Elizabeth Lichtenstein Johnston (1764-1848)
Elizabeth Lichtenstein (or Lightenstone) Johnston was a fervent Loyalist who lived through the upheaval of the American Revolution (1775-83) in Georgia. At the age of seventy-two, she wrote graphic recollections of her experiences, providing the most detailed firsthand account of the ways in which the Revolution affected women in colonial Georgia.
Johnston, royal government. Her mother, Catherine Delegal, whose father, Philip Delegal, had commanded a company under James Oglethorpe, was of French Huguenot stock. Johnston remembered her childhood days fondly, especially those after her father had purchased a plantation on Skidaway Island, where she enjoyed figs, peaches, pomegranates, and plums, as well as fine fish, oysters, crabs, and shrimp. Her tranquil country life was brought to an abrupt halt by the death of her mother in 1774, and she was sent, reluctantly, to be schooled in embroidery by an elderly aunt in Savannah.
Johnston held bitter memories of the oncoming Revolution, describing how the rebels (including some of her teachers) were a "ragged corps" and how "everywhere the scum rose to the top." At the age of twelve she was violently separated from her father, who, with the assistance of his slave, fled to the safety of a British warship, The Scarborough. Johnston was indignant at the treatment of Loyalist women and children, some of whose lands were confiscated, and she was terrified during the Siege of Savannah in October 1779, when Continental Army forces under General Lachlan McIntosh and their French allies shelled the town for several days.
With the exception of this failed allied counterassault, British occupation of the Lowcountry between December 1778 and July 1782 brought some limited respite for Johnston and her fellow Loyalists,
While her Recollections are unique in the historical record, there were many women of strong character, clear intellect, and deep religious and political convictions on both sides of the conflict. They profoundly influenced the course of the Revolution in Georgia and how that war would be remembered by subsequent generations.
Media Gallery: Elizabeth Lichtenstein Johnston (1764-1848)