There are several things that Darien is known for: the fresh shrimp pulled from its beautiful brackish waterways, the everlasting live oaks draped in Spanish moss, and its fascinating Scottish history. What many people may not know is that Darien was founded in part as a do-over of Savannah.
Georgia became a colony nearly 300 years ago when General James Oglethorpe founded the city of Savannah in 1733. Two years later, Oglethorpe was disappointed with the laziness of these settlers. He had lost faith in their ability to defend his new colony from the threat of the Spaniards in Florida. He began plans for a new city, and this time he carefully selected the group of people he wanted to live there. Scots were the clear choice.
Scots of the early 1700s were a disgruntled bunch. Due to the Disarming Acts of 1715, the people of Scotland were not allowed to bear arms of any sort. Many Scottish nobles were also stripped of their lands. Recruiting them to settle a new town across the sea where they would regain the rights they had just lost was an easy task. Oglethorpe had success finding his new settlers in Inverness, Scotland, especially among the Chattan Confederation and Clan MacKintosh. In 1736, the fortified town of New Inverness was founded. It was later renamed Darien, after a failed Scottish colony in Panama.
Just as Oglethorpe had hoped, the Scottish Highlanders of Darien proved themselves worthy adversaries of the Spaniards in Florida. In 1740, Colonel John “Mohr” MacKintosh laid siege to St. Augustine and briefly took control of Fort Mose. In 1742, they aided the soldiers of Fort Frederica in warding off Spanish invasion in the Battles of Bloody Marsh and Gully Hole Creek. The settlers of Darien had redeemed the colony of Georgia in Oglethorpe’s eyes.
Modern Darienites can appreciate Scottish history during Scottish Heritage Month in March. The peak event of the month is Scottish Heritage Days at Fort King George State Historic Site. From March 13th to March 15th, the site will be filled with re-enactors and living historians demonstrating various aspects of life in the 1700s. This includes musket and cannon firings, blacksmithing, historic cooking, and bagpiping. There will also be representatives of various Scottish clans available to discuss history and the modern day role of clans. Friday, March 13th is School Day, where school groups can register to view and take part in several presentations and activities (also available to the general public) from 9am to 1pm. Saturday, March 14th has a battle demonstration at 3pm. There is a site admission fee: $7.50 for adults, $7.00 for seniors, and $4.50 for youth. A traditional Kirkin o’ the Tartans will be hosted at the First Presbyterian Church on 403 Jackson St. at 11am
EVENT TITLE: Scottish Heritage Days
DATE/TIME: Fri, Mar 13, 9 AM – 1 PM Sat, Mar 14, 9 AM – 4 PM Sun, Mar 15, 11 AM
LOCATION: Fort King George State Historic Site 302 McIntosh Rd. SE Darien, GA 31305
COST: Youth: $4.50 Adult: $7.50 Senior: $7.00
DESCRIPTION: A variety of living history demonstrations, including musket and cannon firings, blacksmithing, and 18th century cooking, and bagpiping will be taking place on Friday the 13th and Saturday the 14th. Friday is School Day from 9am – 1pm. Saturday hosts a battle reenactment at 3pm. Educators can call 912-437-4770 to register their students for School Day. A traditional Kirkin o’ the Tartans will be on Sunday the 15th at 11am at the First Presbyterian Church on 403 Jackson St. INFORMATION: (912) 437-4770 or facebook.com/FortKingGeorgeSHS/