By DEVIN JOHNSON
WASHINGTON, Ga.– Dozens of people showed up to Wilkes County for the ribbon cutting of Kettle Creek Battlefield. Members of the Civil War Trust announced the deed to nearly 200 acres of land tied to the Revolutionary War will be transferred back home to Washington, Georgia. One thing visitors will take home from the ceremony is that the battle for this site was fought, ironically on the day of love.
Officials from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources dedicated the brand-new War Hill Trail, which the state supported with a $77,000 grant to Wilkes County. While people from the event walked the new trail, they got to revisit history. With the help of the student musicians from Camden Military Academy’s Fife and Drum Corps, they performed Revolutionary War tunes dressed in Colonial-era uniforms.
Using the battlefield as a classroom
Legendary UGA Coach Vince Dooley as well with the help of other historic press leaders joined U.S. Republican Jody Hice, to announce the preservation victory at Kettle Creek Battlefield. U.S. Representative Jody Hice believes the site will become a living classroom honoring those patriots who fought in the battle. He says it is an honor to be a part of preserving a Revolutionary War site in his home state.
“To see the crosses where the individual’s lives were lost in this battle, it’s just moving,” said Congressman Hice. “To realize this will literally become a classroom where people can see and experience, feel, watch and walk around a place, where this important battle took place.”
Legendary football coach for the University of Georgia, Vince Dooley, who also serves as a board member for the Civil War Trust, feels the battle deserves more recognition. Dooley also believes preserving the battlefield will be critical for more people to be engaged and appreciate the nation’s history. Two-time winner of National Coach of the Year says its important because it’s Georgia’s first victory and they needed a victory bad.
“Fought in 1779 on what is now Valentine’s Day, the Battle of Kettle Creek deserves to be far better known,” said Dooley. “Coming just two months after Savannah had fallen to the British, it was the Patriots’ first big win in Georgia.”
A designation for Heritage Tourism
President of the Civil War Trust, James Lighthizer announced that Campaign of 1776, the Trust’s national initiative to preserve battlegrounds of the Revolutionary War and War of 1812, will add the newly acquired land to the 77-acre Kettle Creek Battlefield Park in Wilkes County near Washington, Ga. The addition will enlarge the park by more than 233 percent and preserve the ground where combat between the Patriots and the British began more than 200 years ago.
Lighthizer spoke on the importance of the battles in Georgia and both of the Carolinas on the outcome of the war. The president of The Civil War Trust recognized the contributions of the Georgia Battlefields Association, to preserve the land. He also recognized the Weyerhaeuser Company for its willingness to sell the acreage. He says Kettle Creek would be lost cause it wasn’t for their partnership.
“None of the work we do around the country would be possible without the efforts of such local partners on the ground,” said Lightizer.
According to members of The Civil War Trust, they will continue working with the Kettle Creek Battlefield Association and Wilkes County to acquire other critical properties needed to complete preservation of the battlefield.
Building a better National Park
Kettle Creek Battlefield Association’s President, Walter Chewing, told the audience the park’s 180-acre addition will include the area where the battle began and the graves of Revolutionary War soldiers who fought there. He believes the seeing the graves of the soldiers will tell a far better story than a history book. Members of the association are finishing an interactive trail at War Hill, they are the in the works of building a second one.
“Kettle Creek foretold that the British didn’t have a winning strategy in the South, their last and best hope to defeat American independence,” Chewning said. “They couldn’t recruit enough Loyalist sympathizers, quash the insurgency, and win the Revolutionary War. This battle signaled that Britain would not conquer the people’s patriotic spirit in Georgia and the Carolinas.”