Search billions of records on Ancestry.com

Troup County, Georgia and Georgia

British men-of-war April 19, 1778 at St. Simons Island, Georgia Contributed to this web site by

J. G. (Jerry) Braddock Sr.; Charleston, SC.
Author of Wooden Ships - Iron Men

Format by C. W. Barnum
Return to Georgia Military Index

A letter written about the capture of three British men-of-war April 19, 1778 at St Simons Island, Georgia. All that is known about the decisive battle came from a letter written by Colonel Samuel Elbert.  Following this letter is a poem by Jerry Braddock which was presented at the first Georgia Patriots Day in 2005.


British men-of-war April 19, 1778 at St. Simons Island, Georgia

Transcript of a Letter from Colonel Elbert to Major General Howe, at Savannah:

Dear General, Frederica, April 19, 1778

I have the happiness to inform you that about 10 o'clock this forenoon, the Brigantine Hinchinbrooke, the Sloop Rebecca, and a prize brig, all struck the British Tyrant's colors and surrendered to the American arms. Having received intelligence that the above vessels were at this place, I put about three hundred men, by detachment from the troops under my command at Fort Howe, on board the three gallies: the Washington, Capt. Hardy; the Lee, Capt Braddock; and the Bulloch, Capt. Hatcher; and a detachment of artillery with a field piece, under Capt. Young, I put on board a boat.

With this little army, we embarked at Darien, and last evening effected a landing at a bluff about a mile below the town; leaving Col. White on board the Lee, Capt. Melvin on board the Washington, and Lieut. Petty on board the Bulloch, each with a sufficient party of troops. Immediately on Landing, I dispatched Lieut. Col. Ray and Major Roberts, with about 100 men, who marched directly up to the town, and made prisoners three marines and two sailors belonging to the Hinchinbrooke.

It being late, the gallies did not engage until this morning. You must imagine what my feelings were, to see our three little men of war going to the attack of these three vessels, who have spread terror on our coast, and who were drawn up in order of battle; but the weight of our metal soon damped the courage of these heroes, who soon took to their boats; and, as many as could, abandoned the vessels with everything on board, of which we immediately took possession. What is extraordinary, we have not one man hurt. Capt. Ellis [ of the Hinchinbrooke] is drowned, and Capt. Mowbry [of the Rebecca] made his escape.

As soon as I see Col. White, who has not yet come to us with his prizes, I shall consult with him, the other three officers, and the commanding officers of the galleys, on the expediency of attacking the Galatea now lying off Jekyll. I send you this by Brigade Major Habersham, who will inform you of the other particulars. I am. &c.

SAMUEL ELBERT, Col. Commandant

The letter was published in the Charlestown newspaper South Carolina and American General Gazette on April 23, to report news of his troops recapturing St. Simons. Three British men-of-war were also captured. This was  a decisive victory for the Georgia Revolutionists.

April 14-19, 1778: The Georgia Historical records show that Elbert reached Fort Howe on the Altamaha on April 14. Learning that three British vessels were anchored off Fort Frederica, which was under enemy control, he took three hundred men by boat and landed them near Frederica. Elbert wrote Continental Commander General Robert Howe of the results of the invasion in a letter.

 

Poem by J. G. Braddock Sr.,

As he wrote with flourishing stroke.
Elbert rejoiced, and well he should:
His eyes beheld through clearing smoke
Raccoon Gut strewn with splintered wood,
And ragged stumps where mast had stood;
His galleys' cannons well had spoke.

Hardee aboard the Washington,
Braddock commanding the Lee,
Hatcher on the Bullock, these three
Matched wit for wit and gun for gun
With awesome terrors of the sea
Until victory they had won.

None know how long St. Simon shook
From seeming endless cannon roar
Nor just how long the battle took;
But well we know the Hinchinbrook
And sloop Rebecca did no more
Terrorize the seas as before.

Britannia may rule the wave,
But not that day. To its regret
Goliath had its David met
In form of men who freedom crave
Enough to choose it or the grave
And make the payments on its debt.
J. G. Braddock Sr.

For more poems by J. G. Braddock Sr.,
Click here