The Battle of Savannah has gone down in history books as one of the bloodiest battle of the Revolutionary War.
It began at dawn on Oct. 9, 1779 on the western outskirts of the city. Of the 7,000 soldiers who fought that day, 850 were killed or wounded.
It was during this battle that Count Casimir Pulaski and Sgt. William Jasper fell. Other men who fought that day included French officer Pierre LEnfant, who would later design the capital city of Washington, D.C., and a Haitian youth named Henri Christophe, who would someday become the first king of Haiti.
The heaviest fighting occurred at the Spring Hill Redoubt, an earthen, fort-like structure used by the British to repel an allied force of Colonial, French and Haitian troops.
In mid-August, a Coastal Heritage Society archaeological team began looking for evidence of the battle. CHS Staff Archaeologist Rita Elliott, Frank King and volunteers Chris North, Dan Elliott, Travis Brown, Brad Carter, Don Sweat and Eric Davenport carefully sifted through the soil, finding four musket balls and a piece of a gun.
The musket balls apparently were used by the Allies. The caliber indicates they are American or French, Elliott says.
The brass gun piece is believed to be part of a pistol, probably part of the barrel. The hole was for the ramrod, Elliott says.
While those finds are exciting, there was more -- much more. Two weeks into the dig, the team located traces of the Spring Hill Redoubt itself.
Traces of the redoubts original trenchwork and post holes were located. News of the discovery was kept quiet to keep looters from destroying the site. On Sept. 1, CHS representatives announced the discovery at a meeting of the Savannah City Council.
Elliott says an exhibit probably will be developed to share artifacts and the story of the redoubts discovery with the public. This will bring the story to everyone, she says. So many people died here. This is a story of global importance.
Every year, the Coastal Heritage Society commemorates the battle. This year, the 226th anniversary of the Battle of Savannah will be observed on Oct. 8 and 9.
On Saturday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., the Battle of Savannah Living History Day will be held at the Battlefield Park Site at the intersection of MLK Jr. Boulevard and the Louisville Road. Re-enactors in 18th century dress will demonstrate military life during the Revolutionary War.
There also will be childrens activities and Elliott will give a hands-on archaeological presentation. The Allied attack on British Forces will be recreated at 11 a.m, 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. At 2 p.m., a brief ceremony will be held to honor local leaders who helped secure the Battlefield Park site.
On Sunday at 7 a.m., the annual Battle of Savannah Anniversary Ceremony will be held. Participants will gather in the Savannah History Museum/Visitors Information Center parking lot, then march up the hill towards the Spring Hill Redoubt site.
They will be following the steps of the Allied soldiers who marched this very route during the Battle of Savannah on Oct. 9, 1779. We will organize visitors into columns of attack to give them a chance to experience it the way the soldiers did, Coastal Heritage Society Executive Director Scott Smith says. Telling the story is one thing. Explaining the battle at the actual scene is something else entirely. It makes a big difference in historical interpretation. It gives the story more authenticity.
Not only did the find add some validation to the story, it also provided information about the construction of the redoubt and its architectural features. A replica of the redoubt will be built at the battlefield park, hopefully by spring.
Although the site has been located, the terrain is quite different than it was in the 18th century. The topography has changed a great deal, Smith says.
Although hundreds fell at the battle, the bodies would have been buried in shallow graves 2 to 3 feet deep. The bones have probably fallen to dust long ago or been carted away during construction of the railroad at the site.
But locating the redoubt helps keep alive the memories of those who died that awful day. If you had an ancestor who fell in the first wave of fighting, now we are able to say it happened right here, Smith says. We can use the redoubt not only as a symbol, but as an interpretive device.
MONUMENT FOR THE MILLENIUM
At one time, the placement of a monument in a public setting was a splendid event. Brass bands played and the entire community gathered for what was guaranteed to be a darned good show.
