John Dooly | American Battlefield Trust
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Revolutionary War

John Dooly

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John Dooly
Revolutionary War
c. 1740 - c. 1780


Native to South Carolina, John Dooly gained an interest in the neighboring colony of Georgia. He moved to the state after investing and performing work as a surveyor. He had originally opposed the Revolution but grew to see it as a necessary step that Georgia needed to take for the sake of social, economic, and political progress in the southern frontier. Beginning as captain of his local militia, Dooly eventually became justice of the peace and deputy surveyor. Dooly and his men fought at Savannah and joined expeditions against the British-allied Cherokee. He eventually became captain of a Georgia Continental cavalry regiment. In charge of this regiment, Dooly enlisted men by illegally signing on deserters. His unruly character was consistent; when Dooly learned of his brother’s death at the hands of Creek Indians, he seized an oncoming Creek peace delegation as revenge for his brother’s death. His actions did not sit well with his superiors who made Dooly release the delegation, stand trial, and resign from his position. He then became a representative for Wilkes County in Georgia’s new legislative body and returned to the military as a colonel in the Wilkes County militia. When Georgia was under severe threat from the British, Dooly called on assistance from Colonel Andrew Pickens. Together, Dooly and Pickens led an attack at Kettle Creek and routed roughly 600 Carolina Tories. Their efforts did not slow as they went on to steer a campaign fending off British-allied Native Americans. Following, Dooly began a rampage to hold Loyalists accountable for their actions – having them arrested, chained, and tried as traitors. Not finished with his military efforts, he attempted to lead a force of 400 militiamen to Savannah to retake the city. His efforts were unsuccessful as the British had a stronghold on the city. Returning home, Dooly and his men found themselves overtaken by the strength and numbers of the British. Dooly was taken as a prisoner, was banned from holding office, and was forced to serve in the King’s militia. Dooly had made many an enemy in his crusade against the backcountry’s Loyalists. In September of 1780 John Dooly was murdered by such Loyalists.

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