ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Battle of Kettle Creek, Georgia
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Battle of Kettle Creek, Georgia
|Battle of Kettle Creek
The bloody battle of the American Revolution
was fought in the "Hornet's Nest" of the Georgia
back country on February 14, 1779
Battle of Kettle Creek
The monument on the crest of
War Hill was erected by the
U.S. Congress in 1930 to
commemorate the victory.
Kettle Creek Battlefield
Monuments and markers dot
the crest of War Hill, where
heavy fighting took place in
the Battle of Kettle Creek.
The Battle of Kettle Creek - Wilkes County, Georgia
Kettle Creek Battlefield Park
|Copyright 2012 & 2013 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Update: May 25, 2013
Revolutionary War in the South
Although its appearance has
changed, the creek still flows
near the battlefield that bears
War Hill at Kettle Creek
Colonel Boyd made his stand
on the crest of War Hill but
was overwhelmed by Patriot
forces. He fell in the fighting.
Entrance to Battlefield
The road leading to the scene
of the Battle of Kettle Creek
passes through these stone
gates and up to the top of War
The Battle of Kettle Creek was a significant
action of the American Revolution. Fought for
control of the Southern back country, it took
place in Wilkes County, Georgia, on February
The scene of the action is preserved today at
Kettle Creek Battlefield Park. In addition to
War Hill, where the fighting took place, the
park features monuments and historical
markers. Plans are being made for further
development of the site.
The Battle of Kettle Creek was the climactic
action of a major British attempt to seize
control of the interior of Georgia and South
Carolina. The British had taken Savannah in
1778 and by January of 1779 were preparing
to march on Augusta. As part of this move,
Colonel James Boyd was sent to South
Carolina to raise Loyalist men to fight for
King and Crown.
Boyd arrived near Spartanburg during the
final week of January 1779. He quickly raised
350 men from among the Loyalists of the
region and on February 5 began to move
south for the Savannah River. Along the way
he was joined by Major John Moore and 250
additional Tories from North Carolina.
The 600 man force reached the Cherokee
Ford on the Savannah River but was denied
passage by Patriots holding McGowan's
Blockhouse. After a brief skirmish at the ford
(just south of today's Calhoun Falls, South
Carolina), Boyd turned north and crossed the
river five miles upstream. Patriot forces tried
to block this move, but he made it across.
The fighting at Cherokee Ford and Vann's
Creek (where Boyd crossed the Savannah)
slowed the Loyalist march and somewhat
reduced the size of their force With 500 or so
men still under his command, Boyd still held
a strong numerical superiority over Patriot
forces in the area.
Unaware he was in any danger at all, Boyd
went into camp at what is today called War
Hill at Kettle Creek. The morning of February
14, 1779, found the colonel and his men
hard at work slaughtering confiscated (i.e.
As the Loyalists worried about provisions, the
Patriot forces in the area were hot on their
trail. General Andrew Pickens, Colonel John
Dooly and Lieutenant Colonel Elijah Clarke
had been attacking a smaller Tory force at
Carr's Fort on Beaverdam Creek when they
learned that Boyd's men were across the
Savannah. Abandoning their siege, they
moved in pursuit of larger prey.
Pickens, Dooly and Clarke neared War Hill
on Valentine's morning and were alerted to
Boyd's presence by the sound of a beating
drum. A scout was sent forward to obtain
more information and soon returned with
word that the Tories were killing beef and
cooking breakfast. Plans for battle were
Hoping to quietly surround the British camp
before Boyd became aware of his presence,
General Pickens decided on a three-pronged
attack. Colonel Dooly was to command his
right flank and Colonel Clarke his left. As the
main body, under Pickens himself, pushed
forward, Clarke and Dooly were to execute a
pincer-like movement by sweeping around
the sides of Boyd's position.
If all went well, Pickens hoped to bag the
entire British force by coming at the Tories
from all sides. Dooly and Clarke began their
sweep around Boyd's flanks, while Pickens
brought up the main body. His advanced
guard soon approached Boyd's men.
Before the wings under Clarke and Dooly
could complete their encirclement, firing
broke out between Boyd's pickets and the
Patriot men in Pickens' advanced guard.
Realizing he was under attack, Boyd rushed
to form a line on the top of War Hill.
The fighting now began in earnest. With
Clarke and Dooly attacking through difficult
undergrowth, Boyd formed his men behind
an old fence and fallen trees on the crest.
Pickens pushed forward against him. At this
critical moment, however, the Loyalist
commander fell mortally wounded. Most of
his men panicked and retreated down the
hill and across Kettle Creek.
The Patriots pursued, chasing the fleeing
Tories across the creek and rounding up
prisoners in the process. While the total
number of casualties is difficult to assess,
best estimates are that Colonel Boyd and 19
of his men were killed or mortally wounded.
Twenty-two others were taken prisoner on
the field, although as many as 150 of Boyd's
men would surrender over coming days and
weeks. Seven of these were hanged for war
crimes. Patriot losses in the Battle of Kettle
Creek totaled 7 killed and 15 wounded.
Although about half of the Loyalists eventually
reached the British lines, the battle proved
disastrous to their attempt to take and hold
Augusta and to force the loyalty of the back
country Patriots. Augusta was evacuated and
the British retreated for Savannah. Patriot
forces pursued but were badly beaten at the
Battle of Briar Creek on March 3, 1779.
Kettle Creek Battlefield Park is located on
War Hill Road in Wilkes County, Georgia. To
reach the park from Washington, take GA 44
west for 8.2 miles and turn right on Stone
Ridge Road. In 1.2 miles turn left on Court
Ground Road. Follow Court Ground for 1.3
miles and turn left on War Hill Road. The
battlefield is just over 1 mile straight ahead.
There is no charge to visit the park, which
has no facilities at this time. Visitors can see
the terrain on which the battle was fought and
view a number of monuments that have been
placed atop War Hill over the years. The park
is open daily during daylight hours.
Please click here to learn more about plans
for the future of Kettle Creek Battlefield.