Author's Note: In November, 1927, Dr. Thomas B. Hall of Miami Beach, Florida,
wrote me that the State Historical Society of Missouri was in possession of his
great-grandfather's papers written while in Florida. His great-grandfather was
Lieut. Col. (afterward General) Thomas Adam Smith, who commanded the United States
regulars in Florida in 1812-13. Through the courtesy of Arthur T. Williams, President
of the Florida Historical Society, and Floyd C. Shoemaker, Secretary of the State
Historical Society of Missouri, I obtained copies of the papers alluded to. They
comprise the retained copies of letters written by Col. Smith, which were kept in
blank record books and are well preserved, together with a number of original letters
addressed to him. These letters, arranged chrono logically, tell the story of the
American troops in Spanish East Florida-a story that has been locked up so far as
details are concerned until now. These papers will be published as a serial.
Connecting text and footnotes have been added where necessary to complete the
narrative.-T. FREDERICK DAVIS.
The causes that led to the occupation of Spanish East Florida in 1812 need no
elaborate discussion here, as that phase of the affair has been covered in many
publications. The immediate excuse for the occupation of the province by the United
States was the impending war with Great Britain. At that time Spain and Great Britain
had treaty relations, revealed in a letter written by the British representative in
December, 1810, to the American Secretary of State, complaining about certain events
that had occurred in West Florida concerning the United States and Spain.
This entry of the British into the affair was considered of sufficient importance by
the President to bring it to the attention of Congress, Congress immediately passed a
secret act permitting the occupancy of the Floridas under certain contingencies,
namely, in case of their occupation by a foreign power, which of course referred to
Great Britain, or should the local authorities, presumably meaning but not specifying
the Spanish governors, cede the same. In January, 1811, two American commissioners,
John McKee and George Mathews, were appointed by our government to visit the Spanish
governors of Florida and secretly attempt to secure the country by cession. They were
clothed with authority to call upon the military for needed assistance and orders
were issued by the Secretary of War to that effect. It is not surprising that the
Spanish governors refused, although Governor Folch of West Florida had some time
before intimated that a cession to the United States might be advisable.
Failing to secure the cession, Secretary of State Monroe discharged Commissioner
McKee, but wrote General Mathews to follow his own judgment with respect to East
Florida. General Mathews proceeded to create a local authority that would cede the
province, by fomenting a revolution in East Florida, but which really contemplated an
armed invasion by Georgians in co-operation with the troops of the United States. He
spent the last of the year 1811 and the forepart of 1812 in perfecting the plans for
the intended invasion, of which he kept the American government advised.
The day finally arrived to start the procedure that "would make Florida
ours". About 180 Georgians, calling themselves "Patriots", crossed the
St. Marys River into Spanish East Florida and occupied Rose's Bluff, opposite the
town of St. Marys, Georgia, and in sight of Amelia Island, Florida. Thence on March
17, 1812, the Patriots proceeded to Amelia and forced the small Spanish garrison to
surrender the island. The Patriots now had become the "local authority" and
the following day, March 18, their, leader, John H. McIntosh, after a handsome
oration, offered to cede Amelia Island to the United States. General Mathews, the
accredited commissioner, likewise with a handsome oration, accepted the island for
the United States. At this stage Lieut. Col. Thomas A. Smith, U.S.A., took command of
the troops, and henceforth his reports give the record of what happened to the United
States regulars during their occupancy of Spanish East Florida in 1812-1813.
Lieut. Col. Smith to the Secretary of War (copy)
Sir : Point Petre (1), 18th March, 1812.
In obedience to my instructions of the 26th January, 1811, I have sent a detachment
consisting of fifty men (2) to receive and defend in the name of the United States,
the Town of Sn. Ferdinandina & the Island of Amelia. I have been informed by
General Mathews, that he has good reason to believe that a detachment of English
troops (blacks) are on the eve of being sent to occupy the military posts within East
Should that be the case, the detachment under my command, disorganized & badly
furnished with Arms & the means of transportation, will make but a feeble
opposition against a well-disciplined force, provided with all the implements of War.
