CHAPTER 4. ENGLISH ACTIVITY
In the early 1700s there was no Georgia colony to serve as a buffer zone between the Carolinas and the Spanish settlements in Florida.
James Moore, who became governor of Carolina in Sept 1700, understood the danger from the Spanish and sought to avert it. When the War of Spanish Succession (Queen Anne's War in America) broke out in 1702, the Carolinians were in a mood to act. The legislature authorized an expedition and placed the governor in charge, with Colonel Robert Daniel second in command. Daniel was to sail up the Saint Johns River to a point opposite the city of St. Augustine and march overland to the attack, while Governor Moore led the attack from the sea.
Spanish Governor Joseph de Zuniga told the entire population to take refuge in the fort when the enemy arrived. The enemy laid siege to the fortress. Four Spanish warships appeared late in December and blocked Moore's escape by sea. Moore burned some of his small fleet, abandoned the remainder, burned what remained of the town, marched overland to the mouth of the Saint Johns River, embarked for Carolina, and was gone by December 30.
Two years later Moore destroys the mission in Apalachee.
1733 (January 13) -- settlement of the Georgia colony. The ship Ann arrives in Charleston with leader James Oglethorpe, along with a doctor, a pastor and 114 colonists.
1733 (January 21) -- Oglethorpe, Peter Gordon, Colonel William Bull and others find a site to settle south of the Savannah River that would later come to known as the town of Savannah.
1733 (February 1) -- the settlers land on the future site of present-day Savannah..
1734 (January 27) -- search southward of Savannah along the coast, Oglethorpe stops at St. Simon's Island. He decides to build Fort St. Simon, Fort Frederica and New Inverness.
The town of Darien is situated at the mouth of the Altamaha River on what is described as the largest delta east of the Mississippi.
Before the establishment of the colony of Georgia, the future site of Darien, Georgia saw English military activity to protect the Carolinas agailnst the Spanish and the Indians.
In 1702 British colonists destroyed Florida missions.
In 1702 the French planned a new frontier to encircle the British on the seaboard. They took Pensacola and erected Fort Toulouse in Alabama in 1717. The French started scouting the Altamaha River all the way to the coast.
The Altamaha River was very important. A Spanish mission was established here along with an Indian village. They used the wattle and daub method and had dugouts and made the black drink from yaupon holly. The mission here ran into trouble during the 1597 rebellion with quite a few priests killeed. The raids from northern Indians pushed the regional Indians out.
In 1721 Colonel John Barnwell built a fort at the site of the abandoned village. The fort was surrounded by a moat. The blockhouse was 26 foot square, three stories high (forty feet high).
In 1736 Darien was established by Scottish Highlanders. It was a military outpost for England. In that year Oglethorpe reviewed the Higland Company (which won fame at the Battle of Bloody Marsh) in full regalia. John McIntosh Mohr and his clan led in the development of the county as well as Darien, which is now the second oldest planned town in the state of Georgia. In 1739 Mohr became the author and signer of the New Inverness protest (an attempt to prevent the establishment of slavery in the area). Darien had been known as New Inverness for a short while. They asked Gen. Oglethorpe to reject the thought of admitting slaves.
Fort Darien was built on a high bluff overlooking the S. Altamaha River. It was a large fortification with two bastions and two half-bastions and defended by several cannon. On several occasions the Spanish or their Indian allies fired on the fort. After the war with Spain ended, the fort, no longer needed, fell into ruins. It was rebuilt and armed during the Revolution when it saw action against the British. Tabby remnants of the fort are still visible. It is behind the McIntosh County Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center just off US 17, on Fort King George Road (that takes you to Fort King George).
In 1749 the Georgia trustees relented to allow the import of slaves. The South Carolinians had come into the area with their slaves and shook up the anti-slavery convictions of the Georgia Scots. The prosperity of the South Carolinians wreaked the anti-slavery objections of the Georgians.
In 1818 Darien was chartered. It was a center of the lumber trade with huge saw mills. This trade only ended in the early 1900s with the depletion of forests.
