By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Fort Morris re-enacts historic battle
Park visitors enjoy dose of history, glimpse into the past
McIntosh Sam Harrison
Lt. Col. John McIntosh (played by re-enactor Sam Harrison of Lawrenceville, Ga.), far right, prepares a group of Georgia Militia and Continental soldier re-enactors for a skirmish with British re-enactors during Saturdays Come and Take It Revolutionary War Encampment at Fort Morris. (Photos by Randy C. Murray)

Two hundred thirty-three years ago, a defiant Lt. Col. John McIntosh, commander of 200 patriots defending an earthen fortification overlooking the Medway River, defied a British officer’s demand to surrender Fort Morris.

"Come and take it!" McIntosh challenged the much-larger British force.

The British commander respectfully declined McIntosh’s challenge and took his forces back to Florida, where a growing contingent of British regulars, Indian allies and Loyalists from Georgia and the Carolinas were mounting a campaign to retake Georgia. The British returned to Fort Morris about six weeks later with a force of more than 2,000 and after a short but heavy bombardment, the fort and the port city of Sunbury fell into British hands.

Colonial re-enactors were on hand at Fort Morris Historic Site near Midway on Saturday to commemorate McIntosh’s defiant stand against overwhelming odds. His reply to the British demand to surrender was typical of the independent spirit that eventually would win against what then was the most powerful military in the world.

Called a "Come and Take it!" Revolutionary War Encampment, re-enactors from all over Georgia and Florida demonstrated musket and cannon drills and participated in a skirmish with British re-enactors. Others, dressed in Colonial-era civilian attire, represented and interpreted a variety of activities, such as cooking and knitting.

The event began with remarks by Jason Baker, the fort’s assistant manager, and was followed by a presentation of colors led by Ed Rigel, commander of the Sons of the American Revolutionary War Color Guard. Jack Ferguson from Marietta, Ga., was part of the color guard. He said their organization does presentations at re-enactments and in schools and they mark the graves of America’s first veterans — Revolutionary War soldiers — and recognize the anniversary of Revolutionary War battles fought in Georgia.

Visitors who were there for the opening remarks received a thorough history lesson from author and historian Dr. Christine R. Swager and Bill Ramsaur of the Marshes of Glynn Chapter of the Georgia Society Sons of American Revolution. Ramsaur gave a brief history of the war in Liberty County while Swager reminded visitors of the importance of remembering history.

"Our history is rich was statements of defiance," she said as she repeated the immortal words of Patrick Henry and Nathan Hale. "What we have to realize is that Georgia is once again under attack but this time by Georgians — Georgians who don’t understand their history or who don’t treasure it. We must tell the story of what happened here at Fort Morris. Everyone must know the story of Lt. Col. McIntosh.

"The Georgia legislature gave McIntosh a sword with the inscription, ‘Come and take it!’ Our state legislators today need to be reminded who he was as well as other Georgians who fought for our independence, including Nancy Hart and Col. Elijah Clarke. Hart, you know, not only captured the Tories who killed her neighbor, she hung them. She said they didn’t deserve shooting. We’ve got to teach every adult and every child about Georgia’s part in the American Revolution, because a people without a past have no future."

Not all the re-enactors were men. Linda Stewart from Griffin, Ga., said she has been participating in Colonial re-enactments since 1976. Dressed in Colonial attire, she knitted a pair of "fingerless" gloves, which were used by Revolutionary War soldiers because they gave the men dexterity to pull the triggers on their muskets.

Another supporting role re-enactor was Andrew Edgars, son of Fort Morris manager Arthur Edgars. As camp cook, he was making a pot of Brunswick stew and some corn chowder — plus some peach cobbler for dessert. Edgars, who is 23, said he’s been taking part in Colonial re-enactments since he was a baby.

Re-enactors Continental soldiers and Georgia militiamen included Chad Carpenter of Columbus, Ga., and Sam Harrison from Lawrenceville, Ga. Harrison played the role of McIntosh for Saturday’s skirmish re-enactment.

Carpenter, who served as a gunnery sergeant for the 2nd Company Georgia Artillery, was fervent about the importance of remembering Georgia’s role in the American Revolution and especially supporting Georgia’s state parks and historic sites.

"If we don’t support our state parks, we’re going to lose them," he said as he leaned on his replica musket. "We’re already losing funding (for our parks and historic sites). If more people don’t start using our parks and coming to these historic sites, they’re going to be closed."

Carpenter said he and other re-enactors would be at Wormsloe Historic Site in Savannah on Feb. 4-5 for the Colonial Faire and Muster, and if he could do so, he said he’d invite everyone in Georgia to be there.

Sign up for our e-newsletters