I have only three officers for duty, and one of those, Major Laval, informs me he is
under marching orders, the others being absent & in arrest. I shall be compelled
should it be necessary to oppose force to force, to release the officers now under
sentence, though contrary to military rule, & make the best defence in my power.
On comparing instructions with Genl. Mathews, I find he is authorized to call on the
Military force to preoccupy East Florida, if in his judgment it should be necessary;
but having doubts about the propriety of exceeding my instructions, I will not attack
any Post until further ordered; as I consider the order imperative as to occupying
& defending places peaceably surrendered, I shall do it to the last extremity. I
beg leave to call your attention to the situation of the two field pieces at this
place, without harness or ammunition & the limbers unfit for service. I find no
person to perform the duty of Quarter Master, and not a cent to meet the contingent
expenses of the Detachment. Authority to draw on the War Department will not obviate
this difficulty as Money cannot be obtained without allowing a premium that might be
considered extravagant, & be deducted from the drawer. The present Contractor
will furnish provisions at any Point that may be required until the last of May, the
United States making a reasonable allowance for transportation etc. If Amelia Island
or the Town of Sn. Ferdinandina is not defended by suitable works provided with
necessary artillery, it may be destroyed at any time a Naval Force superior to the
Gun Boats at present on this station (3) may think proper to attack it.
I must request, Sir, that the Infantry & Dragoons may be consolidated, there
being three little Detachments, the largest of which does not exceed a Sergeant's Command, & that Two hundred Muskets and bayonets, with an additional
supply of lead and flints may be ordered to this place as soon as possible. The
Rifles in their present situation will not do for active service as they cannot be
fired to any certainty & having no bayonets to come to close quarters. The Troops
are shabby beyond anything I have witnessed, not having received any clothing for the
present year. I must also state that we are without a Surgeon.
I am respectfully, Sir, Your Obt. Servt.
Gen. Mathews to Lt. Col. Smith (original)
U. States Station, Picolata. April 8, 1812. Dear Sir:
By virtue of the powers vested in me as U. States Commissioner, with which you are
furnished a copy, I have to request you to march tomorrow, or as soon thereafter as
possible, to Moosa Old Fort, a military station in the vicinity of St. Augustine,
with the troops under your command to hold & defend the same & the country
adjacent it being ceded to the U. States by the local constituted authorities (4) of E. Florida, & accepted by me as U. States
Commissioner. You will please to have such Detachment at this station as you deem
adequate to hold and defend for the U. States.
I am very respectfully your friend & obt. servt. (signed) Geo. Mathews
Lt. Col. Thos. A. Smith Picolata Station.
Lt. Col. Smith to Secretary of War (copy)
Moosa Old Fort, 14th April, 1812. Sir :
I was unable to procure transports for the Detachment under my Command until the 1st
Inst., on which day I embarked for Picolata, (5) but owing to the violence of the wind & the boats
being bad, I was unable to reach it until the 7th. On the 8th, I dropped down the
river in compliance with the inclosed requisition of Genl. Mathews to Six Mile Creek,
which I ascended about six miles. I deposited our little stores under a
Sergeant's Guard and proceeded to this place, which was occupied by the Patriot
forces; they delivered me peaceable possession on the 12th at 4 o'clock at which
time I hoisted the American flag. On the following morning soon after the troops were
dismissed at reveille a Gunboat at the distance of about three quarters of a mile
fired four shot immediately over the Detachment, two of which passed within a few
feet of some of the men. The moment our flag was hoisted & the Troops prepared
for action, they ceased firing and sheered off. (6) This Post is within two and one half miles of St.
Augustine & in full view; I think the situation a bad one for defence & will
take a new position in a day or two. Genl. Mathews sent a flag to their lines today,
which was preemptorily ordered back.
