Patriot Militia Colonel Elijah Clarke
||Born: 1733; Edgecombe County, South Carolina
Died: December 15, 1799; Richmond County
Early Life: 1733-1776
Elijah Clarke was born and grew up in South Carolina, probably of Scottish-Irish parents. In 1774, he migrated to Wilkes County, Georgia, because of the availability of new lands. Soon after, the region was threatened by Indians. A militia company was organized and Clarke was elected captain. This was just the beginning of his military career.
Revolutionary War: 1776-1781
When the war broke out, Clarke joined the Whigs (Patriots). He was given the commission of Lt. Colonel and served with Andrew Pickens. In July 1778, he was wounded at Alligator Creek. On February 14, 1779, he was with Pickens when his force of about 300 surprised and defeated about 700 Loyalists under Colonel Boyd after about an hour of fighting at Kettle Creek, Georgia. The victory stopped the rallying of Loyalists following the British capture of Savannah, Georgia. It turned out to be the high point of Patriot action in Georgia during the war and forced the British to withdraw from Augusta.
In May, 1780, Augusta again fell under British control. During this time while the state is under British control, Colonel Clarke carried on resistance in the backcountry using guerilla tactics. His militia skirmished with and drove back an advance party of Loyalists from Major Patrick Ferguson's main force at Green Spring, South Carolina on August 1, 1780. On August 8, he and Colonel Isaac Shelby skirmished with Ferguson at Cedar Springs. On August 18, they again skirmished with Partisans at the rear of Ferguson's force at Musgrove's Mill, South Carolina where they repulsed a Loyalist attack inflicting 150 casualties and capturing 70, while sustaining only a dozen casualties themselves.
From September 14-18, 1780, Colonel Clarke and Lt. Colonel James McCall led over 400 men in an attempt to retake Augusta, Georgia. They began the siege by approaching undetected and rebuffed two Indian attacks. On the 15th, they brought in two artillery pieces, their only qualified artillerist was killed early that same day. Even though they had cut off the British water supply, they had insufficient numbers to overrun the garrison. On the 18th, Clarke withdrew when British reinforcements arrived from Ninety-Six. The attempted siege brought about a violent reaction from Loyalists and 400 women and children were forced to flee with the force toward North Carolina. Major Ferguson's pursuit of this force precipitated events that led to the Battle of King's Mountain.
Colonel Clarke may or may not have been with Thomas Sumter at Fishdam Ford, South Carolina on November 9, 1780 when his camp was attacked by Major James Wemyss, On November 20, Clarke joined Sumter in fighting Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton at Blackstocks, South Carolina. The battle was a virtual draw with Tarleton preventing Sumter from threatening Ninety-Six, but losing the field and the battle to do so. Sumter was severly wounded at this action, which resulted in the dispersion of his militia. In April 1781, Clarke and Pickens began a second siege of Augusta, Georgia with the support of Lt. Colonel Henry Lee and his Legion and Colonel Shelby. On June 5, Augusta finally fell, returning the backcountry of Georgia to Patriot control.
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