The State of Georgia #3: Fort Frederica and town Frederica


Fort Frederica and town Frederica were built by James Oglethorpe between 1736 and 1748 to protect the southern boundary of the British colony of Georgia from Spanish raids. They named Frederica for Frederick, Prince of Wales, (1707–1751).

The name was feminized to distinguish it from Fort Frederick in South Carolina. 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.
  • Fort Frederica National Monument
In 1749 the government disbanded the garrison at Frederica, because the Spanish no longer threatened the colony. Soon the village fell into economic decline, and by 1755 it was mostly abandoned.
  • The town survived a fire in 1758, but after a few more years, it was abandoned.
  • Naturalist William Bartram visited the site in March, 1774.
    • Though it was in ruins he noted that there was still a small garrison there.



KD: Where did the star fort go to? Or was it a star city?

The State Capital
Everyone is familiar with Atlanta as Georgia’s state capital, but did you know it is the 17th location of the capital? While some cities have had the honor as many as four times, other locations were temporary and some cities no longer exist. And sure enough, our Frederica appears to have been one of those.
  • Concern over the Spanish forces at St. Augustine in Florida led Oglethorpe to return to England and plead for a British military presence south of Savannah.
  • In 1736 Oglethorpe returned to Georgia with the regiment and additional colonists, with whom he established a new settlement on St. Simons Island. Here, they laid out the town of Frederica and built Fort Frederica on the island banks of the inland waterway.
  • Oglethorpe spent the rest of his time in Georgia at Frederica, leading some historians to credit Frederica as Georgia's de facto capital from 1736 to 1743, when Oglethorpe returned to England.
The Beginning


As far as I understand, the below 19th means February 19th, 1735.



That had to be the best and last beer in the world, right?


Isn't it some amazing story?


Welcome to paradise! Only... did they really have enough people in this brand new colony to enjoy this paradise?


Only this paradise still sounds like a labor camp. The below pertains to 1736.


You are more than welcome to read the entire story, which is the source of the above excerpts. There are some interesting details in there. As the story goes, our Frederica was not meant to be.


So much for the paradise...


Remains of good Tabby Walls... who here knows what tabby concrete is? I sure did not.
  • Tabby is a type of concrete made by burning oyster shells to create lime, then mixing it with water, sand, ash and broken oyster shells.
  • Tabby was used by early Spanish settlers in present-day North Carolina and Florida, then by British colonists primarily in coastal South Carolina and Georgia.
  • Revivals in the use of tabby spread northward and continued into the early 19th century. Tabby was normally protected with a coating of plaster or stucco.
  • Tabby's origin is uncertain. There is evidence that North African Moors brought a predecessor form of tabby to Spain when they invaded that kingdom.
  • Tabby concrete - Wikipedia
This tabby concrete could make an article of its own. I will certainly mention it in my future Georgia articles.

What happens when the 19th century arrived. Well, we do not really know, but circumstantial evidence suggests that something had to.


And that was it for Frederica.


Older Plans and Maps
Well, I could not find anything meaningful. The below 1740 plan looks like it's old, but the quality is definitely far from the desired one. I definitely did not see a hint of some drawing of the town of Frederica in its prime. We appear to have nothing but artist conceptions.


We are being told that the entire Frederica set up looked like this.


To me, it looks like something snatched a good chunk of this star shaped city, like it was bit off or something. The entire engineering solution of building a star sounds suspicious, especially when we consider their population numbers.
  • I also doubt that these are the structures we used to have in there.

KD: Isn't it interesting that between 1736 and 1758 they could afford to build and abandon a town? What was the colonial population at the time?
Them playing musical chairs with capitals also deserves some attention. With Savannah appearing to be the most prominent city, it had to also be the best protected and equipped one. Why would they make any other city or town a capital?

Additionally, I noticed that the oldest towns of the future state of Georgia are the ones that appear to turn into the so-called "ghost towns". Why?

So... what did this Frederica really look like, and what was there before Oglethorpe arrived?
My forts for your thoughts, all the way from Charleston to Saint Augustine.

Screenshot 2021-02-15 at 00.58.43.jpg

After the hunt for forts in Ebenezer The Frederica monument caught my eye but i left it at that so thanks for a new addition to my map.

So I did a quick overlay and they kind of line up but not perfectly but still maybe get an idea of what the site may have been.

The first is the top map but it's alignment is 90deg off, my pic aligns with the compass point on map but the river is 90deg out.

Screenshot 2021-02-15 at 00.29.04.jpg

The second is much better and lines up with the shape of the river and the square part that still has some wall left.

Screenshot 2021-02-15 at 00.42.12.jpg

What ever came through there did a pretty good job of taking almost everything with it and must have been quite sometime ago as the are some pretty big trees that have taken root since.

