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In Their Own Words

July 09, 1740

War Time Scare for Colonial Savannah

William Stephens recorded a scare Savannah has during war time between Britain and Spain. Fortunately for them, the alarm turned out to be false:

“…About Two a Clock this Morning, I was knocked up by a Party of about eight or nine People, who fled from Mr. Whitfield’s Works at the Orphan- House, terrified with the Apprehensions they were under, of two Boats full of Spanish Indians coming upon them in the Night; for that two of their young Men who were fetching some Lime in a Boat the Evening before, were pursued by those Indians, and in their Fright fearing to be taken by them, they got ashore, and run to their Comrades at the said Works; whereupon these People now made what Haste they could, to give us Information of it, bringing the two young Men with them: I went instantly to see what Posture our Guard was in, sending, at the same Time, our Magistrates Notice, and to the Constables to meet me: I was glad to find the Guard waking and alert, and immediately alarmed the Town, by Beat of Drum to Arms, which in less than a Quarter ot an Hour brought betwixt thirty and forty together (and but few more could be expedled on the Spot, considering where, and how many of our Freeholders were daily employed) I then sent out (two Patroles, with an Officer and six Men to each, to take a Round at a little Distance from the Town, appointing them where to join, and return, &c. After the two Lads had been examined by the Magistrates (who stood to what they had before reported) upon a Consultation had, seven or eight of our most expert Cattle-Hunters were sent out on Horseback to scout about those Parts, and see if any farther Discovery could be made, and in such Case to give us immediate Notice. In this Posture we continued till about Ten a Clock, when on a sudden we were well informed, by two or three Persons coming one after another from Thunderbolt, Skeedoway, and that Neighbourhood, that the Indians, whom the two Lads took to be Enemies, were no other than some of those our Friends who live near us, and who at this Time were out a hunting on those Islands, and the adjacent Coast: We were also farther assured, that they had spoke with them, at the Place where their Camp was last Night, and where they made Fires to dress their Venison: Which Circumstance alone is sufficient to demand Belief of their not being Enemies; for it is a Rule among all of them, when they go to War, to make not the least Fire, which would discover them, and spoil their Designs, that are always projected to attack their Foes, when they do not look for them. Thus all this imagined Storm blowed over, and every body went to their Homes in Peace.”

Source: Allen D. Candler, ed. The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia, Vol. IV, Stephens’ Journal 1737-1740, Atlanta, GA, 1906, pp. 612-614.