Oglethorpe, James Edward

, a distinguished English officer, was the fourth and youngest son of sir Theophilus Oglethorpe, of Godalmin, in the county of Surrey, by Eleonora his wife, daughter of Richard Wall, of Rogane, in Ireland. He was born in the parish of St. James, iri 1698, and admitted of Corpus Christi college, Oxford, in 1714, but it would appear that his destination in life was soon changed, as in the same year we find he was captainlieutenant in the first troop of the queen’s guards. He afterwards employed himself in acquiring the art of war under the famous prince Eugene of Savoy, and other eminent commanders, among whom the great duke of Argyle, his patron, may be named. In his several campaigns in Germany and Hungary, having been recommended by John duke of Marlborough, he acted as secretary and aid-de-camp to the prince, and stored up much useful knowledge and if we are not mistaken, he received some preferment in the German service, in which he might have continued with as great advantages as his companion, the Veldth Marshal, afterwards obtained. But with a man of his sentiments, the obligations due to his native country, and the services it required, could not be dispensed with: he quitted his foreign engagements, and long exercised the virtues of the unbiassed senator at home. In the parliament which met May 10, 1722, he was returned member for Haslemere; as he was again in 1727, 1734, 1741, and 1747; and during that period many regulations in our laws, for the benefit of our trade, &c. were proposed and promoted by him in the senate. In the committee of parliament for inquiring into the state of the jails, formed in Feb. 1728, and of which he was chairman, he was enabled to detect many horrible abuses in some of the jails of the metropolis. But he was most instrumental in founding the colony of Georgia, situate between South Carolina and Florida, which was established by a royal charter; the fund for settling it was to arise from charitable contributions: collections were made throughout the kingdom, the bank contributed a handsome sum, and the parliament gave 10,000l. which enabled the trustees, | of whom general Oglethorpe was one, to entertain many poor families, and provide for their accommodation and removal to America.

In the month of November about 100 persons embarked at Gravesend on board the Anne of 200 tons, commanded by capt. Thomas, and with them Mr. Oglethorpe. They arrived at Carolina on the 15th January following, from whence they sailed to Port-Royal, and Mr. Oglethorpe went up the Savannah River, and pitched upon a convenient spot of ground to form a settlement. He then went to Charles-Town, to solicit assistance for his colony, in which he had success, and returned to Savannah, where he was met by the chiefs of the Lower Creek nation, who claimed from the Savannah river as far as St. Augustine, and up Flint river, which runs into the bay of Mexico. A treaty of alliance and commerce was made and signed with them. He also concluded a treaty with the two nations of the Cherokees and Chickesaws, relating to their part of the same province; and a provisional treaty with the governor of Augustine and general of Florida, relating to the boundaries between the English and the Spaniards, until the sentiments of the two crowns could be known. In 1734 he returned to England, and brought with him some of the Indian chiefs, particularly Tomo Chiqui and his family, who were graciously received by the king, well entertained by the trustees, and returned to their native country full of the utmost respect for their British friends and allies.

On the 5th May, 173^, Mr, Oglethorpe embarked again for Georgia, with 300 passengers. The colony continued to flourish under his direction, materials were provided for building a church, and a wharf for landing of goods, as also for finishing the fortifications, and clearing the roads. A town called New Ebenezer was erected by the German settlers, under the direction of Mr. Oglethorpe, who next visited the Scotch at Darien, and then went to the island of Saint Simon, which is in the mouth of the river Alatamaha, about thirteen miles long, and twenty leagues north of Saint Augustine. He also discovered Amelia islands, about 236 miles by water from the mouth of the Savannah river, and caused the town of Augusta to be built there.

Soon afterwards Mr. Oglethorpe again returned to England; but differences arising between the Spanish and English courts, he was preparing to go to America, when don Thomas Geraldino, the Spanish ambassador at the | court of London, presented a memorial in 1737, demanding all the land to 35 degrees and 30 minutes of north latitude in North America, and requiring the government to order the English subjects to withdraw; but if this could not be done, insisting that no troops should be sent there, and particularly remonstrating against the return of Mr. Oglethorpe. Advices being at the same time received that the Spaniards were meditating hostilities, no regard was paid to the requisition of their court. Mr. Oglethorpe was appointed general and commander in chief of the English forces in Carolina and Georgia. He was ordered accordingly to raise a regiment, and repair thither. On the 25th August he had a commission as colonel made out, and arrived just in time to prevent the execution of the Spanish designs, although a considerable number of their troops had already got to Augustine.

