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In Their Own Words

October 07, 1779

Toll of Savannah Siege Expressed in Letter

During the siege of Savannah, a French force unsuccessfully tried to take the city from the British. John Jones, an American fighting with the French, wrote to his wife of the unfortunate death of many of Savannah’s residents due to French shelling of the city:

“This letter, my dear wife, will be handed you by Ismael, I expect. I am sorry ‘tis not yet in my power to congratulate you on our safe arrival in Savannah. The enemy still continues very obstinate and a more cruel war could never exist than this. The poor women and children have suffered beyond description. A number of them in Savannah have already been put to death by our bombs and cannon. A deserter in this moment come out who gives an account that many of them were killed in their beds. Amongst others a poor woman with her infant in her arms were destroyed by a cannon ball. They have all got into cellars but even there they do not escape the fury of our bombs, several having been mangled in that supposed place of security. I pity General McIntosh his situation in particular, the whole of his family is there. We have burnt as yet only one house, but I expect this night the whole will be in flames, Count d’Estaing being determined that they shall now surrender. We keep up a most [constant?] cannonade and bombardment and this evening we shall carry on our approaches within pistol shot of the enemy’s lines. We are hourly expecting that they will strike, though many with myself are of the opinion they will not until we compel them by storm… .”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), Georgia: History written by Those who lived It (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1995), pp. 41-42.