From present appearances I have little doubt but ere this reaches you we shall have
had an action. The Governor (7) has sent to Havannah & Nassau for reinforce ments,
which it appears are daily expected. Should they arrive I shall be compelled to fall
back, but will oppose them at every defile until the Georgia Volunteers can come to
my, aid. Wagons and Carts to remove our stores cannot be procured. I shall
consequently have to destroy them if I have to give ground. As the contract I made
for the supply of rations in East Florida will be a losing one for the Contractor, I
have no expectation of being able to get him to furnish longer than the time
contracted for (31st May). The officers with me are active & attentive, but the
number (four) is so small that I experience great inconvenience & wish the Public
Service may not suffer on that account, as it is impossible for them for any length
of time to pay proper attention to the many duties that at present devolve upon them.
I beg leave to recommend Mr. John Findley of Washington, Georgia, for appointment in
the Regiment of Riflemen.
I have the honor to be, Sir, with high respect, Your Obt. Servt.,
Lt. Col. Smith to U. S. Adjutant & Inspector (Copy)
Sir : Moosa Old Fort, 26 April, 1812.
From the great exertions making by the Spaniards to put the works around St.
Augustine in the best possible state of defence, it becomes my duty to apprise the
Honorable, the Secretary of War, that if it is his intention that I should attack the
Town, (8) that no time ought to be lost in forwarding four
Eighteen or Twenty-four Pounders, Ammunition, etc., etc., with the necessary tools
for throwing up redoubts, which would enable me to attack it with a certainty of
success. The field pieces at Point Petre are entirely useless, not having any
ammunition or harness. I flatter myself that when the will of the Executive is known
that this little Detachment will not be found wanting in duty or exertions to fulfill
it. My present effective force, Non-Commissioned officers & Privates is one
hundred & nine, having left small Detachments at Point Petre, Picolata, & Six
Mile Creek. The Troops suffer considerably for the want of Clothing, that furnished
last fall being so much damaged as to be unfit for issue. I have been without
Provisions for several days, the vessel containing the Contractor's supplies
having been detained in consequence of the Embargo in Savannah. I will trouble you to
inform me whether it is necessary to forward Inspection Returns oftener than the
troops are mustered.
I have the honor to be, Sir, with high respect, Your Obt. Servt.,
P. S. Since writing the above two British armed sloops have appeared off the bar
& from the movements of the small craft about St. Augustine I should not be
surprised if they attack me. I have just been informed by Genl. McIntosh that the
Patriot force near me does not exceed 93 for duty. From the best information I can
obtain the Spanish force is about 400 180 Regular Troops, 50 free Men of Colour, the
residue Militia of the Town & vicinity.
Lt. Col. Smith to U. S. Adjutant & Inspector (copy)
Moosa Old Fort, 5th May, 1812. Sir :
I transmit herewith monthly & inspection returns of the Detachment under my
command. The Governor of St. Augustine having received through the British minister
information that the Government of the United States disavows the acts of Genl.
Mathews their Commissioner, & that the United States Troops will be withdrawn, I
have no expectation that they will make any movements that will lead to serious
consequences. The Patriots increase in numbers daily & I believe will attempt to
hold the country in opposition to any reinforcements they may receive, if the
Government of the United States does not interfere.
I have the honor to be, Sir, With high respect, Your Obt. Servt.
(Much has been written on the subject of the U. S. Government disavowing the acts of
its Commissioner, General George Mathews, who was discharged under date of April 4,
1812. Governor David B. Mitchell, of Georgia, was appointed in place of General
Governor Mitchell to Lt. Col. Smith (original)
St. Mary's, 4th May, 1812. Sir :
I have received a dispatch from the Secretary of State of the United States in which
is enclosed the duplicate of an order from the Secretary of War addressed to
yourself, revoking the order which required you to obey the orders or requisitions of
General Mathews, and, transferring that authority to myself as Governor of Georgia.
I have to request to be informed whether you have not received the order alluded to,
a copy of which is enclosed ; & if you have not, you will consider this as notice
of the existence of such order & govern yourself accordingly. Under the authority
of that order you will consider this as one to yourself to remain where you are until
further orders, unless compelled to retire by superior force.
It is my intention to open a communication with the Governor of St. Augustine, &
to establish a safe and expeditious communication between your camp & my quarters
at this place, & for these purposes & others have sent on my Aids, Cols.
Houstoun & Cuthbert, whom I have instructed to consult you as to the best means
of accomplishing these objects.
