Fort King George State Historic Site - Darien, Georgia
|Fort King George
The restored fort allows visitors to learn about the
first attempt by England to defend its Southern
colonies from their original owner, Spain.
Fort King George
The restored fort can be seen
today in the historic city of
Darien, Georgia. Its cannon
look out over the channel.
The main feature of the fort is
the large blockhouse. It was
restored from original plans
and offers sweeping views.
Fort King George Historic Site - Darien, Georgia
Georgia's Oldest English Fort
|Copyright 2014 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: July 18, 2014
Forts of the Georgia Coast
Swivel Gun and the Moat
The exterior ramparts, moat
and picket works of Fort King
George have been restored
and provide a fascinating step
back through time.
Soldiers of the Frontier
The quarters of officers and
enlisted men have been
restored, right down to the
bunks where the men slept.
Fort King George Historic Site is located in
the charming and historic coastal community
of Darien, Georgia.
Built in 1721 by the forces of Colonel John
"Tuscarora Jack" Barnwell, the fort was the
southernmost outpost of England in North
America. Now a state historic site, it has
been beautifully restored and is open to the
public Tuesday through Sunday of each week
What is now the State of Georgia was once
claimed by the King of Spain as part of his
colony of La Florida. The Spanish had built
settlements, forts and missions as far north
as Virginia long before English settlers came
In fact, Franciscan friars established Mission
Santo Domingo de Talaje in a village of
Guale Indians at the Fort King George site in
1600. The wooden church and associated
buildings were built 8 years before the
founding of Jamestown in Virginia and 20
years before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth
Rock in Massachusetts.
The mission was 61 years old when it was
raided by Indians sent south by the English
who had by 1661 established settlements in
the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. The new
colonists were hungry for slaves and the
raids against the peaceful inhabitants of
missions like Santo Domingo de Talaje
helped supply them.
As the Spanish frontier retreated south,
English settlements also spread down the
coast. The founding of Charles Town
(Charleston) in 1670 represented a new
threat to the Spanish and their allied tribes of
American Indians. English-led and inspired
slave-catching raids ended in the destruction
of the surviving Spanish missions outside of
the immediate vicinity of St. Augustine,
Spain, naturally, resented the intrusion of the
English into lands that it had claimed for 200
years. French settlements, meanwhile, were
expanding east from the Mississippi River
into the Creek Nation in today's Alabama.
To defend their new settlements against
Spanish attack from the south and French
attack from the west, the English decided to
build a new fort roughly halfway between
Charles Town and St. Augustine. They were
prompted to the decision during a 1720 visit
to Parliament by John Barnwell.
Called "Tuscarora Jack" for his success in
fighting Tuscarora Indians, Barnwell went
south in 1721 to select a site for and build
the new fort. He selected a spot on the lower
bluff at Darien.
This placement was logical. Trails led not
only north to South Carolina, but west up the
Altamaha River to the Creek Nation and the
French settlement at Fort Toulouse near
present-day Wetumpka, Alabama. The site
also made for an excellent defense point
against Spanish expeditions coming up from
The fort consisted of a towering central
blockhouse surrounded by earthen ramparts,
palisades, a moat, barracks and other
buildings. The former site of the Guale village
and Mission Santo Domingo de Tajale
provided cleared land for the gardens that
would be needed to feed the soldiers.
The soldiers sent by England to garrison Fort
King George were the men of His Majesty's
Independent Company of Foot of South
Carolina. Many were invalids from other units
and some were well past effective military
The building of the fort required massive
effort. Cypress trees were cut by hand 3
miles above the site and floated down the
Altamaha. Slowly, however, the ramparts and
buildings were completed and by 1722 the
more than 100 men of the Independent
Company were at the fort under Barnwell's
Fevers and disease swept the post, however,
and in less than one year almost half of the
men died. Conditions were so bad that when
the fort caught fire and burned in 1725-1726,
its commanding officer suggested that his
own men had set the blaze. By the time the
site was ordered abandoned in 1727, an
estimated 140 officers and men serving
there had died.
Fort King George was held for only seven
years, but was a success in establishing
English control of what is now Georgia. Gen.
James Oglethorpe reoccupied the site in
1736 and the Scottish Highlanders of his
command built the new town of Darien and
their Fort Darien on higher ground one mile
up the bluff from the ruins of Fort King
The restored fort is the centerpiece of Fort
King George Historic Site, where visitors can
also see the English cemetery, the site of the
Spanish mission, ruins of historic sawmill
complexes and a museum. In addition, the
park is on the Colonial Coast Birding Trail.
Fort King George is open Tuesday - Sunday,
9 a.m. - 5 p.m. (Closed Monday). Admission
is $7 for adults, $6.50 for Seniors (62+) and
$4 for Youth (6-17). Admission is free for
kids under six.
The park is located at 302 McIntosh Road,
SE in Darien, Georgia.
Please click here for more information.
Cannon of Fort King George
The cannon that gave the fort
its power aim out over the
marshes of the Altamaha