An Historical Account of the Settlements of Scotch Highlanders in America
The following is from An Historical Account of the Settlements of Scotch Highlanders in America by J.P. MacLean, Ph.D.:
Chapter VI - Highlanders in Georgia
The second distinctive and permanent settlement of Highland Scotch in the territory now constituting the United States of America was that in what was first called New Inverness on the Alatamaha river in Georgia, but now known as Darien, in McIntosh County. It was established under the genius of James Oglethorpe, an English general and philanthropist, who, in the year 1728, began to take active legislative support in behalf of the debtor classes, which culminated in the erection of the colony of Georgia, and incidentally to the formation of a settlement of Highlanders.
There was a yearly average in Great Britain of four thousand unhappy men immured in prison for the misfortune of being poor. A small debt exposed a person to a perpetuity of imprisonment; and one indiscreet contract often resulted in imprisonment for life. The sorrows hidden within the prison walls of Fleet and Marshalsea touched the heart of Oglethorpe--a man of merciful disposition and heroic mind--who was then in the full activity of middle life. His benevolent zeal persevered until he restored multitudes, who had long been in confinement for debt, and were now helpless and strangers in the land of their birth. Nor was this all: for them and the persecuted Protestants he planned an asylum in America, where former poverty would be no reproach, and where the simplicity of piety could indulge in the spirit of devotion without fear of persecution or rebuke.
The first active step taken by Oglethorpe, in his benevolent designs was to move, in the British House of Commons, that a committee be appointed "to inquire into the state of the gaols of the kingdom, and to report the same and their opinion thereupon to the House." Of this committee consisting of ninety-six persons, embracing some of the first men in England, Oglethorpe was made chairman. They were eulogized by Thompson, in his poem on Winter, as
In the abodes of crime, and of misfortune, the committee beheld all that the poet depicted: "The freeborn Briton to the dungeon chained," and "Lives crushed out by secret, barbarous ways, that for their country would have toiled and bled." One of Britain's authors was moved to indite: "No modern nation has ever enacted or inflicted greater legal severities upon insolvent debtors than England.” 
While the report of the committee did honor to their humanity, yet it was the moving spirit of Oglethorpe that prompted efforts to combine present relief with permanent benefits, by which honest but unfortunate industry could be protected, and the poor enabled to reap the fruit of their toils, which now wrung out their lives with bitter and unrequited labor. On June 9, 1732, a charter was procured from the king, incorporating a body by name and style of the Trustees for Establishing the Colony of Georgia in America. Among its many provisions was the declaration that "all and every person born within the said province shall have and enjoy all liberties, franchises and immunities of free denizens, as if abiding and born within Great Britain." It further ordained that there should be liberty of conscience, and free exercise of religion to all, except Papists. The patrons, by their own request, were restrained from receiving any grant of lands, or any emoluments whatever.
The charter had in view the settling of poor but unfortunate people on lands now waste and desolate, and also the interposing of the colony as a barrier between the French, Spanish and Indians on the south and west and the other English colonies on the north. Oglethorpe expressed the purpose of the colonizing scheme, in the following language:
Subsidiary to this it was designed to make Georgia a silk, wine, oil and drug-growing colony. It was calculated that the mother country would be relieved of a large body of indigent people and unfortunate debtors, and, at the same time, assist the commerce of Great Britain, increase home industries, and relieve, to an appreciative extent, the impost on foreign productions. Extravagant expectations were formed of the capabilities of Georgia by the enthusiastic friends of the movement. It was to rival Virginia and South Carolina, and at once to take the first rank in the list of provinces depending on the British crown. Its beauties and greatness were lauded by poets, statesmen and divines. It attracted attention throughout Europe, and to that promised land there pressed forward Swiss, German, Scotch and English alike. The benevolence of England was aroused, and the charities of an opulent nation began to flow towards the new plantation. The House of Parliament granted £10,000, which was augmented, by private subscription, to £36,000.
Oglethorpe had implicit faith in the enterprise, and with the first shipload, on board the Ann, he sailed from Gravesend November 17, 1732, and arrived at the bar, outside of the port of Charleston, South Carolina, January 13, 1733. Having accepted of a hearty welcome, he weighed anchor, and sailed directly for Port Royal; and while his colony was landing at Beaufort, he ascended the boundary river of Georgia, and selected the site for his chief town on the high bluff, where now is the city of Savannah. Having established his town, he then selected a commanding height on the Ogeechee river, where he built a fortification and named it Fort Argyle, in honor of the friend and patron of his early years.
Within a period of five years over a thousand persons had been sent over on the Trustee's account; several freeholders, with their servants, had also taken up lands; and to them and to others also, settling in the province, over fifty-seven thousand acres had been granted. Besides forts and minor villages there had been laid out and settled the principal towns of Augusta, Ebenezer, Savannah, New Inverness, and Frederica. The colonists were of different nationalities, widely variant in character, religion and government. There were to be seen the depressed Briton from London; the hardy Gael from the Highlands of Scotland; the solemn Moravian from Herrnhut; the phlegmatic German from Salzburg in Bavaria; the reflecting Swiss from the mountainous and pastoral Grisons; the mercurial peasant from sunny Italy, and the Jew from Portugal.
The settlements were made deliberately and with a view of resisting any possible encroachments of Spain. It was a matter of protection that the Highlanders were induced to emigrate, and their assignment to the dangerous and outlying district, exposed to Spanish forays or invasions, is sufficient proof that their warlike qualities were greatly desired. Experience also taught Oglethorpe that the useless poor in England did not change their characters by emigration.
