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The Preface to the Coffee Road


    In order to understand the Coffee Road - when, where and why it was built - we need to look back at the events that had taken place that led up to the need for its construction.In the early history of North America there were four countries vying for possession and control of the lands of the “new World”.These three, England, France and Spain were all actively laying claims to the North America area. England slowly gained control of the Eastern Seaboard from the northern tip of Maine to the Savannah River. South Carolina was England’s southern-most colony. As a result of traders from South Carolina plying their trade with the Indians, below and west of the Savannah River, England also desired to lay claim to the area between the Savannah River and the Spanish in Florida


    Spain had colonies in Florida and She claimed the area of the Georgia Coast up to the Savannah River. She felt that she had a prior right to the area as a result of Ponce de Leon claiming Florida for Spain in 1513.Florida was named by Ponce de Leon. Also, Spain claimed a right to other lands explored by Hernando de Soto in his exploration of the area in his quest for gold. He moved through the area in 1539-1540. De Soto found no gold in the area but left a legacy of cruelty and brutality with the Indians that they never forgot. Spain’s greatest mistake was not colonizing the areas they claimed. Their efforts were directed toward attempting to convert the savages and exploring for gold


    In 1562, about 20 years after de Soto was buried in Mississippi, Jean Ribault, led a French expedition that sailed along the Georgia coast giving French names to the coastal rivers and islands. He also developed a settlement called Port Royal near what is now Beaufort, South Carolina. This settlement lasted only a few months and then was abandoned because of the hardships, including starvation that plagued the colony. A short time later a French Expedition, under Rene de Laudonniere, settled a colony of Huguenots at the area of what is now Jacksonville, Florida. He built a Fort and named it Fort Caroline.


    Philip of Spain, who hated Huguenots because he considered them heretics and traitors to be killed on sight, accepted the challenge that was thus presented to him. He sent Captain Pedro Menendez de Aviles to remove the French from Fort Caroline.In 1565 Menendez landed and developed a base at a place he called St. Augustine. He built a fortification there. He then moved against Fort Caroline, exterminating the Frenchmen on the St. Johns River. The Spanish then moved up the coast to St. Catherines Island. About 30 men were left there to establish the first Spanish post on Georgia soil. Spanish Missions were later established on St. Simons Island and at Sapelo Island at the mouth of the Altamaha River. These actions by Spain ended the efforts of the French to inhabit the Coast of Florida and Georgia

    The Spanish were left in control of the area along the Georgia Coast, on St. Simons and Sapelo Islands, into North Florida and South West Georgia. They developed missions, forts and churches all along the Ga. Coast and throughout northern Florida before 1700. 



    Conflicts between England, France and Spain were inevitable during these times. Each had a primary interest in being the world power on the seas. The colonists in America were subject to these forces. But clearly after 1700 the struggle for the dominant position on the East Coast fell between England and Spain. England really entered upon the scene in 1585 with the founding of the ill-fated colony on Roanoke Island by Sir Walter Raleigh, followed by the founding of Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in 1607. The next movement by the English to the South was when Charleston was founded in 1670.


    As South Carolina developed, traders began to move south into Georgia to trade for deerskins with the Indians. They caused many problems for the Spanish by encouraging the Indians to go to war against them. The English in South Carolina were very uneasy because of the presence of the Spanish in Florida. To protect the colonies the English finally encroached on the Georgia area by building a fort near the mouth of the Altamaha river named Fort King George. This was the first English settlement in the Georgia area. Fear of a Spanish attack soon drove them back to Charleston. Under English pressure the Spanish finally, in 1702, closed their last presence on Georgia soil at St. Simons.


    It should be noted here that King Charles II granted the vast domain of “Carolana” to eight of his staunchest supporters.Included were Sir John Colleton, Sir William Berkley, George Monck, Edward Hyde, and Sir Anthony Ashley Cooper. By terms of the Charter of 1663 this select group received title to roughly all of the land between Florida and Virginia, westward to the “South Sea,” as the Pacific was then called.


