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Port Wentworth in Chatham County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Savannah River Plantations

Duels on the River

 

— March to the Sea Heritage Trail —

 
Savannah River Plantations Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross, September 26, 2021
1. Savannah River Plantations Marker
Inscription.  For much of the 18th and 19th centuries the lower Savannah River area was largely occupied by rice-growing plantations. Among the most notable plantations was Mulberry Grove, once the home of General Nathanael Greene. After Greene’s death in 1786 his widow Catherine continued planting. In 1793 a young Yale College graduate, Eli Whitney, whom Mrs. Greene had hired to tutor her children, invented what he called a cotton “gin” (short for engine). Whitney’s machine was hugely successful in separating the seed of upland cotton from the boll without ruining the fiber. The gin dramatically transformed cotton production in the South and gave new economic life to the institution of slavery. The cost of defending patents eventually turned Whitney away from cotton gins and toward the gun-making business. He pioneered the use of interchangeable parts, revolutionizing both gun-making and other industries. Thus Eli Whitney can be said to have been an unwitting cause of the Civil War and a direct contributor to its outcome.

More than 70 years after Whitney invented the cotton gin, Federal soldiers in the “Left Wing” of Major General William T. Sherman’s
Savannah River Plantations Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross, September 26, 2021
2. Savannah River Plantations Marker
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army on their “March to the Sea” arrived in this area Saturday, December 10, 1864. Brigadier General Jefferson C. Davis’s 14th Corps arrived from the north and shifted to the south of the 20th Corps as part of the Federal army forming a contiguous siege line against Confederate-held Savannah.

A significant encounter on the 10th ended in a “naval” triumph for some of General Williams’ foot soldiers. Union Captain Henry A. Gildersleeve of the 150th New York Infantry Regiment was foraging near the river with his 43-man company when the Confederate steamer “Ida” came into view. Attempting to pass upstream from Savannah to Augusta, the “Ida” was carrying Confederate Colonel J.H.M. Clinch with some dispatches from Lieutenant General William J. Hardee to General Pierre G.T. Beauregard. The New Yorkers lacked artillery, even after a detachment of the 9th Illinois Cavalry Regiment arrived to assist. But the “Ida” soon came within musket range. “The bullets were so effective they caused her to turn around and endeavor to make her way back. In this attempt she struck ground,” reported Captain Gildersleeve, “and pulled up the white flag.” The crew and Colonel Clinch became prisoners and the “Ida” was burned.

Two mornings later, on December 12th, Union Captain Charles E. Winegar’s Battery I of the 1st New York Light Artillery Regiment positioned at Colerain
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Plantation dueled with two Confederate gunboats steaming downstream on the Savannah River. “Macon” and “Sampson,” plus a tender, “Resolute.” After a fierce 45-minute battle the two gunboats retreated upriver to Augusta while the “Resolute” was disabled and captured.

As Federal troops solidified their siege line near Savannah foragers roamed the neighboring countryside. Several Savannah River plantations were burned, including Mulberry Grove, forever ending its large-scale rice-growing operation.

(Captions)
Eli Whitney
Mulberry Grove in 1794
Union Captain Henry A. Gildersleeve (after his promotion to major)
Savannah River Plantations
“Capture of the Resolute, on the Savannah River, Georgia“ (Harper's Weekly)
"Savannah, Ga. and Vicinity" in December 1864 (adapted from the Atlas to Accompany the Official Records of the union and Confederate Armies)
 
Erected by Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails, Inc.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansAgricultureIndustry & CommerceWar, US Civil. A significant historical date for this entry is December 10, 1864.
 
Location. 32° 9.864′ N, 81° 9.402′ W. Marker is in Port Wentworth, Georgia, in Chatham County
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. Marker can be reached from North Coastal Highway (Georgia Route 25) one mile west of Bonnybridge Road. Marker located within Houlihan Landing Park near the river. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Port Wentworth GA 31407, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Atlantic Coastal Highway Through Georgia (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Savannah Sugar Refinery Explosion (approx. 1½ miles away); Battle Between Confederate Gunboats and Union Field Artillery (approx. 1½ miles away); Indian Trading Post: Home of Mary Musgrove (approx. 1½ miles away); Washington's Southern Tour (approx. 2.1 miles away); Mulberry Grove Plantation (approx. 2.1 miles away); Laurel Hill Plantation (approx. 2.4 miles away in South Carolina); Georgia Ports Authority (approx. 2½ miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Port Wentworth.
 
Also see . . .
1. March to the Sea Heritage Trail. (Submitted on December 23, 2021, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida.)
2. Mulberry Grove Plantation. (Submitted on December 23, 2021, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida.)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 24, 2021. It was originally submitted on December 23, 2021, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. This page has been viewed 204 times since then and 165 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 23, 2021, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Oct. 7, 2022