Darien enjoyed a great deal of prosperity during the boom of the late 1800's. At the docks, tall-masted schooners loaded cypress and yellow pine timber that had been floated down the Altamaha River. Also shipped were cotton, indigo, and rice.
The home ports of Valona and other fishing communities are nestled along a scenic coastal drive.
St. Cyprian's Episcopal Church
Located on Fort King Drive.
This tabby church was completed in 1876 and built by former slaves, many of whom worked on nearby Butler Island. It was begun through the efforts of the Englishman Rev. James Wentworth Leigh who served as pastor of the black St. Cyprian's congregation and the white St. Andrew's Episcopal congregation in the early 1870s. The good reverend was the husband of Frances Kemble Butler, the daughter of Fanny Butler. The reverend was very popular with the blacks of the area.
The church was named for a martyred African Saint. The church was restored after suffering severe damage in the 1896 hurricane.
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church
South Vernon Square and Green Street (one block north of Fort king George Drive)
Vernon Square is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was laid out in 1806 according to the concept of town planning James Oglethorpe put into effect in Savannah. The square was the business and cultural center of Darien.
On this site in 1818 was built the powerful Bank of Darien. It was one of the leading financial institutions in the south until the early 1840s when Darien was a great cotton port. The church was begun in 1872 and completed in 1878. It was designed after a small church in England.
The family of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (white commander of the black 54th Massachusetts) gave $1,400 dollars to the church fund to help clear their son's name. At the orders of others, the 54th Massachusetts had engaged in some burning of the town (to the dismay of Colonel Shaw).
Thomas Spalding (1802-1851) built a mansion on the South End of Sapelo Island. He refined the Sea Island cotton and sugar industries. He was a Scottish-American, a great grandson of John McIntosh Mohr, the author and signer of the New Inverness protest of 1739. He built South End House in 1810. It had thick tabby walls to withstand the hurricanes of the area. The house has been restored. On the island, Spalding lived the life of a feudal baron.
Spalding in 1825 got a charter for a railroad from the Ocmulgee (draining into the Atlantic Ocean) to the Flint (reaching the Gulf of Mexico) to a point in central Georgia where these rivers flowed less than 50 miles apart. He wanted to connect the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River Valley with the Atlantic Ocean. The project, however, never got off the ground. (Coulter 1960:217; 253-253)
In 1827 there was a commission to settle the Georgia-Florida boundary dispute. Spalding was the representative for Georgia and Thomas Mann Randolph for the United States.
In 1912 Howard E. Coffin, the chief engineer of the Hudson Motorcar Company in Detroit, bought Sapelo Island from the Spalding heirs. In 1922 he restored the Long Tabby into the present structure for use as a guest lodge. Coffin completely rebuilt the Spalding house from 1922-1925. Coffin added an indoor swimming pool, a second floor reception room, and the basement grill room and lounge. Coffin's guests during the Christmas of 1928 were President and Mrs. Calvin Coolidge. Charles A. Lindbergh landed his plane on Sapelo and visited the Coffins in February 1929. President Jimmy Carter utilized the mansion during his administration in 1980.
In 1934 tobacco heir Richard J. Reynolds of Winston-Salem, North Carolina purchased Sapelo from Howard Coffin. He further modernized the house during his tenure, 1934-1964.
In 1954 Reynolds donated buildings on the island to the University of Georgia for use as a marine research laboratory. It is now home to the Marine Institute.
There is a special Sapelo Island Cultural Day that celebrates the history of the Geechee-Gullah People on Sapelo Island with traditional crafts, food, music, dance, and story telling. It is held in Historic Hog Hammock Community - Sapelo Island the third Saturday in September. Tickets for the Sapelo Island Ferry are available at the Visitor Center in Meridian.
Sapelo Island is a pristine barrier island, home to wild turkey, white-tailed deer, alligators, and over 250 species of birds. Reservations for the Island tour, which includes Thomas Spalding's beautiful mansion on the South End, can be made at the Sapelo Island Visitor Center in Meridian. Arrangements for private group accommodations can be made at the mansion. Private overnight accommodations and camping are also available on Sapelo. Both ecological and historical tours are available through the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Also, see Darien in the Civil War chapter.