In company with a retinue of Indian chiefs, Oglethorpe returned to England on board the Aldborough man-of-war, where he arrived on June 16, 1734, after a passage of a little more than a month. His return created quite a sensation; complimentary verses were bestowed upon him, and his name was established among men of large views and energetic action as a distinguished benefactor of mankind. Among many things that engrossed his attention was to provide a bulwark against inroads that might be made by savages and dangers from the Spanish settlements; so he turned his eyes, as already noted, to the Highlands of Scotland. In order to secure a sufficient number of Highlanders a commission was granted to Lieutenant Hugh Mackay and George Dunbar to proceed to the Highlands and "raise 100 Men free or servants and for that purpose allowed to them the free passage of ten servants over and above the 100. They farther allowed them to take 50 Head of Women and Children and agreed with Mr. Simmonds to send a ship about, which he w'd not do unless they agreed for 130 Men Heads certain. This may have led the trust into the mistake That they were to raise only 130.” 
The enterprising commissioners, using such methods as were customary to the country, soon collected the required number within the immediate vicinity of Inverness. They first enlisted the interest and consent of some of the chief gentlemen, and as they were unused to labor, they were not only permitted but required also to bring each a servant capable of supporting him. These gentlemen were not reckless adventurers, or reduced emigrants forced by necessity, or exiled by insolvency and want; but men of pronounced character, and especially selected for their approved military qualities, many of whom came from the glen of Stralbdean, about nine miles distant from Inverness. They were commanded by officers most highly connected in the Highlands. Their political sympathies were with the exiled house of Stuart, and having been more or less implicated in the rising of 1715, they found themselves objects of jealousy and suspicion, and thus circumstanced seized the opportunity to seek an asylum in America and obtain that unmolested quietude which was denied them in their native glens.
These people being deeply religious selected for their pastor, Reverend John MacLeod, a native of Skye, who belonged to the Dunvegan family of MacLeods. He was well recommended by his clerical brethren, and sustained a good examination before the presbytery of Edinburgh, previous to his ordination and commission, October 13, 1735. He was appointed by the directors of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge (from whom he was to receive his annual stipend of £50) "not only to officiate as minister of the Gospel to the Highland families going hither," and others who might be inclined to the Presbyterian form of worship, but "also to use his utmost endeavors for propagating Christian knowledge among natives in the colony."
The Trustees were greatly rejoiced to find that they had secured so valuable an acquisition to their colony, and that they could settle such a bold and hardy race on the banks of their southern boundary, and thus establish a new town on the Florida frontier. The town council of Inverness, in order to express their regard for Oglethorpe, on account of his kind offers to the Highlanders, conferred on him the honor of a burgess of the town, through his proxy, Captain George Dunbar.
Besides the military band, others, among whom were MacKays, Bailies, Dunbars, and Cuthberts, applied for large tracts of land to people with their own servants; most of them going over themselves to Georgia, and finally settling there for life.
Of the Highlanders, some of them paid their passage and that of one out of two servants, while others paid passage for their servants and took the benefit of the trust passage for themselves. Some, having large families, wanted farther assistance for servants, which was acceded to by Captain Dunbar, who gave them the passage of four servants, which was his right, for having raised forty of the one hundred men. Of the whole number the Trustees paid for one hundred and forty-six, some of whom became indentured servants to the Trust. On October 20, 1735, one hundred and sixty-three were mustered before Provost Hassock at Inverness. One of the number ran away before the ship sailed, and two others were set on shore because they would neither pay their passage nor indent as servants to the Trust.
These pioneers, who were to carve their own fortunes and become a defense for the colony of Georgia, sailed from Inverness, October 18, 1735, on board the Prince of Wales, commanded by Captain George Dunbar, one of their own countrymen. They made a remarkably quick trip, attended by no accidents, and in January, 1736, sailed into Tybee Road, and at once the officer in charge set about sending the emigrants to their destination. All who so desired, at their own expense, were permitted to go up to Savannah and Joseph's Town. On account of a deficiency in boats, all could not be removed at once. Seven days after their arrival sixty-one were sent away, and on February 4th forty-six more proceeded to their settlement on the Alatamaha,--all of whom being under the charge of Hugh MacKay. Thus the advanced station, the post of danger, was guarded by a bold and hardy race; brave and robust by nature, virtuous by inclination, inured to fatigue and willing to labor:
On their first landing at Savannah, some of the people from South Carolina endeavored to discourage them by saying that the Spaniards would shoot them as they stood upon the ground where they contemplated erecting their homes. "Why then," said the Highlanders in reply, "we will beat them out of their fort and shall have houses ready built to live in." The spot designated for their town is located twenty miles northwest from St. Simons and ten above Frederica, and situated on the mainland, close to a branch of the Alatamaha river, on a bluff twenty feet high, then surrounded on all sides with woods. The soil is a brackish sand. Formerly Fort King George, garrisoned by an independent company, stood within a mile and a half of the new town, but had been abandoned and destroyed on account of a want of supplies and communication with Carolina. The village was called New Inverness, in honor of the city they had left in Scotland; while the surrounding district was named Darien, on account of the settlement attempted on the Isthmus of Darien, in 1698-1701. Under the direction of Hugh MacKay, who proved himself to be an excellent officer and a man of executive ability, by the middle of February they had constructed a fort consisting of two bastions and two half bastions, which was so strong that forty men could maintain it against three hundred, and on it placed four pieces, which, afterwards was so enlarged as to demand twelve cannon; built a guardhouse, storehouse, a chapel, and huts for the people. One of the men dying, the rest joined and built a house for the widow.
