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GEORGIA PROVINCIAL COMPANIES
1734-1747


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Shown here in this 1995 lithograph by the Company of Military Historians is the Georgia Provincial Companies, 1734-1747. From left to right: Ranger, Mackay's Independent Company, 1734; Lower Creek Ranger, 1740; Private, Carr's Marine Company, 1741; English Ranger, 1740; Highland Ranger, 1740; Private, Highland Independent Company, 1740. (Plate No. 709)




General James Oglethorpe was the driving force behind the founding of Georgia as a buffer colony to protect South Carolina from Spanish and French attacks. As a result, he had built a string of forts from the Savannah to the St. Johns River and garrisoned them with provincial soldiers who participated in the engagements of the War of Jenkins' Ear and King George's War (1739-1749).

Raised in May 1734, Captain Patrick Mackay's Independent Company of Rangers built and manned Fort Okfuskee on the Tallapoosa River among the Upper Creeks in present Alabama. The company was divided into two separate parties during 1736, but the remnants were on duty among the Creeks and on the coast until 1740. Mounted on horseback, Mackay's Rangers wore broad-brimmed hats, civilian coats, buckskin breeches, leather Indian leggins and shoes. Cartridge boxes, powder flasks, and iron-handled cutlasses hung from belts with brass buckles. Muskets were long-barreled infantry types, but probably not the "Brown Bess" (largely unavailable in Georgia before 1740).1

Lower Creek warriors sometimes served Oglethorpe as rangers, wearing a mixture of traditional Native American dress and English clothing. Typical dress was an English shirt, blue or red cloth breechclout and belt, blue orred dyed leather leggins, and moccasins. Common hair styles were the shaven head with three long locks, or with a crest for feathers. Red and black war paint usually was worn. Warriors carried a common trade gun, shot-powderpouch, knife, and tomahawk.2

The troop of English Rangers, raised in 1739, was divided into several parties, scattered throughout the colony for patrolling duties on horseback. Rangers provided their own clothing, arms, horses, and saddles. They wore civilian clothing: cocked hats, checked shirts, waistcoats and jackets (popular colors were blue, green and brown), wool or deerskin breeches, Indian leggins, stockings and shoes. they carried "Brown Bess" muskets with the barrels cut short for easy use on horseback, pistols, and hatchets.3

The Troop of Highland Rangers, recruited in 1739, conducted mounted patrols from Darien, a settlement of Highland Scots on the Altamaha River, and from other coastal locations. They wore items of traditional Highland dress: blue bonnets, tartan jackets and waistcoats, maybe a tartan shoulder plaid in cold weather. On patrol they combined these items with clothing worn by the English Rangers, including buckskin breeches, lndian leggins, and shoes. They carried Highland claymores, dirks, pistols, and "Brown Bess" muskets with the barrels cut short.4

The Highland Independent Company of Foot, raised in 1740 at Darien, also wore Highland dress: blue bonnet, plaid jacket and waistcoat, Highland hose, and "belted plaid" (a wool tartan about three yards long, belted around the waist forming a knee-length kilt, with the rest draped over the left shoulder). The company apparently was modeled after independent companies in Scotland: but it is not known whether they wore the Government tartan. Arms were broad-swords, dirks, Scottish pistols, Brown Bess muskets and bayonets, and targes (shields).5

Captain Mark Carr's Marine Company of Boatmen, formed in 1740, patrolled the Intracoastal Waterway in open, shallow-draft scout boats. They were clothed in a uniform, but the exact description is unknown. Probably coats were issued (if regulation, red with different colored cuffs and lapels from the 42nd Regiment), and the rest of the clothing was provided by the men themselves. Arms were cutlasses, muskets, and bayonets.6

Oglethorpe may have intended a common uniform for his Georgia rangers. In 1745, he raised a cornet and six ranger recruits in England, and they were reported to have worn cocked hats with green cockades and blue coats with red facings.7 It's doubtful that this uniform was worn in Georgia, however.

