Sunbury, Georgia

Nearly Forgotten History on the Coast Series

The Vanished Seaport

Sunbury, Georgia 1758 - 1782

by m/v Dyad



Vanished Casualty of the Revolutionary War

In 1758, Mark Carr, set aside 300 acres platted with 496 lots arranged around three public squares. His intention was to encourage settlement along the Medway (Midway) River in the Colony of Georgia. He named this place Sunbury.

Sunbury was situated on the Medway only twelve miles from the open sea via St Catherines Sound. It rapidly became a thriving seaport. With a population of 1000, it was second only to Savannah in size and importance. Its five riverside wharves were hubs of activity with coastal schooners and ocean bound vessels loaded with goods doing trade in the West Indies and northern colonies.

Sunbury was at it's peak shortly before the American Revolution in 1774.

In 1775, the people of Sunbury sided with the Patriots and drove off a customs collector. The Continental Congress ordered the formation of a Georgia Battalion of Continental Troops to be stationed at Fort Morris in Sunbury. The troops failed at several attempted attacks on English East Florida.

The British retaliated. Military action took place against the town twice in 1778; the second of which ended at Fort Morris. Colonel John McIntosh defiantly told the British to "come and take it!" The British left instead.

British troops returned on January 9, 1779 and this time, succeeded in taking Fort Morris. Sunbury's battalion was forced to evacuate to Savannah. Afterwards, the town became a no man's land, with neither the British or the town's population gaining full control. Captain Scallion and his Loyalist marines finally sacked and burned the town in 1782.

Thus the American Revolution proved to be the death of Sunbury. Adding insult to injury, two hurricanes further damaged what little remained. By the time of the Civil War, this once thriving town was lost to memory.

A cemetery, a few dirt roads, and the bare earthen footprint of Fort Morris, are the only visible remnants of old Sunbury today.


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