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Of historical Value -- Battle of Brier Creek remembered 230 years later

About 300 people braved temperatures in the 30s Tuesday to attend a memorial marking the 230th anniversary of the Battle of Brier Creek.

Nine men dressed in Revolutionary War garb carried flags, fired muskets and presented wreaths to remember the 150 American Patriots and five British soldiers who died in the battle. The soldiers are believed to be buried somewhere near the site where the memorial service was held, in the Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area, about 13 miles from downtown Sylvania.

The Remember Brier Creek Committee and the City of Sylvania are leading efforts to create a national historic site commemorating the battle. The site would be on a 200-acre parcel in the Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area, which is a state-owned 15,000-acre hunting and fishing preserve along the Savannah River.

The committee has applied for a grant from the U.S. Department of Interior’s National Park Service to pay for an archaeological study aimed at finding the battle lines and possibly the burial site. Alex Lee, unofficial county historian, said the group expects to learn whether it will receive the grant sometime this summer.

The battle hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, Jason Beard, chairman of the committee, told visitors attending the memorial service. “That could be because the Redcoats gave us a crushing defeat,” he said.

But he said that shouldn’t prevent the battle from being remembered. A memorial should be erected to honor the fallen soldiers and educate the public. “It could be our own Pearl Harbor,” Beard said.

About 30 eighth-grade Georgia history students from Screven County Middle School attended the service, as well as some students from Community Christian School.

As Lee recounted the events leading up to the battle, two military jets passed overhead, interrupting his speech. The flyover wasn’t a planned part of the ceremony.

“They’d have won if they’d had one of those,” Lee joked.

Out-of-town visitors for the memorial service, including some of the members of the color guard, contributed an estimated $12,000 to the area economy, said Sylvania Mayor Margaret Evans. The color guard was from the Georgia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR).

“If we can get that grant and get that place developed, it’s no telling what can happen out there,” she said.

It’s the third year the ceremony has been held to honor the men who fought at Brier Creek. Last year, about 50 people attended the service.

The Rev. David Buie offered a prayer of remembrance. “May we always appreciate, be thankful and maintain the freedoms for which they fought,” he said.

Dr. Al Freeland fired his cannon and answered questions from visitors.

Presenting wreaths were: Charlie A. Newcomer, National Society SAR trustee, Athens; Bruce Maney, president Button Gwinnett Chapter SAR; Ron McCrosky, East Region SAR, Mill Creek Chapter, Statesboro; Bill Ramsaur, southeast regional vice president, Marshes of Glynn Chapter SAR, St. Simons Island; Jimmy Boatwright, vice president, Marshes of Glynn Chapter SAR, Brunswick; Robert Turbyfill, past president, William Few Chapter SAR, Augusta; Larry Wilson, northeast Georgia regional vice president, Georgia Society SAR and member Samuel Chapter Georgia Society SAR, Elberton; and City of Sylvania, Mayor Margaret Evans and VFW Commander Richard Montgomery.