Fort King George State Historic Site
The National Park Service says: Fort King George, Georgia's first colonial British garrison, is located at the mouth of the Altamaha River and contains the brick ruins of an early sawmill operation and a small graveyard. Established in 1721 to resist the expansion of French and Spanish interests, the fort was, at that time, the southernmost outpost of the British Empire in North America. The fort was destroyed by fire in 1726 and rebuilt the following year. The surviving portions of the first sawmill are significant and offer rare examples of early colonial industry in Georgia. A museum interprets the history of the area, including the early occupation of the site by the Guale Indians. The site also includes an authentic reconstructed frontier blockhouse which provides visitors excellent views over the marshes of the Altamaha River.
McIntosh Co., Darien, GA. Fort King George Historic Site. P. O. Box 711. Darien, GA 31305. Telephone: (912) 437-4770 . Tuesday - Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.; closed Monday (except legal holidays). Closed Tuesday when open Monday.
Fort King George is located 1½ miles east of U. S. 17 in Darien, Ga. From I-95, get off at exit 10 and head south on U.S. 17 for approximately 3 miles into downtown Darien. Follow signs to the park.
In 1721 Fort King George became the first British military outpost in Georgia. Its reason for being was to prevent the French from encircling Darien and making the area a French colony.
The 41st Regiment of Foot, mostly Irish and Welsh, was made of older soldiers, many of whom were in poor health. They were here from 1722 to 1727 when there was a troop withdrawal. The soldiers suffered from disease, boredom, and malnutrition. In one particular year two-thirds of the group died. In all 4 officers, one surgeon, and more than 130 regular soldiers died.
In 1725 there was a fire; the fort was rebuilt.
In 1727 southern settlers fearful of an Indian uprising succeeded in having the soldiers moved to Port Royal, South Carolina, during the Yamassee and Creek Indian raids. Two lookouts were stationed here until 1736. Oglethorpe chose this site. In 1743 Spanish attacked Fort Frederica.
On March 9, 1727, Colonel John Palmer, who had been a member of Gov. Moore's expedition in 1702, marched into Florida and dealt the Yamassee Indians at Nombre Dios a smashing defeat almost under the guns of the fortress at Saint Augustine. When Gov. Benavides would not come out and fight, Palmer marched back to Carolina.
Settlement of Georgia in 1733. The interlopers had earlier built Fort King George, a wooden blockhouse on the bank of the Altamaha River near Darien. The blockhouse burned in 1725 and the garrison withdrew to Port Royal.
In 1734, to avoid other attacks like that of Col Daniel in 1702, Gov. Moral Sanchez constructed Fort San Francisco de Pupa and Fort Picolata on opposite banks of the Saint Johns where the trail to Apalachee crossed the river.
In 1739 the English precipitated the War of Jenkins' Ear in the doubtful defense of a smuggler by the same name who claimed his ear had been cut off by Spaniards when his vessel was overhauled on the Florida coast some nine years earlier. It soon became a part of the European war of Austrian succession (King George's War in America), which lasted until 1748 with no important changes in the position of the powers in the New World.
Today shrimping constitutes Darien's economic backbone. The traditional annual blessing of the fleet, now called the Altamaha Heritage and Seafood Festival, takes place in the spring with fishermen who harvest the crabs, scallops, and fish adding their vessels to the procession of shrimp boats in a giant regatta.
In 1733 Savannah, Georgia, was founded by General James Oglethorpe. The southern boundary of Georgia was the Altamaha River. In 1736 Oglethorpe named the islands along Inland Passage and built Fort St. George.
The fort was carefully planned by the Trustees in London in 1736 and included the town of Frederica. Having picked the site of the fort on a bluff commanding the Frederica River, General Oglethorpe returned to England and helped select families to build and settle it. Forty-four men and 72 women and children landed at St. Simons Island on March 16, 1736. In 1738 a regiment of 6500 British soldiers arrived. The fort was then strengthened with "tabby" (a kind of cement made of lime, oyster shells, sand, and water) and the whole town was enclosed with earth and timber works from 10 to 13 feet high that included towers and a moat.
