Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Montiano's Georgia Campaign: Part Four

Having successfully driven back the advance troops of the Spanish at the Battle of Gully Hole Creek, General James Oglethorpe followed them up the Military Road across St. Simons Island.

As the Spanish fell back on reinforcements sent out by Florida Governor Don Manuel de Montiano, Oglethorpe put his Highlanders, rangers, Indian allies and three companies from the 42nd Regiment of Foot into position along the edge of a wooded area that overlooked a wide expanse of marsh. Montiano's soldiers would have to cross the marsh to resume their advance on Fort Frederica.

With his men in position, Oglethorpe went back down the road to hurry forward additional troops. During his absence, however, Spanish troops could be heard approaching the marsh. As the Highlanders and other English soldiers prepared for battle, the Spanish stormed onto the marsh yelling their battle cries.

Unnerved by the attack, the men of the 42nd Regiment of Foot retreated, but the Highlanders, rangers and Indians withstood the initial assault and fought the larger Spanish force to a standoff. Running low on ammunition, Montiano's men finally withdrew before Oglethorpe could reform his regulars and return them to action.

The English later claimed that the marsh ran red with the blood of Spanish soldiers and named the engagement the Battle of Bloody Marsh. Although casualties were actually lighter than sustained in the fight earlier in the day at Gully Hole Creek, the battle forever ended Spain's hopes of reclaiming Georgia and permanently established the northern line of Florida at the St. Mary's River.

After attempting several other minor movements, Montiano gave up and withdrew his army of 5,000 men to his ships. A subsequent attempt to capture an English fort on Cumberland Island failed and the Spanish finally sailed back to St. Augustine. Oglethorpe, through bold action and the hard fighting of a single company of Highlanders, had defeated a much larger Spanish force. Montiano's Georgia Campaign was over.

To learn more about the Battle of Bloody Marsh, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/bloodymarsh.

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