Fort Morris Historic Site
|Fort Morris Historic Site|
|Georgia State Historic Park|
Earthworks at Fort Morris
|named for: Fort Morris|
|Elevation||23 ft (7 m) |
|Area||70 acres (28 ha)|
|Management||Georgia Department of Natural Resources|
|Website: Fort Morris Historic Site|
Earthworks in the distance
|Nearest city||Midway, Georgia|
|Area||7 acres (2.8 ha)|
|NRHP Reference #||70000208|
|Added to NRHP||May 13, 1970|
Fort Morris Historic Site is a Georgia state historic park in Liberty County, Georgia in the United States. The fort is on a bend in the Medway River and played an important role in the protection of southeast Georgia throughout various conflicts beginning in 1741 and ending in 1865 at the conclusion of the American Civil War, including the French and Indian and American Revolutionary Wars and War of 1812. The historic site is 70 acres (28 ha) and sits at an elevation of 23 feet (7.0 m).
French and Indian War
The first fort built at Fort Morris Historic Site was constructed in 1741 to protect a plantation owned by Captain Mark Carr. Carr owned 500 acres (200 ha) of land in the area that was granted to him by the Georgia Trustees. Carr was the commander of a company of marine rangers in the British Colonial Army from 1732 - 1751. His plantation came under attack on March 18, 1741 by a group of Indians who were allies with the Spanish colonial forces in Florida. Several soldiers defending the fort were killed in the raid and the contents of the fort and plantation were taken away in a large boat that belonged to the plantation.
The next fort at the site was constructed in 1756 at the encouragement of locals who were being attacked during uprising of Creek Indians in the era during the French and Indian War. The fort was expanded in 1758 to provide protection for the new settlement of Sunbury which was built on land owned by Carr. The fort was a square with each side measuring 100 yards (91 m). Governor Henry Ellis noted that the fort had a battery of eight guns. By 1762 the fort had fallen into disrepair.
The need to defend the Medway River and Sunbury rose again at the outset of the American Revolution. The Continental Congress authorized the construction of two forts in Georgia. One was to be built at Savannah and the other at Sunbury. A company of artillery consisting of fifty men was sent to the area. Fort Morris was built to the southeast of Sunbury and would be used first as a base for several campaigns to take Florida and then as a defensive position in defending Sunbury and points upriver.
The colonial forces were never able to establish control of Florida which had become a refuge for loyalists, Americans who chose to remain loyal to Great Britain rather than joining in the revolution. Royal Governor Patrick Tonyn of East Florida sought to invade Georgian. The East Florida Rangers were loyalists from Georgia and the Carolinas, Indian allies and the British 60th regiment was part of the plan to take Georgia from the Continental Army. The East Florida Rangers, a naval fleet, and loyalists from New York were quickly able to take Savannah in 1778. They next moved to Sunbury and Fort Morris. A small contingent of British soldiers attempted to take the fort on November 25, 1778. The 200 Americans at Fort Morris were led by Colonel John McIntosh. McIntosh defiantly replied, "Come and take it!" after the British demanded the surrender of the fort. The British declined to attack and pulled back only to return in January with a larger force.
Fort Morris was attacked by the British on January 9, 1779 and was taken the next day. The number of lives lost in the siege is not well documented. Historians suppose that less than twelve American soldiers died and fewer British. The fort was renamed Fort George and was occupied by the British until September 1779 when the garrison at Fort George was ordered to Savannah to provide for its defense. After the fort was abandoned by the British it was taken again by the Colonial forces who found an empty fort with a few, but damaged, guns left behind. They were only able to hold the fort for a month before it was retaken by the British in October. Fort Morris/Fort George remained under the control of British forces until 1782.
War of 1812
The fort fell into disrepair once again in the years following the Revolution. The need to defend Sunbury and the river rose again with the outset of the War of 1812. Fort Defiance was constructed on the site of the former Fort Morris in 1814. Construction of the fort was not completed prior to the end of the war and it was left unfinished.
American Civil War
Fort Morris and Sunbury played a minor role in the American Civil War. A small group of Confederate soldiers were stationed at Sunbury and may have used the fort. General William T. Sherman's March to the Sea brought an influx of Union soldiers to the area. They removed some cannons from the fort in 1864 to be taken to Union controlled forts on the Atlantic coast.
Fort Morris Historic Site is owned by the state of Georgia and preserves the historical remains of the various forts that were once on the site. Earthworks are still standing at the park and show the size of the fort that once defended the Medway River.
Three historic interpretive events are held at the park. A Labor Day celebration includes tours given by guides in historic recreations of military uniforms and musket and cannon firings. A re-enactment of Colonel McIntosh's 1778 stand takes place in November. The re-enactment includes firings of weapons and a skirmish. A Colonial Christmas is celebrated at the fort with colonial area treats, music and bonfire.
Park facilities include a visitor's center with a film and exhibits, a nature trail and picnic areas. The Pioneer Campground is open to groups. A one mile nature trail provides visitors with a glimpse of the wildlife and plants of the area.
- "Fort Morris State Historic Site". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. September 25, 2000. Retrieved 2010-07-04.
- Elliott, Daniel T. "Archaeological Investigations at Fort Morris State Historic Site, Liberty County, Georgia" (pdf). Southern Research, Historic Preservation Consultants, Inc. Retrieved 2010-07-04.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2010-07-09.
- National Park Service: Fort Morris
- "Fort Morris Historic Site". Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2010-07-04.
- Fort Morris Historic Site - official site