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March 1817—Gen. Gaines Has Eyes on Florida

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General Gaines asks the Spanish Governor to establish an American base in Pensacola Bay.

March 18, 1817 in a letter from General Gaines to the Spanish Governor in Pensacola. General Gaines is having problems getting forage & provisions to the US Fort Crawford on the Conecuh River (Alabama), and asks the Spanish Governor for passage to transport the supplies through Spanish territory through Pensacola and the Escambia River, hoping this will not present a problem. (It later will.)

In a letter dated March 20, 1817, Gaines writes to Sec. of War Crawford:

“The prospect of Pensacola being shortly assailed by the revolutionary forces, appears to have subsided.”

“The Creek Indians, and the people of this part of the territory, it seems, were invited, and many of them were expected to cooperate with the revolutionary troops.”

“But, much to the credit of our red and white people of the woods, though strongly disposed to see Pensacola change masters, they had suffered too much by the war which had been sanctioned by their country and government to volunteer in that which might be even more disastrous, and in which their country had not seen fit to authorize their participation.”

“I have ordered the supplies for Fort Crawford to be sent, in future, by water, by the way of Pensacola. With the first cargo I have sent an officer, who is instructed to obtain, on reasonable terms, upon the Pensacola Bay, near the mouth of Escambia, a place of temporary deposit, where the supplies may be discharged from coasting vessels, and put on board the barges, or batteaux for ascending the rivers, Escambia and Conecuh.”

“I enclose a copy of my letter to the Governor. He is at this time, I understand disposed to be unusually civil towards us—and I will have little doubt but he will yield to the measure, as it cannot but be viewed by him as sanctioned by sound policy.”

General Gaines is simply asking the Governor in Pensacola for the Americans to operate freely, as an army of another country, in Spanish territory. To not be charged any taxes to transport goods for their army across Spanish territory. And to have a place to unload supplies off coasting vessels onto barges or canoes, to travel up river. Essentially to permit them to do what they did not allow the British to do at Pensacola back in 1814.

The Spanish may have been grateful for removing the threat of the Negro fort a few months earlier, but international trade and foreign treaties negotiate over the things that Gaines is asking for, and the Governor will ask for payment. Jackson and Gaines will be furious over that response, as we will see later.

I will end here, because the next letter from Gaines is his reaction of the death of Mrs. Garrett, and he makes a very profound statement that I need to save for a separate entry in the blog. You really need to see that!
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