of the Operations against Pensacola
Translated from a pamphlet belonging to
Mr. Gaspar Cusachs
New Orleans, La.
"C" No. 1
On October 16, 1780, General Bernardo de Galvez led the Spanish forces against Pensacola. The expedition resulted in the defeat of the English arms which furnishes Louisiana today with her claim of participating in the American Revolution.
Galvez's diary, evidently not intended for general distribution, was printed in Spain soon after his return from America. It contains much that should prove of interest to the historian of the present time, and although quotations have been made from it and used by different writers, yet it has not until the present time been translated and printed in its entirety. The translation presented on the following pages was made from a copy which I purchased in Madrid, and has been carefully prepared by Mr. Gilbert Pemberton. No title page is included with this copy, nor is it known whether one was ever printed. Few copies of this very interesting work are known to exist.a
The expedition which sailed from Havana the 16th of October, 1780, against Pensacola, having been frustrated by the hurricane, its Commander Dn. Bernardo de Galvez, returned to the sailing port, November 17th, with the sorrow of ignoring the whereabouts of the ships of his escort, some of which dispersed by the storm, went to Campeche, others to the Mississippi River, a few to other places, and it is believed that one perished, for nothing is known of its fate. After its arrival in Havana the referred to General reiterated his former pretentions that the fort of Mobile be succored with provisions and men, not only because it found itself very short of these, but also because it threatened to be attacked. In view of his insistence, the Council of Generals ordered that two ships be prepared capable of transporting 500 men and some provisions, and this small company made sail the 6th of December under command of the Capitan of frigate Dn. Joseph de Rada; notwithstanding that after a few days navigation, he arrived safely at the mouth of the Mobile, he determined not to enter its bay on account having found (so he assured) some variation in the channel, and he made sail directly for the Baliza of the Mississippi River at the entrance of which he left the convoy and returned to Havana.
This circumstance, that two English frigates had penetrated the very Bay of Mobile five days after, and the news that the detachment p47of the village had been attacked, moved Dn. Bernardo de Galvez to urge, that although the state of things did not permit a renewal of the expedition from Havana, some troops be given him with which to reinforce the garrisons of Louisiana and Mobile and from there, if a favorable opportunity were found, pledge the inhabitants of those regions to a further effort and fall on Pensacola, or if this could not be, preserve more securely what had been conquered. The idea having been approved by the Council of Generals, it was resolved to select 1315 men from the various regiments, including five companies of grenadiers, and to provide for the equipment of vessels as transports, and designating as a guard for these, the ship of war San Ramon, commanded by Dn. Joseph Calvo, the frigate Sta. Clara, Capitan D. Miguel Alderete, the Sta. Cecilia, Capitan D. Miguel de Goicochea, the tender Caiman, Capitan D. Joseph Serrato, and the packet S. Gil, Capitan D. Joseph Maria Chacon, all under the orders of the referred to General D. Bernardo de Galvez, on his petition and by consent of the Council, as will be seen by the following communication sent by the General of Marine to the Commander of Ship, D. Joseph Calvo.
"To the question contained in your paper of yesterday, that I manifest to you the terms under which you must go subordinated to and obey the orders of the Field Marshall of the Royal Armies, D. Bernardo de Galvez, I beg to advise that your honor shall put in practice with all your well-known and notorious diligence those that the expressed Don Bernardo shall give your Honor relative to the conquest of Pensacola, without separating yourself in other things from what the Royal Ordinances of the Armada provide, endeavoring that the strictest discipline be observed in all the ships under your orders, as provided therein. May our Lord keep you many years. Havana, 6th of February, 1781. Juan Bonet. Sr. Dn. Joseph Calbo.º
When all was ready on the part of the Army and the Navy, the General embarked February 13th in spite of finding himself somewhat failing in health; the troops did the same on the 14th and on the 28th in the morning the convoy sailed, so happily, that, by three in the afternoon, the ships were all a great distance from the Port of Havana. The General had previously sent Capitan D. Emiliano Maxent in a schooner to New Orleans with orders to the Commandant of Arms, so that the troops that D. Joseph Rada had left and those that had arrived on account of the October storm should set out and meet the convoy, and to that end had already advised under date of February 1st, that they find themselves ready to sail at the first signal.
p48 On the first of March the General commissioned the of the Regiment Spain,º D. Miguel de Herrera, to go by schooner to Mobile with letters for D. Joseph Espeleta, in which he informs him of his intention of proceeding to the East of Santa Rosa Island, fronting the Port of Pensacola, advising him to march by land to form a union with the troops of his command.
On the 4th at 9 in the morning, all the commanders of the war vessels came aboard the commanding ship, and the General informed them of his project of proceeding to the Island of Santa Rosa, disembarking thereon and attacking the battery the enemy had on Siguenza Point, so as to facilitate the entry of our ships in the Port, without the risk of passing through a cross fire, and there await the reinforcements from Louisiana and Mobile. All the officers of the Fleet applauded this thought and some amongst them earnestly solicited the honor of entering first. At 10 o'clock eleven vessels were sighted to windward, which were chased until nightfall, and by their direction they seemed to be making Tortugas Sound, and were thought to be a convoy of provisions that was expected from Vera Cruz.
On the 5th at 6 o'clock in the evening, the brig Galveztown which had left Havana on the 2nd incorporated itself to the squadron.
On the 9th at 6 in the morning land was sighted and a little while after it was recognized to be the Island of Santa Rosa; at eight o'clock a few cannon shots were heard, from which was inferred the proximity of the Port of Pensacola.
At 2 in the afternoon the General called to quarters and disposed that all the troops find themselves ready to disembark that night and that each soldier should carry three days ration; it being well understood that the grenadiers and light infantry should be the first to disembark, and that they should pass by the stern of the ship S. Ramon, when two lights should appear thereon. At the hour of Prayer the convoy came to anchor at a distance of one cannon shot from shore and •three leagues to windward from the mouth of the Port.
At eight o'clock at night the signal was placed on the commanding ship so that the boats with troops should gather there, and the General having placed himself at their head, the landing was effected with some misgivings, but without the least opposition. He gave his orders to Colonel D. Francisco Longoria to take up the march with the grenadiers and light infantry and returned to the ship to hasten the final disembarking, so that by 3 o'clock in the morning of the 10th all the troops were marching in column formations by the sea on the shore of the referred to Island.
The first landing party arrived at Siguenza Point at p49five in the morning, where they did not find the Fort they thought was there, but only three dismounted cannons and a partly demolished breastwork of fascines that the enemy not knowing how to utilize, had abandoned. A while later two boats with seven men were seen to come landwards near that part, and the light infantry made these prisoners. The Fort that is on Barrancas-Coloradas, opposite Siguenza and about •500 fathoms away and the two English frigates anchored nearby, observed this, and began a lively fire on our troops, without occasioning the slightest mishap, because the land furnished several small hills that served as shelters, and, besides, some earth was thrown up, for better protection.
The prisoners declared to the General that the place was well provided with provisions and troops and that from day to day a considerable re-inforcement was expected from Jaimaca.º
On the 10th at 11 o'clock in the morning the convoy changed anchorage nearer the port; that afternoon the General reconnoitered several times that part of the Island facing the town for the purpose of selecting a place suitable for the formation of a battery that would damage and keep away the enemy frigates that cannonaded our Camp, and protect the entry of the convoy and squadron, to which effect he ordered the landing of two cannons of 24, two of 8, four of 4, and the corresponding ammunition and 150 campaign tents for the troops.
On the 11th before the break of day the Commander of the squadron ordered parties to sound the bar of the harbor, and a battery of two cannons of 24, in barbettes, was mounted in front of the Barrancas, and at three thirty began to play on one of the English frigates that had set sail.
At that hour the squadron and convoy weighed anchor for the purpose of entering the Port, and this having been seen by the General he immediately embarked on the ship S. Ramon in order to be in this operation and pass through the risk, but the petitions of its Captain D. Joseph Calbo that he return to land were such that he had to accede. A while after all the convoy had gotten under way it was noticed that the ship S. Ramon had come about and returned to its former anchorage with all the other vessels that followed it, due to the fact that on crossing the bar it touched bottom, so the General was informed by the senior officer of the squadron.
All of the night was employed by the Commander of the ship D. Joseph Calbo in lightening it, until it was left in condition to verify its entry, although then, the weather was not favorable to do this.
On the 12th the weather continued contrary, and the General fearing that possibly if it became worse, the ships would not be able p50to maintain themselves in the open roadstead, and that if they were compelled to put to sea the Camp would remain without provisions, ordered that as much as possible be brought, in order to provide against this contingency, and this order was executed with the greatest celerity.