I am, Sir, with much respect & regard, Your very obedt. Servt. (signed) D. B.
Mitchell Lieut. Col. Thomas A. Smith.
Lt. Col. Smith to Governor Mitchell (copy)
Moosa Old Fort. 9th May, 1812. Sir :
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 4th Inst. by Colo.
Cuthbert. The original order, of which you inclose me a copy, had been received a few
days previous. Colonels Cuthbert & Houston will inform you of the situation of my
encampment & that of the Patriots. Not being clear as to the propriety of
permitting any armed party to remain in my rear, I am induced to request that you
will give me as early as possible such directions on that subject as you conceive
proper. It has been represented to me that a faction on Amelia Island are doing
everything in their power to injure the Patriotic cause. (9) The officer in command there conceives the Patriots have
no jurisdiction & I fancy would interpose should they make any attempts to arrest
them. I have declined giving him any orders on the subject, as I conceived it
belonged properly to the civil authority.
I have informed Capt. Williams of the unlimited authority you have to command the
United States Troops in this quarter & directed him to call on you for
instructions for his government [guidance]. I refer you for particulars to Colonels
Cuthbert & Hous ton.
I have the honor to be sir with high respect, Your Obt. Servt.,
Lt. Col. Smith to Governor Mitchell (copy)
Moosa Old Fort, 14th May, 1812. Sir :
Having received from Capt. Williams the inclosed order, I conceive it of sufficient
importance to forward to you by express. There is no doubt in my mind of arms having
been forwarded from St. Augustine to the disaffected on Amelia Island with a view
perhaps of arming the negroes & the crews of British vessels in port to attack
the Patriots in their rear & perhaps to cut off my supplies. My present effective
force does not exceed 110, which I conceive sufficient to oppose with success, should
it become necessary, any disposable force there may be in Augustine. If their
expected reinforcements arrive the safety of my Detachment will depend on the
possession of Amelia Island & the entrance into the St. Johns, where I beg leave
to suggest the propriety of ordering a Detachment of 40 or 50 men with a gun boat to
co-operate with them.
I have the honor to be sir With high respect, Your Obt. Servt.,
Lt. Col. Smith to U. S. Adjutant & Inspector (copy)
Camp near St. Augustine, 21st May, 1812. Sir :
In my letter of the 5th Inst., I informed you that in consequence of the Governor of
St. Augustine having received intelligence of the disavowal on the part of the United
States of any participation in the revolution of East Florida, I did not expect the
Spaniards would make an attack on the Troops under my Command. This opinion was
strengthened on the 9th, by the assurances which the Governor of St. Augustine made
to Colo. Cuthbert, aid to Governor Mitchell, that the American flag should be
respected. In violation of this assurance, in violation of every usage pending
negotiation, an attack was made on my advance guard on Saturday, the 16th. (10) I had removed my encampment a few hundred yards in the
rear of Old Fort Moosa ; it was necessary however, that the Fort should be occupied.
The Picket was accordingly stationed there.
In the morning of the 16th an armed schooner & four launches filled with men
& mounting each a Six pounder were seen going up the North River. On arriving at
the Creek upon which Fort Moosa is situated the schooner was moored & every
preparation made for an attack. A reinforcement was immediately sent to the Picket
under the impression that a landing would be attempted. They had orders, however, to
retreat in the event of the enemy's balls penetrating the walls of Moosa, with
the exception of fifteen men who were to be left in ambuscade. Under protection of a
heavy fire from the schooner the boats advanced. The twenty-second shot, a
Twenty-four, passed through both walls of Moosa & the grape was distinctly heard
rattling against its sides. That part of the Detachment which was ordered now
retreated. The stratagem took effect. The shouts of the Spaniards proclaimed their
rapid approach & I expected in a few minutes that a deadly fire would have been
poured in upon them, but by the disobedience of a Sergeant an opportunity of giving a
character to this Detachment was lost which can never again occur. Positive orders
were given to the Sergeant left in command of the party in ambuscade not to fire
until the first boat arrived within sixty yards of the landing ; however from some
strange infatuation he commenced firing at the distance of four hundred yards. The
surprise of the Spaniards was great. They immediately halted & renewed their
cannonade. The Sergeant now, in opposition to the en treaties of his men,
disgracefully abandoned his post & the enemy taking possession of it we soon
discovered Moosa in flames.
