The march of the 4th and 7th Infantries from Fort Gaines to Fort Scott continued 200 years ago today. The soldiers crossed the modern site of Blakely as they made their way down through Southwest Georgia.
This article is part of a continuing series marking the 200th anniversary of the First Seminole War. You can read the entire series by visiting Seminole War 200th.
The troops on the move for the Flint River and the coming confrontation with Neamathla and the warriors of Fowltown continued their march along the Fort Scott or Three Notch Road through Southwest Georgia on November 16, 1817. The day’s march likely began at Breastworks Branch in Early County and then followed the road down across the site of present-day Blakely. The town did not exist, of course, in 1817.
From the site of Blakely, the soldiers continued on for another 10-11 miles and camped again for the night along the trail. The total distance marched would have been around 15 miles.
A 15-mile march from Breastworks Branch in Early County would have brought the soldiers to vicinity of either Susian Ford Branch or Flat Creek in the northwest corner of today’s Miller County, Georgia. Both of these streams are tributaries of Spring Creek and good water was available from either. The site of their camp has not been identified, but would have been along the Three Notch Road in that vicinity (see the map at the bottom of this page).
There were no bridges along the creeks and streams along the route so crossing meant wading through the cold water and then continuing the march soaking wet in the cold temperatures of that November. Unless, of course, you were an officer. It is a little known fact of the early 19th century that officers in the United States Army did not worry about getting their feet wet in such creek crossings. If officers were not mounted on horseback, which Lt. Col. Matthew Arbuckle and his officers were not, then enlisted men were expected to carry officers across on their backs!
The men of the 4th and 7th Infantries would continue their march for Fort Scott on the morning of November 17, 1817. The first fighting of the Seminole Wars was now just five days away.
To learn more about the days leading up to the outbreak of the First Seminole War at the Battle of Fowltown, please consider the books Fowltown, Fort Gaines, Georgia: A Military History and Fort Scott, Fort Hughes & Camp Recovery.
If you would like to follow the route of the soldiers, begin at Breastworks Branch on GA-39 four miles north of Blakely and follow it south into town. Take time to enjoy the hospitality of Blakely, check out the historic Early County Courthouse, see the last Confederate flag pole and the peanut monument, and then continue south on GA-39 for about 1-mile and turn left onto Three Notch Road. Follow Three Notch for 7.7 miles and you will find yourself in the vicinity of the campsite where the soldiers spent the night of November 16th.
We recommend combining this section of the route with the with the part that we will detail tomorrow.