After visiting Fort McAllister, Tom and I headed south to check out Fort Morris State Historic Site. We were impressed by the restoration to Fort McAllister and expected to be equally impressed by Fort Morris.
Unfortunately, Fort Morris State Historic Site was underwhelming. Part of the problem was a closed Visitor Center. We were there on a Wednesday, and the Visitor Center is only open Thursday through Sunday. The mix-up in days was my fault because I saw on the website that the fort was open seven days a week. I didn’t make a distinction between the Visitors Center and the fort.
Although we were sorry to miss the Visitors Center, we walked around the site and read all the signs. They also had some interesting, arm-powered speaker boxes. It took considerable arm strength to turn the cranks and make the boxes talk. At each box we would pick the subject in which we were most interested, push the button, and then turn the crank to listen to the audio on the subject.
I was particularly interested in listening to the talk on Mary Musgrove, as we stood and looked at St. Catherine’s Island in the distance. Mary was the interpreter for James Oglethorpe and for the first colonists in Georgia. She was given St. Catherine’s Island in payment for the job she did as interpreter. The audio kept cutting out in the middle of the talk. At first we thought it was the way we were cranking, but it turned out to be a defect in the audio.
Fort Morris has an interesting history. When the Continental Congress convened in 1776, the delegates from Georgia stressed the need of a fort to protect the growing seaport of Savannah from the British. Soon afterwards, Fort Morris was built on a low bluff on the Medway River at Sunbury. The garrison was fortified and had 200 patriot militiamen. When the British demanded the fort’s surrender on November 25, 1778, the defiant Col. John McIntosh replied, “Come and take it!” The British refused and withdrew back to Florida. Forty-five days later, they returned with a superior force, and on January 9, 1779, Fort Morris fell after a short but heavy bombardment.
Although the site has 66 acres, including a nature trail, the fortified earthworks are very small. Tom and I explored them, read all the signs, and walked around the fort. We were done at the site in less than half an hour. We could have walked to the town of Sunbury, next to Fort Morris, but chose to continue our travels in another direction.