George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 14 May 1791]

Saturday 14th. A little after 6 Oclock, in Company with Genl. McIntosh Genl. Wayne the Mayor and many others (principal Gentlemen of the City) I visited the City, and the attack & defence of it in the year 1779, under the combined forces of France and the United States, commanded by the Count de Estaing & Genl. Lincoln. To form an opinion of the attack at this distance of time, and the change which has taken place in the appearance of the ground by the cutting away of the woods, &ca., is hardly to be done with justice to the subject; especially as there is remaining scarcely any of the defences.

Dined to day with a number of the Citizens (not less than 200) in an elegant Bower erected for the occasion on the Bank of the River below the Town. In the evening there was a tolerable good display of fireworks.

Savannah, which fell to the British 29 Dec. 1778, was attacked 9 Oct. 1779 by an American force under Benjamin Lincoln and a French force under Charles Hector, comte d’Estaing (1729–1794), but the poorly coordinated assault ended in disaster. Lachlan McIntosh, who had commanded the American reserves on 9 Oct. 1779, today gave GW and the accompanying gentlemen “an account of every thing interesting” relating to the attack (Dunlap’s American Daily Adv. [Philadelphia], 31 May 1791; BOATNER [1] description begins Mark Mayo Boatner III. Encyclopedia of the American Revolution. New York, 1966. description ends , 980–88; BOATNER [2] description begins Mark M. Boatner III. Landmarks of the American Revolution. New York, 1975. description ends , 89–91).

The bower where GW dined this afternoon was described in a newspaper account as “a beautiful arbor, supported by three rows of pillars, entirely covered with laurel and bay leaves, so as to exhibit uniform green columns. The pillars were higher than the arbor, and ornamented above it by festoons, and connected below by arches covered in the same manner. The place on which it stood was judiciously chosen, presenting at once a view of the city and the shipping in the harbor, with an extensive prospect of the river and rice lands both above and below the town.” GW, as usual, was the focus of all attention, and there were many toasts and much firing of artillery in his honor after dinner. A concert, following the fireworks display, concluded the day’s activities (Dunlap’s American Daily Adv. [Philadelphia], 31 May 1791).

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