At eight o'clock in the morning the General repaired to extremity of Point Siguenza to inspect some work being done there and at two o'clock in the afternoon went on board of the S. Ramon to discuss the advisability of sending the frigates into the port at the head of the convoy, and the ship should do so after, for if it again went ashore, the other vessels would not be detained as on the preceding afternoon; but the naval officers having objected and pointed out certain difficulties he returned to land, and wrote to the Commander of the S. Ramon stating how necessary it was to gain the channel at once in order to avoid the risk of a storm, of the frequent ones on that coast, which would force the convoy to separate itself and leave the army abandoned; for which motive he advised him that he could already count upon the aid of 6 cannons of 24, which had already been emplaced on the point of the Island opposite that of the enemy.
Upon the advice received that same afternoon, that a few enemy boats had crossed the canal that forms the Island of Santa Rosa and separates it from the mainland, a force of grenadiers and light infantry advanced towards the place to reconnoiter and cut off the enemies' retreat if any disembarked.
On the 13th the landing of provisions and supplies continued, the General always fearing that the delays in forcing the port would oblige the convoy to set sail on account of the frequent and dreaded southwesters. However, on the same day he received a letter from the Commander of the sea forces in which he described the great difficulties he found, even after having consulted with the officers of his squadron, in risking the vessels under his command, for he lacked the indispensable information regarding the depth of water and direction of the channel; he had no pilots, and understood the enemy fires could rake his ships fore and aft, without the possibility of these being able to answer theirs to advantage.
At three in the afternoon he ordered his Aide de Camp, D. Esteban Miro, to proceed to Mobile with verbal instructions for Colonel D. Joseph Ezpeleta, in order to combine a reciprocal union of troops with on the enemy.
On the 14th the landing of provisions continued, although with great difficulty on account of the surf and the General commissioned the Captain of the brig Galveztown, to sound the interior of the harbor during the night so as to know exactly the depth of the water.
p51 On the 15th the sea made it extremely difficult for the boats to approach land, and with immense labor it was possible to disembark some vegetables and salt meat which they brought.
At 2 o'clock in the afternoon an English storeship was discovered under sail in the interior of the Port, which situated itself between the two frigates and out of the range of our cannon. At the same hour a battery of two cannons of 8 was placed near the one that had been formed by two others of 24.
On the 16th at 8 o'clock in the morning there arrived from Mobile the sloop commanded by the Lieutenant of frigate D. Juan Riano with letters from Colonel Ezpeleta, in which he advised the General that he was going to march with 900 men up to the shores of the River "de los Perdidos" distant •five leagues from Pensacola, and to pass to the other shore he required that a few launches be sent to him. This officer, as soon as he arrived on the Coast, presented himself to the Commander of the Squadron, who upon learning his mission sent the following communication to the General:
"Dear Sir: The moment D. Juan Riano informed me that the army from Mobile found itself on the shore of the "los Perdidos" River, I ordered that the armed launches be provided with ten days food, and in order that they shall lack for nothing, I have provided to supply a few more from this ship.
"I will also order the Pio that draws less water, that it go and cover this small expedition as close to land as possible, to free it from any vessel that attempts to oppose it, as also to provide Sr. Ezpeleta a few cannons and provisions if he should need them.
"I am of the opinion, if your honor desires to make use of it, that the expedition start early, just after nightfall, so as not to draw the attention of the enemies, for they may come out and make some inconvenient opposition, but this matter you will do what appears best to you.
"I have elected to direct the launches, my second in command, the Captain of Frigate, D. Andres , and the first Lieutenant of ship, D. Antonio Estrada, who carry pilots, a compass and a pilot's mate. God keep your honor many years. On board the ship S. Ramon, at anchor near the coast of the Island of Santa Rosa, 16th of March, 1781. Your most faithful servant kisses the hand of your honor. — Joseph Calbo de Irazabal. — Sr. Bernardo Galvez."
"Dear Sir: All that you tell me in your communication of today regarding your dispositions to help the troops from Mobile appear to me well, and I remain praying God to keep you many years. Camp p52of Santa Rosa, March 16th, 1781. — Bernardo de Galvez. — Sr. D. Joseph Calvo."
On the 17th at 11 in the morning the sloop of the mentioned Don Juan Riano situated itself at the entrance of the Harbor of Pensacola, accompanied by the brig Galveztown and the two small gunboats, at four o'clock in the afternoon, sub-lieutenant D. Miguel Herrera arrived with letters from Colonel Ezpeleta to the General advising him that he was marching with his troops to unite himself with him.
The General having recognized that there was too much delay in deciding upon the entry of the squadron and convoy, and fearing that a strong wind might compel it to make sail so as not to wreck itself upon the shore, thus leaving the troops abandoned on the Island without means of subsistance, determined to be the first one to force the harbor, in the conviction that this last resort would stimulate the others to follow him; and in effect, on the afternoon of the 18th at half past two he embarked in an open boat to go on board of the brig Galveztown that was anchored at the mouth of the harbor of Pensacola, and after having hoisted a broad penant,º this ship made the corresponding salute and set sail followed by two armed launches and by the sloop commanded by Dn. Juan Riano, these being the only vessels under his private orders. The Barrancas Fort fired as much as possible, particularly on the Galveztown, for they could not ignore that the General was in it on account of the ensign it flew; but, in spite of its efforts, the vessel entered the harbor without the least harm notwithstanding the great number of bullets that pierced sails and shrouds, and with the applause of the army, who with continued cheers demonstrated to the General its delight and loyalty to him.
Upon seeing this the squadron determined to make its entry on the following day with the exception of the ship, S. Ramon, that had been ballasted.
On the 19th at 2 in the afternoon the convoy set sail, by the King's frigate, and it took an hour from the time the first ships began to suffer from the extraordinary fire of Fort on the Barancas,º until the last one found itself free from it, and, notwithstanding the damage done to the ships, there were no personal losses. During this time the General went in his gig among the ships in order to furnish them any help they might need.
At 5 o'clock the General determined to pass in a yawl to the river "de los Perdidos" in order to acquaint Ezpeleta personally of his intentions. For this purpose he embarked with his aides and went out of the harbor stating that the same probability existed for going p53as for coming in; but the contrary winds and the equally contrary currents obliged him to return to the Camp at 11 o'clock at night.
On the 20th in the morning he commissioned an officer to go to Pensacola with a letter for General Campbell, couched in these terms:
"Most Excellent, my dear sir: The English in Havana intimated with threats that none of the ships or buildings of the King and private parties be destroyed, burned or torn down under pain of being treated with the utmost rigor. The same warning I give to your Excellency and others whom it may concern with the same conditions. God keep you Excellency many years. Camp of the Island of Sta. Rosa, March 20, 1781. Most Excellent Sir. Your most attentive servant kisses your Excellency's hands. — Bernardo de Galvez. — Most Excellent Sir, — Juan Campbell."
In the afternoon the General went in a boat to examine the beach opposite the harbor in order to select a suitable landing place for the troops that had to operate.
At eight o'clock at night the enemies set fire to a Guard-house situated on the beach where the General had made his examination during the afternoon; upon seeing this he ordered that the sloop commanded by Don Juan Riano and the armed launch from the Galveztown should approach land and fire with grape shot upon the enemies who might be there.
Very early on the 21st an officer, commissioned therefor, arrived from Pensacola and delivered to the General a letter from Campbell couched in the following terms:
"Most Excellent sir: My dear sir: The threats of the enemy who assail us are not considered under any other aspect than as an artifice or stratagem of war, which he makes use of to further his own purpose. I trust that in my defense of Pensacola (seeing that I am attacked) I will do nothing contrary to rules and customs of war; for I consider myself under obligations to your Excellency for your frank intimation, although I assure you that my conduct will depend rather on your own, in reply to the propositions Governor Chester will send you tomorrow regarding prisoners, and mine relative to the City of Pensacola, than upon your threats. In the meantime I remain your Excellency's most obedient servant, John Campbell. Headquarters Pensacola, March 20, 1781. — Most Excellent sir, Bernardo de Galvez."
At noon there arrived from Pensacola under a flag of truce one of General Campbell's aides de camp with letters from the former and Governor Chester to Sr. Galvez, and accompanied by Colonel p54Alexander Dickson, who remained a prisoner after the capture of Baton Rouge and resided in Pensacola under parole.
"My dear sir: Humanity dictating as far as possible the preservation of innocent individuals from the cruelties and devastations of war, and it being evident that the garrison of Pensacola cannot defend without the total destruction of the City, and therefore the ruin of a great number of its inhabitants; and desiring also to preserve the city and garrison for the victor, to which I must acquiesce in the hope that the palm of victory will fall upon the troops that I have the honor to command, I have abandoned the garrison of Pensacola; but knowing that the conservation of the city and its buildings depends of your Excellency and myself, or (in other words) that at the present moment it is within the power of both of us to destroy them or no, I propose to your Excellency, that the mentioned City and buildings be preserved entirely without malicious harm by both parties during the siege of the Royal Marine redoubts, Fort George and others adjacent thereto, where I propose to dispute the conservation of western Florida to the British Crown, under the following stipulations.
