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Elijah Clarke

It is to be regretted that our historians have given so little space to one of our Georgia patriots of the Revolution--Elijah Clarke. One of our greatest national needs is that of commemorating the memories of our men who "did greatly," who fought, suffered and endured for our national independence. This is one of the prime objects of the existence of the Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution; "To perpetuate the memory of the Spirit of the men who achieved American Independence."

 

Among the many contributed to this great cause by Georgia, was Elijah Clarke. After the fall of Georgia, for the time being, many of our most distinguished men became voluntary exiles among their "brethren" in the West. Among the most prominent of these was Colonel Clarke; one to whom our liberty and the justness of the cause was dear.

He did not give up hope; for his heart was filled with the desire to return and renew the contest. He employed his entire time in the preparation of a sufficient force that would enable him to return when the opportunity should present itself.

Augusta was the key to the northern part of the state, and its possession was of great importance to our patriots. Upon hearing that the time for the arrival of the annual Indian presents was near, the desire to recover Augusta became, to Colonel Clarke, irresistible. He immediately set about collecting troops and his arguments were so successful that in a very short time five hundred enthusiastic warriors and men from the hills were assembled and marched to Augusta.

Upon their arrival, the division under Major Taylor attacked the Indian camp on Hawks Gully, thereby drawing the British under Colonel Thomas Brown to the support of the Indian allies, leaving the south and west of the city unguarded. Colonel Clarke entered at the points, with the remainder of his army, captured the garrison and finally, driving out Colonel Brown, occupied the town.

The British under Colonel Brown, after being driven out of Augusta, took refuge in a strong house called Seymour's White House, which they had fortified.

Colonel Clarke besieged them and was on the point of capturing them, after a four days siege, when Col. Cruger, coming with another British force compelled Clarke to retreat.

Lord Cornwallis ordered Colonel Ferguson to intercept Colonel Clarke. Just as Col. Ferguson started to carry out these orders, he heard that a new enemy was approaching, for the very purpose of doing just what Colonel Clarke had failed to do. This force consisted of rifle militia and had been drawn from Kentucky, the western country of Virginia and North Carolina, and was under the command of the famous independent colonels, Campbell, Cleveland, Williams, Sevier and Shelby. Upon hearing of Clarke's repulse and of Ferguson's orders to intercept Clarke, they gave up their enterprise on Colonel Brown, and turned against Ferguson; which ended in a crushing defeat for the British and the destruction of Colonel Ferguson at King's Mountain.

"Although Clarke failed in the reduction of Augusta, his attempt led to the destruction of Ferguson; and with it to the present relief of North Carolina." Such is the testimony of "Light Horse" Harry Lee, his companion in arms, and the father of our beloved General Robert E. Lee.

General Clarke, as he became, was brave and patriotic, and his services during the Revolution were valuable to the country, and deserve the recognition of his state. He died December 15th, 1799--one day after the death of Washington.

  "Poor is the nation that boasts no heroes, but beggared is that country that having them, forgets."

General Clarke was one of Georgia's heroes. Let us honor him.