In 1736, General James Oglethorpe established Fort Frederica on the western coast of St. Simons Island. The fort was strategically located to defend the southern border of the British Colonies from the Spanish in Florida. But before we go into the history of the Fort, we need to take a broader approach: The History of Georgia.
The Colony of Georgia
The last of the 13 original colonies was founded in 1732 by the Georgia Trustees, the governing body of the colony for the first twenty years. The Georgia Trustees were based in London, England, and the mastermind behind the colony was General James Oglethorpe. Oglethorpe envisioned a colony dedicated to debtors in British prisons. In the new colony, these prisoners would be able to work off their past debts and learn useful trades and skills to set up new lives in the Americas. But Georgia would not just serve as a place where debtors could start over — the colony provided a strategic military location to defend the British Colonies from the Spanish in Florida. Before Georgia became a colony, the land in which it encompasses was disputed between the colony of South Carolina and the Spanish Colony of Florida. As a result, a series of forts along the Georgian Coast were built to protect the Colonies, one being Fort Frederica.
After settling in Savannah, Oglethorpe decided to migrate south in hopes to continue to push away the Spanish. Here, he stumbled upon St. Simons Island. Located approximately 60 miles south of Savannah, Oglethorpe established the colony’s military headquarters, and in 1736, Fort Frederica was established.
Fort Frederica consisted of both a town and a military fort. A large wall was constructed to contain and protect both. The National Park Service describes the wall as the following:
“[It was] an earthen wall called a rampart that gave protection to soldiers from enemy shot and shell, a dry moat and two ten-foot tall wooden palisades. The wall measure one mile in circumference. Contained within this outer defense perimeter was a stronger fort that guarded Frederica’s water approaches. Designed in the traditional European pattern of the period, the fort included three bastions, a projecting spur battery now washed away, two storehouses, a guardhouse, and a stockade. The entire structure was surrounded in a manner similar to the town by earthen walls and cedar posts approximately ten feet high”