When reprisals were known to have been published by his Britannic majesty against the king of Spain, a party of the garrison of St. Augustine came up, and surprised two highland ers upon the island of Amelia, cut off their heads, and mangled their bodies with great inhumanity. General Oglethorpe immediately went in pursuit of them, but, though he followed them by land and water above 10O miles in twenty-four hours, they escaped. He, however, by way of retaliation, passed the river St. Mattheo or St. John’s in Florida, drove in the guards of Spanish horse posted upon the river, and advanced as far as a place called the Cavallas; he also took other measures for reconnoitring the country, which he apprehended would be attended with advantage hereafter.

On his return to Frederica in January, he met captain, afterwards sir Peter, Warren, who was lately arrived with the Squirrel man of war. When their consultation was concluded, the captain went and cruised off the bay of St. Augustine, while the general with a detachment of troops on board of the boats, and some artillery, went up the lakes of Florida, and attacked and took the forts of Pickalata and St. Francis.

Encouraged by this success, and by the information from some prisoners of the weak condition of Augustine, he meditated the reduction of that place; and accordingly went to Charles-Town to desire assistance of the people of Carolina. His plan, at first, was to block up the place before the Spaniards could receive provisions and relief | from Cuba. He also spirited up the Creek Indians to join him, and entered into a correspondence with some discontented chiefs in the service of Spain. He soon after acquainted the Assembly of Carolina, that if they could, by March following, join the troops upon the river St. Mattheo or St. John with 600 white men, a troop of horse, another of rangers, and 600 negroes for pioneers, with a proper train of artillery, and necessaries, there would be a probability of taking the place, or at least of preventing the Spaniards from undertaking anything against Carolina, provided the men of war would block up the ports from receiving succours by sea.

The first interruption this plan met with, was from the Bupineness of the Assembly of Carolina, who delayed the assistance they had promised, until the garrison of Angustine had received both men and provisions from the Havannah. This delay had almost occasioned the destruction of captain Warren, who, not knowing of the succours which the place had obtained, went and lay off it to prevent their coming in; but, in the dark of a calm night, was attacked by six half gallies, whom he engaged with great spirit; and in the end sunk one, and drove the rest into port. General Oglethorpe, disgusted at the inactivity of the people of Carolina, left Charles-town in order to make the best disposition he could amongst his own people: he crossed St. John’s river with a party of his regiment, and landed in Florida on the 10th of May. He immediately invested and took Fort Diego, about ‘three leagues from Augustine. Soon afterwards 400 men arrived from Carolina, but without any horse, rangers, negroes, or pioneers. About the same time came a body of Cherokee Indians, as also captain Dunbar, with a party of Chickesaws, and the rangers and highlanders from Georgia, under captain M’Intosh.

The fleet, in the mean while, arrived off St. Mattheo or St. John’s river, to assist upon the expedition. The general went on board the commodore, where a consultation was held, and it was agreed to anchor off Augustine, and to attempt an entry into the harbour. The general immediately marched by land, and in three days arrived at Moosa, a fort built by the Spaniards for the deserted ne-­"groes from Carolina: from hence he sent a small detachment to take possession of the town, having had a private | intimation that it would be delivered up to him but this scheme, by an untimely discovery, was frustrated.