In the meantime Oglethorpe had sailed from London on board the Symonds, accompanied by the London Merchant, with additional emigrants, and arrived in the Tybee Road a short time after the Highlanders had left. He had never met them, and desiring to understand their ways and to make as favorable an impression on them as possible, he retained Captain Dunbar to go with him to the Highlanders and to instruct him fully in their customs. On February 22d he left St. Simons and rowing up the Alatamaha after three hours, reached the Highland settlement. Upon seeing the boat approaching, the Highlanders marched out to meet him, and made a most manly appearance in their plaids, with claymores, targets and fire-arms. Captain MacKay invited Oglethorpe to lie in his tent, where there was a bed with sheets--a rarity as yet in that part of the world. He excused himself, choosing to lie at the guard-fire, wrapped in his plaid, for he had on the Highland garb. Captain MacKay and the other gentlemen did the same, though the night was cold.
Oglethorpe had previously taken the precaution, lest the Highlanders might be apprehensive of an attack by the Spaniards, Indians, or other enemies, while their houses were in process of construction, to send Captain James McPherson, who commanded the rangers upon the Savannah, overland to support them. This troop arrived while Oglethorpe was yet present. Soon after they were visited by the Indians, who were attracted by their costume, and ever after retained an admiration for them, which was enhanced by the Highlanders entering into their wild sports, and joining them in the chase. In order to connect the new settlement with direct land communication with the other colonists, Oglethorpe, in March, directed Hugh MacKay, with a detachment of twelve rangers, to conduct Walter Augustin, who ran a traverse line from Savannah by Fort Argyle to Darien, in order to locate a roadway.
It was during Oglethorpe's first trip to the Highland settlement that he encamped on Cumberland island, and on the extreme western point, which commands the passage of boats from the southward, marked out a fort to be called St. Andrews, and gave Captain Hugh MacKay orders to build it. The work commenced immediately, thirty Highlanders being employed in the labor. On March 26th Oglethorpe, visiting the place, was astonished to find the fort in such an advanced stage of completion; the ditch was dug, the parapet was raised with wood and earth on the land side, and the small wood was cleared fifty yards round the fort. This seemed to be the more extraordinary because MacKay had no engineer, nor any other assistance in that way, except the directions originally given. Besides it was very difficult to raise the works, the ground being a loose sand. They were forced to lay the trees and sand alternately,--the trees preventing the sand from falling, and the sand the wood from fire. He returned thanks to the Highlanders and offered to take any of them back to their settlement, but all refused so long as there was any danger from the Spaniards, in whose vicinity they were now stationed. But two of them, having families at Darien, he ordered along with him.
The Highlanders were not wholly engaged in military pursuits, for, to a great extent, they were engaged in making their settlement permanent. They engaged in the cultivation of Indian corn and potatoes; learned to cut and saw timber, and laid out farms upon which they lived. For a frontier settlement, constantly menaced, all was accomplished that could be reasonably expected. In the woods they found ripe oranges and game, such as the wild turkey, buffalo and deer, in abundance. But peace and prosperity were not their allotted portion, for their lines were now cast in troubled waters. The first year witnessed an appeal to arms and a struggle with the Spaniards, which eventually resulted in a disaster to the Highlanders. Deeds of heroism were now enacted, fully in keeping with the tenor of the race.
The Spaniards, who had their main force at St. Augustine, were more or less aggressive, which kept the advanced posts in a state of alarm. John Mohr Macintosh, who had seen service in Scotland, was directed by Oglethorpe to instruct the Highlanders in their military duty, and under his direction they were daily exercised. Hugh MacKay, with a company, had been directed to the immediate command of Oglethorpe.
Disputes early arose between the English colonists and the Spaniards regarding the frontier line between the two nationalities, and loud complaints were made by the latter on account of being harrassed by Indians. Oglethorpe took steps to restrain the Indians, and to the Spaniards sent friendly messengers, who were immediately seized and confined and at once took measures against the colonists. A Spanish warship sailed by St. Simon's island and passed Fort St. Andrews, but was not fired upon by the Highlanders because she answered their signals. She made her way back to St. Augustine when the report gained currency that the whole coast was covered with war boats armed with cannon. On June 8th the colonists were again threatened by a Spanish vessel which came close to Fort St. Andrews before she was discovered; but when challenged rowed away with the utmost precipitation. On board this boat was Don Ignatio with a detachment of the Spanish garrison, and as many boatmen and Indians as the launch could hold. It was at this time that a Highland lad named Fraser distinguished himself. Oglethorpe in endeavoring to meet the Spaniards by a flag of truce, or else obtain a conference with them, but unable to accomplish either, and being about to withdraw, saw the boy, whom he had sent forward, returning through the woods, driving before him a tall man with a musket on his shoulder, two pistols stuck in his girdle, and further armed with both a long and short sword. Coming up to Oglethorpe the lad said: "Here, sir; I have caught a Spaniard for you." The man was found to have in his possessiona letter from Oglethorpe's imprisoned messengers which imparted certain information that proved to be of great value.
The imprisoned messengers were ultimately released and sent back in a launch with commissioners to treat with Oglethorpe. In order to make a favorable impression on the Spaniards, the Highlanders, under Ensign MacKay, were ordered out. June 19th, Ensign MacKay arrived on board the man-of-war Hawk, then just off from Amelia island, with the Highlanders, and a detachment of the independent company, in their regimentals, who lined one side of the ship, while the Highlanders, with their claymores, targets, plaids, etc., did the same on the other side. The commissioners were very handsomely entertained on board the war vessel, and after dinner messages in writing were exchanged. While this hilarity and peace protestations were being indulged, an Indian brought the news that forty Spaniards and some Indians had fallen upon a party of the Creek nation who, then depending upon the general peace between the Indians, Spanish and English, without suspicion, and consequently without guard, were surrounded and surprised, several killed and others taken, two of whom, being boys, were murdered by dashing out their brains.
