COUNTDOWN TO THE AMERICAN DEFENSE OF FORT BOWYER ON MOBILE POINT,
THE KEY TO THE FATE OF THE ENTIRE GULF COAST DURING THE LAST DAYS OF THE WAR OF 1812
March 27, 1814: After the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, over 800 Red Sticks fled to Northwest Florida. Taking refuge along the rivers and bays of the Florida Panhandle, they were prepared to face starvation rather than to return to their northern homeland in present-day Alabama and Georgia and to suffer the personal retribution that awaited them from their fellow tribesmen who had remained friendly to the Americans and had so recently suffered the consequences of the Red Stick’s violent, maniacal fanaticism.
April 1, 1814: Admiral Cochrane assumed command of the British fleet in the West Indies.
April 2, 1814: Admiral Cochrane issues a proclamation promising American slaves their freedom and free land in British colonies if they will agree to run away from their masters, enlist and submit to British military discipline. During the next year, these proclamations would be posted by British agents all along the roads leading to Pensacola, Mobile and New Orleans.
April 11, 1814: Napoleon surrendered.
May 4, 1814: Napoleon arrived at Elba.
May 11, 1814: British Captain Hugh Pigot anchored his ship, the HMS Orpheus, near the mouth of the Apalachicola River. He left limited supplies and landed about 300 of Royal Marines under the leadership of Captain George Woodbine. These troops were to begin the military drilling of the Indians and runaway slaves on the Apalachicola. This was the opening of the Gulf Campaign by the British Expeditionary Force.
May 25, 1814: Woodbine began construction of the fort at Prospect Bluff that would soon be called The Negro Fort and later Fort Gadsden after Jackson’s conquest of Spanish Florida during the First Seminole War of 1818. Woodbine also sent an Indian warrior to Pensacola to tell the recently defeated refugee Red Sticks that British supplies and reinforcements had finally arrived at the mouth of the Apalachicola and the British naval blockade of American ports on the Gulf Mexico had begun.
May 28, 1814: Woodbine convinced the Seminole chiefs to pledge their allegiance to the British cause.
June, 1814: U.S. General Flournoy ordered Colonel John Bowyer to abandon Fort Bowyer on Mobile Point.
June 8, 1814: An American who had seen a British Naval ship recently arrive at Pensacola Bay embarked Pensacola and sailed toward Bay St. Louis.
June 17, 1814: This American arrived in Bay St. Louis and told General Flournoy that a tender schooner for the HMS Orpheus had arrived in Pensacola and British sailors had reported that they had landed 5000 stand of arms and ammunition in that proportion at the mouth of the Apalachicola. Flournoy also learned that John Innerarity in Pensacola had received a letter from his clerk on the Apalachicola that the British had arrived and had begun to build a magazine to receive arms less than a mile from their John Forbes & Co. store at Prospect Bluff on the east bank of the Apalachicola.
June 20, 1814: Andrew Jackson accepted his appointment as Major General with command over the Seventh Military District of Louisiana, Tennessee and Mississippi Territory (the future states of Alabama and Mississippi).
June 21, 1814: U.S. Creek Indian agent Benjamin Hawkins at Ft. Hawkins in Georgia wrote Secretary of War Armstrong that Indians had told him that the HMS Orpheus had disembarked 50 British Marines at the Apalachicola and left saying they would return in 25 days. Four 100 pound kegs of cartridges as well as arms were given to the Indians.
June 25, 1814: General Jackson ignored orders from Secretary of War Armstrong telling him to disband his army and to go back home.
June 27, 1814: General Jackson wrote Secretary of War Armstrong about the necessity of taking Pensacola away from the British who would soon sail into Pensacola Bay, occupy the Spanish forts and control the town.
July 1814: U.S. Navy Commodore Patterson of New Orleans sailed to Dauphin Island to assist a stranded cargo ship. The Royal Navy was already beginning their naval blockade of the mouth of the Mississippi and was using Dauphin Island as a camp on their supply line.
