Monday, January 24, 2011

Lest We Not Forget Those Forgotten Patriots.

In Memory to Those Which Are Never To be Forgotten

The Battle of Kettle Creek was one of the most important conflicts of the American Revolutionary War. The battle was fought on February 14, 1779, in Wilkes County, Georgia about eight miles (13 km) from present-day  Washington, Georgia. The victory by the American patriots demonstrated the inability of Great Britain to hold the interior of the state or to protect loyalist militia companies.

As I become more familiar with the various battles that took place during the American Revolution here in Georgia--and as I study the various histories that have been compiled about these battles--I notice that there appears to be something missing from these narratives. What is missing are the names of many patriots who, for whatever reason, were left out of many of the narratives and historic markings around these hollowed battlefields. For example: Here is a website that tells the story of the Battle of Kettle Creek.
Notice the following:


"This marker was erected in 1979 at the observance of the 200th anniversary of the Battle Of Kettle Creek. It was a joint effort by the Washington-Wilkes Historical Foundation, Dr. Turner Bryson, President, and The Kettle Creek Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Mrs. John Singleton, Regent. The assistance of State Senator Sam P. McGill, and A. K. Johnson, Director of the Georgia Commission for the National Bi-centennial Celebration is gratefully acknowledged. THE PATRIOTS WHOSE NAMES APPEAR ON THIS MARKER, ARE THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN PROVED AS TO HAVING PARTICIPATED IN THE BATTLE OF KETTLE CREEK ON FEBRUARY 14, 1779."
The marker further lists the names of the men who were proved to have participated in the Battle of Kettle Creek on February 14, 1779. However, after looking closely at the names, I noticed one name in particular not present on this marker. Why, after some 200 years of having known about this battle, did someone not know about the service of one particular man of color who also participated in this battle. His name was Austin Dabney

A Georgia PBS program segment was recently filmed about his life. Here is the clip, titled Gathering and Giving - Austin Dabney      


Could this program help validate his participation in the Battle at Kettle Creek? It has been 32 years since the Battle of Kettle Creek marker was erected in Georgia. How many of those who are currently listed on the marker have such interesting stories about them documented? Why isn’t Dabney's name listed along with the others? And what will it take to correct this omission? 
As I look back over our American history, I have become aware of many other omissions and errors throughout the various narratives written on such topics. Particularly, when it comes to the participation of African Americans and Native Americans in the American Revolution. These omissions have led the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) to compile and publish a book that was released in 2008 titled, the Forgotten Patriots African American and Native Americans in the American Revolution
In the section listing the state of Georgia, there are 32 individuals identified as persons of color having participated in the American Revolutionary War in Georgia, including Austin Dabney. Of the 500 or so free men of color for the French colonial Island of Haiti who fought at the Battle of Savannah on Oct 9, 1779, there were 82 names listed in the DAR book. Yet none of their burial sites have been found or marked by the SAR and DAR.

What can or should be done about this?
Stay tuned for future developments. 

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