Darien is Georgia's Hidden Gem of the Golden Isles. This is where Georgia began!
Established as a port on the Altamaha River by Scottish Highlanders under the leadership of John McIntosh Mohr in 1736, Darien has a long martial tradition. Georgia's founder, General James Oglethorpe was in attendance when, on Feb. 22, 1736, he reviewed the Highland Company from Scotland the first military parade in Georgia after they had fought alongside him at the Battle of Bloody Marsh against the Spanish in 1742. By 1863, Darien was considered one of the great ports on the eastern seaboard. Aside from shipping staples like cotton and lumber, the port was a haven for blockade runners. Because of its economic importance and notoriety as a blockade-running sanctuary, Darien became a target of Union forces invading the Georgia coast during the Civil War.
On June 11, 1863, Darien was the scene of some of the first action by black troops of the United States Colored Troops (USCT) of the 1st South Carolina and 54th Massachusetts regiments. The 54th Massachusetts was commanded by 25-year-old Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the son of wealthy abolitionists. Stationed at St. Simons Island, Shaw received orders from his superior, Kentucky Colonel James Montgomery, to march on Darien. The town was ordered looted and burned under protest by Colonel Shaw, who saw the orders as immoral. In less than a month after the burning of Darien, Shaw would lead the 54th Massachusetts in the assault on Battery Wagner near Charlestown, S.C., where he would be killed along with many in his regiment, proving the courage and tenacity of black troops under fire.
Rebuilt in the 1870s, Darien regained its position as an important seaport, continuing to ship lumber throughout the world until depletion of the area's forests in the early 20th century forced an end to its prominence. Today, the remains of tabby warehouses along the waterfront and the shell of the Adam Strain building remain in the area of the U.S. 17 Bridge and behind the visitor's center. The Methodist Church on Vernon Square was partially destroyed in the 1863 fire but was rebuilt in 1884 and is in use today.
Visit Darien and explore rivers, estuaries, islands, beaches and natural habitats. Our coastline is home to many types of resident wildlife and birds as well as migratory species around the calendar. We boast one of the world's largest estuarine systems swimming with seafood that is harvested locally. While we know you will find your favorite place in history whether it be Fort King George, Ashantilly or the Old Jail; our best advice is sure to be dining on local cuisine at one of our restaurants, events or festivals. Skipper's Fish Camp, Pelican Point and the Darien River House are happy to plan your dinner and reservation with local delicacies on the menu. The annual Martin Luther King Parade, Scottish Heritage Days, Blessing of the Fleet Festival, St. Patrick's Celebration, Sapelo Island Cultural Day, Darien Fall Fest featuring McIntosh Shouters and a historic styled lime burn, and Debatable Land Battle with the Spanish are great opportunities to catch some extra special local foods and entertainment.
With the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, now is the perfect time to explore Darien's Civil War history.
Civil War Site