July 3, 1814: Indian agent Hawkins discounted reports of huge British arms shipments to Apalachicola.
July 4, 1814: British Major Edward Nicolls and a detachment of 112 Royal Marines were transferred from the HMS Tonnant to the HMS Hermes.
July 12, 1814: General Jackson wrote a letter to Gov. Manrique in Pensacola protesting his harboring and support of the Red Sticks and demanded that McQueen and Francis be surrendered to the Americans.
July 13, 1814: British Captain Woodbine at Prospect Bluff on the Apalachicola sent a messenger to Coweta and Cussetuh near present-day Columbus, GA with an invitation to all the Indians between the Conecuh to the Apalachee Rivers to come to Apalachicola for arms and supplies. This trek was a deadly risk for many of the Indians because they faced starvation due to the famine produced by the end of the Creek War.
July 18, 1814: General Jackson wrote General Coffee that the British were arming the Indians at Apalachicola and disembarking black troops from Jamaica.
July 20, 1814: A committee of Mobile citizens appealed to General Jackson to restore Fort Bowyer on Mobile Point.
July 25, 1814: British Captain Woodbine at Apalachicola finds out the Spaniards in Pensacola are afraid of American retaliations so he abandoned his plans to attack Fort Hawkins in southern Georgia. He embarked with stores on board the HMS Sophie and sailed for Pensacola.
July 28, 1814: Woodbine’s ships land at Pensacola.
July 29, 1814: Admiral Cochrane issues a proclamation to the Indian chiefs of the Gulf Coast where he wrote, “Your Father King George will not suffer his Indian children to be made slaves by his rebellious subjects.”
August 1814: General Andrew Jackson ordered the restoration of Fort Bowyer on Mobile Point.
August 1814: The armed schooner, USS. Carolina, arrived in New Orleans for a raid on Lafitte’s pirate headquarters on Barataria Bay southwest of New Orleans.
August 4, 1814: British Colonel Nicolls landed in Havana and pro-American businessmen overheard him bragging about British plans to capture New Orleans by first invading at Mobile Bay and marching overland to Baton Rouge. The Americans immediately send this information along to James Innerarity of John Forbes & Co. in Mobile.
August 5, 1814: Jackson wrote Governor Blount of Tennessee and requested he send Tennessee troops south to capture Pensacola.
August 9, 1814: General Jackson dictated the terms of the Treaty of Fort Jackson with the Creek Indians which gave the U.S. over 23,000,000 acres which in the present-day make up a fifth of Georgia and three-fifths of Alabama.
August 12, 1814: British Colonel Nicolls arrived on the Apalachicola with the HMS Hermes under Captain Percy and the HMS Caron under Captain Spencer. Nicolls finds Woodbine gone but British Marines were drilling the Indians and Negroes.
August 16, 1814: Indian agent Hawkins warned the U.S. Secretary of War that the British at Apalachicola “are training the Indians and some negroes for purposes hostile to us.”
August 20, 1814: General Jackson’s boat heading down river arrived at Mt. Vernon north of Mobile. Jackson visited with Major Uriah Blue who commanded part of the 39th regiment. The rest of this regiment was across the river delta building Fort Montgomery on Holmes Hill near the former Fort Mims.
August 22, 1814: Jackson arrived in Mobile on the same day American Commodore Joshua Barney scuttled his fleet of gunboats in the Patuxent River in Maryland while being pursued by the British coming from the Chesapeake. In Mobile, Jackson met Major William L. Lawrence before the Major embarked for Mobile Point with 160 men to restore the defense of Fort Bowyer.
August 24, 1814: The Battle of Bladensburg was an embarrassing American defeat and the burning of Washington, D.C. by the British followed.
August 24, 1814: British Colonel Nicolls sailed from Apalachicola to Pensacola where British troops disembarked and took over the town and began organizing and drilling the Red Sticks who had flocked there after the defeat at Horseshoe Bend and the signing of the Treaty of Fort Jackson .
