Saturday, July 17, 2010

Battle of Gully Hole Creek - St. Simons Island, Georgia

One of the least known but most important battles in Georgia history took place on July 7, 1742, in the marshes and thickets along Gully Hole Creek on St. Simons Island.

The War of Jenkins Ear was then underway. Named for the severed ear of an English sea captain and, so far as I know, the only war in human history named for a body part, the conflict between England and Spain spilled over to the American continent and led to fighting for control of what would become the state of Georgia.

General James Oglethorpe had instigated the fighting by leading a campaign south into Florida to capture St. Augustine. He failed and in July of 1742, Spanish Governor Don Manuel de Montiano retaliated by leading a fleet of warships and more than 5,000 troops north to St. Simons Island. Landing on the south end of the island and occupying Fort St. Simons, which stood at the site of today's St. Simons Lighthouse and had been evacuated by the English as Montiano landed, he prepared to move against Oglethorpe's main citadel at Fort Frederica.

Pushing an advance force up the military road that linked the two forts on July 7, 1742, Montiano prepared for his assault on Fort Frederica. Unfortunately for the Spanish, however, things quickly began to go wrong.

Informed of the Spanish advance, Oglethorpe left Fort Frederica with a company of Scottish Highlanders from Darien, Georgia, and some Indian volunteers to oppose Montiano's force while his main body of troops prepared to join the fighting. The hard fighting Highlanders and their Indian allies collided with the Spanish at a sluggish waterway called Gully Hole Creek. It was a bloody little battle filled with smoke, screams and the rattle of musketry.

Montiano was defeated and pulled back up the island to unite with his main force. Oglethorpe followed and waited to fight again.

To learn more about the Battle of Gully Hole Creek, please visit

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