The fort was the most expensive in all of North America at the time and was the most important to the colony as it was headquarters of the British defense against Spain.
Oglethorpe modeled the town after a typical English village with an apothecary, bakery, tavern, small businesses, residences, and extensive fortifications to defend the community against Spanish attacks. Frederica was reputedly so attractive that Oglethorpe actually preferred to live there rather than in Savannah.
Oglethorpe used Fort Frederica as a command post for his invasion of Florida. He built other forts on St. Simons and other islands and attacked Spanish outposts to the south.
FREDERICA, FORT AND TOWN: HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
The National Park Service says:
Three years after founding Georgia in 1733, Gen. James Edward Oglethorpe established Fort Frederica to defend the fledgling colony against Spanish attack from Florida. In time, long after the British garrison had left and the original townspeople abandoned Frederica the famed Quaker, naturalist William Bartram, would stand on the grounds of Frederica. He wrote in his famous Travels of William Bartram:
"The fortress was regular and beautiful, constructed chiefly with brick, and was the largest, most regular, and perhaps most costly of any in North America, of British construction: it is now in ruins, yet occupied by a small garrison; the ruins also of the town only remain; peach trees, figs, pomegranates, and other shrubs grow out of the ruinous walls of former spacious and expensive buildings, not only in the town, but at a distance in various parts of the island; yet there are a few neat houses in good repair, and inhabited: it seems now recovering again, owing to the public and liberal spirit and exertions of J. Spalding, esq., who is the president of the island, and engaging in very extensive mercantile concerns."
Initially, the purpose of the Georgia colony was not so ambitious. Its founders, General Oglethorpe and twenty other trustees, saw it as a social experiment, a humanitarian mission to relieve unemployment and relief to those who crowded England's squalid debtors prisons. This altruistic goal eventually expanded to include the more pragmatic purposes of expanding trade for the mother country and providing a buffer colony on the southern frontier.
The original goal of General Oglethorpe and the other trustees to relieve the suffering of those in debtors prisons remains a powerful myth even today, but despite these good intentions, the reality was far different. History records only eleven families fitting the description of debtors that eventually settled in Georgia during its early history. Even as the trustees began their work of establishing Georgia, they realized that the new colony required people with specific skills and recruited settlers accordingly. At Fort Frederica, this meant people who could provide products or services of use to the soldiers of the garrison.
The first settlers in Georgia arrived in 1733. Sailing up the Savannah River, they established a settlement on a defensible bluff that General Oglethorpe selected for that reason. He would spend the next ten years working to make the colony succeed. One of Gen. Oglethorpe's primary concerns involved Georgia's defense. The colony lay in an area between South Carolina and Florida, "debatable" land that was claimed by both Great Britain and Spain. The Spanish claim predated Britain's by more than a century and a half and at one point, Spain occupied a number of missions along the Georgia coast. These, it eventually withdrew, providing Britain with a window of opportunity to fill the vacuum. Nevertheless, General Oglethorpe did not trust Spain which had denounced the new colony of its border with Florida and knew that his venture would not go unchallenged.
To forestall any Spanish attempt to regain the Georgia land, General Oglethorpe pushed south from Savannah. Exploring the coast, he selected St. Simons Island for a new fortification. The site, sixty miles south of Savannah, would become the military headquarters for the new colony. Here, in 1736, he established Fort Frederica, named for the Prince of Wales, Frederick Louis (1702-1754). (The feminine spelling was added to distinguish it from another fort with the same name.)
Fort Frederica combined both a military installation, a fort, with a settlement, the town of Frederica. Due to the Spanish threat only seventy-five miles away, General Oglethorpe took measures to fortify both, surrounding the entire forty-acre area with an outer wall. This consisted of an earthen wall called a rampart that gave protection to soldiers from enemy shot and shell, a dry moat and two ten-foot tall wooden palisades. The wall measure one mile in circumference. Contained within this outer defense perimeter was a stronger fort that guarded Frederica's water approaches. Designed in the traditional European pattern of the period, the fort included three bastions, a projecting spur battery now washed away, two storehouses, a guardhouse, and a stockade. The entire structure was surrounded in a manner similar to the town by earthen walls and cedar posts approximately ten feet high. The fort's location on a bend in the Frederica River allowed it to control approaches by enemy ships.
