Saturday, April 26, 2014



During the War of 1812, the American fort at Mobile Point on the eastern side of the mouth of Mobile Bay was called Fort Bowyer. It was named after the U.S. Army officer who built it, Lieutenant Colonel John Bowyer. For some unknown reason, when Fort Bowyer was rebuilt after that war, the renovated structure was renamed Fort Morgan after Revolutionary War hero General Daniel Morgan. James Parton, the author of LIFE OF ANDREW JACKSON (1861) wrote "the fortification will be known to posterity as Fort Bowyer, though the name has since been most unpatriotically and immorally changed to Fort Morgan."

In support of this sentiment, I offer you the following transcription of a letter Lieutenant Colonel Bowyer sent the Secretary of War after he was discharged from the military service in 1815. This letter summarizes Bowyer's military career in which he participated in all the major events that occurred in the Gulf South between his arrival in 1797 until his departure in 1814. Of the many reasons to remember Colonel Bowyer, all citizens of Alabama should know that as head of surveyor Andrew Ellicott's military escort, Bowyer was among the men who raised the first American flag on present-day Alabama soil in the spring of 1799. 

[ed. note: This endorsement by the Secretary of War is found on the outside of Colonel Bowyer's letter.]
"Washington City, 19 June, 1814, Col. John Bowyer, giving a brief narrative of his military services during the term of 23 years and requesting the attention of the Secretary to his peculiar situation."
                                                                                      Washington June 19th, 1815
    I am sorry to be obliged to intrude my personal concerns, on your attention, but I hope the occasion may excuse me.
         Having given the prime of my life, to the military service of our country, and abandoned every other pursuit of fortune; By the late reduction of the Army, find myself deprived of my hard earned substinance and thrown upon the world to struggle for the means of life at a time when the vigour of youth has relapsed and age with its infirmities begins to stare me in the face.

          Thus circumstanced I have no prospects of relief but from that community which has profited by the days, and nights, and years of toils, perils and watchings which I have devoted to them, without any other consideration than a bare maintenance and as the organ of their will and disposer of their bounties- I hope I do not take an improper direction in submitting to your consideration the following brief summary of my services, on which my claims for some official provision are founded.