To the people of New Iverness the year 1737 does not appear to have been a propitious one. Pioneers were compelled to endure hardships of which they had little dreamed, and the Highland settlement was no exception to the rule. The record preserved for this year is exceedingly meagre and consists almost wholly in the sworn statement of Alexander Monroe, who deserted the colony in 1740. In the latter year he deposed that at Darien, where he arrived in 1736 with his wife and child, he had cleared, fenced in and planted five acres of land, built a good house in the town, and made other improvements, such as gardening, etc.; that he was never able to support his family by cultivation, though he planted the said five acres three years and had good crops, and that he never heard of any white man being able to gain a living by planting; that in 1737 the people were reduced to such distress for want of provisions, having neither corn, peas, rice, potatoes, nor bread-kind of any sort, nor fish, nor flesh of any kind in store; that they were forced to go in a body, with John Mohr Macintosh at the head, to Frederica and there make a demand on the Trust's agent for a supply; that they were relieved by Captain Gascoigne of the Hawk, who spared them two barrels of flour, and one barrel of beef; and further, he launches an indictment against John Mohr Macintosh, who had charge of the Trust's store at Darien, for giving the better class of food to his own hogs while the people were forced to take that which was rotten. 
While this statement of Monroe may possibly be true in the main, and that there was actual suffering, yet it must be borne in mind that the Highlanders were there living in a changed condition. The labor, climate, soil, products, etc., were all new to them, and to the changed circumstances the time had been too short for them to adapt themselves; nor is it probable that five acres were enough for their subsistence. The feeding of cattle, which was soon after adopted, would give them a larger field of industry.
Nor was this all. Inevitable war fell upon the people; for we learn that the troop of Highland rangers, under Captain MacKay, held Fort St. Andrews "with thirty men, when the Spaniards attempted the invasion of this Province with a great number of men in the year 1737.”  Drawing the men away from the settlement would necessarily cause more or less suffering and disarrangement of affairs.
The record for the year 1738 is more extensive, although somewhat contradictory, and exhibits a strong element of dissention. Oglethorpe admitted the difficulties under which the people labored, ascribing them to the Spanish alarms, but reports that John Mohr Macintosh, pursuant to orders from the Trust, had disposed of a part of the servants to the freeholders of Darien, which encouragement had enabled the settlement to continue.
"The women were a dead charge to the Trust, excepting a few who mended the Cloaths, dressed the Victuals and washed the Linnen of the Trustees Men Servants. Some of the Soldiers who were Highlanders desiring to marry Women, I gave them leave upon their discharging the Trustees from all future Charges arising from them.” 
The difficulties appear also to have arisen from the fact that the freeholders were either unable or else unwilling--which is the more likely--to perform manual labor. They labored under the want of a sufficient number of servants until they had procured some who had been indentured to the Trust for passage from Scotland.
The Reverend John MacLeod, who abandoned the colony in 1741, made oath that in the year 1738 they found by experience that the produce from the land did not answer the expense of time and labor, and the voice of the people of Darien was to abandon their improvements, and settle to the northward, where they could be free from the restraints which rendered incapable of subsisting themselves and families.  The declaration of Alexander Monroe is still more explicit:
The phrase "being weary of oppression" has reference to the accusation against Captain Hugh MacKay, who was alleged to have "exercised an illegal power there, such as judging in all causes, directing and ordering all things according to his will, as did the said McIntosh More, by which many unjust and illegal things were done. That not only the servants of the said freeholders of Darien were ordered to be tied up and whipt; but also this deponent, and Donald Clark, who themselves were freeholders, were taken into custody, and bound with ropes, and threatened to be sent to Frederica to Mr. Horton, and there punished by him; this deponent, once for refusing to cry 'All's well,' when he was an out-sentry, he having before advised them of the danger of so doing, lest the voice should direct the Indians to fire upon the sentry, as they had done the night before, and again for drumming with his fingers on the side of his house, it being pretended that he had alarmed the town. That upon account of these, and many other oppressions, the freeholders applied to Mr. Oglethorpe for a court of justice to be erected, and proper magistrates in Darien, as in other towns in Georgia, that they might have justice done among themselves, when he gave them for answer, 'that he would acquaint the trustees with it'; but that this deponent heard no more of it.” 
One of the fundamental regulations of the Trustees was the prohibition of African slavery in Georgia. However, they had instituted a system of servitude which indentured both male and female to individuals, or the Trustees, for a period of from four to fourteen years. On arriving in Georgia, their services were sold for the term of indenture, or apportioned to the inhabitants by the magistrates, as their necessities required. The sum which they brought when thus bid off varied from £2 to £6, besides an annual tax of £1 for five years to defray the expense of their voyage. Negro slavery was agitated in Savannah, and on December 9, 1738, a petition was addressed to the Trustees, signed by one hundred and sixteen, and among other things asked was the introduction of Negro slavery. On January 3, 1739, a counter petition was drawn up and signed by the Highlanders at Darien. On March 13th the Saltzburghers of Ebenezer signed a similar petition in which they strongly disapproved of the introduction of slave labor into the colony. Likewise the people of Frederica prepared a petition, but desisted from sending it, upon an assurance that their apprehensions of the introduction of Negroes were entirely needless. Many artifices were resorted to in order to gain over the Highlanders and have them petition for Negro slaves. Failing in this letters were written to them from England endeavoring to intimidate them into a compliance. These counter petitions strengthened the Trustees in their resolution. It is a noticeable fact, and worthy of record, that at the outbreak of the American Revolution the Highlanders of Darien again protested against African slavery.
