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Samuel Elbert

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Title: Samuel Elbert  
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Subject: Elbert County, Georgia, List of Governors of Georgia, Archibald Bulloch, Continental Army officers from Georgia (U.S. state), Elberton, Georgia
Collection: 1740 Births, 1788 Deaths, American People of English Descent, American Revolutionary War Prisoners of War Held by Great Britain, Continental Army Officers from Georgia (U.S. State), Elbert County, Georgia, Georgia (U.S. State) Independents, Georgia (U.S. State) Militiamen in the American Revolution, Governors of Georgia (U.S. State), Independent State Governors of the United States, Militia Generals in the American Revolution, People from Savannah, Georgia
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Samuel Elbert

Samuel Elbert
Samuel Elbert
Born 1740
Province of Georgia
Died November 1, 1788(1788-11-01)
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch Georgia State Navy
Continental Army
Rank [1]Continental Army Brigadier General -
Battles/wars Battle of Brier Creek
Frederica naval action
Siege of Yorktown
Awards Society of the Cincinnati
Other work Governor of Georgia

Samuel Elbert (1740 – November 1, 1788) was an Savannah, Georgia.

Elbert fought in the

Political offices
Preceded by
John Houstoun
Governor of Georgia
Succeeded by
Edward Telfair
  • Frederica Naval Action
  • Biography in The New Georgia Encyclopedia
  • Order book of Samuel Elbert, Colonel and Brigadier General in the Continental Army, October 1776 to November 1778, and Letter book of Governor Samuel Elbert from January 1785 to November 1785
  • Georgia State Archives Roster of State Governors
  • Georgia Governor's Gravesites Field Guide (1776-2003)
  • GeorgiaInfo: Battle of Brier Creek State Historical Marker
  • Battle of Brier Creek Marker
  • General Samuel Elbert Marker

External links

  • Christensen, Mike (April 4, 1976). "Georgia’s Navy".  
  • Elbert, Samuel (January 29, 1779). "Letter to General Benjamin Lincoln, Southern Army Commander". 
  • "General Samuel Elbert Masonic Historical Marker". located on Brannen's Bridge Rd. at Brier Creek: Grand Lodge of Georgia Free and Accepted Masons. 
  • Johnson, Joseph, M.D. (1851). Traditions & Reminiscences Chiefly of the American Revolution in the South Including Biographical Sketches Incidents & Anecdotes.  
  • "Map of the Battle of Brier Creek". Georgia State Historical Marker located on Brannen's Bridge Rd. at Brier Creek(), 11 miles (18 km) northeast of  
  • "Order book of Samuel Elbert". Collections of the Georgia Historical Society. V, pt. 2. p. 655. 
  • Purcell, Clarice E. (1951). "The Public Career of Samuel Elbert". Master's thesis.  
  • Smith, Gordon Burns, History of the Georgia Militia, 1783-1861, Volume One, Campaigns and Generals, Boyd Publishing, 2000.
  • Sutlive, John L. (former editor Savannah Evening Press) (May 9, 1971). "Governor’s Bones - a letter sent to the Atlanta Journal Constitution". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ( 
  • "The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia" V. 1738 to 1744. p. 655. 
  • "The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia" X. pp. 124–125, 907. 
  • published by authority of the lords commissioners of the Admiralty ; to which is added, The North Georgia gazette, and Winter chronicle. (November 6, 1788). Written at Philadelphia. The Georgia Gazette. an article on file at the  
  • "The Last Will and Testament of Samuel Elbert". Will Record Book C 1780 - 1791.  
  • Whalen, Gail. "The WPA Excavation of Irene Mound".  
  • Wheeler, Frank T.; Georgia Historical Society (October 1998). Savannah River Plantations (Images of America: Georgia). Arcadia Pub. pp. 69–82.  
  • Whitehead, Stella Muse. "To the Glory of Georgia". a profile of Samuel Elbert derived partially from journals of Elbert left to Stella by her grandmother, Jane Stiles Muse Hernandez who inherited them from her first husband, Samuel Elbert Muse, a great grandson of General Elbert. 
  • Wood, Virginia Steele (Summer 2006). "The Georgia Navy's Dramatic Victory of April 19, 1778". Georgia Historical Quarterly (  


