Our Georgia History

The Battle of Bloody Marsh
July 7, 1742 Battle of Bloody Marsh
  Glynn County, Georgia
  Fort Frederica
  The Battle of Bloody Marsh

The story of the Battle of Bloody Marsh is the story of two forts, Fort St Simon and Fort Frederica, which lay about 7 miles apart on St. Simon Island. Between the two a "military road" ran, a path one wagon wide, along which the army and nearby settlers in Frederica could receive supplies from Ft. St. Simon.

Manuel de Montiano, governor of La Florida (Spanish Florida) rode the tide into St. Simon on July 5, sailing under the firing guns at Fort St. Simon, bypassing the fort and landing more than 50 ships near higher ground (Gascoigne Bluff). Oglethorpe withdrew from the fort before the Spanish could mount an attack.

With some 3,000 troops of his estimated force of 4,500, Montiano took the fort the following day and began to scout the island on foot for Oglethorpe and his men. They quickly found the military road between Fort St. Simon and Fort Frederica, but dismissed it as a farmer's path. The Spanish began searching the leeward side of the island, completely ignorant of the existence of Frederica. After realizing their mistake, Montiano ordered more than 100 men to scout the road, looking for evidence of English forces or Frederica.

Oglethorpe had chosen Frederica because of its location - it was surrounded by marsh, and there were only two ways to attack by land, through the dense forest to the north of Frederica or along the military road to the south of Frederica. Sticking to a defense planned 8 years earlier, Oglethorpe stationed a small group of Highlanders, Rangers and marines under the command of Noble Jones to defend the road. Jones caught the Spanish skirmishers at the head of the formation by surprise.

Jones ordered his men to fall back as he rode off to find Oglethorpe. When notified of the engagement, Oglethorpe, according to legend, jumped on the first available horse and rode off down the road to St. Simons. At Gully Hole Creek, Oglethorpe halted the orderly retreat of Jones' combined force and led them in an attack against the advancing Spanish, routing de Montiano's men in a furious battle.

Knowing the Spanish would continue the attack, Oglethorpe followed the retreating enemy to an open area in a marsh. Placing his men carefully around the open field as the Spanish regrouped, Oglethorpe left to rally more support. A much larger Spanish force appeared and engaged Oglethorpe's men. The colonists tore into the superior Spanish force, forcing them into a haphazard retreat. This was the battle of Bloody Marsh.

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