Throwback Thursday: Queen Anne’s War and the British siege of Pensacola

Pensacola’s Fort San Carlos

HISTORICAL NOTE: I REFER TO PRE-1707 ACTIVITIES AS “ENGLISH” AND THOSE FROM 1707 ONWARD AS “BRITISH” DUE TO THE ACTS OF UNION BETWEEN THE ENGLISH AND SCOTTISH CROWNS THAT WERE ENACTED IN 1707. 

This week in 1707 the second British siege of Pensacola was lifted.  It was culmination of hostilities between the English and the Spanish in Florida. 

Prior to Queen Anne’s War which was a North American fight tied to the War of Spanish Succession, Spain and England had overlapping claims in what would later become Georgia. The war  was fought from 1702 to 1713. Carolina governed by the English and Spanish territory of Florida.

North America on eve of Queen Anne’s War: By User:Magicpiano – own work; structure (but not depicted areas of control) derived from File:Nouvelle-France map-en.svg, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9798531

In 1702, the English had invaded Florida as part of Queen Anne’s War.  The English laid siege to St Augustine the capital of East Florida, but the Spanish held out and the English returned to Charleston in disgraceful defeat on New Years Eve. 

In 1704, the English tried again. The Carolina-based English colonists and their native American allies invaded the central part Spanish-held Florida,  now known as the Big Bend region. Former Carolina Governor James Moore led the invasion on behalf of the English colonists.  The English were successful in ravaging the area and effectively depopulating the entire 400 miles between Pensacola and St Augustine.

In 1707, Pensacola was attacked and destroyed by the British and the Crown’s Creek Indian allies but Spanish rule persisted due to the defense of Fort San Carlos de Austria (Fort Barrancas). But the  British weren’t ready to give up. 

An aerial view of Fort Barrancas and the smaller, whitewashed water battery.

Months later the British tried again. This week in 1707, Pensacola was saved from potential British occupation. The following is from Wikipedia:

The second siege began with the arrival on November 27 of a contingent of about 20 Carolina traders and 300 Creeks, primarily Tallapoosas and Alabamas. On that day, an Englishman (unidentified in Spanish reports, but possibly Thomas Nairne) brought a demand for surrender written in English. Since none of the Spaniards could read it, he was sent away, and the demand was eventually transmitted orally by a French Huguenot. Moscoso rejected the demand, even though his garrison was depleted by disease. The besiegers began an ineffectual attack on the fort around midnight which lasted until daybreak, at which point they delivered a final surrender demand. Moscoso again refused. In order to supplement his forces, he successfully recruited convicts being held in the fort’s guardhouse to participate in the defense, offering them freedom and money for their service. During each of the next two nights the besiegers renewed their attacks on the fort, without significant effect. During the night of November 29/30, one of the leading Creek chiefs was killed. This apparently broke the besiegers’ morale, for the siege was lifted the following morning. The attackers were reported to have suffered significant casualties.[16]

Word of the attacking force had reached the French at Mobile on November 24. Governor Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville raised a force of 100 Frenchmen and 400 Indians. They reached Pensacola on December 8, only to learn that the siege had been lifted a week earlier.

According to David Weber’s 1993 work The Spanish Frontier in North America  Queen Anne’s War devastated Florida:

Spanish Florida never really recovered its economy or population due to the effects of the war, and was ceded to Britain following the Seven Years’ War in the 1763 Treaty of Paris.

The Spanish would briefly lose control of Pensacola from 1719-1722 when the French captured the town. It was returned in a peace settlement. 

North America on the eve of the Seven Years War. Note the overlapping Spanish and English claims in South Georgia. This area like the Big Bend had been depopulated during Queen Anne’s War.

Pensacola would eventually fall into British hands in 1763 like the rest of Florida and would be the scene of a great battle in 1814 between the United States led by General Andrew Jackson, the British and Spanish. 

2 comments

  1. […] The most important battle of the conflict took place in 1704 at Ayubale. Wikipedia has a great write up on the battle which was a decisive victory for the English and its allied Indian tribes and .half the resisting Apalachee Indians were killed or captured. Last week we discussed the siege of Pensacola during this war.  […]

    Like

  2. […] The most important battle of the conflict took place in 1704 at Ayubale. Wikipedia has a great write up on the battle which was a decisive victory for the English and its allied Indian tribes and .half the resisting Apalachee Indians were killed or captured. Last week we discussed the siege of Pensacola during this war.  […]

    Like

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