    Thus the Georgia area became a “no-man’s-land” existing precariously between the English in South Carolina and the Spanish in Florida. This situation existed for about 100 years.During this period there were continuing bloody conflicts involving the English, Spanish, and Indians. The whole area became a place of never-ending danger. It seemed that the situation would go on forever. In 1715 the Yamassee Indians rose against the settlers in South Carolina. This attack resulted in many white casualties before the Indians were driven back into Florida


    In 1730 his Majesty’s Indian Commissioner, Sir Alexander Cumming, signed a treaty with the Cherokees giving the English traders protection in the Cherokee area. The Cherokees were above the fall line. The Creeks occupied the section of Georgia area below the “fall line”. This line extended across the present state of Georgia from present day Columbus to Macon and to Augusta. There were only two Indian Tribes in Georgia, the Cherokees and the Creeks. The Creeks were divided into the Lower Creeks in southern Georgia and the Upper Creeks in middle Georgia. The Lower Creeks were “peace-loving.” The “Upper Creeks” were “warriors." 


    The South Carolinians had constantly petitioned the King to provide protection to them by developing forts and colonies in the area south of them for protection from the Spaniards.In 1730 James Edward Oglethorpe and Viscount Percival and nineteen other English gentlemen sent a petition to King George II asking him to create a charter for a province to be called Georgia lying to the South and west of South Carolina. It should be noted here that South Carolina had been granted an area, as part of their grant that extended to the west coast. As a result much of South Georgia was claimed by South Carolina. This was widely accepted at that time.


    Finally in 1732, King George II granted a charter creating the Separate Colony of Georgia. And now, in the jails and mews and stews of London, men and women beaten down by misfortune and the savage depression gripping England began to hear a whisper of hope.In all the cities of Europe, too, where Protestant minorities lived under religious oppression, the same comforting word was heard.For Moravians and Salzburgers as well as for bankrupt and debt-ridden Englishmen there was truly a new world coming to birth, a “Land of Beginning Again”. The name of James Edward Oglethorpe was soon to be written upon the pages of history. This was to be the last of the “Original thirteen Colonies”. The grant was made to the twenty-one-member group who had petitioned the King. This group would act as trustees of the colony for twenty-one years, at the end of which the colony would revert to the crown as a royal colony.The charter included “all vacant land between the Savannah and the Altamaha rivers extending from the Atlantic Ocean westward indefinitely to the south seas”. It did not include the area of southern Georgia, which now lies south of the Altamaha rivers. The “south seas” was the Pacific Ocean. The fact that this line was established on the Altamaha River seems like a tacit admission that England considered this to be the dividing point below which the Spanish had control.Attached is a rough drawing of this area although in the “Carolana" Charter of 1663 this area technically belonged to South Carolina.




    On Nov. 17, 1732, General James Edward Oglethorpe left England aboard the ship “Ann” and sailed across the sea with approximately 114 men, women and children, landing on what is today the Georgia coast and founding a colony about eighteen miles above the mouth of the Savannah River.Oglethorpe chartered the 13th colony in the name of King George II.The purpose of this endeavor was to increase trade with England and to form a buffer between South Carolina and Spanish Florida.Oglethorpe chose Yamacraw bluff on the Savannah River as a site for the new colony.

    Oglethorpe was greeted on his arrival by Tomo-chi-chi, the leader of the Creek Indians. The two became life-long friends.This relationship formed a bond that played a large part in the success of the colony.


    Oglethorpe was only one of the original 21 trustees.He was the only trustee to accompany the colonists on November 1732.He assumed the leadership of the colonists and they readily accepted his leadership.

    The Spaniards thought that Oglethorpe had encroached on their territory. They thought that Spain should occupy Georgia, leaving France to attack the Carolinas and Virginia.

    Oglethorpe spent $3,000 of his own money in the Georgia venture.At the time of his third visit, the colony, according to Oglethorpe, contained 3,000 souls.

    Before he left England on his last visit to Georgia, in 1738, the trustees reduced his authority, telling him that henceforth he must look after the military affairs and the other trustees would look after the civil. 

    In the Fall of 1739 war broke out between England and Spain. England controlled Georgia and the Georgia coast while Spain controlled Florida. There was no way for the war not to extend to these areas. Oglethorpe established a fortress on St. Simons Island named Ft. Frederica, which was to become a main defensive area. This fort lay south of the Altamaha river, which technically did not belong to Georgia.Oglethorpe’s attempt to take the Spanish base at San Augustin in the spring of 1840 was a failure. This foray became known as the “War of Jenkins Ear”.He made up for it two years later in July of 1742, by repelling an attempted Spanish invasion, which, he pointed out afterwards would, if successful, have meant the loss, not just of Georgia, but of the two Carolinas as well.He left Georgia for the last time in 1743. 

