The Savannah Volunteer Guard


Historical Figures

War/Military Action

Guard Flag

Saylor's Creek



War and Military Action

The War of 1812

The War of 1812 was fought between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and its colonies, including Upper Canada (Ontario), Lower Canada (Quebec), Nova Scotia, Bermuda and Newfoundland.

On the 25th of June, the news was brought to Savannah. Citizens were called upon to contribute their aid and furnish laborers to build such works for the defense of the city as was deemed advisable.

The Savannah Volunteer Guards, under Captain James Marshall, and other Savannah colunteer companies comprising the First Regiment of Georgia Militia were mustered into the service of the United States for local defense. During the summer and fall, as the enemy was not approaching Savannah, service tenure was one month.

In January, 1813, the Guards saw their first military action when two French Privateers, the LaVengence and the Aurora, were anchored in the Port of Savannah. On January 2nd, French and American sailors took part in a fight in one of the Public Houses on the waterfront. This fight resulted in several deaths; onlookers to the scene became enraged and attacked the two French ships moored on the south side of the Savannah River. At this point, the Savannah Volunteer Guards and the Republican Blues were called out to restore order ot the waterfront area. As a last resort, the Guards cut the moorings of the two vessels; however, the citizens manned boats and attacked the ships, boarding them and setting them ablaze. The sailors, Savannah Volunteer Guards, and Republican Blues escaped death only by swimming ashore. The Guards and Blues were called out again later to quell minor police matters.

Later in the war, the Guards were called upon to respond to disturbances in East Florida. Colonel Cuthbert was sent to Savannah by Colonel Thomas A. Smith to enlist 100 militiamen into service. On June 12, 1812, the SVG and the Republican Blues were mustered into service with Lieutenant Steele White in command. The company of volunteers marched down to the docks where gunboats awaited them.

An escort of the Chatham Artillery and the Chatham Rangers marched along to cheer the Guards and Blues, however the spirits of the men soon began to fail. The voyage down the coast was unbearable; the men were overloaded in leaky transports with an incompetent crew to man the ship. The troops disembarked at St. John's and marched for the next 14 hours with only a ration of biscuits and water. The expedition reached Mososa Old Fort on the evening of June 26 at 9:00pm. Here Colonel Smith held the fort, which commanded the narrow area of land between the ocean and the Sebastion River near Fort St. Augustine. It was Colonel Smith's purpose to protect American citizens and their property to Fort St. Augustine. However, the orders to attack never came, and Florida was purchased by the United States.

The Guards and Blue became restless and they demanded ships for a return voyage to Savannah because they had only volunteered for two months' service. On July 24, the volunteers slipped quietly into Savannah and thus ended the military career of the Guard during the War of 1812.

Captain John Marshall 1808 – 1815

During Marshall’s command, The War of 1812 occurred. The First Georgia Regiment and the Savannah Volunteer Guards were activated for the defense of Savannah. The United States declared war on the Seminole. The Guard and the Republican Blues of the 1st GA Regiment were activated and sent to St Augustine, Florida and fought in defense of that city. He was present in 1825, when Lafayette visited Savannah in 1825.

Text courtesy of History of the Savannah Volunteer Guards, Inc. 1802-1992 by Henry J. Kennedy.