Archaeologists Search for Carr’s Fort
January 7, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

CONTACT: Daniel T. Elliott, The LAMAR Institute, Inc., P.O. Box 2992, Savannah, GA 31402

(706) 341-7796, dantelliott@gmail.com

Archaeologists Search for Carr’s Fort

(January 7, 2013, Savannah, Georgia)

A team of archaeologists and historians from the LAMAR Institute have launched a search for an elusive Revolutionary War battlefield site in the hills of northeastern Georgia. The battle took place on February 10, 1779, when Captain Robert Carr’s Fort was invaded by a group of about 70 loyalist recruits led by Colonel Jonathan Hamilton. Later that day, the fort was surrounded by Georgia and South Carolina militia, led by Colonel Andrew Pickens, who laid siege to the fortified loyalists. The siege of the fort lasted only a few hours before Pickens received word of a much larger party of Loyalist recruits who were advancing from South Carolina and he broke off the siege of Carr’s Fort to pursue a bigger target. Thus began a chain of military events that culminated in the decisive Patriot victory at Kettle Creek, only a few miles from Carr’s Fort. Several weeks later, Captain Carr was killed by a war party of loyalist Creek Indians, who burned down the fort.The institute received grant funds for the project from the National Park Service, American Battlefield Protection Program and the Kettle Creek Battlefield Association. The goal is to locate Captain Carr’s Georgia militia fort and delineate the battle that surrounded it. Today the area is a serene mixture of woodlands, pasture and scattered farms. The battlefield search is akin to looking for a needle in a haystack, as no contemporary maps showing its location, nor any detailed written descriptions of the location of Carr’s Fort are known to exist. It could be anywhere in the Beaverdam Creek watershed of Wilkes County, Georgia, although historian Robert Scott Davis, Jr. has narrowed the potential search area considerably. A team of six archaeologists from the institute will comb more than 5,000 acres in Wilkes County with metal detectors as part of the search. Once potential targets have been located, the team will use other methods, including ground penetrating radar (GPR), traditional excavations and mapping to better define the battlefield site. Fieldwork begins in late January and last for about three weeks. Carr’s Fort was one of more than 30 similar militia forts that dotted the Wilkes County frontier during the American Revolution. The project’s leader, Daniel Elliott, notes that although the team may be unable to find its intended target, they have “several chances to win”, as two other forts and numerous Revolutionary War-era farmsteads lie within the team’s search area. Locating Carr’s Fort will be a major find, as none of the 30 forts in Wilkes County have been discovered archaeologically. A full report on the undertaking will be available to the public in 2014.

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More on Kettle Creek
July 4, 2008

Archaeologists seeking to solve Kettle Creek puzzles, asking for local folks’ help

Archaeologist Dan Elliott displays some of the artifacts his teams have found at Kettle Creek during the recent dig.

A group of archaeologists and historians have spent several days recently looking for missing pieces of the Battle of Kettle Creek puzzle, and they think the public can help them with the puzzle, too.

A team of archaeologists, historians, and students braved heat, thick woods, and impassable stands of thistles to explore the land around War Hill on a four-day fieldwork session June 12-17, hoping to locate artifacts from the Revolutionary War battle and, piece by piece, expand their knowledge of the battle.

On a previous visit to War Hill, archaeologist Dan Elliott of the Lamar Institute, Inc., and his teams had used metal detectors to find bullets and other metal objects that might have been left during the 1779 battle. They found some 32 possible battle relics, including round balls of smaller caliber bullets – buck-and ball load for non-military muskets. They also found, and recycled, modern artifacts including 15 pounds of shotgun shells, .22 shells, and beer cans.

“The way those battle relics were distributed on one particular side of the hill gave us a direction to search,” Elliott said Saturday as he examined the day’s first finds. “Based on that distribution, we got access from adjacent landowners so we could come back this week and explore areas we would expect to find the Patriot positions as they attacked the Loyalists.”

They have indeed found more bullets, and a distinctive shoe buckle from that period, part of a brass bell, and other objects. But the real value of the object is in the information that it gives about how it got there. “Each object tells us a little bit of the puzzle,” said Charles B. Baxley, editor and publisher of Southern Campaigns of the Revolution. “Dan Elliott is helping geo-reference with formal archaeology the history that has been passed down.”

Geo-referencing locates exactly the fall of bullets, for example, shot and unshot, to map exactly where the militia soldiers actually were during the battle.

That data will be combined with historical research, looking in library collections, deeds and plats, veterans pension applications and muster lists to form the most accurate history of the battle possible. “We’ll gather up all that archaeology and history can tell us,” Baxley said, “and hope that we have enough to tell the story.”

And neighbors in Wilkes County who have explored the area for years can help document the battle’s history. “We know folks have been out here with metal detectors for 40 years,” Elliott said, “and we’re not looking to prosecute anybody and we sure don’t need another bullet. But what we do need is information. We’d just like to know what you found, and where you found it, best you can recall. That information is what’s important to us, and any information could really be a great deal of help.”

To share information on old Kettle Creek finds, contact the City of Washington’s Main Street Manager David Jenkins in the City Hall Annex, or call 706-678-4654.

[EDITING NOTE:  Elliott, not Elliot]

Kettle Creek: Patriots 1, Loyalists 0
July 4, 2008

Kettle Creek dig providing new insights into 1779 battle

Mark Pollard, left, and Mike Benton search last month at the 1779 battle site in Wilkes County.
Tricia Spaulding /Staff
A fragment from a Revolutionary War musket ball.
Tricia Spaulding /Staff
Items discovered during archaeological digs at Kettle Creek are tracked with GPS coordinates so that clashes can be reconstructed later.
Tricia Spaulding /Staff
The battle near the Wilkes County town of Washington pitted Loyalists against Patriots.


| | Story updated at 11:46 PM on Wednesday, July 2, 2008

WASHINGTON – An archaeological dig in Wilkes County has opened a 229-year-old window to one of the pivotal points in the early years of the American Revolutionary War – and there’s evidence that it’s not exactly the way the history books tell it.

