Battle of Bloody Marsh

The Battle of Bloody Marsh was a battle that took place on July 7, 1742, between Spanish and British forces on St. Simons Island, part of the Province of Georgia, resulting in a victory for the British. Part of a much larger conflict, the War of Jenkins' Ear, the battle was for the British fortifications of Fort Frederica and Fort St. Simons, with the strategic goal the sea routes and inland waters they controlled. With the victory, the Province of Georgia established undisputed claim to the island. It is now part of the U.S. state of Georgia. The British also won the Battle of Gully Hole Creek, which took place on the island the same day.

Battle of Bloody Marsh
Part of the Invasion of Georgia, War of Jenkins' Ear

A Map of the Bloody Marsh area as it was in 1742
(North is down)
Date7 July 1742 (new style)
31°9′24″N 81°22′47″W / 31.15667°N 81.37972°WCoordinates: 31°9′24″N 81°22′47″W / 31.15667°N 81.37972°W
Result British victory
 Great Britain Spain Spain
Commanders and leaders
Kingdom of Great Britain James Oglethorpe Spain Antonio Barba
650 regulars, militia & indians[1] 150-200+ regulars[2]
Casualties and losses
light casualties 200 killed


James Oglethorpe led the colonization of Georgia for Great Britain, and had chosen Savannah as the principal port for the new colony. In the 1730s, Spain and Great Britain were disputing control of the border between Georgia and La Florida, where the Spanish had several settlements and forts.

Given a heightened threat of Spanish invasion, Oglethorpe sought to increase his southern defenses. Accompanied by rangers and two Native American guides, Oglethorpe picked St. Simons Island as the site for a new town and fort. In 1734, Oglethorpe convinced the Parliament and the colonial trustees to pay for a military garrison at the fort.

The trustees also recruited a large group of colonists to settle St. Simons Island. The ships bearing the settlers and supplies arrived at Tybee Island early in 1736. From there, some went to the mainland while others traveled via periaguas (also known as pirogues) to St. Simons Island to found Frederica. The town and its fort were built on the elbow of the Frederica River to control approaches from both directions.

In 1737, Oglethorpe returned to England to acquire more funding and permission to raise a regiment of soldiers; he gained Parliamentary approval for both. He was appointed commander-in-chief of all British forces (limited as they were) in the colonies of South Carolina and Georgia. Oglethorpe subsequently recruited a company of Scots from Inverness, to migrate with their families to settle at Darien (briefly named "New Inverness") on the mainland, at the mouth of the Altamaha River.[3] The men formed a military unit known locally as the Highland Independent Company. Official British records list it as Oglethorpe's Regiment of Foot. It was ranked as 42nd Regiment of Foot (old) in 1747, and disbanded 29 May 1749 in Georgia.[4]

Two forts had been constructed about five miles apart on St. Simons Island. Between the two ran a road the width of one wagon, named Military Road. This served to supply the garrison at Fort Frederica and settlers in the nearby village from Fort St. Simons.

The battles took place after a Spanish invasion of the island. They were part of the larger conflict known as the War of Jenkins' Ear (1739 to 1748). It derived its name from an incident in 1731. A Spanish boarding party had gone aboard a British brig Rebecca, off the Florida coast, and found that its captain Robert Jenkins was smuggling. The Spanish officer cut off one of Jenkins' ears for piracy. Parliament used the nearly forgotten incident to rally public opinion to their side in 1739, but the war was due to trade and territorial competition between Britain and Spain. On October 30, 1739, Great Britain declared war on Spain.

Invasion, battle, and aftermath

Castillo de San Marcos
Castillo de San Marcos - St. Augustine. Stronghold of Manuel de Montiano

Spanish governor Don Manuel de Montiano commanded the invasion force, which by some estimates totaled between 4,500 and 5,000 men. Of that number, roughly 1,900 to 2,000 were ground assault troops. Oglethorpe's forces, consisting of regulars, militia, and native Indians, numbered fewer than 1,000. The garrison at Fort St. Simons resisted the invasion with cannonade, but could not prevent the landing.

On the 5 July 1742, Montiano landed nearly 1,900 men from 36 ships near Gascoigne Bluff, close to the Frederica River. Faced with a superior force, Oglethorpe decided to withdraw from Fort St. Simons before the Spanish could mount an assault. He ordered the small garrison to spike the guns and slight the fort (doing what damage they could), to deny the Spanish full use of the military asset. The Spanish took over the remains of the fort the following day, establishing it as their base on the island.

