“Frederica itself was always more town than fort. The townspeople played a vital role in the community here. They were regular hard working folks who were here and they ended up helping shape our country’s history.”
— Ellen Strojan, National Park Ranger, Fort Frederica National Monument
General James Oglethorpe

General James Oglethorpe

About Fort Frederica

The first settlers in Georgia arrived in 1733. Sailing up the Savannah River, they established a settlement on a defensible bluff that General Oglethorpe selected for that reason. One of his primary concerns involved Georgia's defense. The colony lay in an area between South Carolina and Florida, "debatable" land that was claimed by both Great Britain and Spain. 

Here, in 1736, he established Fort Frederica, named for the Prince of Wales, Frederick Louis (1702-1754). Fort Frederica combined both a military installation, a fort, with a settlement, the town of Frederica. The fort's location on a bend in the Frederica River allowed it to control approaches by enemy ships.

By 1743, nearly 1,000 people lived at Frederica. For Frederica, the peace treaty that Great Britain and Spain signed in 1748 sounded its death knell. No longer needed to guard against Spanish attack, the garrison was withdrawn and disbanded.

Those that remained continued to call Frederica home until 1758. In that year, a fire started and before the last flame died out what remained of the town was a blackened, charred ruin. Nature finished the process of reclaiming Frederica with vines overgrowing the few tabby ruins still standing and in time little was left but a memory.

Interest revived in Fort Frederica in the 1900s. Local residents took a lead in preserving the site as a reminder of America's colonial past. In 1945, Fort Frederica National Monument was established. Archaeological excavations were done in time that uncovered Frederica's past and allowed its story to be told again to new generations of Americans.

Although it failed as a settlement, its success in defending Georgia from Spanish attack made its success as first as a British colony and later as part of the United States possible.

Author: Steve Moore, Park Ranger, Fort Frederica, 1997