  1. ^ a b Jones 1886, p.36.
  2. ^ Smith, p. 285
  3. ^ Cook, James F. "Georgia Governor Samuel Elbert". Mercer University Press. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  4. ^ Purcell 1951, p.1.
  5. ^ Georgia Colonial Records, Vol. V, p.655.
  6. ^ Georgia Colonial Records, Vol. X, p.907.
  7. ^ Purcell 1951, p.90.
  8. ^ Jones 1886
  9. ^ a b Purcell 1951
  10. ^ Bennett 1970, p.10.
  11. ^ Purcell 1951, p.35.
  12. ^ Bennett 1970
  13. ^ Bennett 1970, p.16.
  14. ^ Wood 2006
  15. ^ Purcell 1951, p.48.
  16. ^ "Solar Eclipse Calendar". Archived from the original on 2009-10-25. Retrieved 2008-01-26. 
  17. ^ Purcell 1951, p.60.
  18. ^ Purcell 1951, p.62.
  19. ^ Coulter 1947, p.138.
  20. ^ Elbert Letter 1779
  21. ^ Hollingsworth 1959
  22. ^ Johnson 1851
  23. ^ Purcell 1951, p.69.
  24. ^ "Cherokee Land Cessions / Fifth Annual Report of the Bureau of Ethnology to the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution / 1884". 
  25. ^ McCall, Hugh (1817). The History of Georgia, Vol. 1. 
  26. ^ Purcell 1951, p.75. from the Georgia Gazette, January 13, 1785.
  27. ^ Purcell 1951, p.80. from The Savannah Morning News of Oct 31, 1920.
  28. ^ Georgia Gazette November 6, 1788
  29. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. Govt. Print. Off. p. 116. 
  30. ^ Cotten, Mary Gene. "General Samuel Elbert Masonic Historical Marker".  
  31. ^ Cotten, Mary Gene. "Battle of Brier Creek State Historical Marker".  
  32. ^ "Elbert County State Historical Marker".  



On March 24, 1924, Samuel and Elizabeth Rae Elbert were re-interred in the Colonial Park Cemetery in Savannah. Once again, honors were paid to this man in a military funeral by units from the Army, Navy and National Guard.

Much of the credit for awakening interest in Georgia's great Revolutionary heroes is due to the efforts of William Harden, former longtime librarian of the Sons of the American Revolution to appoint a committee to locate Samuel Elbert's grave. The grave site was eventually found on an Indian mound overlooking the Savannah River. In a letter to the editor of the Atlanta Journal & Constitution dated May 9, 1971, John L. Sutlive, former editor of the Savannah Evening Press, stated the discovery of Elbert's grave was somewhat accidental. Working on the Rae plantation many years ago, workmen uncovered some bones thought to be those of an Indian, but the fact that there were some military buttons with the skeleton came to the attention of General Robert J. Travis, who rescued them, realizing that they were the remains of Governor Elbert. He kept them in a crate under his desk until reburial arrangements could be made.