Although little remains to remind us of its prowess today, a visitor in 1745 described it as "a pretty strong fort of tabby, which has several 18 pounders mounted on a ravelin (triangular embankment) mounted in its front, and commands the river both upwards and downwards. It is surrounded by a quadrangular rampart, with four bastions of earth well stocked and turned, and a palisade ditch."
Frederica town followed the traditional pattern of an English village. Similar in style if not in scale to Williamsburg, VA., its lots were laid out in two wards separated by a central roadway called Broad St. Each house occupied a lot sixty by ninety feet. Lots had room for gardens and settlers were given additional acreage elsewhere on the island for growing crops.
The first shelters at Frederica were called palmetto bowers. These involved wooden branches covered with palmetto leaves which while lacking amenities of a more permanent structure proved adequate for providing shelter from the sun and rain. In time, many settlers replaced their bowers with more substantial structures than these, but nothing more than foundations remain today. Frederica was never intended to be self-sufficient. Even before the settlers left England, the trustees had provided that adequate stores be furnished for their needs. These were distributed to the towns people on a regular basis.
Nevertheless, the settlers were also not expected to remain idle. General Oglethorpe had banned slavery from the colony for that very reason. Although the trustees' involvement was purely philanthropic, it was expected that the colonists would prosper by producing wine, silk, or some other commodity. General Oglethorpe imported 5,000 mulberry trees to try an encourage silk production, but at no success. As an economic venture, Frederica failed as well as Georgia.
In other ways, though, Frederica did succeed. As a military bastion, the fort served as a clear reminder of British power in the region. Nor was it alone it this purpose. In addition to Fort Frederica, there were four other British outposts located farther south. One of these was Fort St. Simons, located on the south end of St. Simons Island, where the lighthouse currently stands. It guarded the entrance into Jekyll Sound that provided access to Frederica's back door. Other forts were located at the north and south ends of Cumberland Island and on the St. Johns River in Florida.
Lacking sufficient numbers of soldiers, General Oglethorpe returned to England in 1737 to raise a regiment of redcoats. He was given the 2nd Regiment of Foote, now known as "Oglethorpe's Regiment," consisting of 250 men from Gibraltar, 300 men recruited in England, and 45 men from the tower of London. These combined with the soldiers already in Georgia placed nearly 1,000 men under his command. Returning from England, the regiment fell in for the first time on September 28, 1738.
General Oglethorpe's foresight proved fortunate. A year after the regiment arrived at Fort Frederica, Great Britain declared war on Spain. This started a nine-year struggle known in Europe as the War of the Austrian Succession, and America as King George's War. In the southeast, General Oglethorpe made the first move and launched an attack against St. Augustine. Although equipped with sufficient men and supplies, General Oglethorpe's siege failed and the impregnable Castillo de San Marco remained in Spanish control. The British forces retreated northward, but General Oglethorpe understood that whatever respite they had gained would be temporary.
The Spanish response came two years later. A fleet with thirty-six ships and 2,000 soldiers sailed from St. Augustine and arrived off St. Simons Island early in July. The ships forced a passage of Jekyll sound, following a lengthy cannonade with Fort St. Simons. Little damage was done to the Spanish fleet and the soldiers landed unopposed at Gascoigne Bluff, near where the causeway is today. There, they proceeded to march overland and capture Fort St. Simons without further resistance. The British garrison there evacuated before the Spanish soldiers arrived and retreated north to Fort Frederica.
Despite his initial success, the Spanish commander, Manuel de Montiano, proceeded cautiously. He sent a reconnaissance in force of 200 men up the Military Road in the direction of Fort Frederica. Before they arrived outside the gates of the town, General Oglethorpe took the offensive. He sent a column of his own troops out to meet the Spanish in the wooded thickets east of Frederica. At a spot where the road crossed a sluggish stream named Gully Hole Creek, the British sprung their trap, firing a volley of bullets into the lead group of Spanish troops. Caught off guard, the Spanish recoiled in shock and confusion, retreating back toward their compatriots at Fort St. Simons.