Their attention was now directed to our encampment. Finding that we were in reach of
their fire I removed the men to a more secure position, ready however to make an
attack if an opportunity should offer. The flag seemed to be the point upon which
their fire was directed. Discovering that they evinced no disposition to effect a
landing in any force & judging it prudent to retire beyond the reach of their
armed vessels, I have fallen back to my present position, which is about a mile in
the rear of the former encampment. In this affair we received no further injury than
the damaging of a few tents by their twenty-fours. The cannonade commenced at eleven
and continued until four o'clock. We did not leave the ground until the Spaniards
had retreated & the schooner under weigh for the harbor of St. Augustine.
I have so frequently laid before the Department the situation of this Detachment that
they cannot require further information respecting it. I would wish however that
information seriously considered. I have already informed the Honorable the Secretary
that the contract which I have made will expire on the 31st May, & that there is
no probability of the Troops being supplied with rations unless some arrangement is
made to that effect by the Department of War. However critical my situation may be in
other respects, I shall not flinch from the arduous task imposed upon me ; but in
this case, without the means of supply, I cannot overcome the difficulties which
present themselves on every side.
Lieut. Haig joined me on the 12th Inst. I have the honor to be, sir, With high
respect, Your Obt. Servt.,
Gov. Mitchell to Lieut. Col. Smith (original)
St. Mary's, 25th May, 1812 Sir :
So long ago as last Wednesday I procured a Gun Boat from Commodore Campbell, with one
hundred rounds of ammunition for Six-pounders & had the two brass pieces at Point
Petre with their carriages put on board, for the purpose of being conveyed to you,
but such has been the delay occasioned by negligence & head winds, that the boat
has not yet left Amelia for St. John's. My object in sending you these Guns, is,
to enable you to maintain your ground, in order to watch the Spaniards, as well as to
convince them that they do not possess the power to drive you in case they should be
disposed to make another tryal.
The letters I have received by last mail assure me of the determination of the
Government not to relinquish the Province without ample security for the protection
of the Patriots, & in case of War, (11) which is more than probable, that they may feel
themselves authorized in proceeding to reduce it by force. Under these circumstances
your removal may be viewed as at a distance, and in case of need you must be
reinforced. I have written for such reinforcements of Regulars, but in the meantime,
if you deem it necessary, I shall, until the Regulars can be sent on, en deavor to
procure a Volunteer force from Georgia & send to your aid.
I will also thank you to state to me, what is the state of the Military stores in
Savannah, & under whose control they are held, & what description &
quantity of them will be necessary for your use. In bringing on Volunteers it is also
necessary I should be informed how & by whom they can be supplied with
provisions, for as they will be in the service of the U. States, it is proper that
they should bear the expense. I have to request an answer as speedily as pos sible,
& am, Sir, with great regard & esteem,
Your very obt. servt., (signed) D. B. Mitchell
Lieut. Col. Smith to Gov. Mitchell (copy)
Camp near St. Augustine, 27th May, 1812. Sir :
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication by Colo. Newnan. On
the 23d Inst we took up our position, three quarters of a mile in advance of that to
which we had fallen back on the 16th. The Town is in full view & we have an
opportunity of seeing all vessels which enter the harbor. Determined to maintain our
ground I have judged it expedient to throw up a small entrenchment around the camp.
It will afford protection against their cannon. We anxiously wait the final
determination of Government as it respects our operations in this Province. Should a
favorable opportunity offer for carrying the Town by assault, I should be at a loss
how to act. I would wish to be informed as far as is consistent with propriety to
what lengths I might go. I could then be en abled to take such steps as might
eventually be of service to the Detachment under my command.
