I was pleased to read the short article about Elijah Clarke in the July 25 edition of The News-Times. Barbara Seaborn's column caught my eye immediately because she got the spelling of his last name correct, which sometimes does not happen in written accounts of his actions.
As a military historian who specializes in the American Revolution and involved with the annual commemoration at Kettle Creek battlefield each year, I know a little about the historical materials related to Clarke. As Seaborn wrote, Clarke was one of the most tenacious opponents of the British and Indians in the Georgia and Carolina backcountry during the Revolution.
The one thing that struck me funny however, was her comment about Clarke's ability to persuade men to join his cause. According to the pension claim of Joshua Burnett, who fought with Clarke's unit, one reason he was so successful in gathering men to attack Augusta in September 1780 was because Clarke told the backcountry men that "if they did not meet him as a certain noted Spring in a Wilderness, part of said County of Wilkes, he would put every one of them to death." As a result of these recruiting incentives, 350 men joined him for the attack on Augusta.
Clarke's failed attack at Augusta Sept. 14-18, 1780, led to the retribution against the Whigs and their families of Wilkes County by the British, which prompted the evacuation of Georgia refugees. As the refugees moved to North Carolina, the British sent Patrick Ferguson out to intercept Clarke. Ferguson failed to nab Clarke, but instead was attacked by the over mountain men at King's Mountain on Oct. 6, 1780, a decisive defeat and turning point of the American Revolution.
Because Clarke was not at that battle, he of course is never mentioned in accounts, but his actions directly contributed to the reason the battle of King's Mountain occurred.
Steven J. Rauch
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