The British followed up their victory by pursuing the Spanish. Montiano sent reinforcement to help the first column of soldiers, but these too were caught unawares and ambushed at Bloody Marsh. A regular engagement ensued, lasting about one hour, before the Spanish broke off contact and retreated again. Unsure of the terrain or how many enemy soldiers he faced, Montaino re-embarked his forces, set sail, and returned to Florida. Never again would the tread of the Spanish boot break the stillness of Georgia's oak and pine forests.
By 1743, nearly 1,000 people lived at Frederica. The town enjoyed a relative measure of prosperity owing to the crown's dispensation, but it was a prosperity that was built on military outlays. For Frederica, the peace treaty that Great Britain and Spain signed in 1748 sounded its death knell. No longer needed to guard against Spanish attack, the garrison was withdrawn and disbanded.
The effect was similar to base closings today. The local economy collapsed and as many as half the town's people left to seek their fortunes elsewhere. Those that remained continued to call Frederica home until 1758. In that year, a fire started and before the last flame died out what remained of the town was a blackened, charred ruin. Nature finished the process of reclaiming Frederica with vines overgrowing the few tabby ruins still standing and in time little was left but a memory.
Interest revived in Fort Frederica in the 1900s. Local residents took a lead in preserving the site as a reminder of America's colonial past. In 1945, Fort Frederica National Monument was established.
Archaeological excavations were done in time that uncovered Frederica's past and allowed its story to be told again to new generations of Americans. Although it failed as a settlement, its success in defending Georgia from Spanish attack made its success as first as a British colony and later as part of the United States possible.
Frederica flourished as a military town until after the peace of 1748. With the withdrawal of the regiment the following year, the shopkeepers and tradesman at Frederica had to move elsewhere. The town did not long survive these losses. Archaeological excavations have exposed some of it and stabilization work has been done by the National Park Service. Wayside exhibits make it easy to visualize the town as it was, and the visitor center has exhibits and a film dealing with its life and history. Self-guided audio tour (fee).
Christ Church, over a century old and the second oldest Episcopal church in Georgia, was destroyed during the Civil War and rebuilt by the Reverend Anson Green Phelps Dodge, Jr., the man Eugenia Price used as a model for her hero in her island novel, The Beloved Invader. Be sure to walk through the graveyard.
The Lighthouse, which the U.S. Coast Guard operates as one of the oldest continuously working lighthouse in the country, is also the only one on the Georgia coast open to the public. The tower contains a Fresnel lens that projects 500,000 candlepower, visible for eighteen miles at sea. At 104 feet it is one of the tallest on the east coast, and the panorama it affords on a good day warrants the considerable effort required to reach the top. The former light keeper's home houses the Museum of Coastal History, with changing exhibits and a gift shop.
During August the Sea Island Festival is held, a rich celebration of the folklore, crafts, stories, games, and rituals of the former slaves who settled on the islands.
Horton House Ruins
North Riverview Drive, Jekyll Island. Jekyll Island is ten miles east of I-95 at exit 6, near Brunswick, Georgia.
Major William Horton was one of James Oglethorpe's most trusted officers. In 1740 he built a tabby residence (made of a mixture of shells, lime, sand, and water) that served as an English outpost.
The tabby ruins are now part of the Jekyll Island Historic District.
Governor Oglethorpe courted and egged on the Indians and prepared Fort Fredericka on Saint Simons Island. In January 1740 he sailed up the Saint Johns and took the small forts Pupa and Picolata. Later he took 1,600 men on seven warships carrying forty dugouts for landing operations. On May 12, the invaders took Fort San Diego eighteen miles north of Saint Augustine on the coast. Four days later they reached Moosa, a fortified black village one mile north of the city, where they seized thirty horses in the deserted settlement.
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994, Fort Mose is a featured site on the Florida Black Heritage Trail. The site is now a state-owned conservation area. Contact the St. Augustine and St. Johns County Visitor Information Center, located at 10 Castillo Drive.