I have the honor to be sir With high respect, Your Obt. Servt.,
Lt. Col. Smith to Gov. Mitchell (copy)
Camp before St. Augustine 30th May, 1812 Sir :
The receipt of your letter of the 25th Inst I have the honor to acknowledge. My last
by Colo. Newnan will inform you that the position which the troops now occupy
commands the view of the Town & harbor of St. Augustine. The Spaniards have
remained quiet & permitted us without molestation to prosecute our works of
defence. The Gun Boat with the Six-pounders has passed the Cowford on her way to Six
The Pieces will at least insure us respect from the launches. I must observe that
reinforcements are not necessary (as experience has proved) for the maintaining of my
present position. Should the Spaniards however receive a supply of men, the
probability of which you are as well acquainted as myself, there is no doubt my force
would be inadequate to maintain the ground against a force so far superior as they
then would have. For the object of a reinforcement would not be to remain in
garrison, but to drive us without the limits of the Province, as there are already
more than a sufficient number of men in it to defend the works. You will permit me at
the same time to observe that should the United States contemplate. active offensive
operations against the Spaniards a reinforcement of whatever description it may be
could not be too speedily ordered. For I am convinced if the Governor saw the
determination of the United States to subdue the Province by force of arms &
every necessary preparation made for' that purpose previous to their receiving
succor from the British that he would immediately capitulate.
In the event of hostilities the utmost vigilence will be required at Amelia;
Augustine is now furnished with provisions from that place. Could not means be taken
to prevent this? On the subject of supplies I must inform you that the Secy of War
has been notified that the contract with Mr. McDougall expires tomorrow & that
the troops are without provisions excepting those which I purchase for their use.
Should a Volunteer force arrive I will pursue the same steps for their supply. From
the list which I have seen of the Military stores in Savannah, there is camp
equippage for one thousand men & nine hundred & fifty stand of arms, with
medicines & hospital stores under the control of the Military agent subject to my
Herewith you will receive an order for the whole or any part thereof which you may
think necessary for the service. For this Detachment no requisition will be made at
present. I have received intelligence of depredations having been committed on the
north side of the St. John's by a party of Indians, who threaten destruction to
the whole settlement. The fears of the inhabitants of that part of the Province have
been very much excited. It is not known by whom these marauders were instigated. With
the expectation of hearing from you intelligence satisfactory to the anxious wishes
of the Officers under my Command,
I have the honor to be sir with high respect Your Obt. Servt.,
Lt. Col. Smith to U. S. Adjutant & Inspector (copy)
Camp before St. Augustine 4th June, 1812 Sir :
Herewith you will receive the Monthly Return for May of the Troops under my command.
I have so frequently represented to the Honbl. the Secy. of War the situation of this
Detachment that I feel reluctant in again bringing it before his view. However the
necessity of the case demands it. I must request that with this letter you will
submit the Return for his Inspection. The very face of it must point out my wants.
The greatest deficiency of Subalterns, where they are absolutely necessary-commands
are obliged to be intrusted to Non-commissioned Officers, which require the direction
of an Officer. With a weak Detachment, but badly provided, laying before one of the
strongest fortified places on the Continent, containing a gar rison five times our
numbers, what can be expected from me? I shall endeavor to do my duty, but the
consequences I am apprehensive will reflect dishonor on the Arms of the United
States. We cannot always calculate upon the present disposition of the Spaniards. Our
own tardiness must inspirit them. For the want of Cavalry we remain ignorant of their
movements & are unable to cut off their parties. Upon any alarm the Infantry are
obliged to perform forced marches for the protection of the depot near the St. Johns
(12), my force not permitting me to leave the guard
necessary for its protection. Thirty Cavalry well mounted will obviate these
difficulties. Indeed they are absolutely indispensable. Horses calculated for the
purpose may readily be procured from the interior of Georgia, where men can easily be
enlisted for that service. I must solicit the early determination of the Secy. on
this point, & that no time may be lost in forwarding the necessary equipments.
For this command I recommend Lt. Haig of the Dragoons, at present with me, who is one
of the most active, enterprising & intelligent officers in the service &
would do honor to himself & Country at the head of the Detachment. I received
information from Capt. Ross Bird of the 3d Infty. of his having been ordered to join
me. My returns must have miscarried, otherwise the order could not have been issued.
