Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Florida’s Lost Fort Caroline Found — In Georgia

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on February 22, 2014
Re-enactors fire a rifle salute to a tall ship on the St. Johns River as it passes by Fort Caroline during Sail Jacksonville in 2004. Via


From Heritage Daily:

In an announcement likely to rewrite the book on early colonization of the New World, two researchers today said they have discovered the oldest fortified settlement ever found in North America. Speaking at an international conference on France at Florida State University, the pair announced that they have located Fort Caroline, a long-sought fort built by the French in 1564.
“This is the oldest fortified settlement in the present United States,” said historian and Florida State University alumnus Fletcher Crowe. “This fort is older than St. Augustine, considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in America. It’s older than the Lost Colony of Virginia by 21 years; older than the 1607 fort of Jamestown by 45 years; and predates the landing of the Pilgrims in Massachusetts in 1620 by 56 years.”
Announcement of the discovery of Fort Caroline was made during “La Floride Française: Florida, France, and the Francophone World,” a conference hosted by FSU’s Winthrop-King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies and its Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution. The conference commemorates the cultural relations between France and Florida since the 16th century.
Researchers have been searching for actual remains of Fort Caroline for more than 150 years but had not found the actual site until now, Crowe said. The fort was long thought to be located east of downtown Jacksonville, Fla., on the south bank of the St. Johns River. The Fort Caroline National Memorial is located just east of Jacksonville’s Dames Point Bridge, which spans the river.
However, Crowe and his co-author, Anita Spring, a professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Florida, say that the legendary fort is actually located on an island at the mouth of the Altamaha River, two miles southeast of the city of Darien, Ga. Darien is located near the Georgia coast between Brunswick and Savannah, approximately 70 miles from the Jacksonville site.​

When told of the discovery of Fort Caroline near Darien, Zombie Colonel James Montgomery announced his intention to burn that, too.



7 Responses

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  1. Craig Swain said, on February 23, 2014 at 6:03 am

    First thought… are they going to move the entire Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve to the Altamaha? And how do you move a National Park?

    Second thought… The selection of the Altamaha River estuary would not be a bad choice for a new colony. And a bit later, the river was sort of a “dare mark” line later between the British and Spanish (Fort King George in Darien).

  2. Duane Whitlock said, on February 23, 2014 at 6:31 am

    Oops! I would be interested in seeing what kind of archaeological proof they have.

    • Andy Hall said, on February 23, 2014 at 10:02 am

      I’m not sure. Expect this claim to be hotly contested. There’s more than just bragging rights at stake here.

      • Will Stoutamire said, on February 25, 2014 at 11:46 am

        Apparently they have permits to dig at the supposed location in Georgia sometime later this year. Until then, lacking archaeological evidence, I’d expect this claim to remain hotly contested. Among other major issues, this claim would require relocating the landing site for Menéndez’ raid on the fort and his subsequent massacre of its inhabitants. There’s pretty solid archaeological and documentary evidence that this was near St. Augustine (especially considering the expedition built the first fort at St. Augustine and, essentially, founded the city). If you’re interested: Menéndez is pretty clear about the number of days (four, I believe) that it took to get from his fort at San Agustín to Fort Caroline, and getting all the way to Darien, GA would require tripling the distance marched.

        Even if Menéndez did land further north, as one of the speakers claims may have happened, you’d then have to explain why St. Augustine ended up where it is with no clear documentary record of the fort and settlement moving so drastically.

        In any case, it’ll be interesting to see what, if anything, they find! And, regardless, there’s an interesting historical memory article here for anyone who wants to look into the backstory on Fort Caroline National Memorial.

  3. Robert Moore said, on February 23, 2014 at 6:37 am

    The question now… what do you do with a National Memorial and inclusion in local tourism, when the site that’s being recognized isn’t actually there?! Recognizing a site 70 miles away, and in another state, kinda deflates the whole thing!

  4. Juan Diego Cancel said, on February 24, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    I’d like to see “proof” first. Like my father always said, “The proof is in the pudding.”

    • Andy Hall said, on February 24, 2014 at 6:54 pm

      I’m sure this one will be thrashed out for a long time.

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