One of the most intense battles fought during the American Revolution was the Siege of Savannah. The battle commenced on October 9, 1779, as allied French and American forces began to lay siege to British held Savannah. As it turns out, the British were well-entrenched in the city, and the allied forces under Count Charles Henri d'Estaing and Major General Benjamin Lincoln had their work cut out for them in trying to dislodge the Redcoats.
d'Estaing had demanded the surrender of the city on September 16, 1779, sending a letter of such to British General Augustine Prevost. Prevost asked for 24 hours to respond, and in this 24 hour period, he refortified the city. In fact, it was Lt. Col. John Maitland's 800 troops from South Carolina that were brought in to the city on this day to help back up Prevost and his forces. At the end of the 24 hour waiting period, Prevost signaled that he would not surrender the city, electing to fight instead. However, d'Estaing and the allied forces did not attack any time soon. They waited, and this may have been their costliest mistake.
When the allied forces did attack on October 9, 1779, they launched a ground attack where over 750 of their soldiers were killed; the British lost roughly 18 to death and less than 40 wounded. Included among the dead and wounded for the allied forces was Polish Count Casimir Pulaski, who had joined the Patriot cause and fought gallantly. Fort Pulaski is named in his memory and honor. Also dead was Sergeant William Jasper, the hero of the Battle of Fort Moultrie. The allied forces had no choice but to withdraw. Savannah would remain in British hands for quite some time.
As might be expected, with such high casualties, it was quite a chore to retrieve and properly dispose of bodies. The allied forces called a temporary truce with the British forces so that they could bury their dead. According to James Caskey, author of "Haunted Savannah," many reports surfaced that some of the bodies were buried in mass graves near the locations where they fell. One such place is near the Savannah Visitors Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard near downtown. (Caskey 130-131). Caskey goes on to say that there are other reports indicating that when the bodies were being buried that some of the wounded were beyond help and were buried along with the dead-WHILE THEY WERE STILL ALIVE!! He even names a local doctor, Dr. Wells, who was there and witnessed the gruesome spectacle. A friend of Caskey's apparently frequents the Visitor Center and has lunch at a restaurant nearby. She reported that she felt strange and uneasy entering the bathroom of the establishment and reported it to a waitress there. The response was that many of the staff had felt it too and it was agreed that the place was quite haunted (Caskey131).
So were some American and French soldiers who constituted the allied force at the Siege of Savannah buried alive? If so, does this account for some of the unusual and strange activity in the vacinity? The next time you are in Savannah, make a trip to the visitors center, and eat in the restaurant there. It is in an old railroad car. Make sure to take a quick trip to the water works (bathrooms) and see if you find any old soldiers still hanging around....