Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fort St. Simons - St. Simons Island, Georgia

A little known fort built by English troops under General James Oglethorpe in 1738, Fort St. Simons played an important role in the strangely named War of Jenkins' Ear.

Located on the southern tip of St. Simons Island, Georgia, where the St. Simons Lighthouse stands today, the bastioned fort was built to protect the island's harbor from attack by enemy warships - in specific those of the Spanish. The coast of Georgia had long been claimed by Spain, but Oglethorpe challenged that claim by planting the settlements of Savannah and Frederica directly on the contested lands.

Although Spain protested these settlements, it did not immediately move against them. It took the War of Jenkins' Ear (named for the body part of an English sea captain who was captured and had his ear severed by the Spanish) to bring about the campaign. When war was declared between England and Spain, Oglethorpe moved against the Spanish city of St. Augustine, Florida, but was unable to capture the powerful fort of Castillo de San Marcos.

Spanish Governor Don Manuel de Montiano retaliated two years later in 1742 by attacking Georgia with a powerful fleet and an army of 5,000 men. When he attacked, it was Fort St. Simons that stood in his way.

To learn more about the Spanish attack and the subsequent history of Fort St. Simons, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/fortstsimons.

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