Battle of Gully Hole Creek

After landing troops and supplies, and consolidating their position at Fort St. Simons, the Spanish began to reconnoiter beyond their perimeter. They found the road between Fort St. Simons and Fort Frederica, but assumed the narrow track was just a farm road. On the 7 July the Spanish undertook a reconnaissance in force along the road with approximately 115 men under the command of Captain Sebastian Sanchez. One and a half miles from Fort Frederica, Sanchez' column made contact with Oglethorpe's soldiers, under command of Noble Jones. The ensuing skirmish became known as the Battle of Gully Hole Creek. The British routed the Spanish, killing or capturing nearly a third of their soldiers. Oglethorpe's forces advanced along Military Road toward Fort St. Simons in pursuit of the retreating Spanish. When Spanish prisoners revealed that a larger Spanish force was advancing from the opposite direction toward Frederica, Oglethorpe left to gather reinforcements.

Battle of Bloody Marsh

Glynn County Georgia
Glynn County, GA

The British advance party, in pursuit of the defeated Spanish force, engaged in a skirmish, then fell back in face of advancing Spanish reinforcements. When the British reached a bend in the road, Lieutenants Southerland and Macoy ordered the column to stop. They took cover in a semi-circle shaped area around a clearing behind trees and palmettos, waiting for the advancing Spanish having taken cover in the dense forest. They watched as the Spanish broke rank, stacked arms and, taking out their kettles, prepared to cook dinner. The Spanish thought they were protected because they had the marsh on one side of them and the forest on the other. The British forces opened fire from behind the cover of trees and bushes, catching the Spanish off-guard. They fired multiple volleys from behind the protection of dense forest.

The attack killed roughly 200 Spaniards.[5][6][7] The ferocity of the fighting at Bloody Marsh was dramatic, and the battle took its name from the tradition that the marsh ran red with the blood of dead Spanish soldiers. The floor of the forest was strewn with the bodies of the dead and dying. A few Spanish officers attempted in vain to reform their ranks, but the Spanish soldiers and their allies fled, panic stricken, in multiple directions as they were hit with volley after volley of musket fire from behind the foliage. Barba himself was captured after being mortally wounded. The Battle of Bloody Marsh blunted the Spanish advance, and ultimately proved decisive. Oglethorpe was credited with the victory, though he arrived at the scene after the fighting had ceased.[8]

Oglethorpe continued to press the Spanish, trying to dislodge them from the island. A few days later, approaching a Spanish settlement on the south side, he learned of a French man who had deserted the British and gone to the Spanish. Worried that the deserter might report how small the British force was, Oglethorpe spread out his drummers, to make them sound as if they were accompanying a larger force. He wrote to the deserter, addressing him as if he were a spy for the British, saying that the man just needed to continue his stories until Britain could send more men. The prisoner who was carrying the letter took it to the Spanish officers, as Oglethorpe had hoped and the Spanish promptly executed the Frenchmen. The timely arrival of British ships reinforced a misconception among the Spanish that British reinforcements were arriving. The Spanish left St. Simons on 25 July, ending their last invasion of colonial Georgia.[9][10][11][12]


In the ensuing months, Oglethorpe considered counter-attacks against Florida, but circumstances were not favourable. The focus of the war had shifted from the Americas to Europe; arms, supplies and troops were not readily available. The region settled into an uneasy peace, occasionally punctuated by minor skirmishes. Oglethorpe was later appointed brigadier general. About 1744 he left Georgia for Britain, where he married an heiress; he lived in Britain the rest of his life. The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle ended the war in 1748 and recognised the status of Georgia as a British colony, formally ratified by Spain in the subsequent Treaty of Madrid. Its position was further secured in 1763 when Spain ceded Florida to Britain in an exchange of territory under the Treaty of Paris ending the Seven Years' War.