           I was appointed a Lieutenant in the army of the U States by General Washington on the 5th March 1792, and joined the Army, under Major General Wayne at Cincinnati on the 20th May following, marched in October with the Army and went into cantonement at Greenville, where I wintered, being imployed in Scouting and conveying provisions from the Ohio, through a wilderness of sixty six miles- In the campaign 1794 I served in Capt. Howell Lewis' company of light Infantry and was in the advance of the army on the 20th August, when a General action was faught and a decisive victory gained over the Indians; and the company to which I belonged received the thanks of the commander in Chief- The campaign being finished, serveral out posts were established, and I wintered with the main body of the troops at Greenville- A peace was made with the Indians the ensuing Summer, and in the fall General Wayne returned to Philadelphia, leaving the command of the Army with Major General Wilkinson- I remained at the position until the Spring 1796 exposed during the whole time, winter, and summer, so the most arduous duties, conveying and boating provisions and military stores up the Big Miami, across the Portage to the St. Mary's and down that river, to the Miami of the lakes, the the neighborhood of the British port on the Miami.
                                                                                                                       General Wilkinson                 having settled the time for the delivery of the post with the British commandant at Detroit I marched with the advance and relieved the British Garrison at that place in July 1796
In the Spring 1797 I was ordered with a detachment to take post at Natchez, where I continued encamped near the Spanish Fort, until the 7th of October- When General Wilkinson who arrived the 5th descended with the Troops, and took post at Loftises heights, since Fort Adams, near the line of demarcation-From this encampment I was ordered by General Wilkinson  to take command of the detachment which accompanied the Commissioners of limits, marched on the 22nd of October and joined Mr. Elicote on the 24th at the Head of Thompson's creek- On this service I continued until the first of May 1800 during which period I marched for the Mississippi to the mouth of the St. Marys;-the national boundary being established; I remained at Point Peter without orders until the 22nd of October, when I was remanded by Colonel Gaither to the Mississippi; I again crossed the Wilderness, and arrived at Fort Adams in Company with Colonel Gaither on the 3rd February 1801- I remained here until the 6th July 1802 when I was, again ordered with my Company as an escort to the Commissioner, General Wilkinson, for Exploring and running a partition line between the Choctaw Indians, and the settlements on the Tombigby- This laborious work was compleated in the Beginning of October the same year- Then I was ordered into Cantonement at Fort St. Stephens, I remained their until December the same year-When I was ordered by General Wilkinson with my Company to repair to New Orleans, which had been ceded by the French Republick to the U States, And I arrived at that place in January 1804- Where I went into quarters,- On the 6th of Sept 1804 I was ordered to take post in the Appalucias as Civil and Milatary Commandant of that District and the Attacaupus- I continued on this station until the 16th July 1806 when I received an order from Colonel Cushing to March with my Company to oppose the Spaniards near Natchitoches, And reached that post the 28th July  
Here I was ordered to a position in advance- Genl. Wilkinson arrived and took command of the Troops about the 22nd Sept and Imediately ordered me to advance with my Company to the Arroyo Hundo and take position on the East bank- A Few days after I was ordered with a Detachment of Regulars and Mounted Volunteers to advance to the Adus(ed. note:?) 21 Miles and make a depot for Provisions and stores; on the 24th of October   General Wilkinson arrived at Adus with the Troops, halted one day, and on the 26th advanced toward the Sabine the left bank of which we reached about the 1st of November and found the Spaniards Encamped on the oposite side- the difficulties between the two Generals being settled the Troops marched back to Nathcitoches, ad the 5th of Nov  And about the 22nd Embarked for New Orleans, and arrived there about the 12th of December, where I went into quarters and past the winter, on the 20th of May 1807 I Imbarked with the 2nd Regt. to which I belonged, Commanded by Colonel Cushing, ascended the River to Fort Adams, and Erected a cantonement for the troops, about five miles in rear of it. At this place I continued on duty until June 1810, when the Regt moved up the River to the vicinity of Washington, Mississippi Territory, under the orders of Brig. Genl. Hampton- where we again formed a cantonement under my particular orders, as Maj. commanding the Corps- About the 4th of December, I received orders from Col. Covington,  then commanding the District to march to Baton Rouge, which was at that time in possession of the Insurgents of West Florida, where I arrived about the 6th and took possession of this place where I remained until the 5th of March 1811. When I was ordered to Fort Stoddert by Genl. Hampton to take command of the 2nd Regt. Colonel Cushens and Lieut. Colonel Sparks, Both being in arrest, which I did not reach until the 22nd of May, being detained as a member of a General Court Martial- on the 17th Nov,- I left Fort Stoddert by order to attend as a witness, at Colonel Cushens court martial at Baton Rouge- And returned the following month to my Command- In the month of March 1812, I was again ordered to attend that Courts and after the trial was finished in May, returned again to Fort Stoddert- On the 6th of August I was ordered by Genl. Wilkinson to repair to New Orleans, where I arrived about the 12th, and having received particular Instructions, for my Conduct in relation to the Spaniards, as well as the Enemy, I embarked at the bayou St. Johns the 6th of Sept with a light train of Artillery and Munitions of War, of which we had been destitute at Fort Stoddert- But owing to adverce windis, and the vessels of the Enemy, I did not get back to  my station, until 26th of October- On the 6th of April 1813, I was directed to take a position on the East of Mobile Bay with my Reg., and a body of Volunteers, Mounted and on foot, under Instructions from Genl. Wilkinson to Cut off all communications between Mobile and Pensacola-after the reduction of Fort  Charlotte, he marched the 2nd of May. About which time I received my promotion with orders from the War Department To repair to Platsburgh, In consequence of which I settled my affairs in the south, and took up my march on the 24th of August last- After arriving at this place an adjustment made with Col. William Russel, I was remanded to the South to take command of the 7th Reg. Infantry but was prevented by the peace and consequent reduction of the Army I have thus far given you a Simple narrative of my military life for more that twenty three years- during which period I never had a furlough for one day, nor has my conduct or Character been tarnished by any act of Impropriety, for the truth of which I can refer all with whome I have served- Whether Superior or Inferior in rank, I can safely assert that the2nd Regt. which I had the Honor to Command, for four years, wer in point of Dicipline, Poleice, Arms, Manouevre and all the requisites of Veteran Soldiers Second to no Corps in the Service of the U States. The subsiquent conduct of those troops at Mobile Point tend to Justify my Assertion- My case is before you and for the rest I appeal to your breast and the Justice of my Country
                                                                 I am Sir very Respectfully your
most Obd. and Hbl. Servt.
                                                                   Jn Bowyer Lt Col 5th Infty.