Died last Saturday, after a lingering sickness, age 48 years, SAMUEL ELBERT, Esq. Major General of the Militia of this state, Vice president of the Society of the Cincinnati, and Sheriff of the County of Chatham. His death was announced by the discharge of minute guns and the colours of Fort Wayne, and vessels in the harbour being displayed at half mast high. An early and warm attachment to the cause of his country stimulated him to exert those natural talents he possessed for a military life, throughout the late glorious and successful contest, with ability and general approbation, for which he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in the Army of the United States. In the year 1785, his country chose him, by their general suffrage, Governor and Commander in chief of the State, which office he executed with fidelity and discharged its various duties with becoming attention and dignity. The appointments of Major General of the Militia and Sheriff of this county, were further marks of the confidence of his country, whose interests he had always at heart, and whose appointments he received and executed, with a grateful remembrance that his conduct through life had met the approbation of fellow citizens. In private life, he was among the first to promote useful and benevolent societies. As a Christian, he bore his painful illness with patience and firmness, and looked forward to his great change with an awful and fixed hope of future happiness. As a most affectionate husband and parent his widow and six children have great cause to lament his end, and the society in general to regret the loss of a valuable member. His remains were attended to on Sunday to Christ Church by the ancient society of the Masons, (of which he was the Passed (sic) Grand Master in this state) with the members of the Cincinnati as mourners, accompanied by a great number of his other fellow citizens, whom the Rev. Mr. Lindsay addressed in a short but well adapted discourse on the solemn occasion. Minute guns were fired during the funeral, and every other honor was paid his memory, by a respectable military procession, composed of the Artillery and other Militia Companies. The body was afterwards deposited at the family burial place on the Mount at Rae’s Hall.

On November 6, 1788, the following obituary appeared in the Georgia Gazette, published in Savannah:[28]

Elbert and Elizabeth Rae had six children: Catherine, Elizabeth, Sara, Samuel de Lafayette, Matthew and Hugh Lee. That he was a kind and greatly beloved father to his children is evidenced in many records.

Personal life

The matter of taxation came before Elbert early in April, 1785, when William Houston, Georgia's delegate to the United States Congress, wrote a letter informing him that New York and Georgia were the only states that had not conceded the right to levy these taxes – that feeling against Georgia in the national capital New York City at the time was very high, even going so far as to threaten to vote Georgia out of the Union. Undoubtedly, Elbert favored full cooperation with Congress, but governors of that did not wield the power that executives of later years were to possess, and Georgia did not accept the tax.

As governor, Samuel Elbert was intensely interested in educational and cultural matters. Along with another prominent advocate of education, Savannah Morning News stated that this event was "... perhaps of more enduring and far-reaching importance and good than any other of this great man's notable career."[27]

In January, 1785, an unusual piece of legislature was passed by the General Assembly for the regular establishment and support of religion in Georgia, mixing Church and State matters. Though governors at that time had no power to vote, Elbert and succeeding governors who found the legislation untenable, ignored it, as stated in the Digest of the Laws of Georgia.

I shall ever be sensible of the honor you have conferred on me, in appointing me [26]

When the General Assembly of Georgia convened at Savannah on January 4, 1785, Samuel Elbert was elected governor of the state, to succeed House, and formally accepted the honor, saying in part:

Governor of Georgia

Many honors were bestowed upon Samuel Elbert. He was elected Sheriff of delegate to the United States Congress. This latter honor he was forced to refuse, because he felt, after the long rigors of war, his physical condition was not at its best.

Postwar activities

Before the conference had ended, the news reached Georgia that a peace treaty had been concluded between Great Britain and her former colonies. [25] In 1782, the General Assembly of Georgia chose Elbert, General

Elbert went immediately to Siege of Yorktown in 1781, Elbert was given command of a brigade. While at Yorktown, he made a lasting friendship with a young French general, the marquis de Lafayette. This friendship continued after war's end, and these two men maintained a friendly correspondence for many years. Such was Elbert's admiration for Lafayette that he named one of his sons after him.

The Patriot movement at Augusta petitioned the Continental Congress to offer Brigadier General James Inglis Hamilton in exchange for Elbert, and to arrange for his promotion to the rank of brigadier general in the Continental Army.[23] This request was granted after the capture of Charleston by the British in 1780.

Elbert was given considerable freedom while being held prisoner, which was unusual given the typically harsh treatment of prisoners at the time. It is a family tradition, however, that this freedom exposed him to a plot upon his life.[9][22] It was attributed to a gang of Tories who had every reason to dislike Elbert since he had been very active against them. Their plan was to have him killed by Indians. While strolling in the woods one day, Elbert encountered two Indians with guns aimed directly at him. He had always extended great kindness to the Indians whenever he had had dealings with them in the past. He made a secret signal to them, and they recognized him as a friend.