The English and Highland Rangers, Highland Independent Company, 42nd Regiment of Foot (see MUIA Plate No. 410), and various Indian war parties participated in the ill-fated British invasion of Spanish Florida during the summer of 1740. Two years later those same units, plus the Marines, defended St Simons Island when the Spanish invaded Georgia. In the Battle of Bloody Marsh, the Highland Company, a mixed force of Rangers and Indians, and one company of the 42nd routed a column of Spanish grenadiers. The Spanish, as a result, did not return to Georgia.8

The Georgia provincials eventually were placed in the British pay, but their status remained provincial rather than regular army. All of the provincial companies were disbanded during June 1747, as King George's War wound down on the southern frontier.9

Our thanks to COMPANY Fellow Albert W. Haarmann for his help in preparing this plate.

Eric Manders
Larry E. Ivers
Tom Rodgers


Notes

1. South Carolina Department of Archives and History, Misc. Rec., EE, pp. 50, 52; Colonial Records of Georgia (CRG) Vol. 2, p. 453; Vol. 20, pp. 9-10, 545; Kristian Hvidt, ed., Von Reck's Voyage, Savannah, 1980, p. 133; Collections of the Georgia Historical Society (CGHS), Vol, 1, p. 119-120; Larry E. Ivers, British Drums on the Southern Frontier, Chapel Hill, 1974, p. 35-36.

2. John R. Swanton, Indians of the Southeastern United States, Washington, 1946, pp. 457, 464, 564, 690-697, 731; Newton D. Mereness, ed., Travels in the American Colonies, New York. 1916, p. 220; A Relation or Journal of a late Expedition to the Gates of St. Augustine, in Florida, London 1744, p. 16.

3. British Public Record Office, Exchequer and Audit Office, (AO), I/162/441, pp. 5, 12, 18, 19a, 23a, 27, 32; AO 3/119; CRG, Vol. 4, p. 461, Vol. 23, p. 115, Vol. 35, p. 234; CGHS, Vol. 4, pt. 2, p. 14; Sarah B. G. Temple and Kenneth Coleman, Georgia Journeys, Athens, 1961, pp. 173-174. Egmont Manuscripts, Vol. 14203, pt. 2, p. 203a; Ivers, p. I00; Several large shipments of "King's Pattern," or "Brown Bess" muskets to Georgia are listed in CR, Vol. 39, pp. 140-142, 155, 624, Vol. 30, pp. 382, 383.

4. CGHS, Vol. 4, pt. 2, pp. 13-14; AO 1/162/441, pp. I I a, 18, 19a, 27, 34a; AO 3/119; Frank Adam, The Clans, Septs, and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands, Edinburgh, 1965, p. 357; EgmontMS, Vol. 14203, pt. 2, pp. 157g, 157h, supp. pp. 462, 465; CRG, Vol. 29, p. 115, 374; Ivers, pp. I00, I88.

5. AO I/162/441, p.5; AO 3/119; CRG, Vol. 29, pp. 374, 415, 596, Vol. 30, pp. 382, 383, Vol. 35, pp. 257, 340, 403; Adam, pp. 356, 360, 361, 366: Egmont MS., Vol. supp, pp. 157g, 157h, 462, Vol. 14203, pt. 2, p. 172; Temple and Coleman, p. 173; Cecil C. P. Lawson, A History of the Uniforms of the British Army, London, 1963, Vol. 2, pp. 54-64, 66-68; CGHS, Vol. 1, p. 109, Vol. 4, pt. 2, pp. 13-14; Letter from Lt. Hugh Mackay, London, 1742, pp. 18, 31-32; lvers, p. 101.

6. CRG, Vol. supp to 4, p. 156; Vol. 35, p. 403-404, 435; AO, p. 6a, Lawson, Vol. 2, pp. 22-25, 89; Ivers, p. 145.

7. CRG, Vol. 36, pp. 217, 232-233; Robert Wright, A Memoir of General James Oglethorpe, London, 1867, pp. 355-356; Ivers, pp. 188, 248 n. 11.

8. Ivers, pp. 90-132, 151-173.

9. British Public Record Office, War Office (WO), 4/42, 24/222; CRG, Vol. 36, pp. 219-220, 227-231, 296.


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