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Revolutionary soldier to be honored Jan. 30 in Pike

Freed slave and American Revolutionary soldier Austin Dabney fought and won many battles during his life and was injured by a musket shot at the Battle of Kettle Creek in 1779. Much later, he made Pike County his home. His historic grave site will be visited for a public dedication Jan. 30 at 11 a.m. off of Pope Street in Zebulon. Dabney was signed over by his master to fight in his place and became the only black soldier to be granted land by Georgia in recognition for his bravery and service. Dabney took a rifle ball through his thigh not far from Washington at the Battle of Kettle Creek, according to Lizzie Mitchell’s History of Pike County, Georgia. He was crippled for the rest of his life but was one of few freed slaves to receive a pension. Giles Harris, a white soldier who lived nearby, took Dabney to his farm and cared for him. Dabney never forgot this kindness and he worked for the Harris family for the rest of his life. Members of the Harris family still reside in surrounding counties as do family members of Lt. Col. Elijah Clarke, who Dabney fought for as an artilleryman. Chip Clark, a history teacher at Upson-Lee Middle School and a descendant of Elijah Clarke, said Dabney is believed to have been the only black solider at Kettle Creek. He said there are some stories Dabney saved Clarke’s life at Kettle Creek but they are not totally accurate. The slave signed over to fight in the movie The Patriot with Mel Gibson is strongly based on Dabney. Dabney supported William Harris financially during his studies in Athens and while he read for the bar with Georgia attorney Stephen Upson, who Upson County was named after. Clark said Upson provided a resolution to provide Dabney with an additional 112 acre plot in Walton County. Dabney received a federal pension of $60 a year starting in 1789 and it increased to $96 annually in 1816 for the wound he received at Kettle Creek.

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