Wormsloe Plantation in Savannah, Georgia annually commemorates the War of Jenkins' Ear.[13]


Bloody Marsh in 2008


Bloody Marsh monument


Bloody Marsh plaque, July 7, 1742 (Old Style)


Modern map of the area

Bloody Marsh, St. Simons Island, Georgia, USA, 2015

Bloody Marsh, with historical marker, 2015

Fort Saint Simons marker, Georgia, US

Fort St. Simons marker

See also


  1. ^ Marley p. 261
  2. ^ Marley p.262
  3. ^ "History of Darien, Georgia". Retrieved 2012-10-16.
  4. ^ Swinson (1972), p.137
  5. ^ Colonial America by Bonnie L. Lukes (Cengage Gale, Jan 4, 1999) page 105
  6. ^ Colonial America, 1607-1763 by Harry M. Ward (Prentice Hall, 1991)
  7. ^ The American Colonial Wars: a concise history, 1607-1775 Nathaniel Claiborne Hale, General Society of Colonial Wars (U.S.) Hale House, 1967 page 54
  8. ^ A history of Georgia: from its first discovery by Europeans to the adoption of the present constitution by William Bacon Stevens page 189
  9. ^ 1943. Minutes of the Proceedings Held on St. Simons Island, Georgia, in Commemoration of the Two Hundredth Anniversary of the Battle of Bloody Marsh, on July 7, 1942. The Georgia Historical Quarterly. 27, no. 2: 182-207.
  10. ^ Hicky, Daniel Whitehead. 1937. Fort Frederica. The North American Review. 243, no. 2: 249.
  11. ^ Cotter, John L. 1963. The Fort at Frederica. American Antiquity. 28, no. 3: 404.
  12. ^ Murphy, Jordan, and Ronald C Meyer. 2008. Fort Frederica National Monument (Georgia). New York, NY: Ambrose Video Pub.
  13. ^ "Wormsloe Historic Site | Georgia State Parks". Retrieved 2012-12-18.


  • Brown, Ira L. The Georgia Colony. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1970.
  • Cate, Maraget D. Our Today's and Yesterdays: a Story of Brunswick and the Coastal Islands, 1972. Spartanburg: The Reprint Company, 1979.
  • Coleman, Kenneth (1991), A History of Georgia, Athens, USA: University of Georgia Press, ISBN 978-0-8203-1269-9
  • Hull, Barbara. St. Simons: Enchanted Island, Atlanta: Cherokee Company, 1980.
  • Ivers, Larry E. British Drums on the Southern Frontier: The Military Colonization of Georgia, 1733-1749, Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press, 1974.
  • Lovell, Caroline C. The Golden Isles of Georgia, Atlanta Little, Brown and Company in Association with the Atlantic Monthly Company, 1932.
  • Marley, David (1998), Wars of the Americas: a chronology of armed conflict in the New World, 1492 to the present, Santa Barbara, USA: ABC-CLIO, ISBN 978-0-87436-837-6
  • Martínez Láinez, Fernando; Canales, Carlos (2009), Banderas lejanas: la exploración, conquista y defensa por España del territorio de los actuales Estados Unidos, Madrid, Spain: EDAF, ISBN 978-84-414-2119-6
  • Swinson, Arthur (1972). A Register of the Regiments and Corps of the British Army. London: The Archive Press. ISBN 0-85591-000-3.
  • Sutherland, Patrick. "An Account of the Battle of Bloody Marsh." Georgia Records from Duke University, 1988-0015m, Georgia Archives. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  • Sweet, Julie A. "Battle of Bloody Marsh." New Georgia Encyclopedia. 13 Feb. 2003. Baylor University. 26 Sept. 2007 Georgia Encyclopedia.
  • "The Battle of Bloody Marsh." Our Georgia History. 27 Sept. 2007 Our Georgia History.

External links



was a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and a common year starting on Friday of the Julian calendar, the 1742nd year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 742nd year of the 2nd millennium, the 42nd year of the 18th century, and the 3rd year of the 1740s decade. As of the start of 1742, the Gregorian calendar was

11 days ahead of the Julian calendar, which remained in localized use until 1923.

1742 in Great Britain

Events from the year 1742 in Great Britain.

Battle of Gully Hole Creek

The Battle of Gully Hole Creek was a battle that took place on July 18, 1742 (new style) between Spanish and British forces in the Province of Georgia, resulting in a victory for the British. Part of a much larger conflict, known as the War of Jenkins' Ear, the battle was for control of St. Simons Island, the British fortifications of Fort Frederica and Fort St. Simons, and the strategic sea routes and inland waters they controlled. After the victory, the Province of Georgia established undisputed claim to the island, which is now part of the U.S. state of Georgia. The better-known Battle of Bloody Marsh, a skirmish also won by the British, took place on the island the same day.

