Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Revolutionary Event in Glynn; Frederica River Battle in 1778 Will Be Celebrated as Patriots Day Highlight

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Revolutionary Event in Glynn; Frederica River Battle in 1778 Will Be Celebrated as Patriots Day Highlight

Article excerpt

Byline: TERRY DICKSON

ST. SIMONS ISLAND -- Lately, the star of Patriot's Day has been the Boston Marathon.

Some residents of St. Simons Island hope they have started an event that will give Coastal Georgia its own annual Patriots Day celebration.

The Marshes of Glynn chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution will hold on Wednesday its second observance of a little-known naval battle in which Georgia patriots captured three British men-of-war ships in the Frederica River on the western side of St. Simons Island.

It was on April 19, 1778 -- three years to the day after the battles at Concord and Lexington, Mass., the opening skirmishes of the Revolutionary War -- when Col. Samuel Elbert led a group of soldiers that captured the British ships.

The Sons of the American Revolution debated whether it wanted to sponsor Wednesday's observance at Fort Frederica National Monument, said Bill Ramsaur, president of the chapter.

There has been a lot of encouragement to continue the event from a variety of sources, especially those interested in military history, Ramsaur said.

"The veterans organizations tell us to stay with it. They encourage us, '' he said. "We're not going to let it go.''

Island history buff Ed Ginn has been talking about the little-known battle for years.

"I think it's the only action that happened in Glynn County. I thought somebody should do something about it, '' Ginn said.

As Ginn describes it, "The Colonials whipped up on the Tories.''

Georgia remained predominantly a loyalist state during the war and three British warships were anchored in the Frederica River when Elbert and his band of soldiers and sailors attacked in three galleys. It is thought the ships were in a big bend in the Frederica River just in front of what is now the national monument.

The men-of-war were all bristling with cannons while the galleys, which were essentially big rowboats, had single large cannons, Ginn said.

The galleys gave the patriots an advantage because they could turn quickly to fire on the men-of-war, which could only fire broadsides with side-mounted cannons, Ginn said. …

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