Savannahians will have the rare opportunity to experience such a monumental event on Friday, Oct. 7 at 10:30 a.m. at the Savannah International Trade Center. At that time, two original, classical sculptures, Peace and Justice, will arrive in the United States from Scotland.
The seated bronze sculptures will be part of a larger monument called The Millennium Gate, which eventually will be placed at Atlantic Station in midtown Atlanta. Their journey across Georgia is being billed as A Monumental Journey and stops are planned in Madison, Macon, Fort Valley, Athens, Watkinsville, Pine Mountain, LaGrange and Rome.
We are cooperating with arts organizations in each city, says Sue Deer, a publicist in Atlanta. We want to share these sculptures with people across the state who might not have the opportunity to come see them in Atlanta.
At each stop, a dramatic series of events is planned. In Savannah, the statues will arrive on a barge, accompanied by a water salute.
They will be uncrated and lifted by cranes onto a river esplanade for public viewing. Local arts organizations will hold events in conjunction with the arrival of the statues.
When the statues leave Savannah, they will make their way across Georgia via a horse-drawn caisson that will be driven along the way by various notable citizens in each community.
The sculptures were created by Alexander Stoddart, an internationally renowned sculptor in Scotland, who will travel to Savannah for their delivery. They were commissioned by the National Monuments Foundation, Inc. to be a part of the $18 million, seven-story Millennium arch.
The arch will sit in the middle of Atlantic Station, a 140-acre mini-city that is being developed. The gate will be so large, it will be visible from the Interstate 75/85 Downtown Connector.
The idea for The Millennium Gate came from Rodney Cook Jr., who as a teenager worked to save Atlantas Fox Theatre. He also raised money for the Prince of Wales Monument, which was erected just before the 1996 Olympics.
The arch is an unusual monument in many ways. Usually, if a monument is done at all, its done by the government, not by private citizens, Cook says.
The Millennium Gate is being constructed in the style of a triumphal arch, such as the Washington Arch in New York, the Wellington Arch in London and the Carrousel Arch in Paris.
Cook says monuments are desperately needed in Atlanta. Unlike Savannah, it has relatively few monuments.
The excuse is made that monuments are too expensive to erect and the craftsmanship needed to build them has been lost. Wrong on both counts, Cook says. These are crafts that have been brought back to life, he says.
Sculptor Alexander Stoddart of Scotland was chosen to create the sculptures. He is noted for his international work as a monument-builder.
Cook. a frequent visitor to Savannah, says Atlanta has few monuments because it was destroyed during the Civil War, and all monuments erected to that point were destroyed with it. The citys rapid development since then has most often meant tearing down the old to make way for the new, leaving little of the past behind.
The town plan of Atlantic Station is partly based on Savannah, writ large, Cook says. Its going to be a giant hit.
A true monument, The Millennium Gate will recognize the accomplishments of mankind over the last 2000 years, the ascension of the United States, and Atlanta itself.
The monument is certain to become a tourist attraction, Cook says, one that may dazzle visitors for the next thousand years.
We used to do this as a culture, he says. We would always celebrate the arrival of great works of art in capital cities. Why not do it still?
CUTTIN' KATRINA DOWN TO SIZE
B Street Salon, Greener Grass Salon, Liberty 6 Salon, and Salon De La Vita have joined forces for the Cutting Pledge this Sunday, Oct. 9, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at 42nd and Drayton.
100 percent of the proceeds -- even tips! -- benefit the Savannah Red Cross for families impacted by Hurricane Katrina.
About 20 cutting chairs will be available as local musical artists Trae Gurley, Sharon Cumbee and Eat Mo Music perform. Tango will provide lunch fare. Gallery Espresso will provide coffee, danish and cookies.
Entry fee is $5. Fees for styles vary. Face painting, nail painting, a cake walk and a fire engine will be on hand for family friendly activities. Boutiques representing many local small businesses will have items for sale.
And a $5 raffle ticket buys a chance to win a scooter from Scooter World.