Fort Darien Marker - Darien, Georgia
|Site of Fort Darien
Built by the Highland Scots under orders from
Gen. James Oglethorpe, Fort Darien was an
important point in the defense of Colonial Georgia.
Fort Darien, Georgia
The fort stood on the bluff
overlooking the Darien River
at today's Darien, Georgia. It
was an important outpost.
Ruins at the Fort Darien site
The ruins of a brick structure
can be seen at Fort Darien,
although they likely date from
Fort Darien Historical Marker - Darien, Georgia
Fort of the Highland Scots
|Copyright 2014 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: January 10, 2014
Site of Fort Darien
Tabby ruins line the bluff at
the site of Fort Darien, but are
the remains of warehouses
that stood on the site during
Fort Darien was built by Highland Scots in
1736 to help defend the colony of Georgia.
The site can be seen today on the waterfront
in Darien, Georgia. A historic marker notes
the location of the fort.
The story of the Scottish Highlanders and
their settlement of Darien is one of the most
unique in America's colonial history. After he
founded Georgia in 1733, General James
Oglethorpe realized that frontier defenses
were needed to defend his new colony from
the fury of Spain.
The Spanish had first settled the Georgia
coast and were irate that the English had
invaded the region. The threat of attack from
St. Augustine, Florida, was very real. Fort
King George, garrisoned on the Altamaha by
troops from South Carolina in 1721-1728,
had been abandoned.
With no defenses to stop a Spanish army
moving up from Florida, Oglethorpe decided
to plant two new settlements on the coast
south of Savannah. One of these, to be
occupied by Highlanders recruited from the
area of Inverness, Scotland, would be built at
the former Fort King George site. The other
would be on St. Simons Island.
The Highland Scots set sail for America in
October 1735 in a body that included 177
men, women and children. They reached
Savannah in January and were immediately
sent down the coast to reoccupy the site of
Fort King George. They came ashore there
on January 19, 1736.
The Highlanders first mounted cannon on
the surviving earthworks of the earlier fort.
They built huts and a place for religious
services and were visited on February 22,
1736, by Oglethorpe who had been engaged
in starting work at Fort Frederica on St.
It soon became apparent, however, that the
old Fort King George site had an unhealthy
reputation for a reason. In summer the Scot
settlers, with Oglethorpe's approval, decided
to move to higher ground about one mile
west of their first settlement site. There they
began to build Fort Darien.
The name of the fort was taken from an
earlier settlement of Scots in Panama that
had failed. The town that it protected was
named New Inverness.
The Highlanders of Fort Darien were
equipped in the New World just as they had
been in the old. Wearing their plaids and
carrying broadswords, shields and firearms,
they were among the best troops in Georgia.
Fort Darien itself was a rectangular structure
with two bastions on its landward side and
artillery aiming off the bluff to defend the new
settlement from attack by ship. Uniquely, the
Scottish women of New Inverness could
perform the manual of arms and trained to
man the cannon of the fort should the need
In 1739, three years after the Highlanders
arrived in Georgia, the War of Jenkins' Ear
erupted between Spain and Great Britain.
The conflict gained its name from an English
sea captain who suffered the loss of an ear
after he was captured by the Spanish.
Fort Darien served as a base from which the
Highlanders set out with Oglethorpe on his
campaigns against Spanish Florida. Two
men from the settlement had been killed by
Spanish-allied Indians and the men of the
settlement were quick to volunteer for action
The Highland Independent Company of Foot
marched from Fort Darien on Oglethorpe's
main Florida invasion in 1740. They camped
at Fort Mose within sight of St. Augustine, but
were surprised there by a Spanish attack.
The Highlanders and their supporting troops
lost 68 killed in the battle.
Oglethorpe failed to take St. Augustine and
withdrew back to Georgia after a long siege.
In 1742, Spain retaliated by moving an army
north against St. Simons Island.
The Highland Independent Company of Foot
went down to Fort Frederica from Fort Darien
to assist in the emergency. There they took
part in two battles that determined the fate of
the Georgia colony. At the Battle of Gully Hole
Creek on the morning of June 7, 1742, the
Highlanders helped Oglethorpe defeat the
Spanish advance as it neared Fort Frederica.
Then on the same afternoon, the Highland
Independent Company and a detachment of
the 42nd Regiment of Foot surprised a
second Spanish advance at the Battle of
Bloody Marsh. Casualties were light, but the
Spanish lost their nerve and withdrew. Spain
had lost Georgia forever.
Fort Darien diminished in importance after
the small but critical battles on St. Simons
Island. The Spanish threat over, the fort
slowly deteriorated. Patriot forces occupied
the site during the early part of the American
Revolution, but withdrew ahead of the British
invasion of 1778.
The site of Fort Darien can be seen atop the
bluff at Darien, Georgia. A marker stands in
the park overlooking the waterfront near the
intersection of U.S. 17 and Fort King George
Fort King George
Old Fort Darien was built
eight years after Fort King
George was abandoned. The
earlier fort was reconstructed
and can be seen nearby.
Forts of the Georgia Coast