10 August 2008

Didn't get the memo...

Ok, so I mentioned that St Marys had a unique place in the War of 1812. New Orleans is known to most people as the last battle of the war, fought after the peace treaty was signed. In fact, a battle near St Marys occured five days later on Jan 13, 1815. That morning, the British, who had just landed on Cumberland Island off shore from St Marys, landed near Point Peter, just north of the town. The locals had established a fort here under Captain A. A. Messias. This force, however, was quickly overwhelmed and the British swept into St Marys. Only a few days later, the British learned of the Treaty of Ghent, ending the war, and quietly got in their ships and left. While the locals claim this was the true last battle of the war, that is not entirely true either. That honor belongs to Fort Bowyer, Alabama, which was attacked on February 11. This just goes to show again, don't let tourist industries fool you, always verify their claims. These first photos are from a small museum in St Marys run by the Cumberland Island unit of the National Park service. The first two show reproductions of the American and British uniforms during the war. The next three photos are artifacts found around St Marys and Point Peter.

Point Peter is now long gone, covered by modern homes in a private community. This nearby marker is all that is left.
Perhaps St Marys most colorful story involes a man named Major Archibald Clark. His father, henry Clark came from Scotland, was a soldier in the Revolution and participated in the Siege of Savannah. Archibald went to law school in Litchfield, CT where he met his wife Rhoda Wordsworth. They married in 1802 and settled in St Marys in the house seen above. He amassed a good amount of wealth, and created several saw mills along the St Marys river west of the town. In 1807 he was appointed the Port Collector for St Marys by President Thomas Jefferson. When the British invaded St Marys, they went to Clark's house to demand money. When he refused, he was taken away as a prisoner leaving his wife and children. In her own act of defiance, when a British soldier noticed that their carpet featured the British Crown, Mrs. Clark replied "yes, but it is under our feet." Having been defied by Clark and his wife, the British sailed upriver to burn his saw mills, but were forced to turn back by small arms fire from twenty-eight Americans on the riverbanks led by Captain William Cone. By the time they returned to St Marys, the British reported 188 men killed and as many wounded. After the war, Clark remained the Port Collector up through President Zachary Taylor, as well as serving in the state legislature and several years as mayor of St Marys. He also entertained several important guests, among them Aaron Burr, who was running away after shooting Alexander Hamilton, and General Winfield Scott, returning from the Seminole War in Florida.

1 comment:

Sparky ♥ ∞ said...

Very good history lesson! And you're right about not always trusting the locals for accurate accounts. ♥ ∞