Those persons dissatisfied with the state of affairs increased in numbers and gradually grew more rancorous. It is not supposable that they could have bettered the condition under the circumstances. Historians have been universal in their praise of Oglethorpe, and in all probability no one could have given a better administration. His word has been taken without question. He declared that "Darien hath been one of the Settlements where the People have been most industrious as those of Savannah have been most idle. The Trustees have had several Servants there who under the direction of Mr. Moore McIntosh have not only earned their bread but have provided the Trust with such Quantities of sawed stuff as hath saved them a great sum of money. Those Servants cannot be put under the direction of anybody at Frederica nor any one that does not understand the Highland language. The Woods fit for sawing are near Darien and the Trustees engaged not to separate the Highlanders. They are very useful under their own Chiefs and no where else. It is very necessary therefore to allow Mr. Mackintosh for the overseeing the Trust's Servants at Darien.” 
That such was the actual condition of affairs in 1739 there is no doubt. However, a partial truth may change the appearance. George Philp, who at Savannah in 1740, declared that for the same year the people "are as incapable of improving their lands and raising produces as the people in the northern division, as appears from the very small quantity of Indian corn which hitherto had been the chief and almost only produce of the province, some few potatoes excepted; and as a proof of which, that he was in the south in May last, when the season for planting was over, and much less was done at Frederica than in former years; and that the people in Darien did inform him, that they had not of their own produce to carry to market, even in the year 1739, which was the most plentiful year they ever saw there, nor indeed any preceding year; nor had they (the people of Darien) bread-kind of their own raising, sufficient for the use of their families, from one crop to another, as themselves, or some of them, did tell this deponent; and further, the said people of Darien were, in May last, repining at their servants being near out of their time, because the little stock of money they carried over with them was exhausted in cultivation which did not bring them a return; and they were thereby rendered quite unable to plant their lands, or help themselves any way.” 
It was one of the agreements made by the Trust that assistance should be given the colonists. Hence Oglethorpe speaks of "the £58 delivered to Mr. McIntosh at Darien, it was to support the Inhabitants of Darien with cloathing and delivered to the Trustees' Store there, for which the Individuals are indebted to the Trust. Part of it was paid in discharge of service done to the Trustees in building. Part is still due and some do pay and are ready to pay.” 
The active war with Spain commenced by the murder of two unarmed Highlanders on Amelia Island, who had gone into the woods for fuel. It was November 14, 1739, that a party of Spaniards landed on the island and skulked in the woods. Francis Brooks, who commanded a scout boat, heard reports of musketry, and at once signaled the fort, when a lieutenant's squad marched out and found the murdered Highlanders with their heads cut off and cruelly mangled. The Spaniards fled with so much precipitation that the squad could not overtake them, though they pursued rapidly. Immediately Oglethorpe began to collect around him his inadequate forces for the invasion of Florida. In January, 1740, he received orders to make hostile movements against Florida, with the assurance that Admiral Vernon should co-operate with him. Oglethorpe took immediate action, drove in the Spanish outposts and invaded Florida, having learned from a deserter that St. Augustine was in want of provisions. South Carolina rendered assistance; and its regiment reached Darien the first of May, where it was joined by Oglethorpe's favorite corps, the Highlanders, ninety strong, commanded by Captain John Mohr McIntosh and Lieutenant MacKay. They were ordered, accompanied by an Indian force, to proceed by land, at once, to Cow-ford (afterwards Jacksonville), upon the St. Johns. With four hundred of his regiment, Oglethorpe, on May 3d, left Frederica, in boats, and on the 9th reached the Cow-ford. The Carolina regiment and the Highlanders having failed to make the expected junction at that point, Oglethorpe, who would brook no delay, immediately proceeded against Fort Diego, which surrendered on the 10th, and garrisoned it with sixty men under Lieutenant Dunbar. With the remainder he returned to the Cow-ford, and there met the Carolina regiment and McIntosh's Highlanders. Here Oglethorpe massed nine hundred soldiers and eleven hundred Indians, and marched the whole force against Fort Moosa, which was built of stone, and situated less than two miles from St. Augustine, which the Spaniards evacuated without offering resistance. Having burned the gates, and made three breaches in the walls, Oglethorpe then proceeded to reconnoitre the town and castle. Assisted by some ships of war lying at anchor off St. Augustine bar, he determined to blockade the town. For this purpose he left Colonel Palmer, with ninety-five Highlanders and fifty-two Indians, at Fort Moosa, with instructions to scour the woods and intercept all supplies for the enemy; and, for safety, encamp every night at different places. This was the only party left to guard the land side. The Carolina regiment was sent to occupy a point of land called Point Quartel, about a mile distant from the castle; while he himself with his regiment and the greater part of the Indians embarked in boats, and landed on the Island of Anastatia, where he erected batteries and commenced a bombardment of the town. The operations of the beseigers beginning to relax, the Spanish commander sent a party of six hundred to surprise Colonel Palmer at Fort Moosa. The Spaniards had noted that for five nights Colonel Palmer had made Fort Moosa his resting place. They came in boats with muffled oars at the dead of night, and landed unheard and undiscovered. The Indians, who were relied on by Palmer, were watching the land side, but never looked towards the water.
Captain Macintosh had remonstrated with Colonel Palmer for remaining at Fort Moosa more than one night, until it produced an alienation between them. The only thing then left for MacIntosh was to make his company sleep on their arms. At the first alarm they were in rank, and as the Spanish infantry approached in three columns they were met with a Highland shout.
