Midway Congregational Church - Midway, Georgia
Midway Congregational Church - Midway, Georgia
Midway Congregational Church
The church was founded in 1752 and its original
building was destroyed during the American
Revolution. The current structure dates from 1792.
Midway Church
More than 200 years old, the
Midway Congregational
Church is a landmark of the
Georgia coast.
The March to the Sea
During the final days of the
"March to the Sea," Midway
Congregational Church was
occupied by Union General
Judson Kilpatrick.
Midway Congregational Church - Midway, Georgia
Target of British & Union Armies
Copyright 2013 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Updated: May 12, 2013
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Historic Churches of the South
Midway Church & Cemetery
Two generals of the American
Revolution are buried in the
old cemetery, which is across
the road from Midway Church.
Interior of Midway Church
Are residents both white and
black worshipped together at
the church. The balcony areas
served as "slave galleries" for
enslaved laborers.
Midway Congregational Church is a strikingly
beautiful historic landmark in Liberty County,
Georgia. Founded in 1752, it was targeted by
invaders in two wars.

Today's white frame structure was built in
1792 and survived occupation by General
Judson Kilpatrick's Union cavalry during
Sherman's March to the Sea. Its predecessor
was targeted and destroyed by the British
during the American Revolution. It is a place
of peace with a legacy of war.

Midway Congregational Church, often called
Midway Meeting House, was founded by
Congregationalists in 1752 as they drifted
down into Georgia from Dorchester, South
Carolina. Many originally had come from the
city of the same name in Massachusetts.

The Congregational churches, so named
because the affairs of each church were
directed by its own congregation, were part of
the Puritan movement. They became critical
parts of the Plymouth Colony, founded in
Massachusetts in 1620.

Over time the Congregationalists drifted
south from New England, establishing the
settlement of
Dorchester in South Carolina
and later the communities of Midway and
Sunbury in Georgia.

The desire of Congregationalist settlers to
relocate from South Carolina into Georgia
came at an ideal time for the government of
that colony. Creek Indian raids were still a
constant threat to the settlers on the Atlantic
Coast and it was hoped that a large influx of
new settlers to St. Johns Parish would serve
as a bulwark against attack.

With this in mind, 31,950 acres were granted
to the Congregationalists and they began a
massive migration down from Dorchester.
Many were prosperous planters accustomed
to the production of rice, indigo and other
crops. With them they brought 1,500 slaves
to continue this pursuit on their new Georgia

Congregational life revolved around the
church and a sanctuary was among the first
structures they built as they arrived on their
new lands. Completed in 1752, the original
Midway Congregational Church or Midway
Meeting House stood on the site of the
present structure. Land was reserved for a
cemetery just to the west across the road that
Savannah with Darien and Fort

The people of the Midway community, along
with their neighbors in nearby Sunbury, were
early supporters of the cause of American
Independence. Church member Lyman Hall
was sent to represent Georgia at the First
Continental Congress in May 1775. One year
later, joined by neighbor Button Gwinnett and
Augusta resident
George Walton, he signed
the Declaration of Independence.

It is an interesting fact of American history
that three signers of the Declaration of
Independence were associated with what
became Liberty County. Lyman Hall and
Button Gwinnett lived there, while George
Walton was held prisoner at nearby Sunbury
after being wounded and captured at the fall
of Savannah. Another Midway resident,
Nathan Brownson, served in the Continental
Congress from 1776 to 1778.

The original St. John's Parish was merged
with St. Andrew's and St. James' Parishes in
1777 to form Liberty County. This was part of
the reorganization of Georgia's government
from the old Royal system in the wake of
America's Declaration of Independence.

The American Revolution, however, was far
from over and Midway soon found itself on
the front lines of that war.  Georgia was
invaded from British East Florida in the fall of
1778 and Liberty County became a major

One column of this invasion marched up the
road from Darien to Midway under Lt. Col.
J.M. Prevost, while the other - under Lt. Col.
L.V. Fuser - advanced on Sunbury by water.
Prevost was to take Midway and then march
east on the Sunbury Road to join Fuser for a
planned capture of Sunbury and reduction of
Fort Morris.