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 was accompanied by the HMS Shelburne, formerly the U.S. letter of marque schooner Racer, had been captured in the Battle of the Rappahannock River on April 13, 1813. Pigot 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.  The establishment of this advance base of operations was the opening of the New Orleans 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.

May 28, 1814: Secretary of War Armstrong appointed Andrew Jackson to Major General in the U.S. Regular Army with command over the 7th Military District which included Tennessee, Louisiana and Mississippi Territory (the future states of Alabama and Mississippi).
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 23, 1814: Admiral Cochrane transmitted to the Admiralty a letter from the refugee Red Stick Indian chiefs on the Apalachicola who had come aboard the HMS Orpheus.

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.
 Major Edward Nicolls

July 4, 1814: British Major Edward Nicolls and a detachment of 112 Royal Marines were transferred from the HMS Tonnant to the HMS Hermes. The troops and military supplies for the Indians of Florida embarked for Apalachicola via Havana from New Providence Island, Bahamas aboard the HMS Hermes and the HMS Carron.

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.

                                MAJOR GENERAL ANDREW JACKSON
                                               Commanding the 6th and 7th
                                                                   Military District
                                                            HICKORY GROUND
(ed. note:  The following quotation was on the outside of the envelope when it was delivered to the War Department in Washington. It is Jackson's endorsement in his handwriting.)
"The memorial of the citizens of the Town of Mobile, to be answered with assurances of every protection, that the means within my power will afford, that the abandonment of Mobile Point was by the order of the secratary of war. The remonstrance, has been forwarded to the secratary of war with the appropriate remarks. The remonstrance to be forwarded to the secratary of war as above."

At a meeting of the Inhabitants of the Town of Mobile convened at the dwelling house of Josiah Blakeley Esquire on Wednesday the 20th July 1814, for the purpose of taking into consideration the perilous situation of affairs in  this section of the Territory.
                                       Josiah Blakeley Esq. was called to the Chair,
                                       and  M. McKinsey was appointed Secretary
                                       On motion of Joseph P. Kennedy, seconded,

                 That a committee of Five be forthwith appointed to draft a memorial to his Excellency Major General And. Jackson explanatory of the defenseless and awful situation of this quarter of the Territory- the ill-advised abandonment and evacuation of Mobile Point, and the withdrawal of the Gunboats from the Bay of Mobile- praying his Excellency's relief thereupon
                                                              which motion was unanimously agreed to 
Whereupon the President appointed Colonel Hinson Powell and Messieurs Kennedy, Robertson and McKinsey, as a Committee to draft said memorial and dispatch the same tomorrow morning by Lieut. Conway

                                            A true Copy of the Original 
                                            Mobile 20th July 1814
                                                                                    M. McKinsey

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 4, 1814: British Colonel Nicolls landed in Havana and a pro-American cotton broker overheard him bragging about British plans to capture New Orleans by first invading at Mobile Bay and marching overland to Baton Rouge. This American would later send this information along to James Innerarity of John Forbes and Co. in Mobile, to Secretary of State James Monroe and to General Claiborne in New Orleans by way of Jean LaFitte.