The contest was unequal, and although the Highlanders rallied to the support of MacIntosh, their leader, and fought with desperation, yet thirty-six of them fell dead or wounded at the first charge. When Colonel Palmer saw the overwhelming force that assaulted his command, he directed the rangers without the wall to fly; but, refusing to follow them, he paid the debt of his obstinacy with his blood.
The surprise at Fort Moosa led to the failure of Oglethorpe's expedition. John Mohr MacIntosh was a prisoner, and as Oglethorpe had no officer to exchange for him, he was sent to Spain, where he was detained several years--his fate unknown to his family--and when he did return to his family it was with a broken constitution and soon to die, leaving his children to such destiny as might await them, without friends, in the wilds of America, for the one who could assist them--General Oglethorpe--was to be recalled, in preparation to meet the Highland Rising of 1745, when he, too, was doomed to suffer degradation from the duke of Cumberland, and injury to his military reputation.
It was the same regiment of Spaniards that two years later was brought from Cuba to lead in all enterprises that again was destined to meet the remnant of those Highlanders, but both the scene and the result were different. It was in the light of day, and blood and slaughter, but not victory awaited them.
The conduct of the eldest son of John Mohr MacIntosh is worthy of mention. He was named after his grand uncle, the celebrated Old Borlum (General William MacIntosh), who commanded a division of the Highlanders in the Rising of 1715. William was not quite fourteen years of age when his father left Darien for Florida. He wished to accompany the army, but his father refused. Determined not to be thwarted in his purpose, he overtook the army at Barrington. He was sent back the next day under an armed guard. Taking a small boat, he ferried up to Clarke's Bluff, on the south side of the Alatamaha, intending to keep in the rear until the troops had crossed the St. Mary's river. He soon fell in with seven Indians, who knew him, for Darien had become a great rendezvous for them, and were greatly attached to the Highlanders, partly on account of their wild manners, their manly sports and their costume, somewhat resembling their own. They caressed the boy, and heartily entered into his views. They followed the advancing troops and informed him of all that transpired in his father's camp, yet carefully concealing his presence among them until after the passage of the St. Mary's, where, with much triumph, led him to his father and said "that he was a young warrior and would fight; that the Great Spirit would watch over his life, for he loved young warriors." He followed his father until he saw him fall at Fort Moosa, covered with wounds, which so transfixed him with horror, that he was not aroused to action until a Spanish officer laid hold of his plaid. Light and as elastic as a steel bow, he slipped from under his grasp, and made his escape with the wreck of the corps.
Those who escaped the massacre went over in a boat to Point Quartel. Some of the Chickasaw Indians, who also had escaped, met a Spaniard, cut off his head and presented it to Oglethorpe. With abhorence he rejected it, calling them barbarian dogs and bidding them begone. As might be expected, the Chickasaws were offended and deserted him. A party of Creeks brought four Spanish prisoners to Oglethorpe, who informed him that St. Augustine had been reinforced by seven hundred men and a large supply of provisions. The second day after the Fort Moosa affair, the Carolina regiment deserted, the colonel leading the rout; nor did he arrest his flight until darkness overtook him, thirty miles from St. Augustine. Other circumstances operating against him, Oglethorpe commenced his retreat from Florida and reached Frederica July 10, 1740.
The inhabitants of Darien continued to live in huts that were tight and warm. Prior to 1740 they had been very industrious in planting, besides being largely engaged in driving cattle for the regiment; but having engaged in the invasion of Florida, little could be done at home, where their families remained. One writer  declared that "the people live very comfortably, with great unanimity. I know of no other settlement in this colony more desirable, except Ebenezer." The settlement was greatly decimated on account of the number killed and taken prisoners at Fort Moosa. This gave great discontent on the part of those who already felt aggrieved against the Trust.
The discontent among many of the colonists, some of whom were influential, again broke out in 1741, some of whom went to Savannah, October 7th, to consider the best method of presenting their grievances. They resolved to send an agent to England to represent their case to the proper authorities, "in order to the effectual settling and establishing of the said province, and to remove all those grievances and hardships we now labor under." The person selected as agent was Thomas Stevens, the son of the president of Georgia, who had resided there about four years, and who, it was thought, from his connection with the president, would give great weight to the proceedings. Mr. Stevens sailed for England on March 26, 1742, presented his petition to parliament, which was considered together with the answer of the Trustees; which resulted in Mr. Stevens being brought to the bar of the House of Commons, and upon his knees, before the assembled counsellors of Great Britain, was reprimanded for his conduct, and then discharged, on paying his fees.
