Battle of Bloody Marsh Marker
This marker commemorates a British colonial victory on July 7, 1742 over Spanish forces from Florida that preserved Georgia as a British colony. The battle of Bloody Marsh was part of an international struggle between two major empires: England and Spain. The two nations had been at war over the land from South Carolina to Florida for nearly two centuries in what is now known as the War of Jenkins' Ear. General James Oglethorpe, Georgia’s founder, led a battalion of British troops, Native American guides, and colonial militia into Spanish Florida in 1740. The battalion launched an unsuccessful attacked of Spanish-held St. Augustine. Spanish forces retaliated two years later as St. Augustine’s governor led nearly 5,000 soldiers on an equally unsuccessful invasion of Georgia. Oglethorpe was able to defend Georgia in with less than a thousand men thanks to their defensive positions throughout a berm and a swamp on St. Simon’s Island overlooking the Frederica River. General Oglethorpe’s men repelled two Spanish attacks with minimal casualties.
Backstory and Context
On July 7th, 1742, the British and
Spanish forces fought on St.Simon's Island in what would eventually be known as
the Battle of Bloody Marsh. This battle was part of the War of Jenkins' Ear which was a major conflict between the British and Spanish forces for the land between
South Carolina and Florida. This war lasted for nearly two centuries and
yet this was the only time the Spanish attempted to invade Georgia. This battle
became a major victory for the British forces led by General James Oglethorpe.
General Oglethorpe's Victory of the Spanish here led to the British
preservation of the State of Georgia and its inhabitants.
Spanish Forces were led by the governor of St.Augustine, Don Manuel de Montiano.
Two years prior, General Oglethorpe had lost a battle to the Spanish and had
his reputation tarnished. Oglethorpe would not be caught unprepared for
this battle. The Spanish forces had nearly five thousand men at
their disposal. Oglethorpe learned of this and fortified St.
Simon's Island in response. He had the British forces erect a fort
overlooking the river which it was named after. Fort Frederica was built with
the purpose of deterring the Spanish forces from attacking the nearby city
of Savannah. Oglethorpe had a force of red coats, rangers, Native Americans,
and a militia with little more than one thousand men in total. The Spanish had planned
the invasion since mid-June. They landed near and occupied Fort St.Simon's
on July 5th.
depicted in the first picture shown above, on the morning of July 7th, a
Spanish scouting party moved towards Fort Frederica. They were met with a small
platoon sized element of British redcoats, rangers, and Scottish allies. The
two groups laid down fire on one another and sent runners to warn
their respective superiors. When general Oglethorpe received word, he
immediately gathered reinforcements and rode on horseback to the firefight. He
reportedly rode directly into the Spanish element and once they saw the
reinforcements they quickly dispersed. Once this skirmish was mostly over,
general Oglethorpe left men to defend that position while he rode North to
rally more men and prevent the Spanish from amassing near the fort.
Later that day, the Spanish forces sent more soldiers to that area. By the time they arrived, the British forces had dug in deep and were able to fire upon the invading force from a position of relative safety. The swamp also provided opportunities to ambush portions of the invading force which led to the engagement becoming known as the "Battle of Bloody Marsh."
The Spanish reportedly only lost fifty men in the battle but were unable to gain the upper hand owing to the British defensive position and were forced to retreat on July 13th. This victory redeemed General Oglethorpe's reputation among some of the local militiamen and convinced the Spanish to refrain from ever invading Georgia again. As news
spread throughout the colonies of the Spanish being repelled, morale rose and the southern colonists saw Britain as a bulwark against the potential threat of a Spanish invasion in ways that led some of the leading planters to maintain their loyalty to Britain in the early years of the American Revolution.
"Battle of Bloody Marsh.” Todayingeorgiahistory.org/, 7 July 1970, www.todayingeorgiahistory.org/content/battle-bloody-marsh.
“Battle of Bloody Marsh Historical Marker.” , a War Memorial, 16 June 2016, www.hmdb.org/Marker.asp?Marker=63868.
“Battle of Bloody Marsh.” New Georgia Encyclopedia, 2003, www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/battle-bloody-marsh.