On this day in 1779, a Patriot militia force of 340 led by Colonel Andrew Pickens of South Carolina with Colonel John Dooly and Lieutenant Colonel Elijah Clarke of Georgia attacked the camp of 700 Loyalist militia commanded by Colonel James Boyd at Kettle Creek, Georgia.
The Patriots attempted a two-pronged attack. Pickens’ line engaged the Loyalists, while Dooly and Clarke’s men attempted to cross the creek and surround the Loyalist from both sides. Dooly and Clarke troops were soon bogged down in the swampy crossing.
The Loyalists had the upper hand until they saw their commander, Boyd, collapse from a musket wound. The tide turned. Panicked, they disintegrated into a disorderly retreat towards the creek as Pickens’ Patriots fired down upon their camp from above. Shortly thereafter, the two South Carolina commanders, Dooly and Clarke, emerged with their men from the swamp and surrounded the shocked Loyalists, who were attempting to retreat across the creek.
By the end of the action, the Loyalists suffered 70 killed and another 70 captured, compared to 9 killed and 23 wounded for the Patriots. The victory was significant in delaying British control of Georgia the largely Loyalist colony.
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