Before 1775, American colonies were under British administration. In 1775, the disagreements between the Americans and the British administration reached such a point that a war began between the two sides. Americans declared independence from the British Empire while the war was still going on in 1776.
The war still continued in 1778 with both sides winning some battles and losing some. It was against this background that the British army under Lieutenant Colonel Campbell was sent to take the control of the city of Savannah from American Continental Army.
Britain had come up with a southern strategy. According to this strategy, the British forces would take back the control of the southern American states by appealing to the pro-British sentiment among the people there. To take back the control of the south, Campbell was sent with a British army of 3100 men.
His task was to bring Georgia under British control and Brigadier General Augustine Prevost was to help him with another British army. Savannah was a city that could be defended well, so when the British were finally able to gain control of it, it remained in their control until 1782.
Campbell and his British army reached near Savannah in December, 1778. They were originally instructed to wait near Savannah for the arrival of Prevost’s army. But Campbell and his army saw that the American defence wasn’t very strong.
The American Continental army took a V-shaped position to confront the advance of the British army. On both sides of the American army were swampy woods, so they thought that it was impossible for the British soldiers to attack from the sides.
However, Campbell received help from a local slave. The slave told him that on the right side of the American defence position, there was a secret path through the swamp. A small part of the British army used this path and reached at the rear of the American army.
So the Americans were surrounded by British soldiers on their front and back, and swampy woods on both sides. When the British soldiers opened fire from both sides, the Americans rapidly retreated and were defeated. The battle took place on December 29, 1778.
There was no route of escape for the Continental army, so most of the soldiers were either captured or died. The British army took more than 400 American soldiers as captives. After winning the battle, Campbell and his British army advanced and took control of the city of Savannah.
The second British army under Prevost also arrived in January 1779. Campbell led 1000 British soldiers to take control of Augusta as well. Savannah proved very important to Britain who used the city as a base to launch attacks along the southern coast.
The city remained in British hands until 1782 after a joint attempt by a Franco-American army to besiege it failed. In 1782, British troops withdrew from the city and American army was able to regain control of it.