A list of the people who signed the petition and counter petitions affords a good criterion of the class represented at Darien, living there before and after the battle of Moosa. Among the complainants may be found the names of:
It is not certain that all the above were residents of Darien. Among those who signed the petition in favor of the Trust, and denominated the body of the people, and distinctly stated to be living at Darien, are the names of:
During the autumn of 1741, Reverend John McLeod abandoned his Highland charge at Darien, went to South Carolina and settled at Edisto. In an oath taken November 12, 1741, he represents the people of Darien to be in a deplorable condition. Oglethorpe, in his letter to the Trustees,  evidently did not think Mr. McLeod was the man really fit for his position, for he says:
The long-threatened invasion of Carolina and Georgia by the Spaniards sailed from Havana, consisting of a great fleet, among which were two half galleys, carrying one hundred and twenty men each and an eighteen-pound gun. A part of the fleet, on June 20th, was seen off the harbor of St. Simons, and the next day in Cumberland Sound. Oglethorpe dispatched two companies in three boats to the relief of Fort William, on Cumberland island, which were forced to fight their way through the fire from the Spanish galleys. Soon after thirty-two sail came to anchor off the bar, with the Spanish colors flying, and there remained five days. They landed five hundred men at Gascoin's bluff, on July 5th. Oglethorpe blew up Fort William, spiked the guns and signalled his ships to run up to Frederica, and with his land forces retired to the same place, where he arrived July 6th. The day following the enemy were within a mile of Frederica. When this news was brought to Oglethorpe he took the first horse he found and with the Highland company, having ordered sixty men of the regiment to follow, he set off on a gallop to meet the Spaniards, whom he found to be one hundred and seventy strong, including forty-five Indians. With his Indian Rangers and ten Highlanders, who outran the rest of the company, he immediately attacked and defeated the Spaniards. After pursuing them a mile, he halted his troops and posted them to advantage in the woods, leaving two companies of his regiment with the Highlanders and Indians to guard the way, and then returned to Frederica to await further movements of the enemy. Finding no immediate movement on the part of his foes, Oglethorpe, with the whole force then at Frederica, except such as were absolutely necessary to man the batteries, returned to the late field of action, and when about half way met two platoons of his troops, with the great body of his Indians, who declared they had been broken by the whole Spanish force, which assailed them in the woods; and the enemy were now in pursuit, and would soon be upon them. Notwithstanding this disheartening report, Oglethorpe continued his march, and to his great satisfaction, found that Lieutenants Southerland and MacKay, with the Highlanders alone, had defeated the enemy, consisting of six hundred men, and killed more of them than their own force numbered. At first the Spanish forces overwhelmed the colonists by their superior numbers, when the veteran troops became seized with a panic. They made a precipitate retreat, the Highlanders following reluctantly in the rear. After passing through a defile, Lieutenant MacKay communicated to his friend, Lieutenant Southerland, who commanded the rear guard, composed also of Highlanders, the feelings of his corps, and agreeing to drop behind as soon as the whole had passed the defile. They returned through the brush and took post at the two points of the crescent in the road. Four Indians remained with them. Scarcely had they concealed themselves in the woods, when the Spanish grenadier regiment, the elite of their troops, advanced into the defile, where, seeing the footprints of the rapid retreat of the broken troops, and observing their right was covered by an open morass, and their left, as they supposed, by an impracticable wall of brushwood, and a border of dry white sand, they stacked their arms and sat down to partake of refreshments, believing that the contest for the day was over. Southerland and MacKay, who, from their hiding places, had anxiously watched their movements, now from either end of the line raised the Highland cap upon a sword, the signal for the work of death to begin. Immediately the Highlanders poured in upon the unsuspecting enemy a well delivered and most deadly fire. Volley succeeded volley, and the sand was soon strewed with the dead and the dying. Terror and dismay seized the Spaniards, and making no resistance attempted to fly along the marsh. A few of their officers attempted, though in vain, to re-form their broken ranks; discipline was gone; orders were unheeded; safety alone was sought; and, when, with a Highland shout of triumph, the hidden foe burst among them with levelled musket and flashing claymore, the panic stricken Spaniards fled in every direction; some to the marsh, where they mired and were taken; others along the defile, where they were met by the claymore, and still others into the thicket, where they became entangled and perished; and a few succeeded in escaping to their camp. Barba was taken, though mortally wounded. Among the killed were a captain, lieutenant, two sergeants, two drummers and one hundred and sixty privates, and a captain and nineteen men taken prisoners. This feat of arms was as brilliant as it was successful. Oglethorpe, with the two platoons, did not reach the scene of action, since called the "Bloody Marsh," until the victory was won. To show his sense of the services rendered, he promoted the brave young officers who had gained it on the very field of their valor. But he rested only for a few minutes, waiting for the marines and the reserve of the regiment to come up; and then pursued the retreating enemy to within a mile and a half of their camp. During the night the foe retreated within the ruins of the fort, and under the protection of their cannon. A few days later the Spaniards became so alarmed on the appearance of three vessels off the bar that they immediately set fire to the fort and precipitately embarked their troops, abandoning in their hurry and confusion, several cannon, a quantity of military stores, and even leaving unburied some of the men who had just died of their wounds.
The massacre of Fort Moosa was more than doubly avenged, and that on the same Spanish regiment that was then victorious. On the present occasion they had set out from their camp with the determination to show no quarter. In the action William MacIntosh, now sixteen years of age, was conspicuous. No shout rose higher, and no sword waved quicker than his on that day. The tract of land which surrounded the field of action was afterwards granted to him.
A brief sketch of Ensign John Stuart will not be out of place in this record and connection. During the Spanish invasion he was stationed at Fort William, and there gained an honorable reputation in holding it against the enemy. Afterwards he became the celebrated Captain Stuart and father of Sir John Stuart, the victor over General Ranier, at the battle of Maida, in Calabria. In 1757 Captain Stuart was taken prisoner at Fort Loudon, in the Cherokee country, and whose life was saved by his friend, Attakullakulla. This ancient chief had remembered Captain Stuart when he was a young Highland officer under General Oglethorpe, although years had rolled away. The Indians were now filled with revenge at the treachery of Governor Littleton, of Carolina, on account of the imprisonment and death of the chiefs of twenty towns; yet no actions of others could extinguish, in this generous and high-minded man, the friendship of other years. The dangers of that day, the thousand wiles and accidents Captain Stuart escaped from, made him renowned among the Indians, and centered on him the affections and confidence of the southern tribes. It was the same Colonel John Stuart, of the Revolutionary War, who, from Pensacola, directed at will the movements of the Cherokees, Creeks, Chickasaws and Choctaws, against all, save Georgia. That state suffered but little from Indian aggression during the War for Independence. Nor was that feeling extinct among the Creeks for a period of fifty years, or until they believed that the people of Oglethorpe had passed away.
