“its exploding thunders shook the earth” — Georgia and South Carolina State Quarter Coins

Today, the Georgia and South Carolina State Quarter Coins remember the capture of the British ship with its stores of gunpowder by the Georgia schooner and the South Carolina barges on July 10, 1775.

From The History of Georgia: Revolutionary Epoch by Charles Colcock Jones, published in 1883:

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In his dispatch, dated Whitehall, July 5, 1775, the Earl of Dartmouth apprises Governor Wright that the “advices received from every quarter contain evidences of an intention in almost all the Colonies to the northward to take up arms against the government of this Kingdom.

“In this situation it is the King’s firm resolution that the most vigorous efforts should be made both by sea and land to reduce his rebellious subjects to obedience: and the proper measures are now pursuing not only for augmenting the army under General Gage, but also for making such addition to our Naval strength in North America as may enable Admiral Graves to make such a disposition of his fleet as that besides the Squadron necessary for the New England station there may be separate squadrons at New York, within the Bay of Delaware, in Chesapeake Bay, and upon the coast of Carolina.”

The applications forwarded by Governor Wright to General Gage and to Admiral Graves failed of securing the desired assistance because they never reached their destination.

As they were passing through Charlestown, the committee of safety withdrew them from their envelopes, and substituted in their stead other dispatches representing the Province of Georgia as quiet, and in need neither of troops nor of war vessels.

These being transmitted in the original envelopes completely deceived the respective commanders to whom they were addressed.

The original dispatches were, by the committee of safety, forwarded to the Continental Congress.

It was not until sometime after, when Sir James Wright met General Gage in London and inquired why the requisition for troops had not been filled, that he became aware of the deception practiced.

The suggestion contained in the communication of Governor Wright to Admiral Graves that the port of Savannah was blockaded, may be thus explained.

The Carolina committee, notified of the fact that a ship had sailed for Georgia having on board a large supply of powder intended for the use of the Indians and the service of the Royalists, resolved to capture it.

Captains Barnwell and Joyner of Beaufort were directed to employ every means at command to seize the expected ship and secure the military stores on board.

Embarking forty men, well armed, in two barges, they proceeded to the mouth of the Savannah and encamped on Bloody Point in full view of Tybee Island light house.

The Provincial Congress of Georgia offered every assistance to these officers, and told them, if they so desired, they should be aided in the capture of the British armed schooner stationed in the river.

To that end arrangements were made for a junction of the Carolina and Georgia forces.

A schooner was commissioned by the congress and placed under the command of Captain Bowen and Joseph Habersham.

On the approach of the Georgia schooner the British armed vessel weighed anchor, put to sea, and departed.

The Georgia schooner, taking a position beyond the bar, had been on the lookout only a few days when, on the 10th of July, Captain Maitland’s ship, direct from London and having the powder on board, was descried in the offing.

Perceiving the schooner, and perhaps suspecting some evil design, the ship paused before entering Tybee inlet, and, in a little while, tacked and stood out to sea.

Quickly pursued, she was overhauled by Captain Bowen and the Georgians who, assisted by the Carolina party, boarded and took possession of her.

This Georgia schooner is said to have been the first provincial vessel commissioned for naval warfare in the Revolution, and this the first capture made by order of any congress in America.

Of the powder taken from this ship nine thousand pounds fell to Georgia as her share of the prize.

At the earnest solicitation of the Continental Congress five thousand pounds were sent to Philadelphia and were there issued in supplying the necessities of the embryo armies of the united colonies.

One authority states that six tons of gunpowder were taken from this vessel, and Captain McCall estimates the amount at thirteen thousand pounds.

It formed a most valuable contribution to the military stores of the nascent republic, and its exploding thunders shook the earth upon more than one battlefield during the war of the Revolution.

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The Georgia and South Carolina State Quarter Coins show with an artist’s portrayal of ships at sea in the early 1800s.

Georgia and South Carolina State Quarter Coins

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