Thursday, October 22, 2009
Montiano's Georgia Campaign - Part Two
This is Part Two of a series on a military campaign launched from St. Augustine in 1742. To read Part One, please click here.
The Spanish finally launched their campaign to retaliate for Oglethorpe's attacks on St. Augustine in the summer of 1742. Sailing north with an impressive fleet and an army of nearly 5,000 men, Governor Don Manuel de Montiano arrived off St. Simons and Jekyll Islands.
Ashore on St. Simons Island, General James Oglethorpe and his English troops prepared for battle as well as they could. The primary defense for St. Simons Sound, the entrance to the harbor and mouth of the Frederica River, by which the important post of Fort Frederica could be reached, was Fort St. Simons. Built on the southern point of St. Simons Island, the fort mounted a number of 18-pounder cannon positioned to sweep the sound.
It took some time for weather conditions to favor an attempt by the Spanish fleet to run past the guns of Fort St. Simons, but on July 5. 1742, the winds turned. With a strong gale blowing, Montiano led his fleet into St. Simons Sound.
The battle was fierce, as the cannon from the ships exchanged fire with the guns of Fort St. Simons, but despite its firepower, the fort was unable to stop the passage of the Spanish fleet. More fighting took place between Spanish soldiers and sailors and the men aboard English vessels, but Oglethorpe quickly realized he could not hope to prevail in the unequal contest and withdrew back up the river to Fort Frederica.
With the Spanish fleet now in the harbor, the general also realized that Fort St. Simons would likely fall to a land attack, so to avoid the losses such a battle would incur, he ordered the garrison to withdraw to the main post at Frederica. The cannon were spiked and as much damage as possible done to the works. The English then pulled back up the island's Military Road to the much stronger defenses of Fort Frederica.
I will continue with more on Montiano's campaign in the next post. Until then, you can read more on Fort St. Simons by visiting www.exploresouthernhistory.com/fortstsimons.