August 29, 1814: British Colonel Nicolls issued a proclamation in Pensacola seeking recruits. Nicolls counted on slaves joining his Jamaican black regiments, along with an Indian uprising and help from Louisiana Creoles.
September 1, 1814: Red Stick leaders McQueen, Francis, Cappachamico and Hopoy Micco wrote Admiral Cochrane that they intended to “live or die free of which we have given hard proof by choosing to abandon our Country rather than live in it like slaves.”
September 3, 1814: Captain Percy of the HMS Hermes delayed the attack on Ft. Bowyer on Mobile Point so that Captain Lockyer of the HMS Sophie could sail from Pensacola to Barataria Bay to contact Lafitte and attempt to enlist the Baratarians for the British cause. This proved that New Orleans was the ultimate target of the British Expeditionary Force.
September 4, 1814: Lafitte put the British off for two weeks and wrote Louisiana Governor Claiborne a letter offering his allegiance to the American cause in exchange for a pardon for his many crimes.
September 11, 1814: U.S. Captain MacDonough won a great naval victory over the British on Lake Champlain.
September 14, 1814: Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner while being detained on the HMS Tonnant during the Battle of Baltimore. The HMS Tonnant had disembarked Nicolls’ Royal Marines to the HMS Hermes in July and would be the ship commanding the British Expeditionary force when it arrived at Dauphin Island after being defeated by Jackson at New Orleans in January.
September 15, 1814: British Colonel Nicolls, Royal Marines and newly recruited locals failed to win their attack on Fort Bowyer at Mobile Point.
September 16, 1814: Commodore Patterson burned Lafitte’s headquarters on Barataria Bay west of New Orleans and brought 20 naval guns back to New Orleans.
September 17, 1814: The Royal Marines and Indians, returning to Pensacola during their retreat from Mobile Point, raided the Forbes & Co. stores and mills at Bon Secour.
October 14, 1814: The British fleet left the Chesapeake for Jamaica.
November 7, 1814: General Jackson’s army captured Pensacola by storm after the Spanish quickly surrendered and the Royal Navy retreated.
November 22, 1814: General Jackson left Mobile and traveled toward New Orleans. This journey included a reconnaissance of the coast.
November 24, 1814: The British Expeditionary Force rendezvoused at Negril Bay, Jamaica.
December 1, 1814: General Jackson and his staff arrived in New Orleans.
December 5, 1814: British Admiral Cochrane and Major General Keane issued a proclamation to the Indians of the Northern Gulf Coast. This call to battle promised the restoration of all Indian land acquired by the Americans from the Indians.
December 9, 1814: General Jackson returned to New Orleans after performing an inspection tour of the fortifications of the lower Mississippi. Jackson neglected to inspect the right bank of the Mississippi River.
December 14, 1814: Battle of Lake Borgne
January 8, 1815: Battle of New Orleans
January 18, 1815: The British bombardment of Fort St. Philip on the Mississippi River ended after ten days of shelling.
February 11, 1815: The Americans surrendered Ft. Bowyer on Mobile Point to the British just before the beginning of the British artillery barrage.
February 13, 1815: British Admiral Cochrane off Mobile Point sent General Jackson a message that a treaty of peace had ended the war.
February 17, 1815: After receiving confirmation that peace had been declared, the British released their American prisoners held in the ships anchored off Dauphin Island. British used this truce as an opportunity to ship supplies from Dauphin Island to their Indian and Negro allies on the Apalachicola.
April 4, 1815: British embark from Dauphin Island. Many departing British ships sail either to St. Marys/Fernandina or to New Providence Island, Bahamas. From those ports, troops made their way home, generally by way of the Bermuda. The retreat of the British Expeditionary Force from Dauphin Island resulted in thousands of runaway slaves from the area around the Northern Gulf of Mexico being disembarked as freed "Refugee Negroes" on Nova Scotia and Trinidad.