Continuing the 200th anniversary of the First Seminole War, I am reviewing letters in the archives.
I previously showed you some of the documents on the destruction of Negro Fort / Prospect Bluff. Many consider that what set things in motion to what eventually led to the war. But, it was not enough to get the ball rolling.
Camp Crawford, later called Fort Scott, was established as a response to the renegade fort on the Apalachicola River. Once the fort was blown up and no longer a threat, Crawford/Scott was going to be abandoned. Part of the treaty of Fort Jackson, was that the United States was not going to fortify the land that they had taken from the Creeks. The Creeks were not happy with the forts that were popping up along the frontier, like Fort Mitchell, Fort Gaines, and Fort Scott. There were also smaller forts, like Fort Montgomery in the former location of the Fort Mims massacre.
The problem presented to the United States was that they had this very volatile border that was presenting a lawless danger to the people on the frontier, that still needed to be protected. The military was being downsized after the War of 1812, and was not large enough to cover the area. The militia was only able to cover so much, and then they were never at the right place, or committing atrocities against the Native people that would cause retaliations in return; a never ending cycle.
So with Negro Fort out of the picture, the War Department wanted to move the soldiers to other areas:
In January 1817, it has been less than six months since the destruction of Negro Fort / Prospect Bluff.
One January 6th, 1817, a letter sent from General Andrew Jackson from the Hermitage by Adjutant Robert Butler (his legal ward) to General Edmund Gaines. Gaines has new orders. To abandon Fort Scott, and establish his headquarters at or near Fort Montgomery, just north of Mobile—near the site of the Fort Mims massacre in 1813.
“…That you establish your headquarters for the present at or near Fort Montgomery, and to remark that the measure is dictated by the policy of having your brigade in a situation to overlook Pensacola and Mobile. And if necessary to give aid to the protection of New Orleans, in the event of a rupture with Spain.”
(Letters Received, Adjutant General, 1818, G74, Attachment A)
If Jackson is expecting that the Spanish will attack New Orleans, I think that would be unrealistic, and nobody would expect that to happen.
There was not going to be any rupture with Spain. The previous actions the past July showed that the Spanish were incapable of conducting a military campaign of any consequence. It was shown that the Spanish garrison in Pensacola did not even have enough gunpowder to fire a salute.
Jackson works on provocation, and maybe he is wanting to set up an excuse to go in and take Florida? Well, by the end of the year, he is going to have that excuse.
On February 14th, 1817, General Jackson’s Aide-de-Camp, John Glassell, writes to the Secretary of War.
The Garrison at Fort Scott under Col. King has been ordered to be removed, but to leave a small detachment, and to call upon the Governor of Georgia for aid from the Militia for any necessary aid.
(Letters Received, Adjutant General, 1817, G73)
Due to the inability of the Army to supply the fort, they will end up leaving altogether, and handing it over to George Perryman, an American allied Creek, as caretaker. Shortly after, Seminoles /Miccosukees order George to leave, as they loot & burn what remains of the fort.
Trouble is just beginning anew along the Florida frontier.