"That neither the City nor buildings of Pensacola, nor any part or portion of it, will be occupied or employed by any of the parties, to attack, preserve or defend themselves, nor for any other purpose whatever, but that it shall be an asylum for the sick, women and children, who may remain there without malicious injuries, harm or molestation on the part of the English, Spanish troops, or their allies.
"But in case this, my proposition, is not admitted by your Excellency and that some portion of the City or its buildings are occupied by troops under your orders, then it will be my obligation to impede that it serve as a shelter or hiding place, by destroying both, and if I saw myself compelled to take this cruel determination your Excellency will be the only one responsible before God and man, for the calamities and misfortunes that such an act would bring. However, the experience we have of your conduct and sentiments, removes the horror of such an idea, and promises me that you will concur in the mentioned propositions. Headquarters, Pensacola, March 21, 1781. Most Excellent sir, Your Most attentive servitor kisses your Excellency's hand. — John Campbell. His Excellency D. Bernardo de Galvez."
"Most Excellent Sir: My dear sir: My health not permitting p55me to reply to the letter which under this date your Excellency has remitted to me, I have requested Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Dickson to inform you of my opinion, whilst tomorrow I shall do so in writing. God keep your Excellency many years. Camp of Santa Rosa, March 21st, 1781. Most Excellent Sir, Your most attentive servant kisses your Excellency's hand. — Bernardo de Galvez. His Excellency, D. Juan Campbell."
"Most Excellent Sir: My dear sir: As we lack barracks within our lines, for the accommodation of the Spanish prisoners we have in order not to expose their health and subject them to various hardships, and stimulated by of humanity, I have determined to propose to your Excellency, that they be set at liberty under their word of honor, and on condition that your Excellency will bind himself that they shall not serve against H. Britannic M. nor any of his allies, in any capacity whatever, either civil or military during the present discussion or at any time until they be exchanged for other subjects of Great Britain or her allies who may be prisoners. God keep you many years. Most Excellent sir, Your attentive servant kisses your Excellency's hand, — Peter Chester. Pensacola, March 21st, 1781. His Excellency D. de Galvez."
"Most Excellent Sir, My dear sir: As the protection and security of women and children against the calamities of war have always been looked upon by cultured nations as the primary object, I believe myself excused from taking other steps than informing you that those depending on this City and surrounding country will remain quietly in their homes, for which I trust that your generous and humane sentiments will prompt you to give positive orders to the troops and seamen belonging to Spain or in alliance with her, that they shall not increase the misfortunes of these non-combatants, their families and goods. God keep your Excellency many years. March 21st, 1781. Most Excellent sir, Your attentive servant kisses your Excellency's hand, — Peter Chester. Pensacola, His Excellency Sr. D. Bernardo de Galvez."
"Most Excellent Sir, My dear sir: I have received your Excellency's two letters under date of today, in which you make the propositions that the prisoners of war be set at liberty and that the women and children remain in the City of Pensacola, hoping your p56Excellency that on my part I will give the most rigorous orders to the troops and sailors in the expedition under my command, that should not cause them the least extortion.
"The co-incidence of finding myself a trifle ill deprives me of the satisfaction of replying to your Excellency upon said particulars; but I have, however, requested Lieutenant Colonel Dickson to explain to your Excellency my way of thinking until tomorrow when I shall give you my reply in writing. God keep your Excellency many years. Camp of Santa Rosa, 21 of March, 1781. Most Excellent Sir, Your most attentive servant kisses your Excellency's hand, — Bernardo de Galvez. His Excellency Peter Chester."
At the time that the General wrote the mentioned letters, he instructed Dickson as to his views regarding the propositions Campbell and Chester had made to him, in order that he advise them until the next morning when he would do so properly and in writing. At three in the afternoon he ordered the grenadiers, who were encamped on that part of the Island facing the harbor to form in battle array, and that the other troops also opposite the harbor should move upon a small hill that would make them visible, so that Lieutenant Colonel Dickson could if he wished, inform General Campbell as to the class and number of troops that he (Galvez) commanded. After this the General embarked in his gig with Dickson and went on board the frigate Sta. Clara to speak with General Campbell's aide de camp who was on board by orders of the General; he went with both in the gig until it appeared to him opportune to leave them to go back to Pensacola and he returned to the Camp near the hour of prayer.
During the night several houses near Fort Barancas were seen to burn, and this procedure displeased the General greatly, for to avoid all conflagrations he had warned General Campbell, as is seen in his letters.
On the 22nd at half past nine in the morning, Colonel Ezpeleta was seen marching with his troops on the opposite shore inside the harbor, the General going with 500 men, including the grenadiers to re-inforce him, and thus allow Ezpeleta's troops to rest; and after having communicated his orders to Camp he returned to the Island, having before doing this dispatched a flag of truce to Pensacola with the following letters:
"Most Excellent Sir, My dear sir: At the time we are reciprocally making one another the same propositions, for both of us aimed at the conservation of the goods and property of the individuals of Pensacola, at the same time, I say, the insult of burning the houses facing my Camp on the other side of the bay is committed before my very eyes. This fact tells of the bad faith with which you work p57and write, as also the conduct observed with the people from Mobile, a great many of whom have been victims of the horrible cruelties protectedº by your Excellency; all proves that your expressions are not sincere, that humanity is a phrase that although you repeat it on paper, your heart does not know, that your intentions are to gain time to complete the destruction of Western Florida; and I, who am indignant at my own credulity and the noble manner in which it is pretended to me, must not, nor do I wish to, hear other propositions than those of surrender, assuring your Excellency, that as it will not be my fault, I shall see Pensacola burn with the same indifference, that I shall see its cruel incendiaries perish upon its ashes. God keep your Excellency many years. Island of Sta. Rosa, March 22, 1781. Most Excellent Sir, Your most attentive servitor kisses your Excellency's hand, — Bernardo de Galvez. His Excellency John Campbell."
"Most Excellent Sir, My dear sir: I regret very much that since yesterday circumstances have so varied, that now I cannot, nor must not reply to the propositions regarding prisoners and families which your Excellency made me in his communications; if, as is natural, the fate of these interests you, treat with General Campbell, for all depends of the good or bad conduct he observes. I, personally, am a servitor of your Excellency and desire that God keep you many years. Camp of the Sta. Rosa, March 22, 1781. Most Excellent Sir, Your most attentive servitor kisses your Excellency's hand, — Bernardo de Galvez. His Excellency Peter Chester."
"P. D. — I enclose for your Excellency's information a copy of the letter I am writing to General Campbell."
During the afternoon the King's packet, the S. Pio, that had just returned from the vicinity of the "de los Perdidos" River to protect the launches in which the people from Mobile were destined to cross from one shore to another, entered the harbor. The Barrancas Fort fired as briskly as possible but without causing it or any of the four boats that followed any damage whatever.
At eight o'clock at night, the officer commissioned to carry the letters addressed to Campbell returned to the Camp with the following reply:
"My dear sir: The imperious style your Excellency uses in his letters of today far from producing its evident purpose of intimidating, has made me resolve more than ever to oppose the ambitious undertaking Spain has placed under your command, by making all the destruction possible, and in this I will only comply with my p58obligation to my King and country, a far more powerful motive than your anger.
"The officer in command of Fort Barrancas-Coloradas, has the order to defend that post to the last extremity; if he has deprived the enemy who now assails us of a shelter, or vantage point for his attacks, he has fulfilled his duty, besides not having molested women and children nor private property.
"I repeat to your Excellency that if he uses the City of Pensacola for his attacks on Fort George or to shelter his troops I have resolved to execute all I have communicated to you.
"Insofar as the observations more immediately connected with me are concerned, as I believe them unmerited, I despise them. God keep your Excellency many years. Headquarters, Pensacola, March 22, 1781. Most Excellent Sir, Your most attentive servitor kisses your Excellency's hand, — John Campbell, — Most Excellent Sir, Bernardo de Galvez."
That same night all the troops slept encamped on the shore that faces the Harbor, in order to be ready to pass more quickly to the opposite side where those from Mobile were.
The morning of the 23rd was taken up in the preparation of rafts to send the artillery on the opposite shore, together with tents and ammunition. At 9 o'clock sails were seen on the horizon and immediately they were believed to be the convoy from New Orleans. At four in the afternoon it entered the harbor, without the least loss, excepting unimportant damage to the sails, and that in spite of the fire from Barrancas. The Convoy consisted of 16 vessels, with 1400 men, cannons and ammunition; but three more vessels were missing, that had become separated the night before.
The General issued the necessary orders, so that not only the troops on the ships but also those that found themselves on the Island of Santa Rosa should be in readiness to cross to the mainland on the following morning, in order to unite themselves with those already there.
This same day Colonel Ezpeleta with the Quartermaster, explored the outer harbor in order to move the Camp nearer the City.
