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In Their Own Words

January 25, 1741

Oglethorpe Letter to Egmont Covering Variety of Matters

From St. Simons Island, James Oglethorpe wrote the Earl of Egmont a long letter about a variety of matters, including his lengthy illness, conditions at Frederica, the military state of Georgia, and the failed St. Augustine expedition (including the defeat of his forces at Fort Mose). In his letter, Oglethorpe also revealed that he had been using his personal money to fortify Frederica as well as some of the coastal islands:

“… I cannot but say that other people’s not acting with the same vigour as I expected for the public service might contribute much to my sickness, but my illness never hindered me from being present at every place necessary either by land or by water. If the enemy had been as well hindered from receiving succours by sea, as they were by land by a very handful of men, Augustine had certainly surrendered. I cannot but say that the behaviour of the regiment was so good that I believe there’s hardly an instance of any man going through more fatigue with cheerfulness. They showed the greatest courage upon every occasion. The Indians, particularly the Creeks, showed the utmost intrepidity and were the greatest service, and parties of them relieving one another do this hour block up the Spaniards by land. The Georgia Rangers, the Highlanders and some of the Creek Indians had but too fatal an occasion of giving proofs of their resolution at [Fort] Moosa, where most of those who died fought with an obstinacy worthy of the Greeks or Romans. Griffin, a half-Indian brother to Musgrove the interpreter’s wife, after his legs were shot through, kneeling and supported by a bank, refused quarter and still fought on, loading and firing several shot. Captain Thomas Jones, the son of an Englishman by a Creek Indian woman, killed the Spanish officer who led on the party that entered the gate and, after the fort was taken, fought his way through the Spaniards and came down to the river. I have sent him up to the Indian Nation, from whence he is with a party of Creeks to fall upon the Spaniards at Augustine.

“We are extremely exposed here and unless the government allows us armed boats and sloops sufficient to oppose the half-galleys, Rangers sufficient to scour the continent and presents to support the Indians in the war, we certainly shall be here but in a very bad situation.

“I am persuaded everybody will do their duty, but in war, if one has not what is necessary one can do no more but die… .

“With respect to the colony, increase or improvements can hardly be expected in a neglected frontier in time of war… . Fortifications we have none of any consideration we could not fortify during the peace, and I have had neither funds or time to make any considerable works since. What I did at first settling the colony were then very terrible for the small number of men I then had … The first forts were made either of wood or earth, and easily went to ruin, there being no fund either from the King or the Trustees for supporting them. However, at my own hazard I ventured to make an entrenchment ‘round the town of Frederica, to make a battery or two upon Jekyll Sound, to repair the fort at Saint Andrew’s and make another little one on the South end of that island. But you may easily guess what poor works these must be, which a gentleman is able to answer out of his own fortune, if the expenses are approved of by the public… . We will certainly do the best we can, but if we are destroyed I hope at least my character will not suffer, since I have neither cannon, engineers, fortifications, troops nor provisions sufficient to make a defense… .

“… I have acquainted everybody what should have been done for the siege of Augustine. But as it was not I did not succeed for want of those very things I before demanded from Carolina and could not obtain… .”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe’s Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), Vol. II, pp. 535-539.