became a member of Captain Thomas K. Gould’s company of Lieutenant Colonel John Pray’s Second Regiment, Georgia Militia, during the War of 1812.
Patrick Carr emigrated from Ireland to Saint George Parish (Burke County) before the Revolutionary War. He was commissioned captain of one of the four companies of Colonel James McKay’s Volunteer Regiment (South Carolina and Georgia) on January 18, 1781.
Captain Carr and his troops mounted a vicious and bloody raid on the British garrison at Sunbury on April 11, 1782. Virtually all of the members of the garrison were killed in savage hand-to-hand fighting. Carr was promoted to major and given his own organization, Carr’s Independent Corps.
Carr is said to have killed at least 100 Tories with his own hands during the Revolutionary War. He claimed, however, that God had given him too merciful a heart to make him a good soldier. He was convicted of murder on August 21, 1791, but was pardoned on September 17, 1791.
The Boy Soldier
It was on a cold and rainy night in late April 1777 near the Saint Marys River in Florida that a IS-year-old soldier huddled on the ground trying to sleep. He was a member of the Georgia Continental Light Horse Regiment, commanded by Colonel John Baker of Liberty County, assigned to a task force to drive the British from East Florida.
Colonel Baker walked about his camp making sure that the troops were as comfortable as possible. He saw the shivering boy on the ground, and pulled off his own coat and placed it over him. The boy was Daniel Stewart. Colonel Baker knew his family well.
Daniel Stewart was just 23 years of age when the Revolutionary War ended. But he had already been married and had a small son living with his dead wife’s family in South Carolina. He distinguished himself in military actions outside of Liberty County during the Revolutionary War, and returned a colonel in the Georgia Militia and a hero to his home in Liberty County.