Savannah’s Revolutionary War battle detailed

Submitted by Sammy Smith (sammy@thesga.org)

savannah_under_fire_titleDownload an archaeological report and list of artifacts recovered during recent research to locate, identify, and determine the level of preservation of as many locales as possible in the City of Savannah that are related to the October 9, 1779 Battle of Savannah. In short, for this research, archaeologists and SGA members Rita and Dan Elliott assembled all map information about the battle, then combined it with a recent digital map of the city to discover where prospecting for intact remains might be productive. They focused ground-truthing in modern green spaces, which again reminds us of another value of green spaces beyond their “greenness.” They examined specific locations in Madison Square, Lafayette Square, Emmet Park, Colonial Park Cemetery, Cuyler Park, Dixon Park, and Myers Park.

The report, authored by the Elliotts, is titled “Savannah under Fire, 1779: Identifying Savannah’s Revolutionary War Battlefield” and is dated June 2009. In part, the report abstract notes:

The project was extremely successful. Archeologists located a defensive ditch (almost two meters deep) dug by the British in 1779, defended during the battle, and in-filled by the Americans in 1782. The ditch lies in what is now Madison Square. Brick fragments/rubble in the ditch was part of the brick from the barracks razed by the British less than two weeks before the battle. The brick was used in the defenses around the Central redoubts and was pushed into the British trenches following the British evacuation of the city in 1782. In nearby Lafayette Square, archeologists discovered artifacts that were likely discarded by British soldiers occupying the defensive lines near and in the Central Redoubts, and by civilians associated with the soldiers. Emmet Park revealed a deep (3.5 ft.) feature that may have been constructed as part of the river battery associated with nearby Fort Prevost. Not only did archeologists discover evidence of numerous unmarked graves in Colonial Park Cemetery, but also an anomaly that appears to be one of the ditches running toward a redoubt. Archeologists found no evidence of Revolutionary War activity in Cuyler, Dixon, and Myers parks.

Perhaps surprisingly, the archaeological resources identified by this research were found to be in excellent condition.

This research was conducted by archaeologists with the Coastal Heritage Society, and primarily funded through the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program, with some matching funds from The LAMAR Institute. The Coastal Heritage Society, founded in 1975 and based in Savannah, has three historic archaeological sites: Old Fort Jackson National Historic Landmark, the Savannah History Museum, and the Roundhouse Railroad Museum.

Go to this page to download the report “Savannah under Fire, 1779” and the project’s artifact catalogue. The report is a large PDF file, over 88 MB.

Where to find it