Cumberland Island

Cumberland Island, Georgia, is the largest of the Sea Islands of the southeastern United States. The long-staple Sea Island cotton was first grown here by a local family, the Millers, who helped Eli Whitney develop the cotton gin. With its unusual range of wildlife, the island has been declared a National Park and a National Seashore. Little Cumberland Island is connected to the main island by a marsh. John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette were married in the First African Baptist Church on Cumberland Island in 1996.

Fort Frederica National Monument

Fort Frederica National Monument, on St. Simons Island, Georgia, preserves the archaeological remnants of a fort and town built by James Oglethorpe between 1736 and 1748 to protect the southern boundary of the British colony of Georgia from Spanish raids. About 630 British troops were stationed at the fort.

A town of up to 500 colonial residents had grown up outside the fort; it was laid out following principles of the Oglethorpe Plan for towns in the Georgia Colony. The town was named Frederica, after Frederick, Prince of Wales, son of King George II. The monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.

Fort St. Andrews

Fort St. Andrews was a British colonial coastal fortification built on Cumberland Island, Georgia, in 1736. The fort was built by the British as part of a buffer against Spanish Florida and the colonies to the north. The fort was abandoned and later destroyed by the Spanish in mid-1742.

Georgia Experiment

The Georgia Experiment was the colonial-era policy prohibiting the ownership of slaves in the Georgia Colony. At the urging of Georgia's proprietor, General James Oglethorpe, and his fellow colonial trustees, the British Parliament formally codified prohibition in 1735, two years after the colony's founding. The ban remained in effect until 1751, when the diminution of the Spanish threat and economic pressure from Georgia's emergent planter class forced Parliament to reverse itself.

Glynn County, Georgia

Glynn County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 79,626. The county seat is Brunswick. Glynn County is part of the Brunswick, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Golden Isles of Georgia

The Golden Isles of Georgia are a group of four barrier islands and the mainland port city of Brunswick on the 100-mile-long coast of the U.S. state of Georgia on the Atlantic Ocean. They include St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Jekyll Island, Little St. Simons Island, and Historic Brunswick.

Mild winters, together with natural beaches, vast stretches of marshland, maritime forests, historical sites, and abundant wildlife on both land and sea have made the Golden Isles a popular travel destination for families, nature-lovers, fishing and water sports enthusiasts, golfers, and history buffs.

All the islands are located within Glynn County and make up the lower middle section of Georgia's eleven barrier islands. Annual mild temperatures average 68 °F, with July highs of 90 °F. St. Simons is the largest of the four, with a permanent population of 12,743 residents as of the 2010 census. Curled around its north end and accessible only by boat is Little St. Simons Island—privately owned and maintained in its natural state with a small capacity guest lodge and cottages. Jekyll Island is owned by the state of Georgia and operated as a state park, with limited residential areas. Sea Island is owned by Sea Island Acquisitions, LLC, and is home to the world-famous Cloister resort and residential homes valued in the millions of dollars.

The City of Brunswick traces its history back to early Colonial times, and the founding of the Georgia colony by General James Oglethorpe. From its earliest days, the port of Brunswick was important to the growth and economy of the new nation. In 1789, George Washington named Brunswick one of the five original ports of entry for the thirteen colonies. During World War II, Brunswick hosted an important construction site for Liberty ships, and Naval Air Station Glynco, a major operational base for blimps.

Tourism is the most important economic driver in the Golden Isles, with an estimated 2.4 million visitors in 2014. Other key components of the local economy include the Port of Brunswick, Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, aviation support services, and manufacturing. Travelers to the area arrive primarily via Brunswick Golden Isles Airport and Interstate 95. McKinnon St. Simons Island Airport serves general aviation.

HMS Aldborough (1727)

HMS Aldborough was a 20-gun sixth-rate ship of the Royal Navy, built in 1727 according to the 1719 Establishment and in service in the West Indies, the North Sea and the Mediterranean until 1742. Two future Admirals, John Reynolds and Hugh Palliser, served aboard Aldborough as midshipmen at the commencement of their naval careers.

HMS Swift (1741)

HMS Swift was an 8-gun snow-rigged sloop of the Royal Navy, the last of three Drake class sloops constructed during the Anglo-Spanish War of Jenkins' Ear. Launched in 1741, her principal service was as convoy escort and patrol off North Carolina and in the North Sea. She was lost at sea on 31 October 1756.