August 5, 1814: Jackson wrote Governor Blount of Tennessee and requested he send Tennessee troops south to capture Pensacola. In Havana, Colonel Nicolls aboard the HMS Hermes embarks for Pensacola with three regiments of Black Colonial Marines who were expected to be able to fight well in the hot Southern climate and were believed to be able to induce slaves in the Deep South to join them in the British cause. The departure of the HMS Hermes was covered by the Havana newspapers which General Jackson received in Mobile.

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 William Henry Percy and the HMS Caron under Captain Spencer. Nicolls finds Woodbine gone but British Marines were drilling the Indians and Negroes.

August 13, 1814: Vincent Gray, a native of Massachusetts living as a cotton merchant in Havana, writes three letters describing the Royal Navy's campaign to capture New Orleans. Gray received this information from the conversations Colonel Nicolls had with citizens in Havana. These 3 letters were sent to Secretary of State Monroe, to General Claiborne in New Orleans by way of Captain Jean Lafitte and to James Innerarity, the head of John Forbes and Company in Mobile.

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 17, 1814: A company of 53 Choctaws led by Pushmataha and Mushulamotubbee are mustered into the U.S. Army at St. Stephens. They will accompany Major Uriah Blue and the 39th Infantry in their mission to destroy the Red Sticks in Northwest Florida after Jackson's capture of Pensacola in November. 

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 21, 1814: John Innerarity of Pensacola writes his brother James in Mobile that the Royal Navy's invasion force had landed in Bermuda. This was some of the information included in the letters that James Innerarity showed General Jackson on August 27. 

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 23, 1814: Colonel Edward Nicolls and his Colonial Marines disembark from the HMS Hermes (22 guns, commanded by Captain William Percy) and the HMS Sophie (18 guns, commanded by Captain Nicholas Lockyer) in Pensacola and take over the town and Fuerte San Miguel. The Colonial Marines began organizing and drilling the Red Sticks who had flocked to Pensacola after the defeat at Horseshoe Bend and the signing of the Treaty of Fort Jackson .

August 23, 1814: The USS Carolina, a 14 gun schooner, arrived in New Orleans. The ship had been requested by Commodore Patterson for his plan to attack and destroy LaFitte's Barataria Bay headquarters which the Carolina accomplished in September. The ship stayed in the New Orleans area and was the key to the American victory in the Night Battle of December 23 which slowed the British disembarkation and set the stage for the main battle on January 8.

August 24, 1814: The Battle of Bladensburg was an embarrassing American defeat and the burning of Washington, D.C. by the British followed. In Pensacola, John Innerarity writes his brother James in Mobile that the British Navy had landed in Pensacola with plans to capture Mobile as a forward base for their conquest of New Orleans. This was one of the letters that James Innerarity showed General Jackson on August 27.

August 27, 1814: At 5 P.M. on this Saturday afternoon, James Innerarity, first President of the Mobile Town Council, handed General Andrew Jackson two letters, one written by Innerarity's brother, John, in Pensacola and another one written by cotton merchant, Vincent Gray, in Havana. Both letters described in detail the Royal Navy's plan to capture New Orleans.
"...but for this intelligence so fortunately and singularly given, New Orleans, would most probably have fallen without a battle, and without a renowned hero to grace its history." ~ from the journal of R.K. Call who had kept this information a secret for over 40 years because it would have been harmful to the Innerarity brothers' business interests in Great Britain.

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. 

August 31, 1814: Nicolls wrote a letter to LaFitte which Lockyer delivered to Barataria Bay. In this letter, Nicolls invited LaFitte to join him in defeating the U.S. , "the only Enemy Great Britain has in the World." Captain Nicholas Lockyer embarked for Barataria aboard the HMS Sophie. His mission was to recruit Jean Lafitte and his Baratarians to join the British cause.

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 10, 1814: Colonel Nicolls and his Royal Marines embarked from Pensacola aboard the HMS Childers for an attack on Fort Bowyer on Mobile Point.