Screenshot 2021-02-15 at 01.28.47.jpg

The other forts in the area do not seem to have suffered the same fate although i can't find any pics of the Cumberland Island fort.
Great work KD - this is another Georgia site I have visited multiple times as a kid and an adult. One of the not-so-talked about topics of the area is the Spanish/Native's interactions prior to being settled by Oglethorpe. According to local historians, "In the American Southeast, there were perhaps 70 Franciscians serving approximately 25,000 Indians in 38 missions in the middle of the 17th century."

During my college years, I was apart of a LiDAR survey on the more northern barrier island, St Catherine's, and the search for the Santa Catalina de Guale Spanish mission. So I am going through some of my older local books with the goal of identifying what Spanish missions and Indian Villages were on St Simons Island to fill in the SH timeline. In the meantime, here are a few interesting things in my initial internet delve.

The profile of the whole citadel of Frederica by William de Brahm

Source for higher quality

1736 - The Fort at Frederica in Georgia as layd down by a Swiss engineer facing ... principal street of that town.

Source for higher quality

Not too much juicy information but the survey of Grid 8 caught my attention:
"The second feature is the most interesting, and entirely unexpected. Oriented northeast-southwest it parallels closely the existing foundation/wall of the soldiers’ barracks, although it is several feet removed from the structure. This feature is actually present in each of the images but it appears differently with increasing depth. At the surface it is displayed as an area of low/no reflection, indicating the radar energy passed deeper without hitting any targets. This suggests a trench. At approximately 100 cm, however, its appearance begins to change dramatically, with a significant increase in reflectivity. This indicates the presence of targets, possibly tabby, brick, or trash.

At this time, hypotheses for this feature include a buried wall/foundation from a possible earlier structure, a builder’s trench possibly associated with the original construction of the barracks, or a filled-in drainage ditch or latrine. Hellmann (2003:61) discusses Shiner’s excavations in the 1950s and specifically mentions the identification of a drainage ditch leading from the tabby- lined pool to the marshes west of the barracks. Although this reference suggests an east-west orientation for the ditch, conversations with Denise Spear indicated a possible north-south orientation, which would have been the shortest route to the marsh for waste disposal. The GPR data support the latter and may further indicate the ditch was lined with tabby and/or brick. All of these should be explored with future investigations."


Merged Edit
I am of the feeling we need to get to the bottom of the local Native American history to really understand Georgia's true past. The Guale tribe, one of the earliest "recorded" groups of the barrier islands, was very much intertwined with the Spanish out St Augustine, La Florida and are tied into the Jesuit and then Friar inquisition. No surprise but the Catholic Church is at the foundation of the history of this area and from my search it seems the history starts there. As well as Hernando de Soto's expedition through Georgia. We need to find holes in these records and then expand from there.

St Catherines Island, north of St Simons/Frederica, is a place where I feel comfortable providing first-hand and book knowledge. Here are a few quotes from David Hurst's Thomas' book St Catherines: An Island Time.

History of the Guale:
Georgia's Guale Indians were among the first indigenous people met by Europeans exploring north of Mexico. After brief contact with the Spanish in 1526, this Muskogean-speaking group had briefly encountered the French in 1562-1563. The beginning with the Menedez entrada of 1566, the Guale were exposed to a lengthy era of Spanish colonization. By 1684, the gradual withdrawal of the Spanish to the south and expansion of the British Colony southward prompted relocation of the vastly reduced Guale population.
Information on tabby structures and potential narrative diversions:
A committee of The Georgia Society of Colonial Dames of America researched the tabby question. Drawing together historical, architectural and archaeological evidence, the committee correctly concluded in 1937 that the tabby ruins of coastal Georgia resulted from 19th century plantation construction. Not a single tabby in Georgia can be attributed to Spanish work.
Hernando DeSoto on local tribes:
When DeSoto first crossed Georgia in 1540, he found several large Indian towns literally abandoned and deserted: "great townes [were] dispeopled, and overgrowne with grasse, which shewed that they had been long without inhabitants. The Indians said, that two years before there was a plague in the countrie, and they had removed from the town."
St Catherines Santa Catalina Mission:
The first convento (Friary) at Santa Catalina was built by Friars sometime in the 1580s. This is the only known 16th century European building in Georgia.
Prior European conquering of America:
Oglethorpe hand-picked the town site of Frederica, along the inland passage of St Simons Island. Home to nearly a thousand settlers, Frederica's regularly laid out streets were fringed with orange trees. But Oglethorpe was not the first European to plan settlements in Georgia. Between the 16th and 18th century, Spain issued thousands of regulation promoting, regularizing and controlling life in the Americas. One document in particular, "The Royal Ordanances Concerning the Laying Out Of Towns" issued in 1573 by Phillip II, stands out for promoting colonization and laying out civil settlements throughout 16th century Spanish America.