On the 24th the General ordered all the troops encamped on the Island of Sta. Rosa to embark on the merchant ships to be transferred by sea to the place selected for the establishment of the Camp on the mainland, in order to besiege Fort George and the others adjacent thereto, which was carried out at four o'clock in the afternoon with exception of 200 men who were left occupying the Island.
On the morning of the 25th two English sailors, deserters from , arrived at the Camp, and informed the General of the p59condition of the fort and its forces. This same morning a party of ambushed Indians, surprised the soldiers who had gone beyond the lines of the outposts, killed and wounded a few, committing their usual cruelty of scalping the bodies of their victims, and others besides.
At noon Lieutenant Colonel Dickson arrived at the Camp, with his baggage and a few English prisoners who resided in Pensacola until they should be called.
On the 26th at the hour of prayer the army took up the march, so as to cut off the point of the outer harbor and come out on the beach and also for the purpose of surprising some Indians and teaching them a lesson. The march through •five leagues of impenetrable woods, sown with Indians, was very difficult, and in the obscurity and thickness two parties of soldiers had the misfortune of reciprocally mistaking themselves for enemies and firing on one another with the result that several were killed and wounded.
On the 27th the General had the inner harbor explored, which was done in spite of the fire of parties of Indians. At one o'clock in the afternoon Councilor Stibensonº arrived from Pensacola, under a flag of truce, with propositions from Governor Chester.
The troops having occupied a spot which was judged suitable to establish them in, the General ordered the troops to encamp, and that the provisions and necessary material for that purpose be brought from the merchant vessels. At 10 o'clock at night a few parties of Indians ambushed near the Camp directed themselves towards the Camp fires made by the soldiers, fired suddenly on these, killing some and wounding others; on this account the Camp was ordered entrenched and that a few battalion cannons be disembarked, in order to use them with grape shot on the Indians whenever they approached.
On the 28th at noon and after the General had already agreed with Commissioner Stibenson the mutual observance of certain articles referring to the security of the Town of Pensacola, three Spanish sailors, prisoners, who had managed to escape, arrived and reported that they and their companions had been ill-treated by the English, and on this account the General became angry and despatched Stibenson, refusing to agree to any .
At 3 o'clock in the afternoon a multitude of about 400 Indians, approached the Camp and opened a brisk fire on the advanced guards, but the white and colored militia from New Orleans went out and a few cannons were brought up, by which means it was possible to make them withdraw for the time being, but at midnight they again attacked the camp from different points and whilst they p60were repulsed our troops suffered a few losses in killed and wounded.
On the 29th a launch was sent to Mobile with orders for the ships that were there with artillery and ammunition destined to the Expedition, to set sail immediately.
The General having decided to move the Camp closer to Pensacola, the reshipment of all the field-artillery, supplies and materials was ordered, their transportation by land being very difficult.
He ordered the Companies of grenadiers, infantry and other light troops to prepare themselves to march at day-break, and that after the beach of the inner harbor had been occupied by this corps, the rest of the army should disembark in launches and incorporate itself without fear of being attacked.
On the 30th at 5 o'clock in the morning, the General placed himself at the head of this column of 1100 men, with two field pieces, and in passing through a defile the scouting parties advised that there were Indians ambushed in the vicinity; for this reason he ordered a halt should be made and that they be fired on with a cannon, by which means they were put to flight.
At half past 10 o'clock the General arrived with the column to occupy the beach he had proposed to occupy which is situated within a cannon shot of Fort George, without interference from the enemy. The troops having taken possession of this ground, outposts and sentinels were placed in all the avenues, and all other precautions dictated by prudence and art were taken to better insure safety; and at the same time a message was sent to Colonel Ezpeleta to embark with the rest of the troops and come and incorporate himself into the new camp.
The General afterwards went on board the frigate Clara, to discuss the establishments of Hospitals, and that the ships advance as near as possible to the Camp of the troops.
At one o'clock in the afternoon the rest of the army began to arrive, and shortly afterwards firing was heard from the outposts, occasioned by a party of Indians who had approached; on this account and because the firing increased greatly, it was determined that the light troops set out for the time being to support the outposts, and that the others should advance also to form in battle array and occupy a plain, from which they could be moved with greater facility should the enemy attempt a sortie. A short time after it was seen that in effect troops were coming out of Fort George, and that the fire from the Indians had increased extraordinarily, all of which having been duly noted by Ezpeleta, he ordered that the wings of the army should prolong themselves to a certain distance in order to cut off the enemies' retreat in case they should abandon the field, but the p61purpose of these was no other than to support the Indians and attack us with two field pieces they had brought to fire on us with solid shot.
In these circumstances the General arrived, and seeing that the troops engaged were surrounded on all sides by a class of enemies whose real advantage consists in never coming out from the cover of the woods, adopted the plan to attack them with a few companies of light infantry, and with the assistance of two field pieces, this maneuver not only obliged the Indians to retire precipitately, but also compelled the English troops who supported them to retire to the shelter of Fort George, so that at seven o'clock in the evening, the army was already turning up earth to entrench itself, its right wing resting on a house near the beach and its left on the point of the inner harbor. This afternoon there were several killed and wounded, among these the Colonel of the King's Regiment, who died the following day, and two sub-altern officers.
As the General had ordered the landing of the field-artillery, six cannons were immediately placed on the left and two others on the right so as to make use of them if the enemy attacked during the night.
On the 31st the General went to the above mentioned house to observe the City and land in its vicinity, and the troops employed the day in perfecting the trench and erecting some tents that had been apportioned by Companies.
At seven o'clock at night a deserter from the Maryland Regiment arrived with the report that General Campbell planned another sortie like the one of the day before, and that in the City there were 600 equipped troops, 300 sailors, many armed negroes, and a large number of Indians encamped under the shelter of Fort George.
On the first of April at eight o'clock in the morning the Quartermaster set out with a detachment of 500 men to explore a height near the forts of the enemy and a little while after a contingent of about 250 English troops were seen, which maintained itself in observation until the detachment retired.
At three o'clock in the afternoon the General went in his gig to explore the Fort and vicinity of the town of Pensacola, and a little while after three deserters from the Waldek Regiment arrived, but these had nothing to add to what had already been said by the first one. During all this day the troops busied themselves in clearing the woods around the Camp in order to deprive the Indians of this means of sheltering themselves.
At two o'clock in the morning eight deserters from various Regiments arrived with more or less the same reports the others had p62made, and at ten the Quartermaster set out to mark the spot of the new camp nearer the place the General had selected to establish his batteries.
At one o'clock in the afternoon two more deserters arrived and reported that General Campbell had determined to open fire of his Forts on our Camp at three o'clock of the same; in view of this the General ordered that two-thirds of the army with their arms and accoutrements should join the Quartermaster in order to help on the trench, cautioning that all the tents be left up, so that the enemy should not know the intention.
At prayer time, the rest of the army retired also, the tents were folded, and the cannons were conducted to the new Camp, and 110 men left occupying the house called Nihil, until further orders.
The troops spent the night quietly without being molested by the enemy. At seven o'clock in the morning an English schooner set sail in the interior of the Harbor, and having seen this, two launches from the war ships and one from the brig Galveztown set out and captured it without opposition.
On the third the General ordered the 110 men who had been left at the Nihil house to retire and that two companies of light infantry go near there daily to protect desertion, and that the launches with provisions and other property of the army should always come by the creek of the inner harbor which protected his rear, inasmuch as there was sufficient water to facilitate transportation.
In the afternoon the General ordered the Royal Navy to take four English ships that had been abandoned and were at anchor near the town, among these there was the frigate of war called Port Royal with 60 Spanish prisoners on board and that the brig Galveztown go to the Scambier River to do the same with several schooners, also abandoned, and which had been reported by deserters.
At four in the morning, Colonel Ezpeleta again went out with the Quartermaster to examine the hill from which it was planned to attack Fort George and several workmen were engaged to lay out the Camp, thus avoiding that the Indians should ambush themselves and molest us.
On the 5th, the chiefs of the Talapuz Nation arrived at the Camp; the General listened to their mission and it was agreed that they should supply the camp with fresh meat.
The clearing of the woods was continued during the morning and afternoon and it was decided as an urgent measure to construct two redoubts on the creek of the inner harbor so as to protect the launches from the attacks of the Indians who fired on them from various places.
p63 At midnight they approached the Camp and fired, and we had an officer wounded in his tent.
At 6 o'clock in the morning the General went with the Quartermaster and several Engineers to examine the above mentioned hill, and select another closer place for the establishment of the camp.
During the day the troops continued to clear the woods and began to haul the ammunition which was being landed.
At seven o'clock in the morning it was reported to the General that the brig Galveztown had captured a polacre and three schooners near the River Scambier, and a Lieutenant from the Maryland Regiment presented himself to the General asking to serve under his orders, for having become involved with his Captain he left the English service, and was walking towards Georgia when he heard of our arrival.
