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The river, driven on by hurricanes has swallowed up the water batteries, and much of the fort. The bricks too, have been taken away by spoilers, and the very tabby has been sawn into blocks to erect other buildings.
When in the course of time the writer of this paper has seen many of the defences, provided for other positions by men of great name, his memory has recurred to the recollections of his youth, and in pondering upon the scene, he proudly felt that nowhere, nowhere, had mind, with the limited means under its control, more strongly evinced its power. And it will be seen hereafter, that it was to the great ability shown in the disposition of these works, that not Georgia only, but Carolina owed their preservation; for St. Simons was destined soon to become the Thermopylae of the southern Anglo American provinces. General Oglethorpe had scarcely concluded his treaty with the governor of St. Augustine, when he received a message from him saying, that a commissioner from the captain general of Cuba, his superior, had arrived there to make certain demands of him, and would proceed to Frederica, which had now become the head quarters of General Oglethorpe. He also learned that the garrison at St. Augustine had been reinforced by additional troops. General Oglethorpe saw that the storm he had anticipated was beginning to collect, and was therefore unwilling that his designs, and his unfinished works should be exposed to the view of his enemy.
The commissioner coming by sea, General Oglethorpe agreed to meet him at the anchorage in Jekyl sound; there they met, and the commissioner required that General Oglethorpe and all British subjects should immediately retire from all territory south of St. Helena sound; as the claims of the king of Spain extended that far; and his master was determined to maintain his right to them. As his orders from the captain general were explicit, argument was unnecessary, and General Oglethorpe embarked for England as speedily as possible.
The parliament of England had the previous year, voted ten thousand pounds, to aid the Trustees in fortifying the province, which had been expended upon the works at Frederica, and the battery at the south end of the island.
But fortifications require men to defend them, and he hurried home with the hope, that as the views of France and Spain were now fully developed, the government of Great Britain would see the necessity of providing them. In this he was not disappointed, for while the Spanish commissioner from Cuba, had required him to yield the territory as far as the island of St. Helena; the Spanish minister at the court of London, had not only required the surrender of the territory, but also the giving up of General Oglethorpe, as a trespasser upon the right of Spain; as Sir Walter Raleigh had been demanded of Queen Elizabeth.
This demand had excited the indignation of the British people, and aided him in obtaining what he required of the British government. The following is one of many publications that this demand of the Spaniards called forth.
"Daily Post, London, Jlugust 23d, 1737.
"The benefit likely to accrue from the settlement of this colony, particularly by the saving of five hundred thousand pounds sent to Piedmont for raw silk, renders it so worthy of attention, that the whole nation unanimously gave into the project; and the ministry gained credit by the warmth with which they recommended it to parliament.
"The country is now in a thriving condition by parliamentary aid, by the generosity of the Trustees, and by the conduct of a gentleman, whose judgment, courage, and indefatigable diligence in the service of his country, have shown him every way equal to so great and glorious an undertaking. For this reason it seems, this public-spirited and valuable man, has now become the butt of the resentment of Spain. Because he has acted like abrave, vigilant and faithful Englishman, at the expense of his repose and his purse, and at the utmost peril of his life.
"The Spanish court has demanded his recall, and that he shall be no longer employed. In this demand we have an undeniable proof that the Spaniards dread the abilities of Mr. Oglethorpe. It is a certificate of his merit, that ought to endear him to every honest Briton.
"I happened to be in France when the settlement of Georgia was begun, and the uneasiness of the French at it, gave me the first idea of its value. They said the Spaniards neither could or would suffer it to go on ;,and from what I then heard and saw, I am persuaded this late demand of the Catholic court did not take its rise at Madrid, whatever the Spaniards may say; it is France that has the greatest interest in the destruction of that colony."
General Oglethorpe arrived in London in the beginning of January 1737, and at a meeting of the Board of Trustees on the 19th of the month, he received the thanks of the Board by unanimous vote. ",
In reply he stated, "He had left the colony doing well, that the Indians from seven hundred miles distant had confederated with him, and acknowledged the authority of the king of England. That the Creeks and the Cherokees, and Chickasaws traded with Savannah when opportunity offered."
The Creeks and Cherokees, although reconciled to each other by General Oglethorpe, had been so long enemies that when they met in coming down to trade with Savannah, small causes of offence produced hostility, and the firing of hostile guns were sometimes heard in Savannah; but the offending parties fled from the white man's view, and the wounded were brought into town, healed and sent home.
It was the firm reliance on Indian faith, that permitted General Oglethorpe to leave his infant colony so often, exposed as it was to the secret intrigues and hostilities of Spain and France. For although peace yet continued in Europe, it was only that peace which is employed in sharpening the sword and the spear, and in meditating how, and when, and where they will strike.
