29 Dec 1778 – Battle of Savannah (First) Anniversary
The Capture of Savannah, or sometimes the First Battle of Savannah (because of a siege in 1779), was an American Revolutionary War battle fought on December 29, 1778 between local American Patriot militia and Continental Army units holding the city and a British invasion force under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Campbell. The British seizure of the city led to an extended occupation and was the opening move in the British southern strategy to regain control of the rebellious Southern provinces by appealing to the strong Loyalist sentiment believed to be there.
General Sir Henry Clinton, the commander-in-chief of the British forces based in New York City, dispatched Campbell and a 3,100 man force from New York to capture Savannah, and begin the process of returning Georgia to British control. He was to be assisted by troops under the command of Brigadier General Augustine Prevost that were marching up from Saint Augustine in East Florida. After landing near Savannah on December 23, Campbell assessed the American defenses, which were comparatively weak, and decided to attack without waiting for Prevost. Taking advantage of local assistance he successfully flanked the American position outside the town, captured a large portion of Major General Robert Howe’s army, and drove the remnants to retreat into South Carolina.
Campbell and Prevost followed up the victory with the capture of Sunbury and an expedition to Augusta. The latter was only occupied by Campbell for a few weeks before he retreated back to Savannah, citing insufficient Loyalist and Indian support and the threat of Patriot forces across the Savannah River in South Carolina. The British held off a Franco-American siege in 1779, and held the city until late in the war.