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United States Troops in Spanish East Florida, 1812-1813

In the preceding issues of the QUARTERLY, starting with July, 1930, we followed the career of a detachment of United States regulars during their occupancy of Spanish East Florida beginning March 18, 1812, as told by their commander, Col. Thomas A. Smith, in his official and semi-official correspondence, much of which has never appeared in print before. The last issue brought the story to the time when Col. Smith turned the command over to Maj. Lawrence Manning, of the 8th U.S. Infantry, and bade adieu to the little detachment that he had led into the Spanish province more than a year before. 51 In the meantime, Gen. Pinckney, commanding the Southeastern Department, had despatched the following letter to the Span ish governor at St. Augustine :

Gen. Pinckney to Gov. Kindelan 52 Headquarters, Charleston, 26th [2Oth?] March, 1813.

The President of the United States having appointed me to command the troops in the southern

51 Thomas Adam Smith was born in Essex County, Va., in 1781, the family later removing to Wilkes County, Ga. He was appointed from Georgia; promoted to second lieutenant in 1803; advanced through the grades to lieutenant-colonel in 1810, and promoted to colonel while on duty in Florida. After leaving Florida, he joined the army of Gen. Harrison and served in the armies at the North, attaining the rank of brigadier-general in January, 1814. Gen. Harrison mentioned him as a most valuable and accomplished officer. At the close of the war, Gen. Smith was assigned to the command of the Ninth Military District, at St. Louis. He resigned from the army in 1818, to become Receiver of Public Moneys at New Franklin, Mo. About 1825, he entered a large

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States, and committed to me the management of their concerns with the province of East Florida, I have the honor of making known to your excellency the trust which has been reposed in me, and to assure you of the pleasure it will afford me to concur with you in placing On the most amicable footing these important in terests ; and in furtherance of this intention I have to inform you that Mr. Onis 53 has communicated to the Secretary of State an act of amnesty for the insurgents of Florida who have been induced to revolt by an agent of the United States, whose proceedings in this respect, were unauthorized ; and I have to request your excellency to inform me whether you are prepared to proceed in conformity to the above mentioned act?

My aid-de-camp, Mr. Morris, will have the honor of delivering this letter to you, and, if you please, of conveying your answer to me. He has it in charge to assure you of the high consideration with which I have the honor to be,

Your excellency's most obedient servant, Thomas Pinckney,

Major-General United States Army His Excellency, Governor Kindelan.

Gov. Kindelan to Gen. Pinckney 54 St. Augustine, Florida March 31, 1813

In answer to your letter of the 20th instant, which I have just received through your aid-de-camp, Mr.

51. (cont.) tract of land in Saline County, Mo., where he died on his plantation "Experiment" in 1844, and was buried in the family bury ing ground there. (This information was derived from the army registers and from a descendant of Gen. Smith, Dr. Thomas B. Hall, of Miami Beach. Fla.)

52 U.S. vs. F. P. Ferreira, Admr. etc., Miscl. Senate Doc. No. 55, 36th Cong. 1st Sess.

53 Luis de Onis, unaccredited Spanish envoy to the United States.

54 Miscl. Sen. Doc. No. 55, p. 91.

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Morris, I say that by the annexed certified copy of the edict, published in this city under my command on the 15th of the same month you will perceive that the general pardon of which you make mention has been duly complied with; consequently it would give me much pleasure to concur with you in the important measures suggested to me by you, so far as they come within the circle of my authority ; but beyond the execution of that favor, which has been, and will be, carried into effect in all its parts, I must observe to you, that to enter upon the other incidents that may thereto relate, it is not proper I should do so while the United States troops are in the Spanish territory which has been confided to me.

With this motive I have the honor, sir, of offering myself, with the highest considerations, at your service. God preserve you many years.

S.K. [Sebn. Kindelan]

Thomas Pinckney, General of the United States troops.

Amnesty Edict 55 St. Augustine, March 18, 1813


Don Sebastian Kindelan y Oregan, knight of the order of St. James, brigadier-general of the national armies, civil and military governor of the city of St. Augustine, East Florida, and of said province for his majesty, etc.

I make known to the inhabitants of the province, that his excellency, the captain-general of it and the

55 This is the edict referred to by Gov. Kindelan in his letter of March 31st. Niles' Weekly Reg. Apr. 24, 1813, p. 127.

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island of Cuba, under date of 11th Feb. last, writes me as follows.

His excellency, the secretary of state for the affairs of grace and justice, under date of 16th Dec. last, writes me as follows.

On the 15th inst. the regency of the kingdom has been pleased to address me the annexed decree.

