Georgia’s only Revolutionary War historic site, Sunbury’s Fort Morris, held its annual “Come and Take It!” encampment Saturday, drawing more than 200 visitors to the earthen berms on the banks of the Medway River.
The event, in its 14th year, commemorated the 235th anniversary of the British demand for the fort’s surrender, to which Lt. Col. John McIntosh, commander of the Continental Troops, famously replied, “Come and Take It!”
More than 30 re-enactors in American and British period costumes brought the day to life with demonstrations and talks on the grounds throughout the day.
Fort Morris site manager Arthur Edgar said the event is important when it comes to remembering American heritage and the historical significance of the area.
“Sunbury was second to Savannah as far as commerce and business in Georgia,” he said. “Economically, it was an important place to protect.”
Edgar said McIntosh’s bold stance deterred the British on Nov. 25, 1778, when they decided that they didn’t have the forces to take Fort Morris and withdrew to Florida.
“We commemorate the withdrawal as an important part of our history, not only here in Georgia but of our nation’s history,” Edgar said.
The day commenced with a memorial ceremony and wreath-laying, including cannon fire and presentation of the colors. In addition to remarks, prayer and song, the ceremony featured a re-enactment of the famous exchange of correspondence between McIntosh and Lt. Col. L.V. Fuser back in 1778. Guests were delighted by the cannon and musket demonstration, in which the cannon, once again, was fired over St. Catherines Sound.
Children, including those from Hinesville’s Cub Scouts Pack 500, pressed their hands over their ears during the blast. Brandon Rymer, assistant Cubmaster, brought out 20 boys and their parents after his wife heard about the event through local media.
“The boys can learn history about the state and where they are from, how things came to be,” he said. “It was great opportunity for them to see all of the demonstrations.”
Rymer said that the best part of the day up to that point had been the Native American demonstration by Jim Sawgrass, a Creek Indian native to the area.
Sawgrass had a display of furs, tools, weapons and everyday items that his ancestors used during daily life. Dressed in authentic attire, jewelry, distinctive face paint and headdress, he talked about various items and demonstrated how to use them. Toward the end of the presentation, he showed how to throw a spear and the evolution of the spear over time, sending them flying farther each time.
Other demonstrations included a traditional camp kitchen, a blacksmith who showed how he worked iron into a decorative rod, traditional butter-making — including samples — and live period music. George and Martha Washington had camp set up and gave tours of their living quarters.
Textilist Hosanna Boesche demonstrated how to spin wool into thread using a drop spindle. The 18-year-old Brooklet re-enactor has been participating in re-enactments since she was 7. Portraying a camp follower, she explained that spouses and family members of soldiers followed them as they traveled, cooking food and mending uniforms.
“There are so many lessons that you can learn from the past,” she said. “I like coming here because people can see, touch and experience … if you can’t [do these things] you probably won’t care about it, and it’s so important to remember everything that has happened.”