September 11, 1814: U.S. Captain MacDonough won a great naval victory over the British on Lake Champlain.

September 12, 1814: The HMS Childers disembarks the Nicolls and his Royal Marines 9 miles east of Fort Bowyer on Mobile Point. They are armed with a 5.5 inch howitzer and are joined by refugee Red Sticks and fugitive slaves who have been recruited into the Colonial Marines.  

September 13, 1814: Commodore Daniel Patterson on board the USS Carolina embarks from New Orleans for LaFitte's Barataria Bay headquarters along with 6 gunboats and a tender.

September 13, 1814: General Andrew Jackson sailed toward Fort Bowyer on Mobile Bay but is stopped by Americans in a boat bound for Mobile near the mouth of Mobile Bay and informed that the British amphibious attack on Fort Bowyer had begun. Jackson's boat turns around and sails back to Dog River. These Americans prevented Jackson from sailing directly into the British naval fleet off Fort Bowyer.

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 fugitive slaves and refugee Red Sticks failed to win their attack on Fort Bowyer at Mobile Point. The HMS Hermes ran aground, caught fire and exploded. This defeat was fatal to British prestige. It alienated the Spanish, scattered their Indian recruits and increased American confidence in General Jackson.

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 and Co. stores and mills at Bon Secour.

September 21, 1814: General Jackson issued a proclamation from Mobile to all free men of color in Louisiana. "As sons of freedom you are now called upon to defend our most inestimable blessing... To every noble-hearted freeman of colour volunteering to serve during the present contest with Great Britain, and no longer, there will be paid the same bounty in money and lands, now received by the white soldiers of the United States."

October 14, 1814: The British Expeditionary Force naval fleet left the Chesapeake for Jamaica.

October 26, 1814:  Troop transports escorted by the HMS Vengeur, commanded by Captain Robert Tristram Ricketts embark from Plymouth, England. The HMS Vengeur would serve as the command ship for the Royal Navy during the 2nd Battle of Fort Bowyer.

November 7, 1814: General Jackson’s army captured Pensacola by storm after the Spanish quickly surrendered and the Royal Navy abandoned the forts around the town, sailed away and deployed to Prospect Bluff on the Apalachicola where they made their headquarters.

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.

Late November, 1814: Major Uriah Blue and about 1000 American troops and Choctaw Indians left Fort Montgomery on the Tensas River to search and destroy refugee Indian and Negro camps in Northwest Florida.
Location of General Jackson's headquarters on Royal Street
image courtesy of Lossing's Pictorial History of the War of 1812

December 2, 1814: General Jackson and his staff arrived in New Orleans.

December 4, 1814: General Jackson descended the Mississippi River on an inspection tour of Fort St. Philip.

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: (from Judge Alexander Walker's book "Jackson and New Orleans)
"The pilots, who have accompanied the fleets from the 
West Indies, have announced that the land is not far 
off and all parties are on deck, eagerly straining their eyes for a view of the desired shore. There, in thedistance, they soon discover a
long, shingling white line, 
which sparkles in the sun like an island of fire.
Presently it becomes more distinct and substantial 
and the man at the look-out proclaims 'land ahead'. 
The leading ships approach as near 
as is prudent and their crews, especially the land 
troops, experience no little disappointment at the 
bleak and forbidding aspect of Dauphin Island, 
with its long, sandy 
beach, its dreary, stunted pines, and the entire 
absence of any vestige of settlement or cultivation. 
Turning to the west, the fleet avoids the island and 
proceeds towards a favorable anchorage in the 
direction of the Chandeleur islands, the wind in the 
meantime having chopped around and blowing 
too strong from the shore to justify 
an attempt to enter the lake at night. 
"As the Tonnant and Seahorse pass near to Dauphin 
Island, the attention of the Vice-Admiral 
is called to two small vessels, 
lying between the island and the 
shore. They are neat little craft, sloop-rigged, and 
evidently armed. They appear to be watching the 
movements of the British ships and when the latter 
take a western course, they weigh anchor and 
follow in the same direction. 
At night-fall the signal 
'to anchor' is made from the Tonnant and the order 
is quickly obeyed by all the vessels in the squadron." 
"The suspicious little sloops, as if in apprehension 
of a night attack of boats, then press all sail and 
proceed in the direction of Biloxi Bay. They prove to be the United States gunboats No. 23, Lieutenant 
McKeever, (afterwards Commodore McKeever) , No. 163, 
Sailing Master Ulrick, which had been detached from 
the squadron of Lieutenant Thomas Ap Catesby Jones 
(later the Commodore Jones 
who ran up the first American flag at Monterey, 
California, in 1847), who had been sent by Commodore 
Patterson with six gunboats, one tender, and a 
despatch boat, to watch and report the approach 
of the British. In case their 
fleet succeeded in entering 
the lake, he was to be prepared to cut 
off their barges and prevent the landing of the 
troops. If hard pressed by a superior force, his 
orders were to fall back upon a mud fort, the Petites Coquilles, near the mouth of the Rigolets and shelter his vessels under its guns. 