These Royal Ordinances were a comprehensive compilation of 148 regulations dictating the practical aspects of New World site selection, city planning and political organization. New towns were to be established only where vacant lands existed, or where Indians had consented freely to their establishment (L O L). The ordinances stipulated that, before any construction began, a detailed town plan be drafted, showing exact locations of major buildings, lot, streets and plaza.
Details and 1691 map depicting fortified mission compound Santa Maria of Amelia Island in northern Florida:
The mission was apparently built by refugees who had fled St Catherines in the 1680s. The inscription of Santa Maria reads: "Stockade made on the island of Santa Maria and place of Santa Catalina in the Province of Guale; it is 3 veras (Spanish yards) in height with loopholes for firing of arms cut into its bulkwarks terraplained to half the height with its moat". The entire complex followed a rigid grid, the long axis of the central plaza church oriented 45 degrees west of magnetic north. This grid system followed Ordanice 112 of Phillip II's Royal Ordinances.


David Hurst's summary of Spanish Mission in Georgia and city layouts:
The Franciscan missions of Georgia clearly followed long-established rules and time-honored sequences of construction. The settlement layout and architecture reflect what Kathleen Deagan calls "the rigid organization of space by formal 16th century Iberian template. Paradoxically, the plaza and grid arrangement - hallmark of Hispanic urban planning in the New World - is virtually nonexistent in homeland Spain.

The success of Oglethorpe's 18th century efforts in urban design has overshadowed significant earlier developments. Truth is, the Spanish began serious civic planning in colonial Georgia more than a century before Oglethorpe set foot on Yamacraw Bluff.

@KD - In relation to St Simon's, did you see any other mentions of this Fort BROWN (edit)?
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@Tarheel, this is mostly in reference to the tabby structures. I pulled the excerpt image from one of my future articles on Georgia, but it’s from the same book the OP cutouts are from.

@KD - In relation to St Simon's, did you see any other mentions of this Fort Browie?
I don’t think I have, but there is so much stuff in this Georgia story, that I’m not 100% positive.
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I don’t think I have, but there is so much stuff in this Georgia story, that I’m not 100% positive.
Got ya. It appears on the map from 1860 which has Frederica on it as well, so I was curious if there was a link between the two. Maybe it being constructed due to poor state of the abandoned Fort Frederica. Hell, or was it there mid-1700s and just not mentioned?

EDIT: It is Fort Brown not Fort Browie. My eyes done failed me.

Fort Brown:
Fort Brown (1861 - 1862) was a Confederate fort once located on the site of Fort St. Simons. No traces remain. It was built of sand covered with scrap rail iron. Abandoned in 1862.

Fort St Simons:
Fort St Simons (1738 - 1742) was built as a small isolated post on the southern tip of St. Simons Island to guard the entrance of Jekyl sound and Fort Frederica ... The Spanish forces burned down Fort St Simons when they left the island after the battle of Bloody Marsh in 1742.
Tracing back the history of Frederica would require studying the whole island IMO. Pre and post Oglethorpe.
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Here is some info on Fort St. Simons and Frederica.

If it was built using tabby, where did the concrete-like walls go?

Ruins of Fort St. Simons in 1742?
  • There is some interesting stuff on Frederica in there too. I wish I was at my PC.
Kind of bizarre that in 1742, the Spaniards were able to take Fort Simons, but failed to subdue the town of Frederica.


It’s amazing. Oglethorpe just got there like 6 years prior to 1742, and the place got turned into a war zone.

I agree on studying the history of the Saint Simons island. Unfortunately, it looks like whatever we do have, was published after 1740. It makes me think of two things:
  • 1. Considering that 1736 was when everything got started, their events to print time frames were somewhat shorter than I would have expected.
    • I’m talking about books and not periodicals here.
  • 2. We will have to figure out if this island has a different name prior to being called Saint Simons.
Please consider an example of such 1740s info on Saint Simons island and Frederica. Personally, I think it was adjusted to meet its contemporary narrative, yet there are still some interesting bits and pieces to be had there.



Doesn’t it sound like they had way too much real estate when compared to the population numbers? I am not even talking about resources needed to build. Who was it built for, when they had but a few people there?
Amazing research and article.
I wonder what it is they wish to hide the most, the previous civilization? or the catastrophe that wiped them out?
And who are the Indians exactly? Might they actually be the survivors of such a catastrophe who formed themselves into tribes based on their geographic location in order to survive?
At the very least, the official narrative would have them coexisting with whoever was here. You'd expect there'd be some written and oral accounts too.
Was it because of who they were or what they knew that we went to war with Indians? I say "war," when, actually it was a campaign of genocide. Those who weren’t slaughtered were rounded up and placed on reservations away from the rest of society where they were placated with copius amounts of alcohol, no doubt to hasten a known genetic predisposition to alcoholism. Sounds to me like they were being silenced.
It's become apparent to me that life here on Earth is much more fragile than they'd like us to know. I believe some of the near-extinction level catastrophies are cyclical events while others occur at random.
My best guess is that they wish to hide both the previous civilization and the event or events that decimated them.
As usual, It seems to all boil down to wealth, power, and control. A population that knows they could be wiped out in an instance and without warning would be hard to enslave.

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