The British ministers being at length satisfied that a war with both France and Spain was approaching, at the application of the Trustees of the province of Georgia late in August 1737, appointed Mr. Oglethorpe "Brigadier General," and directed him to raise a regiment for the protection of the colony. His military command was extended over South Carolina.
General Oglethorpe was engaged from that time until the summer of 1738, in recruiting and training his men for foreign service. On the first of July, himself and regiment, seven hundred strong, embarked for Georgia. And as it is always interesting to read the journals of older times, I will extract from one that is now before me.
"General Oglethorpe and the troops that came over with him were all landed at the Soldiers' Fort, at the south end of St. Simonds, on the 19th of September, and were saluted by all the cannon. The General encamped near the fort, and stayed until the 21st, to forward the disembarkation, and give necessary orders. The regiment is complete and every officer at his post.
"On the 21st of September the General came up to Frederica and was saluted by fifteen guns from the fort in the town. The magistrates and townsmen waited upon him in a body, to congratulate him upon his arrival. The inhabitants went out on the 25th with the General at their head, and cut a road through the woods, down to the Soldiers' Fort at the south end. They performed this work in three days, although the woods are very thick, and near six miles.*
"Several Indians are come to town; they report that the chief men from every town in the upper and lower Creek nation will set out from their towns to see him, as soon as they hear of his arrival.
"On the 8th of October two soldiers that had enlisted in London, and who had deserted formerly from Gibraltar, made an attack upon the life of General Oglethorpe, but were immediately killed by the swords of his officers. On the 18th he set out for Savannah."
Thus far for Frederica.
The following letter is of the same period, from Savannah,
Savannah, October 23d, 1738. "General Oglethorpe set out from Frederica on the 18th of October, in an open boat, with two other boats attending him, and after rowing two days and two nights, arrived at Savannah. On the 20th he was received by the magistrates at the water side and saluted by the cannon and militia under arms. The people spent the night in rejoicing, making bonfires, &c., &c."
*This road, after passing out of the town of Frederica, in a south-east direction , entered a beautiful prairie of a mile over, when it penetrated a dense close oak wood; keeping the same course for two miles, it passed to the eastern marsh that bounded St. Simons seaward. Along this marsh, being dry and hard, no road was necessary, and none was made. This natural highway was bounded on the east by rivers and creeks, and impracticable marshes; it was bounded on the west, (the island side) by a thick wood covered with palmetto and vines of every character so as to be impracticable for any body of men, and could only be travelled singly and alone. This winding way along the marsh was continued for two miles, when it again passed up to the high land which had become open and clear, and from thence it proceeded in a direct line to the fort, at the sea entrance, around which for two hundred acres, five acre allotments of land for the soldiers had been laid out, cleared and improved. I have again been thus particular in my description because it was to the manner in which this road was laid out and executed, that General Oglethorpe owed the preservation of the fort and town of Frederica. The simple writer of the letter I have quoted from Frederica, perhaps little knew that General Oglethorpe was thinking of the enemy, while he was tracing this road through the woods and along the marshes. His fort and batteries at Frederica was so situated as to water approaches, and so covered by a wood that no number of ships could injure them And he now planned his land route in such a manner, that again the dense wood of our eastern islands became a rampart mighty to save. And fifty Highlanders and four Indians occupying these woods did save,
On the 21st Tomachichi came to wait upon the General. He said he had been very ill, but the old man was so rejoiced at the General's arrival that he said it recovered him. He acquainted the General that the chiefs of several towns of the Creek nation were at his house, to congratulate him upon his arrival, and to assure him of their fidelity to the King of Great Britain.
On the 23d the Indians came down the river from Tomachichi's house, viz., the Mico (which word translated is King,) of the Chickasaws, the Mico of the Ocmulgees, the Mico of the Uchees, with thirty of their warriors, and fiftytwo of their attendants. As they walked up the hill they were saluted by a battery of cannon, and conducted to the town hall by a party of militia, where the General received them. On their seeing the General they expressed great joy, and said the Spaniards had strove to persuade them that the General was at St. Augustine, and invited them down to his fort to see him there, where they accordingly went, but as soon as they found the General was not there they returned, though the Spaniards offered them great rewards, and pretended he was on board of a ship in the harbor, sick.
General Oglethorpe was diligently employed during the winter of 1738, and the spring of '39, in placing the province of Georgia in the best condition for defence that time and his means permitted, as war between England on the one side, and France and Spain on the other had become inevitable. Among these means he considered his Indian alliances first, not from any actual force that they could bring into the field, either for offensive or defensive war, but because while they remained faithful to their engagements, the French of Louisiana and West Florida would be cautious how they weakened their own provinces, to aid Spain in carrying out her claims upon Georgia and Carolina.
As the best means of accomplishing this end, he determined to attend in person a great council of the Indian