    The last battle that Oglethorpe had with the Spanish became known as the “Battle of Bloody Marsh”. The battle was the beginning of a safe southern frontier along the Georgia coast. The battle took place between Fort Frederica and the lighthouse on St. Simons Island. The Spaniards began their move and assembled fifty ships manned by a thousand seamen.They took aboard eighteen hundred soldiers and headed for Georgia.By early July 1742, they were off the coast of St. Simons, moving to land a few miles up the inward passage toward Fort Frederica where Oglethorpe lay in wait with a small force of Highlanders and Rangers. After an unsuccessful encounter with Oglethorpe’s troops the Spanish re-embarked and headed for home. This battle ended forever the problems of Spanish encroachments on the American colonies. Had this battle ended in a Spanish victory the people of Georgia and Florida might be speaking Spanish today.

    One year before the end of the Charter the trustees, in 1752, returned Georgia to the authority of King George II. Georgia became a true Royal Colony. 

    Oglethorpe’s success in the new colony of Georgia was a result of his close and affectionate relations with the native Americans, which sprang from his perception of them as noble and handsome people. One very notable law of the Indians was their perception of the inheritance of property. They prevented the inheritance of property by burning all the goods of the dead. Each Indian, when born, started life off equally. 

    Although, this ended the threat to the British colonies in North America, the Spaniards still possessed Florida and still had a claim to a large portion of south Georgia, south and west of the Altamaha and Ocmulgee Rivers.The situation thus settled down and Georgia began to take its place along with the other colonies, subject to the control of the King of England.The Indians were in control of southwest Georgia. 

    The French and Indian War (1754-1763) was fought to settle the disputes between France and England over colonies in North America. These conflicts grew out of long-standing European problems between France and England and were a direct result of the contest between French and English settlers for the control of North American territory and trade. 

    The English colonies were scattered along the Atlantic Seaboard in a narrow strip east of the Appalachian Mountains. French territorial claims and scattered settlements circled the English colonies to the North along the Saint Lawrence River and the great lakes and to the west down the length of the Mississippi River. The English claimed all rights to all territories that stretched inland from their seaboard colonies. The French claimed all territories drained by rivers on which they had founded colonies. Both countries had Indian allies as well as regular troops and colonists. This war took place in America while the “Seven Years War” was being fought out between the great powers in Europe

    The war started in America over the area drained by the Ohio River. George Washington in 1754 led a small force of colonial troops westward from Virginia. The purpose was to force the French from the Ohio River territories.The French refused to withdraw so war broke out between the French and British colonial forces. 

    In Braddock’s Expedition in 1755 General Braddock led a band of British soldiers against the “French Fort Duquesne” which was at the intersection of Allegheny and Monongahela rivers. General Braddock and many of his soldiers were killed. George Washington rescued and led some of Braddock’s troops to safety. The French also defeated the English expeditions at Crown Point and Fort Niagara in 1755. In 1758 the British forces captured Louisberg, Fort Duquesne, Crown Point, and Niagara. A British army led by General James Wolfe besieged the city of Quebec and took that city. The fall of Quebec marked the end of the long struggle between Britain and France over colonial possessions in North America. By the terms of the “Treaty of Paris”, signed in 1763, Great Britain got Canada and all French possessions east of the Mississippi.The French also abandoned any claim to the Spanish territory of Florida north of the St. Marys River. Their claim to this area was forfeited to Great Britain

    Spain received all French land west of the Mississippi together with the Isle of Orleans, which included the city of New Orleans. This gave Spain control of the mouth of the Mississippi River.Spain thus was left as Great Britain’s only adversary in North America. This also ended the French and Indian War and with it the seeds of rebellion were sown.

    England had just finished a very costly war that was for the benefit of the colonies as well as for Great Britain. The English rulers thought the colonies should help shoulder some of the cost of the conflict. So, the “Stamp Act” was passed.

    The Revolution really began when, on April 14, 1775, General Gage received orders that “force must be repelled with force”. The American colonists were at war, this time with their mother country.

    Georgia, during the revolution, suffered greatly. British troops attacked and captured Savannah in December 1778. A month later they captured the port of Sunbury. It was not long before Augusta fell.

    The Battle of Kettle Creek was fought and won by the Georgia forces in February 1779. Colonel Elijah Clarke defeated an 800-man British troop and the spirits of the Georgia colonists were lifted by this victory. A month later the British defeated the Georgia troops at Briar Creek. The fighting was so intense around Wilkes County that the area became known as “The Hornets’ Nest”. This left all of Georgia under the command of two governments, one Royal and one rebel. Each attempted to control the Government of Georgia. There were Georgia heroes such as Elijah Clarke, Nancy Hart, Austin Dabney, John Twiggs, Samuel Elbert, John Dooley and Benjamin and William Few.The treaty of Paris was signed by England, France and the United States in September 1783 and the American Revolution was ended. 

