Saturday, October 17, 2009
Montiano's Georgia Campaign - A Turning Point in Florida History
One of the least known yet most important events in Florida history took place primary across the line in Georgia.
In 1742, Spanish Governor Don Manuel de Montiano launched a campaign against the English in Georgia and the Carolinas from his capital of St. Augustine, Florida. Montiano was outraged over an attack on St. Augustine carried out two years earlier by English General James Oglethorpe, the founder of the Georgia colony. The attack failed when Oglethorpe's army was unable to take the power fort of Castillo de San Marcos.
The unusually named War of Jenkins' Ear was then raging between England and Spain (it took its name from the severed ear of an English sea captain who had been captured by the Spanish), but Spain was equally outraged by England's blatant planting of the Georgia colony on lands claimed by the Spanish since the 1500s.
Anticipating a move against his new colony even before the outbreak of fighting in the Americas, General Oglethorpe had built a military town named Fort Frederica on St. Simons Island in 1736. A powerful fortress on the Frederica River which formed the landward coast of the island, Frederica controlled the inland passage up the Georgia coast. To further protect the island, Oglethorpe had built Fort St. Simons on the site of today's St. Simons Lighthouse. Armed with 18-pounder cannon, it was designed to prevent Spanish ships from entering St. Simons Sound.
In addition, as he had moved down the coast against St. Augustine, Oglethorpe built other forts on Cumberland, Amelia and Fort George Islands. These would provide early warning of a Spanish move up the coast. As Montiano would learn, the English had built at least the appearance of a strong defense.
Over the coming days I will post on some of the surviving sites associated with Montiano's Georgia Campaign and look closer at the dramatic effects of English victory in the fighting that was come. Be sure to check back regularly. Until the next post, you can read more about Montiano's base of operations at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/staugustine1 and Oglethorpe's base at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/fortfrederica.