Invasion of Georgia (1742)

The 1742 Invasion of Georgia was a military campaign by Spanish forces, based in Florida, which attempted to seize and occupy disputed territory held by the British colony of Georgia. The campaign was part of a larger conflict which became known as the War of Jenkins' Ear. Local British forces under the command of the Governor James Oglethorpe rallied and defeated the Spaniards at the Battle of Bloody Marsh and the Battle of Gully Hole Creek, forcing them to withdraw. Britain's ownership of Georgia was formally recognized by Spain in the subsequent Treaty of Madrid.

James Oglethorpe

James Edward Oglethorpe (22 December 1696 – 30 June 1785) was a British soldier, Member of Parliament, and philanthropist, as well as the founder of the colony of Georgia. As a social reformer, he hoped to resettle Britain's worthy poor in the New World, initially focusing on those in debtors' prisons.

List of conflicts in British America

List of conflicts in the British America is a timeline of events that includes Indian wars, battles, skirmishes massacres and other related items that occurred in Britain's American territory up to 1783 when British America was formally ended by the Treaty of Paris and replaced by British North America and the United States.

Manuel de Montiano

Manuel de Montiano y Luyando (January 6, 1685 – January 7, 1762) was a Spanish General and colonial administrator who served as Royal Governor of La Florida during Florida's First Spanish Period and as Royal Governor of Panama. He defended Florida from an attack by British forces in 1740 and launched his own unsuccessful Invasion of Georgia during the War of Jenkins' Ear.

Oglethorpe University

Oglethorpe University is a private liberal arts college in Brookhaven, Georgia. Originally chartered in 1835, it was named in honor of General James Edward Oglethorpe, founder of the Colony of Georgia.

Siege of Fort Mose

The Battle of Fort Mose (often called Bloody Mose, or Bloody Moosa at the time) was a significant action of the War of Jenkins' Ear, which took place on June 26, 1740. Captain Antonio Salgado commanded a Spanish column of 300 regular troops, backed by the free black militia and allied Seminole warriors consisting of Indian auxiliaries. They stormed Fort Mose, a strategically crucial position newly held by 170 British soldiers under Colonel John Palmer. This garrison had taken the fort as part of James Oglethorpe's offensive to capture St. Augustine. Taken by surprise, the British garrison was virtually annihilated. Colonel Palmer, three captains and three lieutenants were among the British troops killed in action. The battle destroyed the fort. The Spanish did not rebuild it until 1752.

Siege of St. Augustine (1740)

The Siege of St. Augustine was a military engagement that took place during June–July 1740. It was a part of the much larger conflict known as the War of Jenkins' Ear, between Great Britain and Spain.

St. Simons, Georgia

St. Simons Island (or simply St. Simons) is a barrier island and census-designated place (CDP) located on St. Simons Island in Glynn County, Georgia, United States. The names of the community and the island are interchangeable, known simply as "St. Simons Island" or "SSI", or locally as "The Island". St. Simons is part of the Brunswick, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area, and according to the 2010 census, the CDP had a population of 12,743.Located on the southeast Georgia coast, midway between Savannah and Jacksonville, St. Simons Island is both a seaside resort and residential community. It is the largest of Georgia's renowned Golden Isles (along with Sea Island, Jekyll Island, and privately owned Little St. Simons Island). Visitors are drawn to the Island for its warm climate, beaches, variety of outdoor activities, shops and restaurants, historical sites, and its natural environment.

In addition to its base of permanent residents, the island enjoys an influx of both visitors and part-time residents throughout the year. The 2010 Census notes that 26.8% of total housing units are for "seasonal, recreational, or occasional use". The vast majority of commercial and residential development is located on the southern half of the island. Much of the northern half remains marsh or woodland. A large tract of land in the northeast has been converted to a nature preserve containing trails, historical ruins, and undisturbed maritime forest. The tract, Cannon's Point Preserve, is open to the public on specified days and hours.Originally inhabited by tribes of the Creek Nation, the area of South Georgia that includes St. Simons Island was contested by the Spaniards, English and French. After securing the Georgia colony, the English cultivated the land for rice and cotton plantations worked by large numbers of African slaves, who created the unique Gullah culture that survives to this day.The primary mode of travel to the island is by automobile via F.J. Torras Causeway. Malcolm McKinnon Airport (IATA: SSI) serves general aviation on the island.

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