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seminolewar


Adjutant Letters--Army Abandons Fort Scott After Destruction of Negro Fort / Prospect Bluff

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Continuing what the Adjutant letters say about the First Seminole War, I noted previously in January 1817, how General Jackson instructed General Gaines to establish a headquarters to observe the Spanish in case the Spanish cause trouble for New Orleans, at Fort Montgomery near where Fort Mims was. This is obviously for other reasons, because they know from after destroying Negro Fort / Prospect Bluff that the Spanish in Pensacola didn’t even have enough gunpowder to fire a salute for a flag raising. Maybe what they are really doing, is looking for some provocation to jump in and take Florida from the Spanish, like when Jackson took Pensacola in 1814 when the British came there.

At the same time, the Secretary of War is giving instructions to scale down the force at Fort Scott. In a letter dated February 14, 1817, Jackson’s headquarters from Nashville sends the following to the Sec. of War:

“Col. King has, some time since, been instructed to remove the 4th Regiment [of infantry] from Fort Scott, near the confluence of the Flint & Chatahouchy [sic] Rivers, with directions to leave a sufficient detachment of men under an intelligent officer, to maintain that post, and a discretionary power to call on the Governor of Georgia for militia aid, if circumstances should render such aid necessary. It has been, & still contemplated to garrison and defend that, as well as all other fortifications with artillery, so soon as the Battalions in the Division are filled by enlistments; and a company of that corps will be immediately ordered from the Harbor of Charleston to join Infantry left at Fort Scott.”

Things do not work out that way. The soldiers leave and the two Perryman brothers, Creeks friendly to the US, become caretakers of the fort. The Army is small and there are only a few hundred soldiers between New Orleans and Charleston to garrison all the posts, so Fort Scott is left behind. The militia proves to be less than reliable, and only effective at home, and not elsewhere. After the Army is gone, Seminoles from Miccosukee will come in and chase out the Perryman brothers from the fort, and burn the remaining buildings of Fort Scott. The Army will come back the next summer and have to rebuild Fort Scott all over again.

Next: Murder of Mrs. Garrett at St. Marys starts up border tensions.
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