The year 1743 opened with fresh alarms of a new invasion, jointly of the French and Spanish. The Governor of Cuba offered to invade Georgia and Carolina, with ten thousand men, most of whom were then in Havanna. Oglethorpe, with his greatly reduced force, was left alone to bear the burden of defending Georgia. Believing that a sudden blow would enhance his prospects, he took his measures, and accordingly, on Saturday, February 26, 1743, the detachment destined for Florida, consisting of a portion of the Highlanders, rangers and regulars, appeared under arms at Frederica, and on March 9th, landed in Florida. He advanced upon St. Augustine, and used every device to decoy them into an ambush; but even failed to provoke the garrison. Having no cannon with him, he returned to Frederica, without the loss of a man. This expedition was attended with great toil, fatigue and privation, but borne cheerfully. A few slight eruptive efforts were made, but each party kept its own borders, and the slight conflicts in America were lost in the universal conflagration in Europe.
The Highlanders had borne more than their share of the burdens of war, and had lost heavily. Their families had shared in their privations. The majority had remained loyal to Oglethorpe, and proved that in every emergency they could be depended on. In later years the losses were partially supplied by accessions from their countrymen.
With all the advantages that Georgia offered and the inducements held out to emigrants, the growth was very slow. In 1761 the whole number of white inhabitants amounted to but sixty-one hundred. However, in 1773, or twelve years later, it had leaped to eighteen thousand white and fifteen thousand black. The reasons assigned for this increase were the great inducements held out to people to come and settle where they could get new and good lands at a moderate cost, with plenty of good range for cattle, horses and hogs, and where they would not be so pent up and confined as in the more thickly settled provinces.
The Macintoshes had ever been foremost, and in the attempt to consolidate Georgia with Carolina they were prominent in their opposition to the scheme.
Forty years in America had endeared the Highlanders of Darien to the fortunes of their adopted country. The children knew of none other, save as they heard it from the lips of their parents. Free in their inclinations, and with their environments it is not surprising that they should become imbued with the principles of the American Revolution. Their foremost leader, who gained imperishable renown, was Lachlan Macintosh, son of John Mor. His brother, William, also took a very active part, and made great sacrifices. At one time he was pursued beyond the Alatamaha and his negroes taken from him.
To what extent the Darien Highlanders espoused the cause of Great Britain would be difficult to fathom, but in all probability to no appreciable extent. The records exhibit that there were some royalists there, although when under British sway may have been such as a matter of protection, which was not uncommon throughout the Southern States. The record is exceedingly brief. On May 20, 1780, Charles McDonald, justice of peace for St. Andrew's parish (embracing Darien), signed the address to the King. Sir James Wright, royal governor of Georgia, writing to lord George Germain, dated February 16, 1782, says:
The Highlanders were among the first to take action, and had no fears of the calamities of war. The military spirit of their ancestors showed no deterioration in their constitutions. During the second week in January, 1775, a district congress was held by the inhabitants of St. Andrew's Parish (now Darien), at which a series of resolutions were passed, embodying, with great force and earnestness, the views of the freeholders of that large and flourishing district. These resolutions, six in number, expressed first, their approbation of "the unparalleled moderation, the decent, but firm and manly, conduct of the loyal and brave people of Boston and Massachusetts Bay, to preserve their liberty;" their approval of "all the resolutions of the Grand American Congress," and their hearty and "cheerful accession to the association entered into by them, as the wisest and most moderate measure that could be adopted." The second resolution condemned the closing of the land offices, to the great detriment of Colonial growth, and to the injury of the industrious poor, declaring "that all encouragement should be given to the poor of every nation by every generous American." The third, animadverted upon the ministerial mandates which prevented colonial assemblies from passing such laws as the general exigencies of the provinces required, an especial grievance, as they affirmed, "in this young colony, where our internal police is not yet well settled." The fourth condemned the practice of making colonial officers dependent for salaries on Great Britain, "thus making them independent of the people, who should support them according to their usefulness and behavior." The fifth resolution declares "our disapprobation and abhorrence of the unnatural practice of slavery in America," and their purpose to urge "the manumission of our slaves in this colony, upon the most safe and equitable footing for the masters and themselves." And, lastly, they thereby chose delegates to represent the parish in a provincial congress, and instruct them to urge the appointment of two delegates to the Continental Congress, to be held in Philadelphia, in May.
Appended to these resolutions were the following articles of agreement or association:
Among the names appended to these resolutions there may be selected such as:
On July 4, 1775, the Provincial Congress met at Tondee's Long Room, Savannah. Every parish and district was represented. St. Andrew's parish sent:
The resolutions adopted by these hardy patriots were sacredly kept. Their deeds, however, partake more of personal narration, and only their heroic defense need be mentioned. The following narration should not escape special notice:
As already stated, Darien experienced some of the vicissitudes of war. On April 18, 1778, a small army, under Colonel Elbert, embarked on the galleys Washington, Lee and Bullock, and by 10 o'clock next morning, near Frederica, had captured the brigantine Hinchinbroke, the sloop Rebecca and a prize brig, which had spread terror on the coast.
In 1779 the parishes of St. John, St. Andrew and St. James were erected into one county, under the name of Liberty.
In March, 1780, the royal governor, Sir James Wright, attempted to re-establish the old government, and issued writs returnable May 5. Robert Baillie and James Spalding were returned from St. Andrew's parish.
The settlement of Darien practically remained a pure Highland one until the close of the Revolution. The people proved themselves faithful and loyal to the best interests of the commonwealth, and equal to such exigencies as befell them. While disasters awaited them and fierce ordeals were passed through, yet fortune eventually smiled upon them.
[78: Graham's "History of United States," Vol. II, p. 179.]