Rediscovered War of 1812 fort recalls last invasion of U.S.
ST. MARYS, Ga., Aug. 22 /PRNewswire/ — Land Resource Companies and Rep. Jack Kingston dedicated the “Forgotten Invasion” exhibit at Cumberland Island National Seashore Museum on August 22 at 10 a.m. This event paid tribute to one of the most significant archaeological finds in recent U.S. history: a fort that was the site of the last battle of the War of 1812.
“I am proud of Land Resource Companies,” said Rep. Kingston. “They have set the example; this is the kind of public-private development we are looking for.”
“Land Resource Companies’ projects bring history and home sites together into one community,” said Paul Beidel, president of LRC. “Our organization is working very hard to preserve the history and a sense of place by adding on- site signage, creating a museum exhibit to tell the Forgotten Invasion story and setting aside and preserving the remains of the fort.”
National Park Service Southeast Regional Director Patricia Hooks, the new Deputy Commissioner of Tourism Dan Rowe, British Consul General Michael Bates, State Rep. Cecily Hill (R-St. Marys), museum Superintendent Jerre Brumbelow and representatives from U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), LRC and Brockington & Associates, all made remarks at the event.
Point Peter uncovered
Remains of the fort, uncovered by Land Resource Companies at Point Peter near St. Marys, are located at a prime development area. The fort might have remained forgotten if the Atlanta-based developers had not decided to create Cumberland Harbour, a 1,200-unit residential and marina community near the site.
To meet federal historic preservation requirements, LRC hired archaeologists from the cultural resource firm Brockington and Associates to uncover the remains of the fort. Noting the significance of the discovery, LRC has spent more than half a million dollars to survey and excavate the site, preserve artifacts, and develop an educational museum display and an educational program for local students.
Background and Historical Significance
A forgotten piece of history, Point Peter played a significant role in events of the early republic period. Constructed as part of the “First System” of seacoast fortifications in 1796, troops stationed at Point Peter and St. Marys helped enforce both the Embargo Act and Prohibition of the African Slave Trade in 1808. From 1811 to 1813, it was a rendezvous station for the Patriot Invasion of East Florida.
Point Peter was the site of the last major military activity of the War of 1812 in January 1815, when the British landed in force on Cumberland Island, then staged a two-pronged attack against the fort. A peace treaty ending the War of 1812 was signed in Belgium in December 1814, but the soldiers, far removed from Europe, knew nothing of the treaty. The British then destroyed the fort, barracks and magazine. After occupying and looting Point Peter, Cumberland Island and St. Marys, the British left in early March 1815.
Rarely used after the British occupation, Point Peter was a rendezvous station for the U.S. troops charged with squashing the Filibuster Expedition in 1818 and the last military occupancy dates back to about 1821. The fort was then made obsolete by the cessation of Florida to the United States. Fernandina and St. Augustine then afforded the U.S. better military protection. By 1840, when the construction began for Fort Clinch (at the northern tip of Amelia Island), Point Peter had been forgotten.
“The LRC project helped rewrite history,” said Scott Butler, project manager for the Point Peter excavation and senior archaeologist at Brockington & Associates. “The War of 1812 was originally thought to end in New Orleans, but the formerly forgotten fort site is where the war actually ended. The discovery is enormously significant and from the study of the over 68,000 artifacts found we were able to determine that this fort is connected to national and world events during the 1800s.”
Education develops history appreciation
The LRC-funded exhibit was designed and created by The History Workshop, a division of Brockington and Associates. This division focuses on historic preservation and public education and presents results of archaeological projects to the public.
The exhibit opened on July 1 at the Cumberland Island National Seashore Museum, 129 Osborne St., St. Marys. The museum is open daily from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Current plans call for the exhibit to stay at St. Mary’s until 2012, or beyond, for the bicentennial anniversary of the beginning the War of 1812.
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