Savannah, an International Engagement

Last week I wrote about the various German principalities that contributed manpower to the British attempt to subdue the colonies. I ended the post with:

“An introduction to another aspect of how the American Revolution had far reaching international complications and commitments.”

I figured this week I would return to that theme and share a portion of the Battle of Savannah in 1779, from the perspective of how many nationalities had native sons take part in the fighting.

Besides the three obvious nationalities; British, German, French, and American, the following countries represented; Ireland, Haiti, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland.

The British commander was General Augustine Prevost, who was born in the Republic of Geneva on August 22, 1723 and like an older brother joined the British army. He saw action in the French and Indian War with the 60th Regiment of Foot and at the conclusion of that conflict even served a brief term as governor of West Florida.

During the American Revolution he was ordered to invade Georgia in 1778 and had taken command at Savannah in January 1779, although he wanted to resign in favor of a younger officer to take charge. His replacement was captured while enroute to relieve Prevost, thus the Genevan was still in charge during the subsequent siege and fighting in September and October 1779.

Curt von Stedingk, hailed from Swedish Pomerania in 1746 and by the time of the Siege of Savannah he had been tabbed to lead part of the offensive. He made it to the British entrenchments where he valiantly placed the American standard. Stedingk was wounded in the fighting. He received a decoration from the French and after the American Revolution George Washington invited him into the Society of Cincinnati. This created some controversy in his native Sweden as the king, Gustav III forbade Stedingk from wearing the ribbon and medal as it was from his service to a “revolting people.” He went on to have a long military career, including fighting Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig.

Henri Christophe, the only monarch of the Kingdom of Haiti, was a drummer boy in a French regiment during the Siege of Savannah. The unit, the Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue was comprised of various ethnicities hailing from the island of Saint Domingue. Christophe may have been wounded around Savannah. He would distinguish himself in the Haitian Revolution before claiming his kingdom and naming himself monarch on March 28, 1811.

Casimir Pulaski, nicknamed “the father of American cavalry” was mortally wounded by canister while attempting to rally retreating French forces. The grapeshot that felled the Warsaw, Poland native is on display in Savannah or Charleston, depending on what account you believe; or possibly neither? He never regained consciousness and died on board the ship Wasp two days after his wound on October 11.

Arthur Dillon and his “Wild Geese” Irish Regiment, in the employ of the French, also took part in the failed attempt to subdue Savannah. Dillon, born in 1750, continued in the French service until being executed in Paris in 1794 due to his royalist leanings.

With such an international cast of personas, which did include rank-and-file from the countries not listed, the Siege of Savannah showed the global reverberations the conflict had. The preserved plot of land pays homage to this fact, which, if nothing else brings you to want to visit the city, is reason enough!

Lachlan McIntosh

On a recent trip to Valley Forge National Historical Park I came across the monument to featured below, of a general that did not initially ring a bell in my memory. So I did a little investigating. The first name was intriguing. His story even more so. Especially how he came to spend the winter at Valley Forge.

Lachlan McIntosh
Lachlan McIntosh Monument, Valley Forge National Historical Park (author collection)

Born near Raits, Badenoch, Scotland on March 17, 1725 and at the age 11, Lachlan, along with his family and approximately 100 other Scottish immigrants, landed in Georgia where they founded the town of New Iverness. Out of all the cruelties that could visit a family eking out a future on the frontier, the calamity that claimed Lacklan’s younger brother would have been far down the list. While swimming in the Altamaha River in 1737, Lewis McIntosh was killed by an American alligator.  Continue reading “Lachlan McIntosh”

Last Home of Jefferson Davis, Last Resting Place of Samuel Emory Davis

Over the Thanksgiving holiday my wife and I visited friends along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The mutual friends knew about my keen interest in American history and had planned an excursion accordingly.

Within a fifteen-minute drive of where we were staying, sits Beauvoir, the last home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis. In 1877, the ex-Confederate president, looking for a quiet place to write his memoirs  of the Confederate cause in the  American Civil War, paid $50 a month to rent what is known as the “Library Pavilion” on the property. Davis became enamored with the property and purchased the house and grounds from the owner, a Mrs. Dorsey for the price of $5,500 in 1879.

The restored "Library Pavilion" The original was damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
The restored “Library Pavilion”
The original was damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

 

In the “Library Pavilion” Davis would write the majority of, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government. Ten years after purchasing Beauvoir, Davis was dead.

Although not buried on the property, hundreds of former Confederate soldiers are. Yet, there is one Davis is interred on the property now.

The Davis that is buried there is what struck my interest. With no surprise, according to my wife, I had researched what history sites were in that area of Mississippi and had circled Beauvoir as a place of interest. I did not realize that the friends we were visiting had also planned to take me there because they also knew I am a history nerd, err, enthusiast.

What had caught my attention and serves as the basis of this post is the other Davis.

Samuel Emory Davis's Toombstone
Samuel Emory Davis’s Toombstone

Samuel Emory Davis.

Samuel, the father of Jefferson Davis, lies buried in the cemetery. Originally buried below Vicksburg, Mississippi, the elder Davis’s remains were brought to the Gulf Coast to lie at rest at Beauvoir after the course of the Mississippi River was slightly altered.

The Sons of the American Revolution were responsible for saving the remains and having them re-interred.

Samuel Emory Davis, born sometime around 1756, served, like his half-brothers in the militia of Georgia. However, the records available lead to the fact that he served most of the war in South Carolina militia forces.

Furthermore, accounts, gathered by Rice University in conjunction with the Jefferson Davis Papers, have him serving in some of the major engagements of the American Revolution in Georgia, including the Battle of Kettle Creek on February 14, 1779 and the Siege of Savannah from September to October 1779, and lastly the Siege of Augusta between April and June 1781.

A little more research led to the fact that Samuel Davis might have even raised his own mounted force which may have led to the rank listed on his tombstone; major.

After independence, Davis moved his family to Kentucky, where Jefferson Davis was born, then to Mississippi, and finally to Louisiana. While visiting his oldest son, the old patriot died on July 4, 1824.

Marker beside Samuel Davis's grave stone.
Marker beside Samuel Davis’s grave stone.

And from 1943 to this present day the former militia officer and father of the only Confederate president, lies in the Beauvoir Confederate Cemetery.

Thus, the visit, which I am thankful for friends who coordinated it on a holiday weekend that Americans celebrate what we are thankful for, now leads to another thankful opportunity.

More reading and research into the American Revolution.

As I came to Beauvoir for the Civil War history connection. I left wanting to know more about the Davis that fought in the American Revolution.

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