Bryan County, on the Georgia coast just south and west of Savannah, was created from Chatham County by an act of the state legislature on December 19, 1793. In 1794 land from Effingham County was also transferred to Bryan. The county was named in honor of Jonathan Bryan, one of the leading colonial settlers in Georgia and a key figure in the colony's movement toward independence and during the Revolutionary War (1775-83).
In 1733 Fort
Bryan County was the scene of large-scale agricultural development during the antebellum period. The Ogeechee River basin in lower Bryan County became one of the most productive rice-growing areas on the south Atlantic coast during the 1830s and 1840s. By 1855, 3 million pounds of rice annually were being shipped from Bryan County plantations. The leading producers of this important staple commodity on the Ogeechee were Richard J. Arnold, George W. McAllister, and Thomas Savage Clay.
The rice industry was enhanced by two important transportation developments affecting Bryan County—the construction of the sixteen-mile-long Savannah-Ogeechee Canal in 1830, which provided the area's rice plantations with a direct market link to Savannah, and the building of the Savannah,
In 1861, after the start of the Civil War (1861-65), Confederate forces built Fort McAllister at Genesis Point on the Ogeechee to protect from Union forces the local river plantations and the railroad just upstream. This simple earthworks fort repelled seven Union naval attacks by Monitor-class warships during 1862 and 1863. The fort and its outnumbered Confederate garrison finally fell during a bloody landward assault in December 1864, at the end of General William T. Sherman's march to the sea from Atlanta to Savannah.
Franklin Leslie Long and Lucy B. Long, The Henry Ford Era at Richmond Hill, Georgia (Darien, Ga.: n.p., 1999).
Buddy Sullivan, From Beautiful Zion to Red Bird Creek: A History of Bryan County, Georgia (Pembroke, Ga.: Bryan County Board of Commissioners, 2000).
Buddy Sullivan, Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve
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