Location: Brunswick, Georgia
Webpage: National Park
General Description: In the early 1700s, the coast of Georgia was claimed by Spain with long term missions but no permanent settlements north of St. Augustine. England was needing a buffer between the Spanish and the successful South Carolina. Along with 12 trustees, James Ogelthorpe established a new colony at Savannah in 1733 to provide this buffer and challenge Spain for the “debatable land”. To protect the new colony, Ogelthorpe convinced Parliament and the trustees to provide a garrison of British regulars and new colonists to establish two defensive forts on St Simons Island. In 1736, Fort Frederica was built along with a town to provide support to the fort. Ogelthorpe created an impressive defensive military installation with the 40 acre town of Frederica surrounded by an earthen wall, dry moat, and two ten foot tall wooden palisades. Within this wall, they located Fort Frederica to protect the river approaches with a traditional fort with 3 bastions and a projecting spur battery (now washed away), surrounded on the land side with earthen walls, moat and 10 foot tall palisades. The colonists in the town represented all those necessary to support the fort including blacksmiths, carpenters, masons, bakers, and farmers. However, they were never expected to be self-sufficient as the trustees continued to supply provisions stored in two large warehouses within the fort. In 1737, Ogelthorpe returned to England and was provided with the 42nd Regiment of Foote of 600 soldiers, bringing his forces to about 1000 soldiers to man all four forts (two on St Simons and two on Cumberland Island). The next year, England declared war on Spain and Ogelthorpe attempted an assault on St. Augustine which failed. Two years later, Spanish forces under the command of Manual de Montiano retaliated by attacking St Simons island with 36 ships and 2000 soldiers in July, 1742. Following an extended trade of cannon fire from Fort St Simons, Montiano landed his troops north of the fort and Ogelthorpe withdrew his small garrison there to Fort Frederica and the Spanish occupied Fort St Simon. On July 5, 1742, Montiano sent a reconnaissance force of 200 men north along the Military Road to Fort Frederica. However, they were surprised at Gully Hole Creek and retreated back towards Fort St Simons. Ogelthorpe gave chase and set up an ambush at Bloody Marsh. As the Spanish advanced, they were again taken by surprise in an ambush and they two forces fired at each other across the marsh. Running low on ammunition, the Spanish withdrew back to Fort St Simons. After a few days and being misled that there were British reinforcements coming, Montiano withdrew from the island never to challenge the colony of Savannah again. By 1743, nearly 1000 people lived and worked in Frederica, in relative prosperity, that was dependent upon the military outlays. When England and Spain signed a peace treaty in 1748 and the garrison was disbanded in 1749, the decline of Frederica declined. By 1755, the town was virtually abandoned and following a devastating fire in 1758, it disappeared completely. Today, all that remains are the tabby foundations of the houses, part of the powder rooms of the fort, and some of the walls of the barracks. Extensive archeological work has uncovered many artifacts and the foundations of most of the homes.
1) The Visitor Center is small, but adequate. The short movie about Fort Frederica and the Battle of Bloody Marsh was very informative and well done. The museum is small but contains good information about the town and artifacts found.
2) Due to the archeological research and a map of Frederica, they have determined the layout of the town of Frederica and have put up street signs so you can see the extent of the town.
3) Most of the earthen walls and moat are still easily seen. In particular, the northeast bastion where they had a wooden tower to provide protection along the front of the wall, is well preserved.
4) Some of the excavated houses have been left open. Along with interpretive signs and a well done audio tour on your phone you get a real sense of the size of the homes and lots.
5) Very little is left of the Fort. They have excavated the foundations of the storage buildings, which were very large and four stories high. Only a small part of the powder magazine is still standing and much of the fort has been washed away, so it is difficult to get a true sense of the fort.
6) The most extensive remains are a few walls of the soldiers barracks. I am a bit confused since the opening to the barracks was on the side opposite the town. Why would the soldiers have to walk around the barracks to get to the town?
7) The monument at the Bloody Marsh is worth the drive. It consists of only a monument and a single interpretive sign, but being able to look out at the marsh across which the two forces fired at each other was worth it.