At the outset of the Revolutionary War, the fort was occupied by British forces. Named for a friend of James Edward Oglethorpe, Fort Barrington used a similar construction to other forts of the era-including large wooden spikes around the perimeter that were driven into the ground and that extended above the surface to slow the progress of would-be attackers. The interior of the fort was equipped with a 70-foot stockade with four bastions, along with a two-story wooden blockhouse.
American rebel forces captured Fort Barrington in 1776. The colonial patriots renamed Fort Howe in honor of the commander of American forces in Georgia. The fort served as a strategic outpost for American forces until 1777, when it was recaptured by British Loyalist forces called the Florida Rangers. The fort was not under British control for long, however, and it was recaptured by the American forces in 1778.
The fort saw action in the Civil War, being used as a Confederate lookout point along the Altamaha River. This was a point of some strategic value, as the fort guarded a small port and ferry. During these years, a large metal line was used to ferry passengers across the river. That cable currently rests at the bottom of the river, and nothing remains of the fort today save for some small remains like bricks and arrowheads.