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In Their Own Words

October 21, 1739

Stephens Put in Charge of Militia

James Oglethorpe (the General) put William Stephens in command of the northern part of the Georgia colonial militia on this day:

“…In the Evening, having observed that in Times past Disputes had frequently arisen among the Constables and other Officers, concerning their several Commands in the Militia, which in the present Situation of Affairs might prove to be of very dangerous Consequence; and being of Opinion, that the best Way to prevent it, would be to lodge the principal Command in one Person, whose Orders all were to obey; he was pleased to entertain so good an Opinion of my Behaviour, as to make Choice of me for that Purpose; and accordingly delivered me his Commission, appointing me to train, instruct, exercise, and govern, the Militia of the Northern Part of the Province, for the special Defence and Safety of the said Province: To assemble in martial Array, put in war-like Posture, the Inhabitants of the said Northern Division; and to lead and conduct them, and with them to encounter, expulse, repel, resist, and pursue, by Force of Arms; and to kill, slay, destroy, and conquer, by all fitting Ways, Enterprizes, and Means whatsoever, all and every such Person or Persons, as shall at any Time hereafter, in an hostile Manner, attempt, or enterprize the Destrudlion, Invasion, Detriment, or Annoyance of the said Province, &c. Which Commission (how unworthy soever I thought myself of it) it behoved me not to scruple the Acceptance of, lest an Imputation should follow, either of my setting little Value on the Honour conferred, or of such a Sort of Bashfulness, as at this Time would be very unseasonable, and might be construed something else, which I avoid naming: For which Reasons I threw aside my Marks of Reluctance, resolving in all Things, as far as I was capable, to exert myself in promoting the publick Welfare.”

Source: Allen D. Candler, ed. The Colonial Records of the State of Georgia, Vol. IV, Stephens’ Journal 1737-1740, Atlanta, GA, 1906, p. 435.