As he advanced, Prevost and his men took
prisoners, ransacked farms and plantations
along their route and generally created
chaos. Patriot militia skirmished with them,
most notably at Bulltown Swamp, but could
not muster sufficient men to hold back the
British advance.

American reinforcements trickled in and
temporary fortifications were thrown up
around the Midway Congregational Church.
Instead of waiting here for the coming attack,
however, the Patriot forces advanced down
the road to meet Prevost at a point about 1.5
miles south of the church.

The resulting action became known as the
Battle of Midway Church. With a force of only
100 Continentals and 20 Georgia militia,
American colonels John White and James
Screven formed a line of battle across the
road on November 22, 1778. Prevost used
his superior strength to break their lines and
drive them back on the church itself. Colonel
Screven himself was wounded and taken
prisoner. He died a few days later.
Retreating back to their prepared position at
Midway Congregational Church, Colonel
White and Major James Jackson realized
they would not be able to hold off another
attack by Prevost and decided to retreat for
the Ogeechee River. Leaving a false letter
behind in Midway Church to convince Prevost
that heavy American reinforcements were
coming down from Savannah, they retreated
from Midway ahead of the British advance.

The ruse employed in the false letter worked.
Prevost occupied Midway, but believing that a
strong American force was gathering ahead
and finding that Fuser's column had not yet
reached Sunbury, he ordered a withdrawal
back south for Florida.

While White and Jackson survived to fight
another day, the Midway Meeting House did
not. Colonel Prevost ordered it burned to the
ground by his troops as they retreated.

It would take 14 years, but another church
eventually arose from the ashes of the
original. That structure, which still stands
today, was completed in 1792. A beautiful
frame building, it is one of the most scenic
historic landmarks in Georgia.

Midway Congregational Church became a
military target again in 1864 during the
closing days of Sherman's March to the Sea.

As the Union army closed in on Savannah
and Fort McAllister, Sherman sent a large
force of cavalry to secure his right flank. Led
by Murray's Brigade of Kilpatrick's Division,
this force moved into Liberty County on
November 13, 1864, causing immense

After skirmishing with the 29th Georgia
Cavalry Battaltion, Murray occupied Midway
Church on the evening of the 13th.  His men
used the brick wall of the adjacent cemetery
as a corral for their horses. General Judson
Kilpatrick arrived in person the next morning,
establishing his headquarters in the church
and placing a battery of cannon on the
grounds. Columns of Union troops spread
out from the church to confiscate supplies,
inflict damage and try to make contact with
the Union blockade fleet.

Kilpatrick left Midway on the morning of
November 14th, but more Union soldiers
arrived three days later when Mower's
Division of the XVII Corps arrived and
camped around the church. The Federals
moved out the next morning to destroy the
railroad from nearby McIntosh to the
Altamaha River.

The Union soldiers desecrated graves by
turning Midway Cemetery into a horse lot, but
left the church standing when they finished
their work of destruction and rejoined
Sherman's main army outside Savannah. It
would take years for the people of Liberty
County to recover from the losses inflicted
upon them.

From its founding, Midway Congregational
Church was a place where white and black
members worshipped. The 1792 structure
includes upper galleries where black
members sat during services.

The church and its interior are beautifully
preserved today and are part of the Midway
Historic District, which also includes Midway
Cemetery, Midway Museum and the Old
Sunbury Road. The District was added to the
National Register of Historic Places in 1973
and surrounds the intersection of US 17
(Coastal Highway) and Martin Road (Old
Sunbury Road) in Midway, Georgia.

The church interior and cemetery can be
visited during the open hours of the adjacent
Midway Museum, which are 8-4 p.m.,
Tuesday - Saturday (Last tour begins at 3
p.m.).  The church grounds can be visited 7
days a week during daylight hours.

Please click here to visit the Midway Museum
website for more information.
Generals of the Revolution
Two commanders of the
American Revolution, Daniel
Stewart and James Screven,
are buried at the Midway
Cemetery. Screven died of
wounds suffered in the Battle
of Midway Church.
Midway Museum
A reply of a colonial era rice
plantation, Midway Museum
stands adjacent to the historic
church and houses artifacts,
documents and displays that
interpret colonial times.