For centuries following the Feb. 14, 1779, battle at Kettle Creek, stories passed down through the generations pitted 350 Patriots against 700 Loyalists on only 12 acres of land.

But archaeologists have found evidence that the three-hour running battle stretched over at least 500 acres of property surrounding the traditional site where a monument and cemetery now stand.

Nine men and women working with The LAMAR Institute, a Savannah-based nonprofit archaeological research organization, last month unearthed dozens of musket balls, buttons, pieces of weapons and evidence of small farmsteads during a five-day dig on the 500 acres of property.

The study, funded through a $40,000, two-year grant from the National Park Service and the city of Washington, could lead to plans for a battleground park, city officials have said.

Each discovery in last month’s dig gave researchers a look into the day when the militiamen routed twice their number in new British recruits and made Southerners think twice about staying loyal to the Crown.

“This, by all accounts, was a guerrilla war,” said Dan Elliott, LAMAR Institute president and archaeologist. “This was neighbor against neighbor.”

And neighbors were definitely part of the battle – even if they didn’t want to be involved.

Evidence of at least three farmsteads – hand-wrought nails, collapsed chimneys and horseshoes – were found during the dig about 500 feet south of the battlefield monument, along with a few musket balls.

MULTIMEDIA
SLIDESHOW: Check out an audio slideshow as Dan Elliott with the LAMAR Institute talks about the Kettle Creek dig:

View slideshow

“Right now, we’re getting a rough idea of what life was like for people when this battle was raging on around them,” Elliott said.

The Patriots lost only seven men in the Battle of Kettle Creek, but dozens were injured and taken to a location north of War Hill – the traditional battlefield site – for treatment, researchers found.

Archaeologists found evidence during the dig to back up their theory about the location of this field hospital.

At least 18 buttons, likely from clothing that was ripped off men in order to treat their wounds, were found in one concentrated area – an unlikely discovery in an area that over the years has been picked over by artifact seekers, Elliott said.

The Kettle Creek battle was a vicious fight between Loyalists recruited by Col. James Boyd in South Carolina to fight on the side of the Crown and Patriots who were not ready for Georgia to be claimed by the British.

Historical accounts of the battle say an army led by Col. Andrew Pickens, Col. John Dooly and Lt. Col. Elijah Clarke tracked Boyd on his way to Augusta as he circled around through Wilkes County to avoid a Patriot army encamped on the Savannah River.

Pickens split his men into three groups and tried to sneak up on Boyd’s recruits while they camped at Kettle Creek, but scouts saw them.

Boyd was able to muster about 100 men to meet Pickens’ 140 at the top of a steep hill. Boyd was mortally wounded, causing the new troops to panic and retreat back to the camp.

Dooly was stuck in a canebrake on one side of the camp, but Clarke charged in from the other side.

In the end, 20 Loyalists were killed and 22 taken captive. About half the rest went back to South Carolina and the other half went on to Augusta, Elliott said.

Archaeologists believe they found the location of the Loyalists’ last stand.

Southwest of the traditional battlefield, metal detectors uncovered musket balls and musket ball fragments from a secluded hill off of Salem Church Road.

The fragments likely are evidence that musket balls hit trees as the loyalists crouched behind for protection, said David Battle, assistant director of the LAMAR Institute.

Researchers hope to label the musket balls as Patriot- or Loyalist-owned by determining the caliber and amount of lead found in each bullet, Battle said.

The rough terrain obviously was no problem for the Patriots, he said.

“These were woodsmen,” Battle said. “They were good shots who were used to fighting behind stumps and trees.”

Elliott said researchers likely will release an officially report of the team’s findings later this year.

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 070308

Kettle Creek Revolutionary War Battlefield Project
March 31, 2008

Virginia Gazette April 2, 1779

SEEKING PRIMARY DOCUMENTS ABOUT THE BATTLE

We are currently searching for primary documents relating to the February 14, 1779 battle at Kettle Creek in Wilkes County, Georgia. If you have any letters, maps, military documents, or other primary records from the time of the battle, or other (reliable) secondary documents that are obscure, we would love to see them and take a digital photo for use in our current research project. If you would like to help, contact: dantelliott@windstream.net

Kettle Creek Battlefield

Description
Archaeological survey of the Kettle Creek battlefield in rural Wilkes County, Georgia began in February 2008. A second phase of the field survey will continue to build on the discoveries made during the initial work. The battle of Kettle Creek on February 14, 1779 was a fight between North Carolina and South Carolina Loyalist militia and Georgia and South Carolina Patriot militia. The Patriots emerged the victors in this three hour firefight. Although casualties were relatively slight, this Patriot victory sent a powerful signal to the British invaders that Loyalist support in the Southern colonies was far less than expected. The survey will make detailed topographic maps of the battlefield and carefully locate and recover battle related artifacts. This project is funded by the US Dept Interior, National Park Service, Preserve America grant program and the City of Washington, Georgia.

Contact information

Daniel T. Elliott
P.O. Box 2992
Savannah, Georgia 31402
United States of America
7063417796
dantelliott@windstream.net

Bibliography
Robert Scott Davis, Jr., Georgians in the Revolution: at Kettle Creek (Wilkes Co.) and Burke County. Southern Historical Press, . Easley, 1986.Janet H. Standard, The Battle of Kettle Creek: A Turning Point of the American Revolution in the South. Wilkes Publishing Company. Washington, GA, 1973.