DECREE-Don Fernando VII, by the grace of God, and by the constitution of the Spanish monarchy, king of Spain, and during his absence and captivity the regency of the kingdom specially authorized by the general and extraordinary cortes, to grant an amnesty to the insurgents, who have co-operated in the invasion of the Spanish territory in East and West Florida, acting in conformity with the beneficent and concilia tory principles of the said cortes, and wishing to give a new proof of their clemency in favor of the Spanish subjects, who, unfortunately forgetful of their duties, have added to the distress of the mother country, during a most critical epoch, has determined to grant them a general pardon with oblivion of the past, on condition that, in future and after the proclamation of this amnesty, they shall demean themselves as good and faithful Spaniards, yielding due obedience to the legitimately constituted authorities of the national government of Spain, established in the peninsula.

"Wherefore you will take notice thereof and cause the same to be fulfilled in conformity."

By order of their highness I transmit the same to your excellency for your information and its fulfilment on your part. And I transmit the same to your excellency, that it may be put in execution in the district of your command. And that the same may come to the knowledge of all persons whatsoever, I order the publication thereof, by proclamation, and that the notarial copies be exhibited in the usual places of this

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city, assigning the term of four months, calculated from the date of these presents for all persons interested to make their appearance to avail themselves of this royal amnesty.

St. Augustine, East Florida.

15 March, 1813

Sebastian Kindelan

By order of his excellency, as actuating witnesses for want of a notary.

John De Entralgo

Bernard Joseph Seoui [Segui]

Gen. Pinckney to Gov. Kindelan 56 Savannah, 7th April, 1813.

Sir :

I received this day your excellency's letter of the 31st March, and in answer thereto I have the honor to inform you that the troops of the United States will be speedily withdrawn from the province of East Florida, for which the preparatory order has been already issued ; and that I shall set out this day to pro ceed on my route to St. Mary's, where I can have the satisfaction of a more expeditious communication with your excellency.

I beg leave to offer to your excellency the assurance of the great respect with which I have the honor to be, Your most obedient servant,

Thomas Pinckney

His Excellency, Governor Kindelan.

56 Miscl. Sen. Doc. No. 55, p. 91.

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Gov. Kindelan to Gen. Pinckney 57

St. Augustine, Florida April 16th, 1813.

I have this moment received your letter of the 7th instant, in consequence of which I pray you to do me the honor to communicate to me, previously, the day you may determine upon to withdraw from the river St. John's and Amelia island, the troops under your command, that I may order those of mine to occupy, on the same day, those points, with the view of preventing any excess that might be attempted by any one or more of the rioters upon the properties and persons of the inhabitants of this province, which, I think may be prevented. If you think proper, those that are upon the said river should evacuate first, that from thence I may provide for sending the garrison destined to Amelia island, and that neither one nor the other point should be for one moment without a garrison, to cause the good order, to which you and myself aspire to be kept.

As I have no doubt of the interest you take in the most speedy tranquillity on the borders, I dare supplicate you will interpose your authority to prevent that persons of no character, or vagabonds from the state of Georgia, should assemble those discontented persons who there yet may be, owing to this new order of things, remaining in this territory still ; because the excess to which such a class of people might ordinarily proceed might compromit that peace which ought to make both countries (happy), and consequently, disturb the good harmony existing so happily between the two powers.

57 Secret Acts, Resolutions & Instructions etc. . . . Washington, 1860, p. 65.

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Gen. Pinckney to Gov. Kindelan 58 St. Mary's, 16th April, 1813.

Sir :

I had the honor of addressing your excellency from Savannah, on the 7th of this month, to inform you that in consequence of your communication of the 31st March, the troops of the United States would be speedily removed from East Florida, and having arrived at this place, with the intention of carrying this measure into effect, I again dispatch my aid-de-camp, Mr. Morris, to be the bearer of my respects to your excellency, and to inform you of the arrangements made for the above purpose.

You may with confidence rely on what he shall say to you concerning it in my behalf.

I have the honor to be with great respect,

Your excellency's obedient servant,

Thomas Pinckney.

His Excellency, the Governor of East Florida.

Gen. Pinckney to Maj. Manning 59

[Addressed to Major Manning, 8th Infantry, Commanding United States troops, Camp New Hope, East Florida.]

St. Mary's, 16th April, 1813.

