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In Their Own Words

November 22, 1739

First Blood Spilled in War

William Stephens wrote of the first bloodshed in Georgia after a recently declared war with Spain:

“…The first Blood spilt, that we heard of in these Parts, since the War broke out, unhappily fell to our Lot: The General acquainting me, in a Letter he was pleased to write me by this Packet, that the Enemy had attacked and murdered two Highland Men in Amelia; and from Mr. Upton I gather some particular Circumstances thereto relating: But first it is to be understood in what Posture we were there, when this happened. Amelia Island is the fartherest Look-out we have against the Spaniards, where a Scout-Boat was stationed with sixteen Men belonging to her, who were to relieve one another as the Service might require; they who staid ashore employing themselves in cultivating Land, whilst the rest were upon Duty: To these the General added a Serjeant’s Guard of twelve Men; and as some of each Sort had Wives and Children, they might be computed as near forty in all; who were fortified with a Palisade, &c. and two or three small Pieces of Cannon, to command any Boat passing that Way. It happened (as I am told) that three of the Scout-Men, straggling unwarily into the Woods, were attacked in the Manner aforesaid, when two of them were thus slain; and the third being missing, it is believed he is carried off Prisoner:. One of those killed being scalped, and the other’s Head taken off, it is not doubted but the Authors of it were Spanish Indians, who landed unseen at the
Back of the Island, and stole their Way thus privately to do it. At the Hearing of ten or eleven Guns fired (which discovered them to be at least that Number) our People were alarmed, and made all the Haste they could to come up with them; but they fled in such Haste, that they got off unseen, before we could intercept them. …”

Source: Allen D. Candler, ed. The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia, Vol. IV, Stephens’ Journal 1737-1740, Atlanta, GA, 1906, pp. 457-458.