Through this officer and several deserters the General learned that the Indians were retiring; that they busied themselves in robbing the houses of the inhabitants and in burning all those they could in the country; that several terrified families had asked permission to embark in the brig Galveztown, and that Mr. Deans, Captain of the British Royal Navy's frigate Mentor, had burned his ship to avoid its capture by the Spaniards.
On this same morning the General dispatched the Talapuz Chiefs on a mission to the Indians of the English faction, to persuade them not to take part either on one side or the other during this war, and to bring all the cattle they could.
In the afternoon work was begun on the two redoubts of the inner harbor in such a way that their fire would be flanking, so as to keep the Indians as far away as possible.
On the 8th the General wrote to Mobile so that a few Indians from the tribes most friendly to Spain should come for the purpose of persuading those who still continued attacking the Camp to retire, and for the purpose also of employing them in bringing all the cattle they could.
On the morning of the ninth Councilor Stibenson arrived at the Camp under a flag of truce, sent by Governor Chester to inform the General that a detachment of English troops in the City of Pensacola was there only for the purpose of protecting it against the daily disorders of the Indians and to avoid conflagrations.
In the afternoon he received a letter from the same Chester advising that he had liberated 11 Spanish prisoners he still had.
A deserter also arrived, who said that the defenses of Fort George were being daily strengthened and that a detachment of 300 Creek Indians had just arrived.
p64 At 10 o'clock a soldier from the Louisiana Regiment deserted, and another from the Regiment of the Prince was shot for insubordination to his Sergeant.
At 2 o'clock in the afternoon the Quartermaster set out to select a place for a new Camp, nearer to where it was desired to attack, and on this same day the redoubts were finished with four cannons each, and the Navy took charge of its defense.
On the 11th a deserter arrived and said that the one who passed over to the enemy had informed General Campbell that the army consisted of 3000 men, etc. That this General expect a re-inforcement of Indians and considerable help for Jaimacaº and had written the day before to Georgia, requesting assistance to throw us out of the country.
On the 12th, at six o'clock in the morning, the Camp was moved to the above mentioned place and the troops endeavored to entrench themselves as best they could; upon the angles that faced the avenues several field pieces were placed, and a redoubt was begun in order to occupy ground that guaranteed the safety of the Camp. During all this maneuver the enemy did not fire, but at one o'clock opened with several elevated shots at us from Fort George.
At four o'clock the outposts reported that several divisions were coming out of the Fort probably to attack us from different points. A while after several parties of Indians advanced and fired on the companies of light infantry that defied them; the General ordered that another go to their support with instructions not to intern themselves in the wood on account of the advantage this gave the Indians as had been learned by previous experience.
Our light infantry replied to the fire of the Indians and English troops that supported them with the greatest firmness; but seeming to the General that a continuation of this would compel him to fight too long, he ordered the companies to retire to the protection of the nearest battery and that the enemy be fired upon with grape shot whenever he approached.
A quarter of an hour after the General was advised that the enemies were approaching from three different points with two small cannons, for which reason he advanced to explore the place to which they seemed to be going in order to cut off their retreat; and having arrived at one of the advanced batteries a bullet struck him which went through one of the fingers of his left hand and furrowed his abdomen, and having retired to his tent to allow the surgeons to bind his wounds, he ordered Major-General Ezpeleta to take command on his own account and in his (Galvez's name), and to order whatever p65necessary to execute properly, until his wounds permitted him to again supervise all things.
Those of our batteries that had begun firing continued to do so against the Indians until these were obliged to retire, then it ceased on both sides without further loss to us than one killed and nine wounded.
On the 13th 1000 men were destined to clear the woods around the Camp, work on the redoubt and transport the artillery and material from the former Camp.
On the 14th at six o'clock in the morning, 600 men went out to construct fascines, and work was begun on an excavation which was to serve as a powder magazine.
At four o'clock in the afternoon a deserter from the Maryland Regiment arrived, and after being examined by the General, said among other things that on the afternoon of the 12th, there had been several Indians wounded and an English officer killed.
At eight o'clock a horrible tempest of rain, wind and thunder occurred, which greatly disturbed the Camp on account of its duration. The soldiers' ammunition became useless and for this reason they were ordered to use the bayonet in case the enemy should attempt a sortie, until such time as new ammunition could be provided; most of the tents fell to the ground, including the hospital tent, and the surgeons prognosticated that many of the wounded would die of convulsions, and the fears that this might happen to our General greatly worried everyone.
On the morning of the 13th all work was suspended, so that the soldiers might dry their clothes and put their arms in good conditions.
In the afternoon 700 men were destined to make fascines, and haul the ammunition that now began to arrive, and 66 Indians of the Chastae Nation that the General had asked for in Mobile arrived also, and encamped between the camp and the redoubt which had just been finished.
There also arrived a deserter from the Cavalry who reported that Fort George had suffered some slight damage from the storm and that the English troops would desert every time opportunity offered.
On the morning of the 17th, a company of the light infantry of Navarra, captured a courrier with several official and private letters for the Commandant of the Red-Clift's Fort. In one of these General Campbell assured that Admiral Rowley would send him considerable help, that his troops would defend themselves to the last extremity, and that whilst there was some desertion, far from this causing him any anxiety it augmented his confidence, for those truly soldiers remained, p66and that besides the arrival of the Creek Indians, he expected considerable re-inforcements from other friendly nations.
The construction of fascines and the carting of ammunition was continued by the troops during all of this day.
On the 18th, a settee and a brig from Havana entered the harbor with provisions, without the fire from Red-Clift's causing them any loss. From the papers they brought for the General was learned the joyful news that his father, the President of Guatemala, had dislodged the English from the Castle of Nicaragua, and to celebrate this the General ordered that the high artillery in the Camp fire a triple salute, and the same thing was communicated to the Navy.
This same day the Engineers went to explore the crescent battery of the salient of Fort George without the enemy noticing it, and three deserters who arrived ratified the report that on the same day the army had broken camp near the Nihil house General Campbell had planned to fire on it with forty cannons, and several howitzers and mortars.
At eleven o'clock at night there was some firing from the Indians against the outposts, without any except very slight damage.
On the morning of the 19th another exploration of the crescent battery was made, and measurements taken of the distance from it to the place best suited to reduce it, and this new exploration was indispensable as we had no exact plans, and the country was wooded and each step was a risk and a clash with the Indians.
At two o'clock the General was informed that fourteen vessels, some of them ships of war, were in sight, which caused a great deal of preoccupation as it was deemed likely to be the help the enemy expected.
At four o'clock it was reported to him twenty-one were in sight and that they seemed to be Spanish, but as he had received no news in the mail from Havana which had arrived the day before, nor had he asked for help, his preoccupation increased, and in order to remove all doubts at once, he ordered a commissioned officer to repair to the bay and report on the matter so as to provide for it.
At eight o'clock this officer returned and affirmed that the Chiefs of Squadron D. Joseph Solano and Mr. Monteill were near the Island of Santa Rosa with 15 ships, 3 frigates, and other vessels and a landing party of 1600 men under the of the Field Marshall D. Juan Manuel Cagigall,º to reinforce the army.
On the morning of the 20th, the Adjutants of the Squadron came to the Camp the inform the General that, advices having been received in Havana that 8 English ships, several transports and frigates had been sighted from Cape San Antonio, it was presumed p67that this might be the relief expedition for Pensacola, and that thus our attempt might fail, for which reason the Council of Generals had determined to embark the said troops on the referred to ships.
The two adjutants in the names of Sr. Solano and Mr. Monteill were also commissioned to offer the assistance of the artillery troops and crews of their ships, to which the General acquiesced in order that they also might share in the glory of this conquest. They also told the General that the frigate "Francesca la Andromaca" had stranded near the coast, and that in order to float it, they had seen themselves compelled to throw several cannons into the sea.
This day was employed in making fascines and in carting the artillery and war munitions.
On the 21st the heavy sea did not permit the disembarking of troops, but several schooners were destined to receive them at the ships' sides.
During the afternoon the French cutter "Serpent" entered the harbor with field marshal D. Juan Cagigalº and Don Francisco Saavedra on board, who immediately went to see the General and remained with him. Red-Clifts fired sixteen cannon shots at the cutter as it entered but not one hit the hull or rigging. That same afternoon the squadron to anchor in •7 fathoms of water •about half a league from land to be in readiness for the landing of the troops which began to take place at night.
On the morning of the 22nd, Field Marshall Cagigal, the Major-General and the Quartermaster went out to examine the point of attack of the crescent battery, and being discovered by the enemy they were fired upon with cannon and compelled to retire.
On this same morning two companies of French light infantry, and those of the artillery of the same nation, entered the camp and were assigned a camping place.
