When the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again. — Edith Hamilton

America First - Lawton Evans




Bloody Marsh

When Georgia was settled by an English colony under Oglethorpe, and the town of Savannah was begun, the enterprise was met with protest from the Spaniards in Florida, because Spain claimed all the territory of America, clear to the Arctic Ocean. She had founded only one colony, that of St. Augustine, in Florida, but still she claimed the whole land.

Ten years after Georgia was settled, the Spaniards resolved to wipe out the colony, then march to Charleston, and so on as far north as possible. We shall see that they did not get very far.

A great fleet of thirty-six ships, with five thousand men on board, appeared off the coast of St. Simon's Island in Georgia. The Spaniards raised the red flag of war and landed their troops on the southern end of the island. Oglethorpe had hastily collected all the men he could, but at best he had only six hundred and fifty to oppose the great army confronting him.

Oglethorpe posted his scouts, and awaited the coming of the Spanish forces. He was determined to make his little army check the advance of the enemy as long as he could. One day a scout came into camp, and announced that the Spaniards were within two miles of Oglethorpe's camp. The General hastily called for a body of his own troops, skirted through the woods, and fell upon the advance forces with such fury that they were nearly all killed or captured. Oglethorpe took two prisoners with his own hands.

"That is a good beginning," he said to one of his captains. "Now for the rest, before they can rally. We will lie in ambush for them." And so he did, along the road by which the Spaniards had to march.

Before long the enemy came in sight, halted in the defile where the ambush was, and stacked their guns. Some began to cook, while others lay down to rest, for it was July and the day was very hot. One of their horses noticed a strange uniform in the bushes, and by rearing and pitching gave the alarm. The Spaniards sprang to their guns, but it was too late. A deadly fire poured into them from an unseen foe,—how many or how few they did not know! They fled in all directions, but were met by the bayonet of the English soldier and the scalping knife of the Indian. The ground was covered with their dead. Because of this victory and the great slaughter of the Spaniards, the place has ever since been called "Bloody Marsh."

The defeat drove back the advance force, but there was still the main body to be accounted for. Oglethorpe resolved to surprise it by night. He knew these soldiers were not accustomed to Indian warfare, or to fighting in the tangled forests, and he was trying to demoralize them with fear before they could attack his small army.

He advanced within a mile of their camp, late in the night, and was making ready to attack, when one of his soldiers, a Frenchman, fired off his gun and ran into the Spanish lines. He was a deserter, and had fled to the enemy to give the alarm. Oglethorpe hastily retreated to save his little army.

He knew the deserter would tell the enemy of his real strength, and he at once devised a plan to thwart this purpose. He wrote a letter in French, urging this man by all means to persuade the Spaniards to attack, to speak of the smallness of his forces and the exposure of his position. He must not, however, mention the reinforcements which had arrived, but must induce the Spaniards to stay on the island so Oglethorpe could attack them in a few days.

Of course this was a decoy letter. He handed it to a Spanish prisoner, and said to him, "Take this letter to the man whose name is on it. He is a friend of mine in the Spanish camp. Say nothing about it to any one, and I will give you your liberty."

The man agreed, was handed the letter, and was set free. The deserter put the paper in his pocket, where it was found by the Spanish Commander, when he ordered the deserter examined. The Commander read the letter with alarm, and was at a loss to know what to do. He called a council of his officers and laid the facts before them. He said, "This deserter is a spy in our camp, and this letter is the opposite of the truth. I believe the English are on us in great force." Thereupon he ordered his great army to get on their ships and sail away. It was a very cowardly thing to do, but the Spaniards were not very anxious to fight any way, and, besides, they were frightened at what might happen.

Thus did General Oglethorpe, with a few hundred men, outwit a force nearly ten times as large as his, and save the southern colonies from invasion by the Spaniards.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

Leif, the Lucky
Spaniards Conquer Mexico
Conquest of Peru
The Fountain of Youth
De Soto and the Mississippi
Sir Walter Raleigh
The Lost Colony
Adventures of John Smith
More about John Smith
Pilgrims and Puritans
Miles Standish
Building a Canoe
Roger Williams
Old Silver Leg
William Penn
The Charter Oak
Bloody Marsh
Saving of Hadley
Sir William Phips
Hannah Dustin
Israel Putnam
A Young Surveyor
Young Washington
Indians and Major Putnam
How Detroit was Saved
Acadia
Blackbeard the Pirate
Daniel Boone
Sunday in the Colonies
The Salem Witches
Traveling by Stage-coach
King George and the Colonies
Patrick Henry
Paul Revere
Green Mountain Boys
Father of his Country
Nathan Hale
Elizabeth Zane
Capturing the Hessians
Lafayette Comes to America
Lydia Darrah
Captain Molly Pitcher
The Swamp Fox
Outwitting a Tory
Supporting the Colors
Nancy Hart
Mad Anthony
Execution of Major Andre
How Schuyler was Saved
An Indian Trick
Winning the Northwest
Benjamin Franklin
Nolichucky Jack
Eli Whitney
Thomas Jefferson
Burning of the Philadelphia
Lewis and Clark
Colter's Race for Life
Pike Explores Arkansas Valley
How Pumpkins Saved a Family
Old Ironsides
Tecumseh
Star Spangled Banner
Traveling by Canal
Lafayette Returns
Osceola, Seminole Chief
Journey by Railroad
Old Hickory
Daniel Webster
Henry Clay
Plantation Christmas
John C. Calhoun
Heroes of the Alamo
Freedom for Texas
Electric Telegraph
Gold in California
Crossing Continent
The Pony Express
Boy Who Saved Village
Rescue of Jerry
Abraham Lincoln
Robert E. Lee
Stonewall Jackson
Stealing a Locomotive
Sam Davis
Escape from Prison
Running the Blockade
Heart of the South
Surrender of Lee
Laying the Atlantic Cable
The Telephone
Thomas A. Edison
Clara Barton
Hobson and the Merrimac
Dewey at Manila Bay
Conquering Yellow Fever
Sinking of Lusitania
Private Treptow
Frank Luke, Aviator
Sergeant York