Elbert remained a prisoner on parole in the British camp for more than a year. During this time, he was accorded great respect and kindness. The British made every effort to suborn his allegiance, offering promotion, honors and other rewards, but he remained loyal to the American cause.

There is ample reason to believe that, if the other two divisions had fought with the tenacity of Elbert’s command, things might have turned out differently, especially since General Andrew Williamson was on his way with 1200 men and General Griffith Rutherford was coming with 800 men to reinforce the army at Brier.[21] As it was, General Lincoln’s plan to win control of the South and bring the war to an end resulted in disaster. General Ashe was later accused of cowardice for leaving the field of battle while Elbert was still engaged, but since nothing could be proved, a court of inquiry found Ashe only guilty of gross neglect.

Although Elbert was a Mason by a British officer who ordered his life spared.

In late February, Elbert was joined by General John Ashe and about 1800 additional troops. Ashe deployed most of his troops on high ground near Brier Creek. It was here that Elbert nearly lost his life.

The articles of provisions we shall have plenty, of artillery we have none, small arms very ordinary in general and scarce, many men have come to camp without any, which we have not to give them. Entrenching tools and camp utensils are not to be had here.[20]

Savannah was pillaged by the British, and General Howe later faced a Augusta. The weather was cold and conditions harsh. On January 29, 1779, Elbert wrote in a letter to General Lincoln, commander of the Southern army:

Battle of Brier Creek

In December of 1778, the British sent a fleet with about 3500 troops led by Colonel Archibald Campbell to retake Savannah. General Howe, in command of the city, declined to accept an offer from Colonel Elbert to use Elbert’s regiment to defend a landing place known as Girardeau’s plantation(). As a result, the British were able to land without incident and soon were able to attack the American army from the rear by traversing a swamp under the guidance of a slave named Quamino Dolly.[17] The Americans were soon forced to retreat across the bridge over Musgrove Creek. Although most of the army crossed safely, the British seized the bridge just before Elbert’s command arrived. As a result, Elbert and his men were forced to swim the icy creek to avoid capture. They later joined General Howe about eight miles (13 km) above Savannah.

Elbert, now joined by General Howe, continued on and occupied Patriots and the Loyalists continued, the 1778 expedition was the last of Georgia’s attempts to throw the British out of Florida.

Meanwhile, Samuel Elbert continued with his Continental troops toward Florida. Just after they crossed the Satilla River, on June 24, the first Solar eclipse recorded in the British colonies occurred.[15][16] It was called "the dark day" by the troops and may well have been responsible for some of the desertions about then.

The remarkable success of this enterprise encouraged him to consider launching an attack against another heavily armed British vessel, the Galatea, anchored at the north end of Jekyll Island. Apparently he decided against it, and the Galatea, unable to complete its mission, set sail for St. Augustine, Florida a few days later.[14] General Howe commended Elbert and his troops for their victory over the British ships and, partly because of this venture, decided to continue with the invasion of Florida.

Elbert's three galleys comprised a good part of the Continental Congress for the state. The galleys were approximately 70 feet (21 m) in length and were powered by two lateen sails as well as oars and had a very large cannon mounted in the bow. Although not suited for ocean going, their maneuverability made them formidable in the shallow coastal waters of Georgia.

A later attempt to invade Florida with a much larger army was initiated by Governor strike their colors and abandon ship. Having suffered no casualties, Elbert was ecstatic.

I think --- that little can be done, unless by a formidable invasion, which I judge to be rather too much for Georgia to undertake till her forces are put on a more respectable footing, and therefore recommend confining our operations entirely to the defensive till a more favorable opportunity. We have too many secret enemies amongst us who keep up a regular correspondence with our Florida neighbors, and until they are put to a stop it will be impossible for us to enter Florida without their having timely notice of our approach.