"The two boats which had attracted the notice of the 
British Vice-Admiral, joined the others of the 
squadron that night near Biloxi. The next day, 
the 10th of December, at dawn, 
or as soon as the fog cleared off, 
Jones was amazed to observe the deep water 
between Ship and Cat Islands where the current flows, 
crowded with ships and vessels of every calibre and 
description. The Tonnant having anchored off the 
Chandeleurs, the Seahorse was now the foremost ship. 
Jones immediately made for Pass Christian with
his little fleet, where he anchored,and quietly 
awaited the approach of the British vessels.
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 10, 1814: Admiral Cochrane on the command ship TONNANT dropped anchor in the channel off the Chandeleurs.

December 11, 1814: General Jackson inspected the defenses along the Gentilly Plain and ordered the erection of a battery at the junction of Bayou Sauvage with the Chef Menteur Pass between the lakes. He also ordered that an express connection be set up between the Balize and New Orleans.

December 13, 1814: The USS Sea Horse battled  British troop transports in water between Bay St. Louis and Lake Borgne.

December 13, 1814: The HMS Vengeur and its convoy sail into Negril Bay, Jamaica and meet the HMS Statira carrying the commanding officer for the upcoming Battle of New Orleans, Major General Sir Edward Pakenham.
image courtesy of Lossing's Pictorial History of the War of 1812

December 14, 1814: Battle of Lake Borgne

December 16, 1814: General Andrew Jackson declared martial law in the City of New Orleans.

image courtesy of Lossing's Pictorial History of the War of 1812

December 17, 1814: The construction began on two batteries on Bayou St. John.

image courtesy of Lossing's Pictorial History of the War of 1812

December 18, 1814: General Jackson performed a general review of the troops at the Plaque de Armes (present-day Jackson Square), declared martial law and suspended writ of habeas corpus.

Flag made by the women of Shelbyville, Tennessee that was carried by their militia during the Night Battle of December 23
image courtesy of Lossing's Pictorial History of the War of 1812

image courtesy of Lossing's Pictorial History of the War of 1812

December 23, 1814: The British advance toward New Orleans and were attacked by U.S. forces. Shells fired in the British camp from the USS Carolina anchored in the Mississippi were a key to the American victory which slowed the British disembarkation and set the stage for the main battle on January 8.

image courtesy of Lossing's Pictorial History of the War of 1812

The Chalmette Plantation in front of Rodriguez's canal
image courtesy of Lossing's Pictorial History of the War of 1812

December 24, 1814: U.S. Regulars and dragoons were left at De la Ronde's and the remainder of the army built a 3 foot high breast-work along the entire length of Rodriguez's Canal.

December 24, 1814: The Treaty of Ghent ending the War of 1812 was signed.