There is no command for him. The few men here reported as his, I have requested to be
transferred to Capt. Woodruff, that the trouble of making separate papers might be
done away. with. Capt. Bird at the head of a Company would be very acceptable in our
present situation; alone he can render no service.
It is with regret I again advert to the difficulty which I experience in procuring
supplies for this Detachment. The Dept. of War is already apprised of the expiration
of the contract which I had made. For the means of procuring supplies I endeavored to
negotiate a draft at St. Mary's on the Secy of War, but failed in the attempt. I
then offered the Contractor twenty-five cents, but even this was refused. The only
resource left was my private credit upon which I have purchased for the present
month. Unless arrangements are speedily made for the supply of the Troops by the
proper authority I will be under the necessity of withdrawing from the Province.
Twelve hundred Dollars a month at least will be requisite for provisions &
contingent expenses for the present number of Troops under my command. The difficulty
also of transportation is very great & we have not the means of getting our
supplies from the St. Johns. Shall I be authorized to purchase a wagon and team?
The situation in which I am here placed as a Military man is such as tends to cast
the greatest reflec tion upon the Army. Having entered the Province & taken
possession of the Country in the name of the United States, where no opposition was
offered, but as soon as we came before the enemy all power ceased, the flag allowed
to be insulted without orders to retaliate. Nothing but the knowledge which I possess
of the President having disavowed the acts of the late Commissioner prevented my
laying the Town in ashes after the affair of Moosa. Smarting under the stigma which
attaches itself to this Detachment from that unfortunate encounter, I applied to
Govr. Mitchell for instructions to act, but he answered only that I should maintain
my ground. Is it intended that I shall remain here and permit myself to be insulted
with im punity? If so, I must insist upon being relieved in the command. The
Government expects the Patriots to effect all that is necessary. The Patriots look to
the troops for protection & through their aid alone see the accomplishment of all
I have the honor to be sir, With high respect, Your Obt. Servt.
Col. Ralph Isaacs to Lieut. Col. Smith (original)
June lOth, 1812. Dear Sir:
I left St. Mary's on the morning of the 7th Inst., when his Excellency, Govr.
Mitchell directed me to inform you officially that it was the determination of the U.
States Government to protect the persons & property of the patriots in East,
Florida-and that as U. States agent he should for their protection continue the
troops already in the Province, & that you might very soon expect to be
reinforced by Colo. Cuthbert with a detachment of Volunteers from Savannah.
His Excellency also ordered me to communicate to you officially that should you be
again attacked or fired upon by the Spaniards, you are to commence a system of
annoyance by doing them all the harm you can, & to dislodge & dispossess them
either by storm or in any way that your judgment may dictate of the Town of St.
Augustine or any post in their possession. I have the honor to be most respectfully,
Yr. Obt. Servt. (signed) Ralph Isaacs Aid De Camp to his Excellency, D. B. Mitchell,
Governor & Commander in Chief of the State of Georgia & U. States
Commissioner for E. Florida.
Lieut Colo Thomas A. Smith U. States Rifle Regiment.
Click here to proceed to Part Two in this series.
1. Point Petre was a U. S. military post on the St. Marys
River about two miles east of the town of St. Marys, Ga., and five miles from Amelia
2. Under the command of Lieut. Daniel Appling.(return)
3. A fleet of nine gunboats under the command of Commodore
Hugh Campbell was in the St. Marys River near Amelia at the time.(return)
4. The Patriots had occupied Ft. Moosa about two and a half
miles north of St. Augustine. Gen. Mathews had marched with them and the same
procedure of "local authority" and "transfer of government" bad
been carried out as at Amelia Island.(return)
5. Picolata is on the east bank of the St. Johns River,
directly west from St. Augustine.(return)
6. This was a Spanish gunboat sent from St. Augustine.(return)
7. Spanish governor.(return)
8. St. Augustine.(return)
9. This refers to the British traders in the town of
10. According to the agreement the truce ended on the
14thsee Niles Register, Jan. 16, 1813, Garzia to Mitchell.(return)
11. With Great Britain.(return)
12. At Six Mile Creek.(return)