Failing to surprise the British and without the support of Baker’s detachment, Elbert and his men returned to Georgia without much having been accomplished. Shortly thereafter, Elbert concluded in a letter to General McIntosh:

To ensure total victory, the British war ships Rebecca and Hawke were ordered out to block any attempt of Elbert’s little flotilla to escape. A violent storm came up, and the British warships were forced out to sea. Before they could return, they encountered a rebel brigantine of sixteen guns. The ensuing battle damaged the Rebecca so badly that it could no longer carry on, allowing Elbert to leave Amelia Island unopposed.[13]

It was about three days later that Colonel Elbert disembarked his troops on the north end of Amelia Island. His forces were joined by a few stragglers from Baker’s detachment, but after reconnoitering, Elbert found the British well entrenched with troops and artillery. While Elbert’s little band was busy trying to cut through the Amelia Narrows, the British commander, Patrick Tonyn, was making plans to attack them with vastly superior forces.

Colonel Baker’s mounted militia arrived at Saw Pitt Bluff as planned, but quickly moved to a new location when it became apparent that the British already knew of their intentions. During this move, Colonel Baker’s men were surprised by a force of some 400 British troops, and a brief battle ensued in the vicinity of Thomas Creek just south of where it empties into the Nassau River.[12] Outnumbered and facing withering fire, most of Baker’s men deserted. Colonel Baker together with his few remaining forces was obliged to retreat, returning to Georgia on May 17.

Nevertheless, one reason Florida never became a part of Georgia might be found in the vagaries of the wind. May 13, 1777 was to the date picked for Elbert and Baker to combine their forces and drive back the British. Many problems prevented Elbert’s sea expedition from reaching its destination on time. While on the boats, the men were stricken by disease, which combined with supply problems and head winds, slowed their progress considerably. In addition, the waters in this area are relatively low in the spring, making navigation somewhat difficult. On May 30, Elbert wrote in a letter to his brother in law, Colonel Joseph Habersham, "could we have got the Galleys into St. John’s river, I would, with the men I have with me, made the whole province of East Florida tumble."[11]

At about the time this expedition was initiated, an ongoing feud between Gwinnett and the commander of Georgia’s Continental troops, General Lachlan McIntosh, resulted in a duel in which both parties were wounded. Button Gwinnett died of blood poisoning three days later on May 19, 1777.

In 1777, Georgia’s president, Button Gwinnett, decided to launch an invasion of Florida to liberate that territory from the British. His plan was to send Colonel Samuel Elbert with 400 continental troops in three galleys and support craft by sea and another element of 109 mounted militia led by Colonel John Baker by land. The two elements were to rendezvous at Saw Pit Bluff, near the mouth of the Nassau River, a site that is presently within the city limits of Jacksonville, Florida.[10]

He became active in the Provisional [9]

American Revolutionary War

Elbert became a captain of a King of Great Britain as a prerequisite to being commissioned as an officer.

He became engaged to Rae's daughter, Elizabeth. In 1769, they were married at Rae’s Hall, a union which, according to historian Charles C. Jones, "confirmed Elbert’s social position and influence."[8]

Elbert was employed by a prosperous planter named John Rae, an important man in both commerce and government. Rae had built a beautiful home on his land near [7]

Elizabeth Rae

when he was fourteen. He traveled back to Savannah. South Carolina minister William Elbert and his wife, Sarah Greenfield. Elbert’s parents died in Baptist Samuel Elbert was the son of [6][5][4] Born in 1740 in



  • Life 1
    • American Revolutionary War 1.1
      • Battle of Brier Creek 1.1.1
    • Postwar activities 1.2
      • Governor of Georgia 1.2.1
  • Personal life 2
  • Honors 3
  • References 4
    • Bibliography 4.1
  • External links 5

Elbert was a Freemason. His name appears on the 1779 Masonic membership roles of Solomon's Lodge No. 1 at Savannah along with James Jackson, Governor John A. Treutlen, and Archibald Bulloch. Elbert also served as the last Provincial Grand Master of the first English Provincial Grand Lodge of Georgia in 1785.

In 1784, he was elected to the 18th Governor of Georgia.

after the end of the war. brigadier general He was brevetted a [3].Continental Army and colonel in the [2]

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