During the rest of the day other troops of the Army and Navy, with their officers began to arrive and a place was assigned to them; and so that all services should be rendered with due exactitude the General ordered that the army be formed into four Brigades, the first under command of Brigadier D. Geronimo Giron, another under command of Colonel D. Manuel Pineda, another one under command of Colonel D. Francisco Longoria, the fourth under the command of the Capitan of ship D. Felipe Lopez Carrizosa, and the French Division under command of the Capitan of Ship Mr. de Boiderout.
On the 23rd at 10 o'clock in the morning the Quartermaster went out with a detachment of light infantry to survey the parallel lines of the crescent batteries, and this operation being observed by the enemy a brisk fire was begun on the detachment.
p68 At noon a deserter arrived and reported that General Campbell thought of establishing a new provisional battery on one side of the crescent, and that very night the garrison slept on their arms as a surprise was feared.
On the morning of the 24th, Brigadier Giron went with two engineers to the place where the two new batteries were to be established, but the enemy who soon discovered the companies of light infantry that accompanied them, commenced to fire with cannon, thus enabling a force to come out and support the Indians who already annoyed us with their musketry; the light infantry returned the fire that was made on it with a deal of firmness, now advancing now retiring, according to the circumstances; but as the firing continued for quite a time, the General ordered two more companies to go out of the Camp in support of the others. This lasted for more than one hour and in the skirmish we had fifteen soldiers wounded, and although we do not know the losses of the enemy, we do know that several Indians remained dead on the field, besides one who came over to the Camp that same morning.
During the afternoon the Indians accompanied by some troops again annoyed the outposts and after firing for some time retired, having wounded three soldiers. At prayer time all the artillery of Fort George, in the crescent and circle began to salute and a short while after muskets were discharged, without our knowing then the cause of this rejoicing.
On the 25th a few companies of light infantry left the Camp to accompany the Commandant of Artillery and a few French officers who went to inspect the point of attack, and a little while after their arrival there, several Indians fired on them, which was replied to by the light infantry who retreated with five wounded.
At eleven o'clock in the morning Councilor Stibenson arrived at the Camp under a flag of truce from the Governor of Pensacola, Peter Chester, to treat of several particulars concerning the neutrality of the town; and he said that the salutes of the night before had been to celebrate the recent successes that Lord Cornwallis had obtained against the Americans.
At one in the afternoon a deserter from the Cavalry arrived, exaggerating greatly the forces of the enemy, and, appearing suspicious to the General, the man was ordered aboard ship to be securely kept.
On the 26th at four in the afternoon the engineers set out with five companies of grenadiers and light infantry, to trace the trench that was to be dug that night and to examine the crescent for the last time; but when they had about half finished this operation they p69were compelled to stop on account of the many parties of Indians who, sustained by 200 troops, commenced to fire on them; our people replied and attacked them with two field pieces they carried, obliging them to retire precipitately to the crescent; but this battery began to fire with heavy artillery and several howitzers preventing for the time being the conclusion of the exploration; nevertheless unequivocal signs were left to distinguish during the night the place where the trench should begin to be dug.
At ten o'clock at night 700 laborers with 300 fascines, sustained by 800 grenadiers and light infantry, set out to begin this work in the said place; to arrive there it was necessary to traverse a thick wood, and the way was made more difficult on account of the great number of trees that had been cut and pits that had been dug from place to place, for which reason, and also because strict silence had to be observed, the march was taken up at a slow pace.
On the 27th, it was already one o'clock and all the troops had not yet been posted at the avenues; the night was dark, with thunder, much and some showers. These considerations and that, that probably the troops would not have time to take to cover before the break of duty, was the cause that the work was suspended for the time being, and the troops returned to camp at three o'clock in the morning, leaving two companies of grenadiers posted thereabouts for observation purposes.
After the break of day two companies of light infantry were sent to relieve these, with the order that they prevent the enemy from exploring the ground or removing the signals left for the opening of the trench.
At eight o'clock in the morning two deserters arrived and among the things they the General, they did not omit to say that the enemy continued to prepare to defend themselves to the last extremity.
At nine o'clock shots were heard in the direction where the light infantry was posted, and at the same time the General was informed that the enemy was cutting trees in front of the crescent, and fearing they might entrench themselves in its shelter and frustrate our plans in those parts, he ordered that four companies with two field pieces should go out immediately, so that in union with the others they might protect the engineers who were again surveying the line; and that once this was accomplished, the cutting of trees was to be prevented and the enemy kept away without exposing the troops too much.
After the engineers had finished their operations without being noticed by the English, the four companies went to the place where p70the trees were being cut, and discovered that in effect work had been started on a small parapet, and that two field pieces were already emplaced near a point that our parallel lines followed.
After a while they fired with these, to which we replied briefly with the two we carried and with the musket, and they would have been thrown out of this place had they not found themselves supported by the crescent, that began to throw bombs and royal grenades, until one o'clock in the afternoon when our troops were relieved, having suffered the loss of four dead and twelve wounded. In the afternoon two soldiers from the Louisiana Regiment deserted, for which reason the trench was not dug that night although the orders had been given.
At eleven o'clock at night a deserter arrived at the camp, and on being examined by the General said that in the place there were more than 600 regular troops excluding the sailors, negroes and civilians who took up arms; that the number of Indians was about 400 and that a new battery was being installed to the right of the crescent in order to increase the defense.
On the morning of the 28th, 200 laborers set out to open a street in the woods so that the troops could go to the place where the trench had to be opened, and this same morning two Irish soldiers and a Louisiana corporal deserted.
In the afternoon the same workmen with the necessary tools began to construct a covered road to enable them to go to a small hill where it had been decided to establish a battery so as to divert the fire of Fort George, whilst the premeditated one was effected against the crescent.
At eight o'clock at night 700 laborers with 350 fascines and supported by 800 men left the Camp to carry out this idea.
At eleven o'clock the General was informed that the digging of the trench had begun without this having been noticed by the enemy, and a little later the Quartermaster and the Engineer of the detail arrived and informed the General that all the troops were under cover and that the work advanced rapidly.
On the 29th at four o'clock in the morning the laborers were relieved to perfect the trench and continue the opening of the covered road.
At six o'clock the enemy observed the work that had been done and began to fire cannons and mortars to annoy us; and several parties of them who approached to explore the trench with two field pieces were vigorously repulsed with two others that were placed at the head and tail of it. At half past eleven the fire of the enemy stopped, probably to cool their artillery.
p71 At eight o'clock at night 800 men of arms left the Camp to relieve those in the trench, and 600 to begin the construction of a battery of 6 cannons of 24 and several mortars, that it was proposed to make on a height suitable for the purpose of diverting the enemies' fire, whilst another was being constructed closer. 600 men were also destined to continue the trench and to construct two redoubts to the right and left of it for its defense.
At nine o'clock the fire from cannon, howitzers and mortars was renewed, but at some interval.
On the 30th at one o'clock at night the fire of the enemy ceased until day break when it began anew with the greatest rapidity, and whilst it lasted we only suffered the loss of one man, one officer and one soldier seriously wounded.
At seven o'clock a deserter arrived and assured that in the glacis of Fort George, the construction of a battery of small calibre cannons had begun.
All this day was taken up in widening the trench, perfecting the batteries of cannons and mortars and in finishing the said two redoubts without the enemy firing on us any more.
At eight o'clock at night the men of arms and laborers were relieved and the four mortars were brought to the battery.
At day break on the first of May the enemies began to fire with several cannons, 3 mortars, and 4 howitzers, and this continued without interruption until 10 o'clock in the morning, and from that hour on they still fired but very slowly; but having noticed that work was proceeding on the road that from the trench to the battery, they augmented it extraordinarily, to such an extent that the General thought it best to suspend the work.
But the work was kept during the night in spite of the bombs and royal grenades and a battery of six cannons of 24 was emplaced provided with everything necessary.
On the 2d at half past five in the morning, the enemy again began to annoy us with their fire, and in order to draw their attention the General ordered our cannons to begin, which was kept up until prayer time when the enemies stopped theirs.
During the afternoon the Quartermaster went out with the other engineers to trace the line for the prolongation of the trench so as to occupy Pine Hill, in which place another battery of greater strength was to be constructed to attack the crescent. At eight o'clock at night 800 soldiers and as many laborers left the Camp to begin these new works.
The Quartermaster and Engineer of the detail arrived at midnight to inform the General that the troops were already under cover p72and had not been seen by the enemy; they added that work was progressing on the crescent in order to repair the parapet which had been damaged by the fire of our cannon.
On the 3d at day break, the enemy discovered the new trench situated •225 toises from the first Fort and began to fire mortars and howitzers against the workmen who continued their labors, but one battery replied with such vigor that it silenced the crescent during more than two hours.
At nine o'clock in the morning four deserters arrived and on being examined by the General said that the several bombs that had fallen in the crescent and Fort George had occasioned severe losses and that our cannons had dismounted two of those and at the same time destroyed two merlons that had been repaired the night before.
