Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Fort St. Simons - St. Simons Island, Georgia
Often overlooked because it stands in the shadow of the popular and historic St. Simons Lighthouse, a small monument marks the site of Fort St. Simons, one of Georgia's least known coastal forts.
Built in 1738 by the English under James Oglethorpe, the fort was an outpost of nearby Fort Frederica and stood on the southern tip of St. Simons Island. Its purpose was to prevent enemy warships - primarily those of Spain - from entering St. Simons Sound. A bastioned work of earth and wood, Fort St. Simons was armed with 18-pounders, relatively heavy guns for the day.
The fort was tested in 1742 during a key battle of the War of Jenkins' Ear, a conflict between England and Spain named after the severed ear of an English sea captain who had been captured by the Spanish. Despite the strength of its artillery, the fort was unable to hold back a a large Spanish fleet that stormed into the sound in July. Passing the fort, the Spanish landed an army of nearly 5,000 men.
Realizing that he could not hold Fort St. Simons against such an overwhelming force, Oglethorpe spiked its guns and withdrew to his main defenses at Fort Frederica. The Spanish then occupied the ruined fort, using it as a base for their operations on the island over the coming weeks. Troops marched out from the fort for the Battles of Gully Hole Creek and Bloody Marsh.
To learn more about Fort St. Simons, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/fortstsimons.