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Legendary Fort Found in Georgia

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  • Legendary Fort Found in Georgia

    Fort Caroline, built by the French in 1564; the oldest fortified settlement in the United States.

    Rhode Island

  • #2
    I’m somewhat confused. Although the site location for Fort Caroline had never been convincingly established (and this research may solve that mystery)… surely it wasn’t the first fortified settlement? I had always believed that to be Charlesfort on Parris Island in South Carolina - founded in 1562 by the French navigator Jean Ribault - two years earlier than Fort Caroline. The location for that is well-established and the layout for subsequent over-building can still be seen today.
    Ribault led Admiral Gaspard de Coligny’s expeditionary party to a landing site on the May River in February 1562 and disembarked to establish a fortified settlement on Parris Island. He oversaw the layout of the fort and named it Charlesfort, after Charles IX of France. Ribault then returned home for more supplies, leaving 27 soldiers under the command of Captain Albert de la Pierria to man the fort. On arrival in France, he got caught up in the French “Wars of Religion”, fled to England and got himself arrested as a spy. He wrote his account of the expedition while imprisoned in the Tower of London.
    During Ribault’s absence, de la Pierria was killed in a mutiny provoked by his harsh discipline and most of the fort’s supplies were destroyed in a fire. All but one of the remaining colonists departed in a crude open boat and attempted to sail back to France without a compass and with insufficient supplies. There was cannibalism during the voyage and most of them didn’t make it back. A few were rescued off the English coast and that news reached France in 1563, just before Ribault's former lieutenant, René Goulaine de Laudonnière was about to set sail for the colony on a rescue mission.
    In the meantime, a Spanish force from Cuba under the command of Hernando de Manrique de Rojas arrived on Parris Island, captured the single Frenchman who had remained with the local Native Americans and destroyed the fort. They ultimately built a larger settlement on the site in 1566 and named it Santa Elena.
    Laudonnière set sail from France on 22nd April 1564 and arrived in Florida two months later. Ribault (after release from prison) was to follow him a year later with reinforcements and more supplies. They planned to establish a new colony rather than attempt to re-establish Charlesfort, and it was that new colony which became Fort Caroline. Ribault was caught up again in another outbreak of war and was months late in setting sail from France. He finally departed in the summer of 1565 with five ships and 800 settlers, arriving on 28th August, just as the beleaguered and demoralised Fort Caroline advance party was about to give up hope and sail home. Ribault relieved Laudonnière as governor and then took command at Fort Caroline.
    I keep six honest serving-men (they taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.