Fort Frederica and Bloody Marsh
Although the Carolinians' effort to
occupy the "Debatable Land" south of the
Carolinas had failed with the accidental burning of Fort King George,
interest in the area continued in Britain. The threat
of a Spanish or French occupation of the area. A British
reformer, James Oglethorpe, would
lead another, larger attempt with several settlements, eventually
including St. Simon's Island several miles south of the site
Fort King George.
Debtors and the "worthy poor" were recruited to immigrate to
colony, named "Georgia" in honor of the king, and settlers from
different countries and of different religious affiliations were
welcome. Slavery and rum were prohibited. In
Savannah was colonized. After scouting further south,
decided to colonize St Simon's Island, and in 1736 over 100 people
settled there, building Fort Frederica, named after the king's son
Frederick. By the 1740s around 500 people lived within the
fort.Near the old burned down Fort King George would be a settlement of
Scots in a
town named Darien.
|| The main settlement on
St. Simon's Island was Fort Frederica,
a town based on a grid pattern. The riverside fort
was for the most part a conventional square fort with bastions at each
corner, but there was also a
spur battery to place additional firepower on the river.
When relations with Spain became more
the late 1730s, city walls were built around the town. Now
original fort could perhaps function as a citadel - a
fallback position in case the town was captured.
The town walls were small by European standards, with a moat 10 feet
wide, but the design was interesting in that the trace was an
innovative one based on Vauban's Neuf
The bastions had blockhouses that although they were proof
only against small arms perhaps served like
cavaliers in a more heavily built work. The curtain walls
the bastions were indented to provide flanking fire along the length of
|This is the view from within the fort. The
spur battery has been eroded away by the river, but it was equipped
with 6-7 guns.
The fort was built on the outer bend of the river, so it
dominated water approaches from both directions, and warships
could only approach directly and were therefore unable to
bring much of their firepower to bear against the fort.
Several hundred soldiers, most of the garrison, lived in these
barracks, now in ruins, built of tabby, a local type
of concrete made with oyster shells.
| The northeast bastion
is a good place to understand the city walls. The blockhouse
no longer exists, but its site is marked by wooden rails. The
blockhouse helped dominate the moat.
Along the curtain, a firestep allowed infantry to load
under cover then step up to fire. In front of the rampart was
palisade, then a moat between 6 and 8 feet deep followed by another
palisade about 10 feet in height.
Although effective against infantry, a
determined enemy with artillery could capture the fort,
making an active defense of the island the best course of
By the late 1730s, strained relations
Britain and Spain made a war over trade likely. Oglethorpe
journeyed to England to prepare then returned to Georgia with troops.
War with Spain broke out in 1739, and in
took 900 of his men with over 1,000 Indian allies to St. Augustine, but
they failed to capture the fort defending it, Castillo de San Marcos.
In 1742, a Spanish expedition sailed
Augustine with 2,000 troops against St. Simon's Island.
St. Simon near the modern lighthouse did little damage to the Spanish
fleet which passed between St. Simon's Island and Jekyll Island, and
after the Spanish landed, the British abandoned the fort to the
Spanish. Around 115 Spaniards advanced to within
half a mile
of Fort Fredica but were routed at Gully Hole Creek.
Bloody Marsh -
July 18, 1742
Oglethorpe had only about 1,000 men.
the retreating Spainiards, Oglethorpe encountered a stronger Spanish
force and fell back. Returning to the rear to bring up
reinforcements, Oglethorpe missed the coming fight. Here at
causeway crossing a marsh, the advance
British force clashed with the
Spanish. Little is know of the fight, but the Spanish were
repulsed and fell back to their landing site.
Oglethorpe contemplated attacking the
but perhaps fortunately an untimely desertion convinced him that it was
standoff ended, however, with the arrival of a few British ships.
Short on supplies, fearing the arrival of more English ships,
with strict orders to preserve his force and return with a certain time
frame, the Spanish commander withdrew from the island.
By the Seven Years War Fort Frederica
was in decline,
but Oglethorpe's colony, the last of the thirteen, survived.