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BRITISH SETTLEMENT on St. Simons Island dates from 1736,
when General James Edward Oglethorpe established the
fortified town of Frederica seven miles northwest of today's
lighthouse. Fort Frederica served as a defense against
the Spanish in Florida and protected the British ports of
Savannah and Charleston.
Oglethorpe also built Fort St. Simons on the south end
of the island to prevent enemy warships from attacking
Fort Frederica. About 350 soldiers were garrisoned in a
When the conflict between Great Britain and Spain
intensified in 1740, General Oglethorpe laid siege to
Castillo de San Marcos at St. Augustine, Florida, in June
and July with little success. The Spanish retaliated two years
later by attacking St. Simons Island.
BATTLE FOR THE GEORGIA COAST
On July 5, 1742, a fleet of 36 Spanish ships entered St.
Simons Sound despite heavy fire from Fort St. Simons and
British ships in the harbor. After destroying supplies and
disabling the guns at Fort St. Simons, Oglethorpe withdrew
to defend Fort Frederica. During the night, 3,000 Spanish
troops landed at Gascoigne Bluff and marched southeast to
occupy Fort St. Simons.
On July 7, the British engaged and defeated a Spanish
scouting party near Fort Frederica. The Spanish fled south
to Fort St. Simons, with Oglethorpe and his troops in
pursuit. These troops ambushed and again defeated the
Spanish in a skirmish that became known as the Battle of
Fearing the arrival of British warships from Charleston, the
Spanish destroyed Fort St. Simons before sailing back to
Florida on July 15, never to return. When the war with Spain
ended in 1748, British troops withdrew from St. Simons Island.
The exact location of Fort St. Simons has not been
determined. Eighteenth-century maps indicate that the
Fort and barracks were near today's Lighthouse. Shoreline
erosion over the years has probably erased the physical
record of the Fort.
A farmere blandt
A Square Fort
LEFT: British engineer John Thomas drew this plan for Fort St. Simons
around 1740. It is not known how closely the design was followed.
The earthwork and timber fortification was square in shape with
projecting bastions at each corner. A ditch 18 feet wide and 4 feet deep
surrounded the fort. Image courtesy of the British Museum
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FAR LEFT: St. Simons Island detail from RW. Seale's 1741 map of Georgia.
Image courtesy of Ed Jackson.