In the mean time, the commodore found that there was a battery upon the island of Anastasia, which defended the entry of the harbour. This obliged the general to march to the coast with a party of 200 men. He had before sent the highlanders, rangers, and a party of Indians under colonal Palmer, with orders to lie in the woods, near Augustine, and hinder the Spanish parties from coming out by land; but with positive orders not to come to any general action, nor lie two nights in the same place. The general then came up to the commodore, and held a consultation: a landing was determined to be attempted, and captain Warren, who on this occasion had a commission given him to command as lieutenant-colonel, offered his service. Anastasia was immediately attacked and taken; for it was soon found that the river which runs between that island and the castle, near which the town lay, was too wide to better in breach. It was then resolved to attempt to cross the river, and land near the town; but now the half-gallies were a floating battery, so that there was no possibility of landing without first taking or driving them away. This, however, the general offered to attempt with the boats of the squadron: but so many obstacles arose to impede the progress of the siege, that general Oglethorpe finally failed in his principal aim, although he succeeded in his other views,- which were to intimidate the Spaniards from invading Georgia and Carolina, They remained inactive within their own territories until 1742, when they collected a body of troops and entered Georgia, where they committed many ravages; but they were obliged to quit their enterprize with disgrace, by the bravery and conduct of general Oglethorpe.

The general continued in his government until March 1743, when, having received information that the Spaniards of St. Augustine were making preparations for a second invasion of Georgia, he set out at the head of a body of Indians, a detachment of his own regiment, the highlanders, and Georgia rangers, and, on the 6th of the same month, landed at Mattheo, or St. John’s river, from whence he proceeded forward to St. Augustine, the Spaniards retiring into the town on his approach; but, after encamping some days, finding the enemy would not venture out | in the field, and being in no condition to undertake a siege he had before miscarried in, he returned to Frederica, and in September following he arrived in England,

The ill success of the attack on St. Augustine was ascribed to different causes, as the interests and passions of several of the persons concerned in the business operated. By some it was imputed to treachery: by others, to the misconduct of the general. A controversy, carried on with much acrimony, ensued; and, on the general’s return to England, nineteen articles of complaint were delivered in against him by lieutenant-colonel William Cooke, on which a board of officers sat a considerable time, when, after hearing the evidence, they, on the 7th of June, 1744, dismissed the charges as groundless and malicious, and declared the accuser incapable of serving his majesty. In the month of September in this year the general married the only daughter of sir Nathan Wright, bart. of Cranhamhall, in Essex.

On the 30th of March, 1745, he was promoted to the rank of major-general; and the rebellion breaking out in that year, we find him in December with his regiment very actively employed in following the rebels; but though he was frequently close to them, he did not overtake them, and in February 1746 he arrived in London. His conduct again became the subject of inquiry. On the 29th of September his trial came on at the Horse Guards, and ended the 7th of October, when he was again honourably acquitted; and the Gazette of the 21st of that month declared, that his majesty was graciously pleased to confirm the sentence.

Here his military character seems to have ended; for we do not find that he was any way employed in the war of 1756. On the establishing the British Herring Fishery in 1750, he took a very considerable part, and became one of the council in which situation he, on the 25th of October, delivered to the prince of Wales the charter of incorporation, in a speech printed in the journals of that year. In 1754 he was candidate for the borough of Haslemere, which he had represented in former parliaments; but on the close of the poll the numbers were found to be* for J. More Molyneux 75, Phil. Carteret Webb 76, Peter Burrel 46, and for himself only 45.

It has been said, that after this period he was reduced to great difficulties in his fortune, and to the necessity of | practising in some manner the science of physic as a profession. We know, however, of no authority for this assertion. On Feb. 22, 1765, he was advanced to the rank of genera], and lived to be the oldest officer in the king’s service. He died at Cranham, June 30, 1785.

He is represented to have been a man of great benevolence, and has been immortalized both by Thomson and Pope. He was at once, says Dr. Warton, a great hero and a great legislator. The vigour of his mind and body has seldom been equalled. The vivacity of his genius continued to a great old age. The variety of his adventures, and the very different scenes in which he had been engaged, merit a more full narrative than we have been able to furnish. Dr. Johnson once offered to write his life, if the general would furnish the materials. Johnson had a great regard for him, for he was one of the first persons that highly, in all companies, praised his “London.” But the greatest lustre of his life was derived from his benevolent and judicious settlement of the colony of Georgia. 1

1

European Magazine for 1785. Manning and Bray’s Hist, of Surrey. Nichols’s Bowyer. —Boswell’s Life of Johnson.Gent. Mag. see Index.