Wednesday, October 13, 2021

"Walking" the Battlefields of the War of Jenkins' Ear

Last week, I got to go on a family vacation. My son had a Scout trip to Jekyll Island to do some beach fishing.

By the way, if you are feeling generous, please support my son by buying some Boy Scout popcorn ( He is raising money for next year's summer camp. He just earned his First Class rank and I am very proud of him.

Siezing the moment, I steered some of the activities over the weekend. We did a fishing charter from St Simmons Island. This had a cruise past several important sites for the WOJE. I managed to see the site for Bloody Marsh (slightly underwhelming) and saw Horton's House. I am going to display some things out of order from how I experienced them, but relevant to the narative of the War.

Fort St Simmons, Delegal's Fort and the Shore Battery

From Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, you can see the former location of Fort St Simmons and Delegal's fort.

The view of southern St Simmons is rather blurry. In the picture below, Delegal's Fort would have been to the right and Fort St Simmons would have been somewhere near the center and the shore battery between the two. Taking a zoomed in picture in high wind, rarely produces great results.

Nothing remains of these three sites on the island. Their position on the island left them vulnerable to weather and erosion. As such, they are lost to time.

Gascoigne Bluff

The bluff is a small rise near the shoreline. The depth of the salt marsh near the bluff is much smaller than in other places near by. It was a suitable landing site that the British established the bluff as a naval base for the colony of Georgia. Captain Gascoigne of the British Sloop of War Hawk build the base in 1736. Given its suitability as a landing ground, the Spanish choose to land here unopposed after bypassing Fort St Simmons and the other forts on the south side of the island in 1742.

This is a view of the bluff from a Dolphin/Eco tour that the scouts took. The fishing pier in the picture is where we meet our guide for the fishing trip we took. It is possible that a dock of some sort may have been present in 1742.

From the fishing pier, this is a view to the north towards Fort Fredrica. The salt reeds that give the islands name "the Golden Isles" is visible here.

This is another view from further out on the pier. It gives a better idea of how deep the salt marsh extends from the islands. During low tide, the marsh is "dry" and the ground is waist deep mud.

When the Spanish did an investigatory probe up towards Fort Fredrica, they would have sailed from the bluff north along the Mackay River towards Fort Fredrica. In the morning, a thick fog hung over the river. It is only 200 yards from St Simmons across the Mackay River to the mainland. The Spanish Galleys would have had to navigate this shallow river to reach their destination only to be driven back by the fort's guns.

Gascoinge Bluff was also the location that in 1794, the live oak timbers were cut and shipped north to become part of the frigate USS Constitution.

Bloody Marsh Battlefield

The battlefield is a tiny park that is currently surrounded by subdivisions. The field is a small opening in the woods that is bordered to the east by a large marsh. At the time a road ran from Fort St Simmons to the northeast to the battlefield and angled north towards Fort Fredrica. The Georgia troops that ambushed the resting Spanish troops from would have been to the north and west of the opening. Pinned against the marsh, the Spanish troops only would have have the road to retreat down. The pictures make the clearing appear larger than it is. There is parking for about seven vehicles and enough room to turn around and head out of the tiny park. That the park stands at all is likely an accident of needing a minimum amount of greenspace for the surrounding communities.

Jekyll Island and Major Horton's House

Jekyll Island was vital to the overall defensive strategy of Georgia. Nothing remains of the northern fort on the island. It was captured without resistance by the Spanish during their withdrawl from St Simmons. What does remain is Major Horton's house. This is the second itteration of the house. The first wooden structure was burned by the retreating Spanish in 1742. The current residence is the rebuilt farmhouse that was completed in 1743. The structure is two stories tall and built of tabby. Tabby is a strong concrete like material made from oyster shells. Many of these shells came from the discarded oyster shells left in large mounds by the native Americans that had lived on Jekyll prior to the arrival of the Spanish in Georgia. The material is very strong as is in surprisingly great shape after enduring several hurricanes in its over 250 years of existance.

Part of the military significance of the Horton home was that his plantation was manned by indentured servants who worked the property. Among their jobs was to operate the brewery that supplied Fort Fredrica. The loss of the brewery was probably a devestating loss to the British defenders.

Views of the Islands

The Georgia Barrier Islands are beautiful. They are known as the Golden Isles due to the salt marsh reeds that surround their landward sides. They have picturesque sand dunes, marshes, wooded swamps and woods. Many of the trees are shallow rooted live oaks. They are very pretty trees that are draped in Spanish moss.

It was a great trip. I want to go again and take the time to visit Fort Fredrica. There isn't a marked site for the battle of Gully Hole Creek that occured earlier in the same day as Bloody Marsh. It was a great vacation and it has gotten me excited to finish work on the supplement.


  1. Great post So glad you made it down there. I am thinking of using a whitish ground cloth for most of the GA battles. Build up over it with fabric for the grasses and the cool looking oaks. I am not sure about the Spanish moss though. I haven't figured out a good way to represent that in 15mm.
    Darien is also a good pot to visit with a nice fort and can usually get a decent seafood meal or two.
    Really looking forward to the end product and getting together for some games.

    1. Thanks. The whitish ground cloth could work rather well for it. We found a few restaurants on Jekyll and on St Simmons that were pretty good. Darien is another place I would like to visit. It is an excellent vacation area all around.