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Bulloch History with Roger Allen: 2 Fort Argyles help establish frontier in South Georgia
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Roger Allen

Note: The following is part of a series of columns looking at how Georgia and Bulloch County evolved from wilderness into a state and a county.

"Biographical Memorials of James Oglethorpe," written by Thaddeus Harris (1841), states that in 1733, "He (Oglethorpe) ... took with him Captain McPherson ... (and) his rangers (to where) a fortification should be built, to be called Fort Argyle."

According to Benjamin Martin's "An Impartial Inquiry into the State and Utility of the Province of Georgia" (1741), Fort Argyle was "at the narrow passages" of the Ogeechee and Savannah rivers.
"It is a large, strong palisade, eleven feet high, with flankers and loop holes for small cannon at the angles," Martin continued.

The first Fort Argyle was built on the east bank of the Ogeechee River, about 9 miles above the mouth of the Canoochee River near Morgan's Bridge. Unfortunately, this site flooded regularly, making it necessary to move the fort.

The second Fort Argyle was built on the west bank of the Ogeechee, 3 miles upstream from the mouth of the Canoochee. This wooden stockade-type fort measured some 110 feet long on each side.

Inside the fort was an open parade ground. The large barracks building even had a big brick chimney that was used for both heating and cooking.

The War of Jenkin's Ear in 1740 brought about a regarrisoning of Fort Argyle. In 1742, John Milledge and 20 Georgia Rangers manned the fort.

Life at the fort was harsh. Those who broke the rules were sentenced to either flogging or death by hanging. Ironically, the troop's drummer was also the official flogger.

The only sure way to get men to agree to such terms of enlistment was to give them land: In exchange for seven years of service on the frontier, a Ranger would receive a grant of 20 acres of land.

Commanded by Scotsmen James McPherson, Lachlan McIntosh, Thomas Jones and John Milledge, Rangers escorted travelers, caught runaway slaves and located missing livestock.

They also mastered frontier skills: They rode horses and handled boats equally well and were experts with both a short pistol and a larger rifle carbine.

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. Email Roger at



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