    Meanwhile, Scotch-born Edward Telfair, a former Savannah merchant, was elected Governor. He was responsible for the shifting of the Georgia Capital from Savannah to Augusta and transferred all of the records from Chatham County to Augusta in 1786. This area had become the center of population of the new State of Georgia

    Georgia elected six delegates to attend the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Because of the costs involved they could send only four. Out of the four only two, William Few and Abraham Baldwin, signed the Constitution. It is of interest that Abraham Baldwin College at Tifton was named in honor of this hero of Georgia

    With ratification of the Constitution, Georgians felt more secure from Indian attacks and from the Spanish in Florida. Ignoring treaties, the Creeks went on the warpath in 1787-1789, killing eighty-two people on the Georgia Frontiers.

    In 1793 seven new counties were formed in Georgia. Laws were harsh and brutally applied. As a result of the Yazoo Fraud, Georgia, in 1802 ceded to the federal government all territory west of the Chattahoochee River for $1,250,000. Additionally the U.S. Government promised to buy Indian lands and give them to the state. Georgia also received from the federal government those lands ceded by South Carolina lying east of Georgia’s western boundary. These were the lands received in the “Carolana” charter of 1663.

    In 1785, under Governor Samuel Elbert, a charter, written by three Yale graduates, Abraham Baldwin, John Milledge, and Nathan Brownson was passed by the legislature that provided for a university, elementary schools and academies.

    After America fought and won independence in the American Revolution, the State of Georgia remained with little change until the 1800’s.Then came the War of 1812 and England and France were at war.Americans traded with both countries, but both countries, especially England, attempted to restrain the shipping rights of Americans.American shipping was constantly harassed.Sailors were kidnapped and cargoes taken.

    Tensions had been building between the British and the French. The Tripolitan War was drawing to a close. Thomas Jefferson’s last two years in office as President were fraught with expectations of war with either or both nations. In July 1807 the British warship, the “Leopard,” stopped the 38-gun frigate “Chesapeake”, fired three broadsides into her and took off four men, one of them a British deserter. Three American sailors had been killed, and a score wounded. Britain, at war once again with France was harassing American ships on the open seas. On May 16, 1811, a Royal Navy sloop of war “Lille Bell” traded shots with the frigate “President” and at that point war became inevitable. This was assured as a result of an Indian war developing in the Northwest in which His Britannic Majesty George III was thought to be involved. Two Shawnee brothers, Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa provided the spark. 

    Tecumseh was attempting to create an Indian Confederation to hold back the white man.Tenskwatawa was bent on conflict with the settlers. In 1809 William Henry Harrison got the chiefs of four major tribes drunk and persuaded them to sign away three million acres of their land for almost nothing. The Shawnees were not invited and did not take part. 

    The Indians were outraged and tensions rose. British agents offered the Indians flattery and muskets. Harrison assembled an army of 1200 men, including 400 regulars, and made camp near Tenskwatawa’s town. The Indians struck without warning before dawn on Nov. 7, 1811, but the regulars held. As the Indians began to run out of ammunition Harrison’s militia attacked and two days later he burned the Indian village.

    Tribes were rising all along the frontier. Tecumseh, who lobbied for peace, could make no difference. The frontier exploded. The country moved toward war. On June 1 Madison sent a war resolution to Congress. On June 18, 1812, Congress declared war on Great Britain. While most of the War of 1812 was fought on the Great Lakes and along the northern and western frontier there was some direct effect felt in Georgia. To many Georgians the War of 1812 offered the opportunity to settle questions regarding the Indian problem. The Indians had ownership of most of the present land of Georgia and were creating problems along the border. The U.S. Government was sympathetic with the Indian cause. It was the government’s position that no Indian land would be confiscated and no land owned by foreign governments would be invaded. In southwest Georgia the Creeks still had ownership and control of that land south and west of the Altamaha river.The war also offered opportunity to rid the state, once and for all, of the freebooters, Spaniards and British sympathizers who were harassing Georgians in all parts of the state. The Georgia Creeks were relatively peaceful during these times but the Alabama Creeks were a different matter. 