Our battery fire kept the crescent and circle busy for the rest of the day with its good aim. At prayer time both sides ceased and 800 men of arms left the Camp to relieve those in the trench, and 860º laborers went out to prolong it and form redoubts at its end in order to safeguard it there.
The 4th. Although all night was taken up in working for the conclusion of the trench and construction of the redoubt, the time was not sufficient for the formation of the gun embrasures, so that the soldierº could with difficulty fire from the parapet of these works, nor was it possible to remain outside on account of the hail of shot thrown from the crescent.
All the morning the enemy directed a fairly well aimed cannon fire on this part, but particularly at one o'clock they took it up with such vigor with cannister, bomb and grenades that they obliged the troops to use of every means they judged adequate to free themselves. At this moment parties of English troops that had left the crescent without being seen and for that premeditated purpose, attacked the redoubt that was held by a company of the Mallorca grenadiers and half a company of Hibernians. At this juncture the troops although encouraged by their officers, the Captain and Second Lieutenant of Mallorca having been killed, and the First Lieutenant seriously wounded, as also the Captain and Lieutenant of the Hibernians, at the first onslaught retired to the second redoubt where the enemy pursued them with cold steel, but these soon returned to the first one they had captured.
At the first advice of this occurrence the General ordered Colonel Ezpeleta to go with four companies of light infantry and dislodge the enemy; but before this colonel had time to reach the spot, they had already retired, leaving the trench on fire, four field pieces spiked and besides carrying away the Captain and Lieutenant of the p73Hibernians and the officers of the same grade from the Mallorca Regiment, for these being seriously wounded were unable to retire.
The losses experimented in this blow were repaired and four new cannons emplaced; and during this night the enemies directed a fire from mortars and howitzers on this spot.
On the 5th workmen were busied in carrying fascines, cotton bales and sacks to form an embankment in the shelter of which the premeditated battery be mounted.
During the night four deserters arrived, but they could not tell the General the number of the forces that had attacked the redoubt.
The fire of the enemy was fairly brisk, and from prayer time was entirely directed to the left, which caused the loss of several killed and wounded.
During the night there was a violent tempest of wind, thunder and rain, which flooded all the camp, particularly the trench, for which reason work was suspended; and the squadron found itself compelled to let go its moorings and make sail for fear of being dashed on the shore.
On the morning of the 6th in consideration of the bad night they had passed the General ordered that the troops in the trench be relieved and they be given a ration of grog.
At seven o'clock our battery began to play with particularly good aim on the crescent, but this one occupied itself mostly in annoying the troops on the left to prevent the attacks.
At 9 o'clock two howitzers that had been placed in the redoubt at the tail of the trench began to fire and continued to do so very vigorously during the rest of the day.
At prayer time the firing ceased on both sides, but at nine o'clock the enemy resumed it with bombs and grenades, causing us enough loss.
At 10 o'clock work was begun on an embankment on the redoubt to the left in order to form a shelter behind which a battery of cannons could be made, and the General desiring to shorten the siege and teach the enemy a lesson ordered 700 men of the grenadiers and light infantry to assault the crescent whilst the Fort would be alarmed in such a way as to distract its attention.
On the 7th at one o'clock in the morning the troops set out under command of Brigadier D. Geronimo Giron, with all the necessary equipment to overcome all the obstacles that might be found at the mouth of the crescent; but in order to arrive there without being seen it was necessary to go around a small hill thickly wooded with pine p74trees, and day was fast approaching when the troops arrived where they were to halt in order to attack precipitately; as a consequence, far from surprising the enemy, it would find it under arms as is usual at the hour. With this knowledge, General Ezpeleta, who found himself in the trench for the purpose of reinforcing Giron if he needed it, advised the General that the execution of this plan having been retarded for the mentioned reason, it would be best to suspend it as it lacked but little for day-break, upon learning which the General immediately ordered the return of the troops, which was done without the enemy being aware of the movement.
At six o'clock in the morning our left again suffered the fire of the crescent, and it was observed that the loopholes that faced our battery had been covered up, probably to protect themselves from its fire.
At eight o'clock in the morning some of the fascines of the crescent began to burn, but they extinguished them in half an hour.
At 4 o'clock in the afternoon work was begun on the projected battery in spite of the fire of the enemy, which work was hurriedly continued during the night.
On the 8th at five o'clock in the morning only the esplanades to emplace the artillery remained to be finished, so that if work was actively pushed these could go into action at noon.
At 6 o'clock the fire from the crescent was renewed, to which we replied with two howitzers from the redoubts, with such success, that one of our grenades having fired the powder magazine it blew up the crescent with 105 men of the garrison.
When this occurred the General ordered Brigadier Giron with the troops from the trench and General Ezpeleta with several companies of light infantry to go and occupy the ground whilst a column set out from the Camp to fulfill all that was necessary.
After the troops were seen in the above place the middle Fort began to fire with cannister and musketry; but the two howitzers and two cannons having been carried from the redoubt, these were brought up and the enemy's fire vigorously replied to and during this time the troops did the same with muskets under cover of the ruins of the crescent.
The firing resumed until three o'clock in the afternoon when Fort George hoisted the white flag and an Adjutant of General Campbell's came to propose a suspension until the following day in order to capitulate. The General went immediately to the place where the officer waited for him, and not having acceded to the suspension, Campbell proposed several articles, some being granted p75and others refused. At one o'clock at night both Generals came to an agreement.
On the 9th the capitulation was drawn up in the terms expressed in the annexed note, and signed.
On the 10th at three o'clock in the afternoon six companies of grenadiers and the light infantry of the French Brigade, formed 500 yards from Fort George, and at that distance the General came out with his troops and after having surrendered the flag of the Waldek Regiment and one from the artillery they laid down their arms with the usual ceremonies. Immediately two companies of grenadiers were told off to take possession of Fort George, and the light infantry from the French Brigade did the same with the circular battery.
On the 11th a detachment was sent out to take possession of the Red-Clifts Fort on the Barrancas, whose garrison consisted of 139 men including officers. This Fort had 11 cannons mounted, of which 5 were of 32 calibre. On the same day the General gave orders to begin the inventory of the provisions, artillery, supplies and ammunition in the Forts conquered, and to the Major General and other Chiefs of the Expedition that they begin to re-embark all that was on land in order not to lose a moment's time in returning the troops to Havana.
The total number of prisoners reaches the sum of 1113 men, who added to the 105 blown up in the crescent, 56 deserters that had presented themselves during the siege, and 300 who whilst the capitulation was being drawn up retired to Georgia, shows that the garrison was composed of about 1600 men, without counting the many negroes that helped in its defense, the dead they had before, and the multitude of Indians that inundated the woods and country. Besides the prisoners, there are 101 women and 123 children, to whom rations have been accorded as they are dependent on these; so that today the number that are considered such reaches 1347.
The losses the enemy has occasioned the army during the siege are 75 killed and 198 wounded, as appears in the statement of the Major-General annexed herewith. The Navy has lost 21 men and has had 4 wounded. Pensacola, the 13th of May, 1781. Bernardo de Galvez.
Articles of Capitulation Concerted and agreed to between Sr. D. Bernardo de Galvez, Pensioned Knight of the Royal and distinguished Order of Charles the III, Field Marshal of the Royal Armies of H. Catholic M., Inspector, Superintendent and Governor General of the Province of Louisiana and Commandant General of the Expedition; and the Most Excellent Sirs Peter Chester, Esquire, Governor-Commandant in Chief, Chancellor and Vice-Admiral p76for H. Britannic M. in the Province of Western Florida, and , Field Marshal and Commandant General of the Troops of H. Britannic M. in the said Province.
All the Forts and posts at present occupied by the Troops of H. B. M. will be (within the specified time) delivered to those of H. C. M. The English soldiers and sailors will go out with all the honors of war, arms shouldered, drums beating, flags flying, two field guns with six cartridges, and the same number for each soldier, to within 500 yards of their different posts, where they will give up their arms, and the officers shall retain their swords, following which they will be embarked as promptly as possible in well conditioned ships provided for at the expense of H. C. M. to be conducted to any of the ports of Great Britain that General Campbell may select. The troops and sailors are to be under the immediate direction of their respective officers, and will not be able to serve against Spain or her allies until an exchange is verified for an equal number of Spanish prisoners or those of her allies, in accordance with the established custom in equality of rank and other equivalent things.
Conceded, excepting only the ports of the Island of Jamaica and that of St. Augustine, Florida; and in the matter of the exchange of prisoners, the Spaniards are to be preferred over their allies, and they will be sent for exchange to ports of Spain at the expense of H. B. M.
The general staff, Commissaries, store-keepers, and generally all individuals who by their calling or employment depend upon the troops will be included in the foregoing article.
