History & Culture
In the early 18th century, the land lying between British South Carolina and Spanish Florida was known as the debatable land. This land (today's Georgia) was the epicenter of a centuries-old imperial conflict between Spain and Britain.
Fort Frederica was established in 1736 by James Oglethorpe to protect the southern boundary of his new colony of Georgia from the Spanish in Florida. Colonists from England, Scotland, and the Germanic states came to Georgia to support this endeavor.
Named for Frederick Louis, the Prince of Wales (1702-1754), Frederica was a military outpost consisting of a fort and town. The entire area was fortified with a palisade wall and earthen rampart. The fort's location on the Frederica River allowed it to control ship travel.
Oglethorpe's foresight in establishing Frederica was rewarded in 1742 during the War of Jenkins' Ear. Spanish forces from Florida and Cuba landed on St. Simons Island. Oglethorpe's attack on a Spanish reconnaisance party at Gully Hole Creek led to the battle at "Bloody Marsh". Despite the name, casualties were light and the Spanish continued their campaign on St. Simons. Clever deception on Oglethorpe's part convinced the Spanish to retreat from Georgia seven days later.
This British victory not only confirmed that Georgia was British territory, but also signaled the end for Frederica. When peace was declared, Frederica's Garrison (the original 42nd Regiment of Foot) was disbanded, and eventually the town fell into decline. Today the archeological remains of colonial Frederica are protected by the National Park Service.
Did You Know?
A dedicated church structure was not built in the town of Frederica during colonial times. Church sessions were held in houses, fields, and even the fort's storehouse. Fort Frederica National Monument, Georgia