Highlanders Settle Darien General James Edward Oglethorpe founded the new Georgia colony at Savannah on February 12, 1733. He soon realized the need for military outposts to the south to protect the main settlement at Savannah. The purpose of the Georgia colony was largely military at first (as well as philanthropic). Thus, Oglethorpe decided upon an outpost on the former site of Fort King George on the Altamaha and a more elaborate fortification on St. Simons Island, a short distance south of the Altamaha. In October 1735, a band of Highland Scots, recruited from the vicinity of Inverness, Scotland, by Hugh Mackay and George Dunbar, sailed from Inverness on the Prince of Wales. In early January 1736, they arrived at Savannah and, on Oglethorpe’s orders, began making plans for settling at the mouth of the Altamaha. On the 19th of January, after traveling down the inland waterway by boat, the Highlanders landed at Barnwell’s Bluff on the site of Fort King George. There the Scots established the settlement they called Darien, in memory of the ill-fated expedition made by their countrymen to the Isthmus of Darien in Panama in 1697. There were 177 people in this hardy band of Scots, including women and children, and they were led by John McIntosh Mohr and Hugh Mackay. The men were trained Highland warriors, among the world’s finest fighting soldiers and specially selected by Oglethorpe for the purpose he had in mind. The Highlanders emplaced cannon on the earthworks of Fort King George; huts were built for the soldiers and those who had brought their families. A small kirk was built for the purpose of holding divine services. The Scots had brought their own minister, Rev. John McLeod of the Isle of Skye, recently ordained by the Presbyterian congregation in Georgia. Captain Dunbar wrote to the Georgia Trustees: “The Scots have settled at Barnwell’s Bluff on the Altamaha and desire their town shall be called Darien. On February 22, 1736, Oglethorpe made his first visit to Darien. The occasion marked the first military parade of British troops to be held in Georgia. In their honor, Oglethorpe wore the Highland habit. As they marched in review before him, the Highlanders made an impressive sight in full regalia, with claymore, side arms and targes (shields). In the summer of 1736, Oglethorpe again visited and on this occasion he laid out the town of Darien on a high bluff overlooking the river about one mile west of the Barnwell Bluff outpost. Here, Fort Darien was to be built; a town was surveyed and town squares laid out with commons on the east and north and acreage lots to the west of Fort King George. Late in 1739, the District of Darien was laid out, comprising an area approximating that of present-day McIntosh County. For a time, the town of Darien was called New Inverness to distinguish it from the District.