A well-conditioned ship, provided with all necessary equipment at the expense of H. C. M. will serve as a Hospital for the sick and wounded who are able to accompany the other troops to the port selected for their retirement; good treatment will be given to those who remain, and as soon as they are able they will be sent in a ship under flag of truce to the same place.
Conceded, but General Campbell must leave Commissaries, Surgeons and medicines for the assistance of the sick at the expense of H. B. M., to be transported at the expense of H. C. M., as is the rest of the garrison.
The Captain and officers of the Navy will retain the servants granted by the regulations, and these will be included in the first article.
All officers, soldiers and sailors that compose the garrison of the Forts and posts included in this Capitulation will be allowed to keep without harm or annoyance all their private property, baggage and personal effects, and will be allowed to embark them in the ships that in accordance with the first article must be destined, or they may sell them in Pensacola.
Conceded insofar as baggage and equipment is concerned as is customary in the Army.
All necessary papers for the auditing of accounts in England or any other place will be preserved.
Conceded, after they have been examined.
A ship which the then Commandant of the Navy at Pensacola sent to Havana under flag of truce will be sent to the same port as the troops and sailors of this garrison as is stipulated in the first article.
A commodious and well-provisioned ship shall be furnished at the expense of H. C. M. to transport the Governor, his family and to Great Britain, or to any other of H. B. M. governments in North America as he may elect; and whilst he remains in the Province he will occupy the Government House in the City of Pensacola, protecting his person, goods and effects which will not be searched before or upon his departure.
Conceded, with the exception that he will take any other except the Government House he solicits.
Another commodious and well provisioned ship will be furnished with all necessary equipment at the expense of H. C. M. to transport Major-General John Campbell, his suite and family and all his goods and effects to Great Britain, or any other port of H. B. M. in North America, if he should so elect; and whilst he remains in the Province he shall receive decent lodgings for himself, his suite and family, and shall be protected as also his papers, goods and effects, which shall not be searched before nor at the time of his departure.
Commissioners will be named reciprocally to make an inventory of the Artillery, ammunition, supplies, and provisions in the warehouses of H. B. M. in the different Forts and posts of the Province and these will deliver it to the Commandant General of the Spanish troops.
The officers of the Navy and of the garrisons in the Province who must remain in Pensacola to wind up their private affairs will be allowed to do so for such time as they may require.
The province will remain to H. C. M. until the time that Their B. and C. Majesties determine its fate; in which time, Civilian officials of the Navy and Army who remain, the Merchants and other inhabitants will not be obliged on any account to take up arms against H. B. M., his allies or any other power, and under no circumstances or pretext will suffer damages in their person, goods or effects on sea or on land at the hands of H. C. M. vassals they being protected as are the vassals of the King of Spain.
The Province will remain for Spain, and the inhabitants will be treated in accordance with the Capitulation of Baton Rouge, with the of four months to enable them to leave.
The Judges and other Civil officials of the Government who do not remain to wind up their affairs, will also be transported to Great Britain or any other Government in North America they may select in well conditioned ships at the expense of H. C. M., with their families, all their goods, effects and papers, and these will not be examined.
Flags of truce will be granted for them to retire but at their expense.
To all Civilian Officials of the Navy and Army who remain for the purpose of arranging their affairs after the ships destined for the transportation of others to Great Britain or any other place as is mentioned in the preceding articles have left, as also to merchants and other persons whilst their presence is necessary in the Province, and also to those whose representatives have to absent themselves, and again to those who are absent themselves, their rights and privileges will be conserved and they will be maintained in the pacific and tranquil possession of their property and personal effects movable or real, or of whatever other class they may be, and they will have the right to sell same at their pleasure as they would have done before now, and they may employ the proceeds thereof in what they esteem most advantageous to be transported at their cost with their families to whatever part of H. B. M. dominions they choose, in ships under flags of truce, which will be provided for them with the necessary p80passports for their safety, as also that of their families and goods against any harm that might befall them at the hands of the vassals of H. C. M. or his allies.
Conceded for one year.
The inhabitants, of whatever class they may be, will not be compelled to give lodgings to the troops of H. C. M.; the conditions of the free negroes, mulatoesº and octoroons will be respected.
The inhabitants will furnish lodgings to the troops only when necessary, and not more; regarding the liberty of the negroes and mulatoes, conceded, provided General Campbell grants the liberty of a negro captured in the village.
No restriction will be on the free exercise of religion, as has been the practice heretofore.
Conceded for the period of one year until the King my Lord decides.
The negroes who have been hired out to work on the fortifications will not be taken from their owners, but these will be entitled to keep them along with the rest of their property.
The books, registers, and public papers in the Archives of the Government and in others will remain in the care of the same Officials in whose charge they were; on no account will it be permitted to withdraw them unless they have been lost or mislaid.
All public documents will be delivered to the person I shall designate; in case they are not useful for the Government of the Province they will be returned to the Civil authorities.
The inhabitants and all other persons of whatever class these may be who may have taken arms in defense of the Province will under no circumstances be molested.
Two covered wagons will be furnished that will go out with the troops and these will not be searched.
All cattle and other provisions taken from the inhabitants of this Province for the subsistence of H. C. M. troops will be fully paid at prices established at the place they were taken.
This article is useless inasmuch as no cattle or any other thing has been taken from the inhabitants.
It will be permitted to the Governor and Commandant of the troops, if they so desire, to send advices of this Capitulation in ships under flags of truce, or by other means to the Governor of East Florida, Commander in Chief of in North America or to Jamaica or Great Britain.
All prisoners made by the arms of Spain since the 9th of March will be united to the Garrisons of the Posts they must leave so as to be on the same footing stipulated in Article I; and all the Spaniards that have given their parole in Pensacola or who are now in custody of the English troops will be given their liberty, with the exception of those who have not fulfilled their parole.
The negroes who from fright have fled from Pensacola during the siege, shall be returned to their owners.
Conceded, should this incur any inconvenience their appraised value will be given.
Lodgings will be provided for the troops and sailors until such a time as the vessels mentioned in the first article are available.
Good faith will have to be observed in the full and entire execution of this Capitulation, and should any question arise not provided for by the foregoing articles it will be declared under the understanding that the intention of the contracting parties is that the determination most in accord with the dictates of humanity and generous thought will be taken.
In case a few or many English soldiers and sailors who are now absent from their respective Corps and fugitives in the woods are taken by the troops of Spain, they will be considered as if part of the garrison, and if as such they are apprehended before the departure of the other troops, they will be permitted to join them, and if after, they will be included in the hospital ship with the sick and wounded in accordance with Article III, so as to leave at the same time with the garrison.
Conceded, unless they present themselves as deserters.
On no account whatsoever will the English soldiers and sailors be asked to take the service of Spain or her allies. Peter Chester, John Campbell.
Conceded, but if they present themselves of their own accord, protection will be granted to them. — Bernardo de Galvez.
Concurs with the original. — Bernardo de Galvez.
Statement of the dead and wounded which the army under command of the Field Marshall D. Bernardo de Galvez, has sustained since its landing on the Island of Santa Rosa until the 8th of May that the City of Pensacola surrendered.
|Month of March||OFFICERS||Dead of all Classes||Wounded|
|28th||The Colonel of the King D. Luis Rebolo, dead.||4||4|
|30th||The Lieutenant of Soria D. Antonio Figueroa, wounded.||5||15|
|12th||The Commandant General Field Marshall D. Bernardo de Galvez, wounded. The Captain of D. Joseph Sammaniega, wounded.||1||6|
|24th||Sublieutenant of Hibernia D. Felipe O‑Reylli, wounded.||00||5|
|27th||The Sublieutenant of Guadalajara D. Francisco Castanon, wounded.||3||6|
|29th||The Sublieutenant of Louisiana D. Francisco Godeau, dead.||2||1|
The Captain of D. Salvado Rueca, dead.
The Sergeant Major of Soria D. Joseph Urraca, wounded.
The of Navarra D. Bartolome de Vargas, dead.
The Sublieutenant of Hibernia, D. Tomas Fitzmorin, dead.
that have been found in the forts and Fortified City of Pensacola, besides the 4 mortars, 143 cannons, 6 howitzers and 40 swivel guns that General Don Bernardo de Galvez reports in his letter of the 26th of May, published in the Gazette of the 7th of August, and of a considerable assortment of goods and supplies for the service of the artillery.
|Bombs and Royal grenades||1623|
|Hand Grenades, loaded||1530|
|Bullets of various calibres||8144|
|Cartridges for cannons||3411|
|Hundred weights of powder||298|
For the infantry
|Ball cartridges for guns||30712|
|Hundred weights of bullets for guns||96|
a I am indebted to Santiago Roig for having passed on to me, after much inventive labor on his part, the location on the Web of the Spanish original at the Library of Congress. I hope that in the not too distant future I may be able to transcribe this original Spanish text onsite as well.
Images with borders lead to more information.
American History Notes
A page or image on this site is in the public domain ONLY
Page updated: 31 Dec 13