Oconee Forts and Settlements  

Baldwin County Georgia's
Oconee River  Frontier Forts and Towns


The Landing/Rock Landing Garrison

       Orignally a part of Washington County,  for more than a century Rock Landing was the main crossing point of the Oconee river. It was located 1/4 mile downstream from the mouth of Buck Creek which was the boundary line between Hancock and Washington Counties. See current map.  In 1777, William Bartram crossed the river at this point and visited the nearby Indian site of Old Oconee Town (link, pdf), which had then been deserted more than 70 years. Three indian trails converged here on the west side - Ocmulgee Old Towns Trail, Cussetah Path and the Old Trading Path which continued to Augusta. (see current map)
       Rock Landing Garrison was one of the first forts on the Oconee River and  a trading post in 1789. Robert Forsyth, was the state agent at Rock Landing in 1789. Gen. Elijah Clarke had the 1,100 acre land grant next to Rock Landing.
      Creek Chief Alexander McGillivray formulated plans for the treaty between the United States Commissioners, General Benjamin Lincoln, David Humphreys and Cyrus Griffin,  and the Creek Indians here in September 1789.  Dissatisfied with the negotiations McGillivray and his 2000 followers  left without a treaty.  David Hillhouse  furnished over twenty thousand rations for commissioners and soldiers stationed at the Rock Landing.
     Some of the Captains stationed here were: Georgia Militia Captains  Lieut. Col. Jesse Sanders commander of the guard to protect the commissioners, (see Payroll.) Captain Robert Watkins (1790), Captain William Sansoms (1790).    Captain Jacob Savage of the 4th Company, U.S. Army Artillery Battalion (1790). According to John Popes " A Tour Through The Southern & Western Territories of North America, etc. published in 1792, Captain Joseph Savage, an artillery officer from Massachusetts, called it Fort Massachusetts".   James Seagrove, residing at Rock Landing, was appointed first U.S. Indian agent to the Creeks in September1791 . Timothy Barnard was his deputy.
     According to the Augusta Chronicle, Feb. 11, 1792,  "the counties of Wilkes, Greene and Franklin were ordered to aid the station commanded by Captain Savage, at the Rock Landing; and cover the frontier from said station to Tugalo river" and the Elbert county militia was ordered here in January 1792 to "aid the station and to cover the frontier to the Tugalo river." Major General John Twiggs was the commanding officer of the militia in 1792.  Major Call was commander of the federal troops in Georgia in 1791 and 1792. Lieutenant Nicholl was an artillery commander in 1792. Major Henry Gaither became the commander of the federal troops in 1792 and Captain John Howell, 1792 were also stationed here.
    Samuel Beckom, a large landowner of 10,000 acres on the east side of the Oconee, was the justice of the peace here in 1792.  The east side of the river was in Washington County until 1807 and, the west side in Wilkinson County until 1807 when they were added to Baldwin County.     In 1807 Aaron McKinzie operated a ferry here. See map. In 1839 the John Williams Rock Landing Plantation estate and other property was put up for sale. Thomas B. Lamar family and Thomas H. Latimer owned the land later which was later sold to E. N. Ennis. The Napier family who owned land on the west side of the river operated a ferry here in later times.

Federal Town

       Built near Rock Landing Garrison, about 8 miles south of Milledgeville in what was then Washington County. A tobacco warehouse inspection station and about 15 homes enclosed by a fence was here. Some of the lot owners were William Minor who owned 1/4 of warehouse, John Minor, Michael Graybill, Thomas Cooper, and Ferris Case.

Fort Fidius Federal Fort

       Established in April 1793, Fort Fidius  was located 2 miles below Fishing Creek on the east side of the Oconee River in what was then Hancock County at  Holt's, later Buffington's Ferry. The ferry led to the settlement of Salem on the Sandersville Road. The fort was east of Fort Wilkinson on a bluff.
    Major James Seagrove was the Superintendant of Indian Affairs. Colonel Henry Gaither was stationed here in 1793 and left for St. Mary's due to his health.
      In 1794, Dr. Frederick Dalcho was a lieutenant of artillery and paymaster to the regular troops in Georgia. 1794 and Major Richard Brooke Roberts was commander. Constant Freeman, Jr. was agent for the war department in Georgia. Also stationed here were Joel McClendon, John Whitney, Lieut. Staats Morris, Thomas Farley, Frederick Myers and  Lewis.
       Oposite this fort on the western side of the Oconee was Ft. Advance, one of Gen. Elijah Clarke's that was destroyed in 1794.
Fallen Timbers Officer Roster by T.F. Beauvais states that Captain William Eaton, federal troops, was here in 1795
      Abandoned in 1797, the troops moved to the newly built Fort Wilkinson south of Fidus and on the western side of the Oconee.  See 1867 map.
Montpelier  (Montpellier)
    The town Montpelier, formerly in Hancock County, was  established in 1793. It  was located 1/2 mile up the river from Fort Fidius. The land was survyed and platted and lots were laid out 1/2 acres each. Some of the street names  were Market, Broad, Jackson, Washington and Federal. Land owners here were Peter Doyle, James W. Greene. (1/2 of Lot No. 71) Joel McClendon (near river bank 1803), Philip Cook, Lazarus Battle, John Ragan, John Cook, John Harbet, George Lea, Samuel McGehee, David Hubbard,  John Miles, Zachariah Simms, Col. Thadeus Holt who established a ferry here at the site of Fort Fidius, owned 12 lots when he died in 1814.
    A public warehouse was built mainly for storage and inspection of tobacco.  J. W. Deveraux had a store here and in Sparta in 1797. John Miles, a revolutionary soldier and justice of the peace, was named commissoner for the improvement of the Oconee River in 1801. Montpelier Church, the oldest church in Baldwin County, was established here in 1794. It was moved 4 miles east  to it's present site in 1843 on lands granted by Col. Benjamin Hall. See 1869 Map

