Archaeologists trying to save Brier Creek Battlefield 238 years later

Archaeologist Daniel Battle highlights battlefield elements at the site of the Revolutionary War Battle of Brier Creek in Screven County.

As the years go by and dust settles over the footprints of history, the woods along Screven County’s Brier Creek are the key to remembering America’s first patriots in the Peach State say those struggling to preserve Georgia’s Revolutionary War heritage.


“This is one of the most well preserved sites of the Revolutionary War anywhere in the nation and this is where the Georgia Continentals met their end,” archaeologist Daniel Battle said.

On March 3, 1779, 238 years ago on tomorrow , the first major battle of the British Army’s push into the American South took place at Brier Creek at the old road between Savannah and Augusta. According to Battle and President of the Brier Creek Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution Craig Wildi, the American loss resulted in the deaths of at least 200 patriots.

Studies done by Battle in conjunction with other professional organizations have uncovered evidence that some of Georgia’s soldiers who lost their lives in the fight for independence may still lie in graves at the battle site.

“This was the 16th bloodiest of all battle sites throughout the Revolutionary War,” Battle said. “We found so many artifacts under our original permit, Georgia DNR (Department of natural Resources) shut the study down.”

The land around the battle site is public, managed by Georgia DNR as part of the Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area. The wildlife management area is about 15,000 acres. Battle and Wildi said they want 500-600 acres set aside to fully study the site, but said DNR hasn’t been willing to dedicate more than about five acres for site preservation and management.

Notable names at the battlefield include Samuel Elbert who survived the battle and became governor of Georgia six years later. Thomas Hutchins was also part of the battle at Brier Creek.

Hutchins was the only regular officer to serve in the British Army and then defect to join the Americans. After Brier Creek, he escaped from Great Britain through France and then sailed to Charleston where he was commissioned by Benjamin Franklin.

Hutchins’ was the only official Geographer of the United States and his journals are largely responsible for the continued understanding of the events at Brier Creek.

In the days following the American defeat, the British proclaimed Georgia had been reclaimed and was once again considered a colony of the British Empire. Georgia is the only colony to have been officially reclaimed by the British government, according to Battle.

Last year, the Sons of the American Revolution held a commemorative event to place flags in honor of those who died at the battlefield. Because the event was hosted by a non-profit organization, Wildi said Georgia DNR waived the requirements for certain liability insurance policies and other fees for group events. This year, he said they are requiring the group to pay for those requirements; payments the small non-profit says it can’t afford.

“They don’t want us out here. They don’t want the attention, it’s that simple,” Wildi said.

During the surveys for and original push for the Palmetto Pipeline, bulldozers and other equipment were brought onto the site to widen roads across it inside the wildlife management area. The proposed pipeline map originally had the right of way slated to cross the battlefield. While both said they were relieved the pipeline was stopped, they say other challenges remain in saving the site.

Wildi said Brier Creek not being listed in the National Register of Historic Places is tantamount to ignoring American patriots and is “like a slap in the face.”

Wildi and Battle said they don’t expect DNR to create a park out of the area right away. They said the area is already publicly owned and they hope DNR will put a management plan in place to give them a chance to save Georgia’s American Revolutionary heritage at Brier Creek.

Reach Thomas Gardiner at (706)823-3339 or

Sonny Pittman 12 months ago

Good article that outlines most of the reasons why we, in the SAR and DAR, are struggling to save and preserve the battle site.

lynda woodard 12 months ago
Thank goodness..   it's about time WE are going to  do the RIGHT THING  by  saving OUR  history.  This battle was  important  for  ALL OF US to have the freedoms we have today  as US citzens.   Lynda Smith Woodard  DAR,Kettle Creek Chapter

George Withershine 12 months ago
If it's public land, appears to me the legislature could remove it from DNR control.  DNR is about as bad as the EPA.   I believe DAR and SAR need to contact their reps and push to have the 500-600 acres removed from DNR control!!!
ED PRESNELL 12 months ago
As a member of SAR and the proud son of a family DAR legacy history, from my perspective, it is imperative that this property not only be preserved, but used extensively for research and education for future generations.  The DNR of Georgia should be focused on this initiative for the heritage of our state's contributions as an original colony of The United States of America....
Sonny Pittman 12 months ago
The Brier Creek Chapter, Georgia Society Sons of the American Revolution, invites you to attend the 238th Anniversary of the 1779 Battle of Brier Creek, Saturday, March 11, 2017 at 11:00 A.M.


Brannens Bridge Road (on right, 1/2 mile north of Brier Creek landing/bridge),, Screven County, Georgia

Coordinates N 320 480 19.820  W 810 280 17.050


SAR,DAR, C.A.R., other patriotic and lineage societies & chapters and the general public are invited to participate in the formal wreath laying ceremony at the Brier Creek Battleground. Continental, militia or period attire is encouraged. Honor guards will be firing muskets and cannons.

Archaeologist Daniel Battle will be the guest speaker.

William Hughes 12 months ago
32°48'19.8"N 81°28'17.1"W
Jim Hall 12 months ago
History always loses in the battle against money and PC.  Its 1984 and Stalin is in charge.

"Sacred to the Memory of...." cannot stand in the way of progress or progressive politics.
James Hanby 12 months ago
Jim, not sure at all what you why you bring progressive politics into it, the DNR is a state body which is controled by the Governor, I doubt that neither the current nor last Governor would identify themselves as progressives. They simply don't care, politics doesn't have anything to do with it.
Kathy Bubb 12 months ago
Recently went to Kings Mountain National Military Park. Very impressed with what they've done there to preserve history. Georgia needs to step up and do the same.
[removed] 12 months ago
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Savannah Riverkeeper 12 months ago
Rob Pavey didn't write this piece. He is retired. 
Rick Franklin 12 months ago

My 5th.great-grandfather (Reuben Kirkland Sr.)was a Patriot soldier from S.C Militia who lost his right arm in the Battle of Brier Creek 3-3-1779.
Craig Wildi 12 months ago
I would love to have you join Brier Creek Chapter, either as a primary or dual member. Either way, Please email me,, I'd love to talk to you.
Rick Franklin 12 months ago
Thanks Craig,I will email you ASAP. I am planning to visit their on 3-11-17 for the wreath laying and tour the Battlefield,etc. hope to meet y'all there.
James Hanby 12 months ago
This is part of a greater issue that I have attempted to bring to the fore with the reestablishment of the July 4th Ceremony at the Signers Monument in Augusta. There is so much history related to the Revolutionary War in Georgia that nobody knows. We need more articles like this and more attention from the public at large to understand what our history is.
Claude Hardison 12 months ago
My great, great, great Grandfather fought in the Battle of Brier Creek, survived but lost his shoes in the mire.
Craig Wildi 12 months ago
That is exactly right. 


Fri, 07/21/2017 - 22:09

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