Home > Floripedia > War of 1812
Site Map

War of 1812

A History of Florida


Embargo and Non-Intercourse Acts. During some years of the Spanish occupation of Florida, France and England were at war with each other. Though the United States did not take either side in the dispute, it caused her a great deal of trouble. Each of the nations at war forbade out young government trading with the other. Not only this, but the English would stop and search our ships, and seize seamen who they maintained were British subjects, to serve in their navy. All this was very insulting to the United States, and Congress, with a view to improving matters, passed the Embargo Act, a law forbidding all American vessels to leave port. This was worse than ever, for the loss of trade was very great, and thousands of men were thrown out of employment. Then the Embargo Act was repealed, and Congress passed the NonIntercourse Act. This gave Americans the right to trade with all nations except France and England, and bettered matters a little.

How was the Mobile district secured to the United States? What acts of Congress were intended to punish England and France for their offensive attitude toward American shipping? What was their result?

Plans to secure Florida from England. When it became certain that there would be war between England and the United States, it was feared that England would seize Florida, and so gain a great advantage. President Madison tried to persuade the Spanish government to cede Florida to the United States, at any rate for a certain time, and Congress secretly gave the President power to take possession if there were any danger of a foreign power doing so.

Republic of Florida. Pains were taken to keep all these plans quiet, but they became known, and some Georgia frontiersmen joined with some of the Floridians to form the "Republic of Florida," on the banks of the St. Marys. The president of this new and hastily formed government was General John McIntosh, and Colonel Ashley was placed at the bead of its military affairs. The time was at band for the military forces of this little republic to be called into action.

Why was America desirous of having possession of Florida in case of war? What provisions were made to secure it? Tell of the "Republic of Florida."

Fernandina Captured. Amelia Island lies off the eastern coast of Florida just below the mouth of the St. Marys River. Fernandina on this island bad become a very important port of entry for foreign vessels. In order, to protect American interests General Matthews determined to take Fernandina and the island. He sent nine war ships into the harbor and Colonel Ashley's forces came in boats to join in the attack. Fernandina was held by a small Spanish garrison commanded by Don Jose Lopez. Lopez had no choice but to surrender. On March 17, 1812, the agreement was signed. Fernandina was to remain a free port of entry to all nations, but if there should be war between the United States and England, English ships should not be allowed to enter after May 1, 1813.

Expedition against St. Augustine. Next day three hundred Americans marched against St. Augustine, making their camp two miles from the town. Here they were joined by another force of one hundred men. Governor Estrada of East Florida had some cannon placed on a schooner, and fired at the Americans. This forced them to retire to Pass Navarro, a mile away, and later to a place beyond the St. Johns River. Sickness broke out, and some of the men were sent back to the "Republic of Florida " under charge of a United States officer. At the twelvemile swamp this little party of invalids was fired upon by a band of negroes from St. Augustine, and though the soldiers charged upon the negroes and routed them, several officers were killed or wounded.

What was the importance of Fernandina? How taken? Conditions of surrender? Tell of the St. Augustine expedition from the "Republic of Florida." What caused the Americans to retreat?

Expedition against Seminoles. The Americans now carried the war into the Alachua district, where it was said the Seminole Indians were making ready for a raid into Georgia. Colonel Newman, a Georgian, offered to lead a party of scarcely more than three hundred against King Payne's town. King Payne and Bowlegs were the principal chiefs of the Seminoles. They were the sons of Secoffee, the Creek who led the band of runaway Creeks, afterwards called Seminoles, into Florida.

The Indians Defeated. When the Americans reached a lake a few miles from King Payne's town, the brother chieftains with their warriors began the attack from a thick hammock. At first the Indians could not be seen, but Newman ordered his men to pretend flight, and this pretense drew them out. There was a fierce fight. King Payne, mounted on a beautiful white horse, fought gallantly until wounded. The Indians then retired and the Americans hastily made breastworks. It was well they did, for at sunset the Indians returned under Bowlegs and made several furious charges, but finally withdrew. After eight days Newman began his return march. Before going far he was attacked by Billy Bowlegs with fifty warriors, but again won the victory and after that went on his way unmolested. This put an end to any preparations for a Seminole raid into Georgia. Still, small bands gave much trouble to the Americans, and the Americans retaliated by attacking small Spanish settlements.

What was the result of the attack made upon the returning invalids? Where did the American forces march? What was the Occasion of this attack? Who were the Indian chiefs? Tell of the battles. How did they result?

Suppression of Hostilities by the President. It was not to be expected that Spain would be pleased with all these events, and the Spanish minister at Washington complained of the invasion of Florida. The governor of East Florida demanded the withdrawal of the American troops, and as it seemed unwise to provoke a dispute with Spain while war was threatening with England, the President ordered that all American forces should be withdrawn from Florida.

Excerpt from Part One, Chapter 13, "Florida's part in the War of 1812" A History of Florida, 1904. Next Section; Table of Contents.


Home > Floripedia > War of 1812
Site Map

Exploring Florida: A Social Studies Resource for Students and Teachers
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
College of Education, University of South Florida © 2008.