Fort Wilkinson

     Built in 1797, below the future site of Milledgeville, Fort Wilkinson was built on a high bluff on the western side of the Oconee. On the eastern side lay the county of Hancock later to become Baldwin in 1807. It was the first fort on the west side of the Oconee (other than Elijah Clark's ill-fated forts). See 1867 map..  It was named for James Wilkinson, the commander in chief, of the U.S. Military. Benjamin Hawkins was the indian agent who lived here who established a trading post and fort for developing friendly interactions with the Indians. Georgia troops from Fort Fidius were moved here and Henry Gaither was the Lieut. Colonel commanding the troops of the 3rd Georgia regiment.
    On June 16, 1802, the Creek Indians and U.S. commissioners signed the Treaty of Fort Wilkinson,which ceded Creek lands in two different areas to Georgia. The northern cession involved land west of the Oconee River, which the legislature divided into two new counties -- Wilkinson and Baldwin -- on May 11, 1803 (Ga. Laws 1803 Extra. Ses., p. 3).  The U.S. Commissioners were James Wilkinson, Benjamin Hawkins and Andrew Pickens. Fort Wilkinson was the upper corner boundary of Wilkinson County and remained so until 1806.
     Edward Price, the trading house factor arrived here in 1797. Price was succeeded by Edward Wright who was replaced by Jonathan Halsted,  United States Agent of Indian Affairs and Factor in 1802  by H. Dearborn, Secretary of War, with the appointment to continue at the pleasure of the President. The salary was $1,000 per annum. About 1806, Halsted was transferred to Fort Benjamin Hawkins (present day Macon), Georgia as Indian Agent and Factor.
      Dictionary of the Army.. by Charles K. Gardner, pub. 1853,  lists John Whitney as Commisioner of  military stores at Ft Wilkinson and Quartermster of Gaither's Battalion in Georgia. He died April 21, 1800.  Samuel Lane of Maryland was Assistant Military Agent here in May 1802, resigned Aug. 12, 1802. Southworth harrlow was a Surgeon's Mate in April1802
     Fallen Timbers Officer Roster by T.F. Beauvais,  states "Captain Edward Butler died at Fort Wilkinson, Georgia, 6 May, 1803; his brother Colonel Thomas Butler, 2nd Inf., at Wilkinsonville (Fort Wilkinson) Georgia, had run in with Gen. Wilkinson over orders to get haircut, and became insolent, was court-martialed and sent to New Orleans  where he died  1805 Sep 7  of Yellow Fever (other source gives year as 1804) "  W. R. Boote was the captain  of the 2nd Inf. under Colonel Thomas Butler.
Simon Magruder Levy, West Pointís second graduate, was an assistant engineer here in 1805. Other officers stationed here in 1805 - 1806 were Capt. Hugh McCall, William R. Boote, 1st Lieut. Bartol D. Armistead, Henry R. Grah, 2nd Lieut Samuel Williamson, 2nd Lieut John Miller, Ensign Chrles Magnan, and Ensign Anthony Foster
   Col. Thaddeus Holt was granted  Land Lot 268 in the 5th district in the 1805 Land Lottery consisting of 128.33 acres in 1806, as well as other  fractions of land on the Oconee River. See 1805 map.  Fort Wilkinson was located in No 284 adjacent to No. 268. He  lived in  the settlement called Fort Wilkinson, operating  Holt's Ferry  until his death  in 1814. His mansion house was "a handsome double story building and with the convenient out houses annexed to it is one of the most desirable situated one in the neighborhood."
     In 1807  Aaron Burr spent the night here before crossing the ferry on the way to Augustus.  See The Capture of Aaron Burr in Alabama.
     The fort was moved in 1807 and operations moved to Fort Hawkins on the Ocmulgee river. History of Baldwin County states it was "garrisoned under the Georgia militia under  Major Samuel Beckham until Indian forays had ceased."
      In 1917 "The Nancy Hart Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution" at Milledgeville, Georgia, was granted five acres of land including the site of "Old Fort Wilkinson" and the spring near said site and a roadway from the public road to the said site in the 321st District G. M. of Baldwin County, Georgia, for the purpose of protecting, marking, preserving, caring for and controlling this historic spot"  Acts of the General Asembly. Current Map

Eileen Babb McAdams copyright 2008
Additions and Corrections Will Be Appeciated.