Fort Mose exhibit (Jacksonville Museum)
The fort was composed of runaways from South Carolina. In 1738, when more than 100 had arrived in St. Augustine, the Spanish established the fort and town of Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, the first legally sanctioned free black community in what is now the United States. Africans were regularly enlisted in the colonial militias throughout the Spanish colonies. They were a significant force in the defense of the Spanish colonies. The fort was built under Colonial Spanish Florida Governor Manuel Montiano.
The Captain of the militia was Francisco Menendez.
In 1740 Oglethorpe attacked St Augustine in June, but his guns were too light to reduce the fort. At midnight a Spanish force of 300 moved out of the fort and surprised their old enemy, Col John Palmer, who was camped at Moosa, and killed 87 whites and 35 Indians. In July when seven heavily armed Spanish warships appeared, Oglethorpe abandoned the siege and returned to Savannah.
FORT MATANZAS NATIONAL MONUMENT
Fort Mantanzas National Monument extends over an area of 298 acres that includes the southern tip of Anastasia island and Rattlesnake Island, where the fort is actually located. By 1569, the first of several successive wooden watchtowers had been erected on the site to detect approaching vessels; the Spanish realized early that access to the intracoastal Waterway at Matanzas Inlet provided easy access to St. Augustine.
The fort's name, Matanzas, means "slaughters" in Spanish and signifies the 1565 surrender of 245 Frenchmen and their subsequent slaughter by the founder of St. Augustine, Pedro Menendez de Aviles.
Some twenty miles south of St. Augustine lies Matanzas Inlet. Too frequently enemies used this "back door" to attack the town. In 1742 the Spanish finally plugged the route by building Fort Matanzas. It was a coquina fort. Montiano turned to privateering for the money. The Campeche captured a ship out of Charles Town, bound for Hamburg with a cargo of rice.
The inlet's importance was clearly demonstrated during a British siege in 1740, when Spanish relief ships ran the blockade and reached the starving defenders in time. In 1740 British soldiers and the Creeks surprised the defenders of Picolata. They captured and burned the fort. Between 1740 and 1742 the Spanish built Fort Matanzas to permanently control the inlet. During 1742-1743, British attempts to destroy the fortification failed. Florida did become British by treaty, in 1763, but reverted to the Spanish in 1784. Fort Matanzas served both the British and the Spanish as an outpost.
After the transfer of Florida to the United States in 1821, the unmanned fort fell into ruin. Later, the fort was stabilized in two phases, one in 1916, the other in 1924, when it was designated a national monument. The fort is considered a fine representative of a vanished style of military architecture.
A visitor center, with exhibits and information on the fort, is located on Anastasia Island, from which the fort is visible; access, however, is possible only by ferry boat (free). Daily; closed Dec 25.
The boat ride is a very short one, of about three minutes. The island is one of 206 acres. There are six 1750 guns that shot one pound cannon balls. There is a small, one-chimney room with a six man compound bed, and cannon working equipment. On the second floor is the powder magazine along with a small room with a bed and a table with a lantern set on it. Here there is a small ladder up to the roof. Nice views of the area from the roof. The flag is that of the St. Andrew's cross, red cross on a white background. Juana of Spain married Philip of Burgundy. The patron saint of Burgundy is St. Andrew. The state of Florida took this flag as part of its state flag and added the Florida state seal.
Also here is a .6 mile nature trail. On the walk is a sign at the site of the massacre by Menendez of Rebault and his men in September 1565. We visited in June.
Ipomea (beach morning glory)
Juniperus virginiana (red cedar)
Ligustrum (privet) ?
Magnolia virginiana (sweet baymagnolia)
Myrica (southern bayberry)
Opuntia humifusa (prickly pear cactus)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)
Quercus (live oak)
Quercus (water oak)
Tradescantia (spiderwort) just finished blooming
Vitis (grape vine)
oleander (with chocolate smell to the flowers) *
a type like black-eyed susan but with chevron leaves. *
Washington Oak State Gardens is just 6.1 miles south of Fort Matanzas.
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