Sir :

You are hereby directed to withdraw the troops of the United States under your command from Camp New Hope, on the 29th of this month, and convoy them by water, to Point Petre, on the St. Mary's river. You will bring with you all the ordnance, ammunition and stores belonging to the United States, and

58 Miscl. Sen. Doc. No. 55, pp. 92-93.

59 Secret Acts, Resolutions & Instructions, etc.; p. 68.

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afford, if required, a guard for the protection of the stores of the contractor, which he will have to remove. I have given Maj. Massias instructions for the evacuation of Fernandina, which will not be executed until the troops under your immediate command have reached Point Petre.

The removal of the troops from East Florida is not to be considered in the light of the evacuation of an enemy's territory, but as restoring to a state of neutrality a territory which our Executive deemed expedient to occupy, until the government of that terri tory should comply with a reasonable requisition made to them. This requisition having been complied with, the territory must be considered as restored to its neutral character ; therefore in withdrawing the troops, you will prevent the removal or destruction of anything appertaining thereto ; and, in general, conduct the movement in that liberal mode which will do honor to the discipline and correct principles of the army.

You are neither to give assistance to the agents of the Spanish government, in any attempts against the revolutionists, nor are you to assist the latter in any operations against the Spaniards ; but you may afford to such of them as wish to withdraw their property from Florida, such assistance as may be in your power. On your arrival at Point Petre, you will report yourself to headquarters at St. Mary's.

By command of the General.

Frederick Kinloch


(Note : The orders to Capt. Massias at Fernandina were similar to the above, with the necessary changes.)

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Gen. Pinckney to Gov. Kindelan 60

St. Mary's, April 18, 1813.

Sir :

At the moment in which my aid-de-camp, Mr. Morris, is about to embark for the purpose of making known to your excellency, the mode and time in which I propose to withdraw the troops of the. United States from the posts they have occupied in East Florida, I am honored with your dispatch of the 16th of this month ; and I am flattered by observing that the measures I had directed him to propose coincide so nearly with the desire expressed by your excellency. I am here vested with the military, but have no control over the civil authority ; but you may be assured that my best endeavors shall not be spared to maintain the harmony which is so much the interest of our respective nations to cultivate.

I have the honor to be, with high considerations and respect,

Your excellency's most obedient servant,

Thomas Pinckney.

His Excellency,

The Governor of East Florida.

Gov. Kindelan to Gen. Pinckney 61 St. Augustine, Florida April 26, 1813.

I have received by your aid-de-camp, Mr. Morris, your two letters, of the 16th and 18th of the present month, in which you have been pleased to do me the honor of communicating to me your orders relative to the evacuation of the troops of your. command, and in consequence whereof Mr. Morris, authorized by you,

60 Miscl. Sen. Doc. No. 55, p. 93.

61 Miscl. Sen. Doc. No. 55, p, 95.

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and myself have agreed that those stationed on the river St. John's should retire in all on the 29th day of the same month, and those upon Amelia Island the 6th of next coming May.

I am also flattered that my anticipated arrangement should coincide with those of your own ; a casu alty [sic] which I believe attributable to the uniformity of principles animating us both, and for which I offer you my most sincere thanks.

I have the honor of offering, with the highest consideration, my respect for you, praying God will pre serve your life many years. SK. [ Sebn. Kindelan]

General Thomas Pinckney.

Gov. Kindelan to Gen Pinckney 62

St. Augustine, Florida

April 28th, 1813.

I enclose to you the within letter, which was delivered to me on the evening of the 25th by your aid de-camp, to be forwarded to the commander of the United States troops stationed upon the river St. John's, and which was returned to me by the dragoon whom I sent it by, as when he arrived there at seven in the morning of the 27th, they had already embarked, leaving the place of their encampment in flames, a circumstance which you and myself were desirous of preventing, with the view that it would facilitate for the present convenient lodgings for the garrison under my command, who were to occupy it on the 30th. This, sir, is of little consequence, and I therefore should not have troubled you by mentioning it were it not for the circumstances of their having consigned also to the

62 Ibid, p. 96.

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flames the machinery and houses of the inhabitants, Hollingsworth and Creagh, which compels me to call your attention to favor the persons injured. All countries abound with inconsiderate persons, the unwar rantable proceedings of which class of people very often disconcert the best concerted plans and measures. But I am persuaded that this disagreeable accident will in no manner change the just course which you and myself have pursued.

I remain, as always, with the highest considerations, at your service.

God preserve your life many years. S.K.

[Sebastian Kindelan]

Gen. Thomas Pinckney

Camp New Hope was evacuated by Major Manning on April 26, 1813. Ten days later, May 6th, Captain A. A. Massias lowered the American flag at Fort San Carlos, Fernandina, and with the remaining troops crossed the channel of the St. Marys River and joined Major Manning at Point Petre, thus bringing to a close a remarkable episode in the history of the United States Army.


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