In 1763, after nearly two centuries of Spanish rule, the terms of the Treaty of Paris gave Florida to Great Britain. Over the next decade, the British rapidly expanded their presence in East Florida, their new 14th colony . More than 100 plantations were established between the St. Marys and the St. Johns Rivers, and a 200 mile road was built, linking St. Augustine, in north Florida, and Fort Barrington, near present day Brunswick, Georgia.
Almost immediately upon the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, hostilities began between British loyalists in Florida and Patriots loyal to the new nation to the north. The British spent the remainder of 1776 deflecting Patriot raids across the St. Marys River. In the Spring of 1777, the British pushed across the St. Marys River, capturing Patriot Fort McIntosh on the Satilla River, and raiding Georgia farms for some 2000 head of cattle.
The patriot response was swift: an invasion of St. Augustine was planned, and Patriot forces began moving south. Patriot Colonel Samuel Elbert, and 400 soldiers were to rendezvous with Colonel John Baker and his force of about 100 for the march south to St. Augustine. But, on the morning of May 17th, the British came upon Baker and his men as they awaited the arrival of Elbert on the bank of Thomas Creek, a tributary of the Nassau River. The superior British force defeated the Patriots, killing eight, wounding nine, and capturing thirty-one. Colonel Baker and forty-two of his men escaped, making their way through the marsh, and across the St. Marys River to Georgia.
Location of Thomas Creek
The exact location of the Thomas Creek battle site has not been determined. It is believed to be located near the point at which U.S. Route 17 crosses the Nassau River, within the boundaries of the Timucuan Preserve. There are no National Park Service wayside markers, parking areas, or other facilities at that location.Return to Timucuan Preserve - Other Park Areas.