Siege of Savannah

Count D'Estaing, with his fleet of twenty sail, reached the coast of Georgia early in September, 1779. Soon after his arrival, a plan was concerted with General Lincoln, to make a combined attack upon Savannah. Through delay and mismanagement, the Americans and their allies were repulsed. Numerous severe and ironical ballads, commemorating the event, appeared shortly after, from which the one subjoined is selected.


COME let us rejoice,
With heart and with voice,
Her triumphs let loyalty show, sir,
While bumpers go round,
Re-echo the sound,
Huzza for the king and Prevost, sir.

With warlike parade,
And his Irish brigade,
His ships and his spruce Gallic host, sir,
As proud as an elf,
D'Estaing came himself,
And landed on Georgia's coast, sir.

There joining a band,
Under Lincoln's command,
Of rebels and traitors and whigs, sir,
'Gainst the town of Savannah
He planted his banner,
And then he felt wonderous big, sir.

With thund'ring of guns,
And bursting of bombs,
He thought to have frighten'd our boys, sir.
But amidst all their din,
Brave Maitland push'd in,*
And Moncrieffe** cried, "A fig for your noise," sir,

Chagrined at delay,
As he meant not to stay,
The Count form'd his troops in the morn,*** sir.
Van, centre, and rear
March'd up without fear,
Cock sure of success, by a storm, sir.

Though rude was the shock,
Unmov'd as a rock,
Stood our firm British bands to their works, sir.
While the brave German corps,
And Americans bore
Their parts as intrepid as Turks, sir.

Then muskets did rattle,
Fierce ragèd the battle,
Grape shot, it flew thicker than hail, sir.
The ditch fill'd with slain,
Blood dyed all the plain,
When rebels and French turnèd tail, sir.

See ! see ! how they run !
Lord ! what glorious fun !
How they tumble, by cannon mow'd down, sir!
Brains fly all around, Dying screeches resound,
And mangled limbs cover the ground, sir.

There Pulaski fell,****
That imp of old Bell,
Who attempted to murder his king,***** sir.
But now he is gone, Whence he'll never return;
But will make hell with treason to ring, Sir.

To Charleston with fear,
The rebels repair;
D'Estaing scampers back to his boats, sir,
Each blaming the other,
Each cursing his brother,
And - may they cut each other's throats, Sir.

Scarce three thousand men,
The town did maintain,
'Gainst three times their number of foes, sir,
Who left on the plain,
Of wounded and slain,
Three thousand to fatten the crows, Sir.

Three thousand! no less !******
For the rebels confess

Some loss, as you very well know, sir.
Then let bumpers go round,
And re-echo the sound.
Huzza for the king and Prevost, Sir.

*Brave Maitland pushed in. D'Estaing, before his junction with Lincoln, demanded a surrender of the town to the arms of France; when Prevost asked for twenty-four hours suspension of hostilities that he might prepare proper terms. Meanwhile Colonel Maitland, with a large body of men, marched from Beaufort and joined the royal army. Prevost, thus reinforced, determined on resistance. Colonel Maitland died during the siege, of a bilious disorder.

** And Moncrieffe. Major Moncrieffe was the engineer who Planned the defences of Savannah.

*** The Count formed his troops in the morn. On a report from the engineers, that a long time would be required to take possession of the town by regular approaches, it was determined to make an assault. Early on the morning of the tenth of October, nearly five thousand troops, consisting of French, Continentals and the inhabitants of Charleston, marched up to the lines, led on by D'Estaing and Lincoln. But a heavy and well-directed fire from the batteries, and a cross fire from the galleys, threw them into confusion, and a retreat was ordered after they had stood the enemy's fire for fifty-five minutes. (Ramsay)

****There Pulaski fell. Count D'Estaing and Count Pulaski were both wounded; the latter mortally. He was struck by a small cannon ball and fell from his horse, while leading his troops. In the retreat, he was borne from the field and placed upon one of the ships in the harbor, where he died. He was buried under a large sycamore on St. Helen's Isle, about forty miles from Savannah.

***** Who attempted to murder his king. Pulaski was a native of Poland. In 1769 he was engaged in a rebellion against Stanislaus, king of Poland. In 1771, he, with a body of chosen men, entered Warsaw for the purpose of seizing the king. They so far succeeded as to carry him without the walls of the city; but were obliged to leave him, and escape from a troop of horse that were sent to overtake them. His army was afterwards defeated, and his estates confiscated, when he went to Paris. In 1777 he went to America and joined the army under Washington, where he distinguished himself by his good service to the cause he had embraced.

******Three thousand! no less. The French lost in killed and wounded six hundred and thirty-seven men, and the Americans four hundred and fifty-seven. The British loss did not exceed one hundred and seventy-five.