    Tecumseh fired up the Alabama Creeks and along with some of the Creeks of north Georgia on August 30, 1813, they assaulted at Fort Mims, forty miles north of Mobile on the Alabama river. It was guarded by seventy Louisiana Militiamen. There were a large number of settlers in the fort who had entered for protection. The Militia carelessly left the Gates to the fort unlocked and the Indians overran the fort. About 400 men, women and children were butchered. No fort this size, before or since, was ever lost to the Indians. 

    Americans assembled in the area from every part of the South and west. Andrew Jackson was persuaded to provide the leadership to this militia, even though he was half dead from a previous shooting scrape. Jackson mustered his strength and courage to overcome almost insurmountable obstacles to form up and organize a force to face the Indians.He managed to pursue the Indians wherever they went and Georgia sent a force under John Floyd to support Jackson

    At Tallasahatchee on Nov. 3, 1813 a force of one thousand mounted riflemen under Jackson’s friend, John Coffee, attacked 200 Red Stick braves. The Militia had all the advantage - firepower, numbers, and surprise. “We shot them down like dogs,” said Davy Crockett, who was one of the Militia.

    Six days later, near Talladega, the Creeks tried to ambush the main body under Jackson. On the ground lay 299 dead braves. 

    On March 27, 1814, at Horseshoe Bend, (see attached map) on the Tallapoosa River, in Alabama, the Red Sticks made their last stand. Across a loop in the river they raised a log breastwork three hundred yards long. The fight that ensued was the biggest battle ever fought between Indians and the white man. Some 1,000 Creeks attempted to hold off 3,000 white men. Gen. John Coffee’s men attacked across the river from the rear and Jackson’s infantry stormed the breastwork from the front.More than 500 Indians were killed and Jackson lost 49 men killed in action.

    The British and Spanish who had been arming the Indians and promising almost anything to encourage them to rise up against the Americans were slow and late with any help for the Indians. The braves were defeated and demoralized. The surviving Creek war chiefs and their remaining followers fled to Spanish West Florida. The governor there had sent messages of congratulations to the Indians after the Fort Mimes slaughter.

    On August 9, 1814, Jackson, by the treaty of Fort Jackson, after the Horseshoe Bend battle, forced the Creeks to sign a treaty ceding 22,000,000 acres of land in Georgia and Alabama. In Georgia the area can loosely be defined as starting at Fort Gains on the Chattachoochee and extending due east to intersect the western boundary of the counties of Wayne and Camden and then south to the Florida line. The western boundary was the Chattachoochee river; the southern boundary was the Florida line. This area included almost all of the area that was later incorporated into the counties of Early, Irwin and Appling. It was necessary for Gen. Jackson to release this area to the U. S. Government and the U.S. Government then relinquished this area to the State of Georgia.

    There was another small tract of land that the State received by another treaty that was added to this property. This was a small strip of land between Jackson’s area of settlement and the Altamaha and Ocmulgee Rivers. On January 22,1818 at the Creek Agency on the Flint River, David B. Mitchell, Agent of Indian Affairs for the Creek Nation signed a grant of land whereby two tracts of land were sold to the U.S. Government for the sum of$120,000.00.

    This property was then relinquished to the State of Georgia and added to the area that Jackson had obtained. Before Georgia could settle this area, other events were taking place.In January of 1815 an effort was made by the British to land on the Georgia coast after leaving St. Augustine, but were met by Col. William Cone, Jr. and driven back to sea with a loss of 180 men. This ended the War of 1812 as far as Georgia was concerned.

    As the War of 1812 continued General Jackson was assigned to protect the southern area. A “Blow” was expected against the lower Mississippi.He asked permission to attack Pensacola, Florida, which was Spanish Territory. The invasion of Pensacola Fla. would be a violation of law, since Congress had determined that no lands owned by foreign countries would be invaded. The British were using Pensacola as a base of operations. Not receiving permission, Jackson attacked and captured the town. This was important because it permitted him to defend New Orleans. Jackson arrived in New Orleans on Dec. 1, 1814. His forces totaled about 5,000 men. The British launched their assault at dawn on Jan. 8, 1815. In the battle the British lost their three highest-ranking officers and 2,000 men. Jackson’s losses were 13 men killed. The most significant thing about this battle was that it was fought two weeks after the war was over. Communication was slow during these times. 

    When the colonists in Georgia continued to have trouble created by the Spanish in Florida the U.S. sent a blunt warning to Spain: “Control your people or get out."Then Gen. Jackson moved across the line, although this was illegal. In 1818 he took two Spanish Forts, hanged two British subjects and raised the American Flag over the Province. In 1821 Florida became a Territory of the United States.