George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 15 May 1791]

Sunday 15th. After morning Service, and receiving a number of visits from the most respectable ladies of the place (as was the case yesterday) I set out for Savanna [Augusta], Escorted beyd. the limits of the City by most of the Gentlemen in it and dining at Mulberry grove—the Seat of Mrs. Green—lodged at one Spencers—distant 15 Miles.

Savanna stands upon what may be called high ground for this Country. It is extremely Sandy wch. makes the walking very disagreeable; & the houses uncomfortable in warm & windy weather as they are filled with dust whensoever these happen. The town on 3 sides is surrounded with cultivated Rice fields which have a rich and luxurient appearance. On the 4th. or back side it is a fine sand. The harbour is said to be very good, & often filled with square rigged vessels but there is a bar below over which not more than 12 Water can be brot. except at Spg. tides. The tide does not flow above 12 or 14 miles above the City though the River is swelled by it more than dble. that distance. Rice & Tobacco (the last of wch. is greatly encreasing) are the principal Exports. Lumber & Indigo are also Expord. but the latter is on the decline, and it is supposed by Hemp & Cotton. Ship timber—viz—live Oak & Cedar, is (and may be more so) valuable in the expt.

The morning service was at Christ Church on Johnson Square. GW was escorted out of Savannah not only by a large number of the city’s gentlemen but also by a detachment of Augusta, Ga., dragoons commanded by Maj. Ambrose Gordon (1751–1804), a Revolutionary War cavalryman formerly of Virginia. On the outskirts of the city GW halted briefly at Spring Hill, site of a British redoubt where much fighting had occurred during the 1779 Allied attack on Savannah. Today at this place James Jackson, as commander of the militia in the eastern district of Georgia, stood at the head of the local artillery and light-infantry companies, and GW received a parting salute: “39 discharges from the field pieces, and 13 vollies of platoons” (Dunlap’s American Daily Adv. [Philadelphia], 31 May 1791).

Before GW left Savannah today, he “politely expressed his sense of the attention shewn him by the corporation & every denomination of people during his stay” (Dunlap’s American Daily Adv. [Philadelphia], 31 May 1791). That attention, however, was burdensome as well as flattering. Writing to Tobias Lear in the midst of his Savannah visit, GW observed that at Charleston “the continual hurry into which I was thrown by entertainments—visits—and ceremonies of one kind or another, scarcely allowed me a moment that I could call my own—nor is the case much otherwise here.” Outside the two cities “the abominably Sandy & heavy” low-country roads were the principal inconvenience. “My horses (especially the two I bought just before I left Philadelphia, & my old white horse) are much worn down,” GW wrote Lear from Savannah, “and I have yet 150 or 200 miles of heavy sand to pass before I fairly get into the upper, & firmer roads” (GW to Lear, 14 May 1791, MeHi).

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