Excerpt: 'The Hornet's Nest'

The men were excited by the idea and began to look at some of the maps they had prepared and used for military training. Within a couple of hours they had identified an area big enough to include several separated forts with good trails connecting them, with maximum natural protection from impassable creeks, swamps, and hills. Just by felling a few trees, it would be easy to close any of the old trails they would not be needing. Elijah summarized these decisions and added, "This has got to be our special place, but there's two things to remember. We've got to let Redcoats, Thomas Brown and them other savages, and everybody else know, by God, that if they come in here ag'in us, they'll be dead men. There cain't be no exceptions. The other thing is that this is not just for hidin'. It's for attackin' as long as we're able to fight. Mine and Dooly's farms happens to be on the edge of this area, and my fort will be useful sometimes as a meetin' place. We'll be able to move out fast, to our own farms or toward Augusta or across the river to Carolina, and to come back -- sometimes in a hurry!"

It was inevitable that the protected area would be called the Hornet's Nest.

Georgia's leaders began rallying supporters in the backcountry region. Their first efforts were to convince as many settlers as possible that the revolution was not lost, and to use either promises or intimidation to secure their support. The militia commanders issued edicts in north Georgia that all property owners had to swear allegiance to the Continental government or lose their estates, and a few settlers began to reject their recent oaths of allegiance to the crown. This was not enough for Elijah Clarke and his most militant followers, who wanted to give a vivid warning to those who remained subservient to the British.

One of the defecting Whigs was a prominent landowner, Zachariah Timmerman, whom John Dooly had warned personally to renounce his oath of loyalty to the crown. He immediately went to Augusta and surrendered to Colonel Campbell. The British spread the word about Timmerman's wise action and placed him under the care of a corporal named MacAllister, a favorite of the colonel. Within a week, an American raiding party entered the compound, attacked MacAllister, killed, disemboweled, and decapitated him, and took Timmerman just outside the town, where he was hanged, with a note pinned to his chest that said, "Justice." This was a harsh reminder to doubtful Whigs, but MacAllister's name became a battle cry for the furious British troops.

General Prevost, now occupying Savannah and serving as acting governor, seemed to have little interest in Augusta. Knowing of Brown's intense interest in the area, however, he directed that the Florida Rangers refrain from any movements northward along the Savannah River, and Brown was forced to comply. This meant, in effect, that few if any Creeks or Cherokees were available to join the British in the region, despite the earlier arrangements that had been made with Emistisiguo and even John Stuart. All British efforts would now be focused on Charles Town. Deprived of any dependable assistance except for his own troops, it was clear that Colonel Campbell and his five hundred men would be hard-pressed to hold Augusta against a concerted attack from the west.

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