Villere Plantation
image courtesy of Lossing's Pictorial History of the War of 1812

December 25, 1814: General Pakenham arrived at the Villere Plantation headquarters and took over command of the British troops. Jackson fell back, concentrated his forces and ordered the levee cut at the Chalmette Plantation and the field in front of the Rodriguez canal flooded.

December 27, 1814: A British hot shot hit the USS Carolina and the crew had to abandon ship before it exploded and sank.

December 30, 1814: The H.M.S. Brazon under command of Captain Sterling embarked from Portsmouth with a copy of a newspaper announcing a declaration of peace from the Treaty of Ghent.

January 2, 1815: Anthony St. John Baker sailed for America with the American copy of the Treaty of Ghent and with another copy that had been ratified by the British Government in London.

image courtesy of Lossing's Pictorial History of the War of 1812

January 8, 1815: Battle of New Orleans at Chalmette and on the West Bank.

January 9, 1815: Major Uriah Blue and his American force return to Ft. Montgomery on the Tensas from their search and destroy mission against the Red Sticks and fugitive slaves in Northwest Florida.

January 18, 1815: The British bombardment of Fort St. Philip on the Mississippi River ended after ten days of shelling.

January 27, 1815: The Choctaw company led by Pushmataha and Mushulamotubbee are mustered out of the U.S. Army at Fort Stoddert. 

February 3, 1815: The H.M.S. Brazen, carrying newspapers announcing the peace of the Treaty of Ghent, arrives at Port Royal, Jamaica.

February 11, 1815: The Americans surrendered Ft. Bowyer on Mobile Point to the British just before the beginning of the British artillery barrage.

February 12, 1815: The Americans formally marched out of Fort Bowyer and stacked their arms. The British flag was raised over Mobile Point.

February 13, 1815: British Admiral Cochrane informed General Jackson of the reception of news that peace had been declared.

February 14, 1815: The H.M.S. Brazen arrived at the anchorage of the British fleet off of Dauphin Island with news that peace had been declared by the Treaty of Ghent on December 24.

February 14, 1815: The HMS Borer disembarked on St. George Island at the mouth of Apalachicola Bay four Royal Marines who had served in New Orleans. The ship remained in the Apalachicola Bay area for the next month.

February 15, 1815: The Treaty of Ghent arrives in Washington, D.C.

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.

February 19, 1815: Edward Livingston returns to New Orleans with news of peace from his trip to the British fleet off Dauphin Island.

March 5, 1815: News of U.S. ratification of THE TREATY OF GHENT arrived on Dauphin Island.

March 15, 1815: Americans returned British prisoners of war to the Royal Navy at their headquarters on Dauphin Island. This was also about the first time that religious services were provided for British troops since they had been deployed to North America.

March 27, 1815: The HMS Carron anchored off St. Vincent Island near Apalachicola Bay and stayed in the area for the next month. Captain Richard Cavendish Spencer (ancestral uncle of Princess Di) is reappointed commander of the HMS Cydnus.

March 31, 1815: British troops begin to get on board ships anchored off Dauphin Island in anticipation of a voyage to Havanna to pick up supplies for a trans-Atlantic voyage.

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 fugitive slaves from the area around the Northern Gulf of Mexico being disembarked as freed "Refugee Negroes" on Nova Scotia and Trinidad.

April 5, 1815: The HMS Herald embarked a marine drummer, three Marine Lieutenants, and a company of the 5th West India Regiment, who were bolstering the garrison at Prospect Bluff on the Apalachicola, whom had previously been at New Orleans. They were disembarked at Fort Augusta in Jamaica on 10 May.

April 15, 1815:  64 men were embarked aboard the HMS Seahorse from Prospect Bluff on the Apalachicola for passage to Britain, and were disembarked at Portsmouth on 31 May.

April 15, 1815: The HMS Cydnus embarked 64 Royal Marines from Prospect Bluff on the Apalachicola and weighed anchor for England.

April 21, 1815:  Two marine Lieutenants, a marine Sergeant, and a marine Private were 'Sent by Order of Col Nicolls for passage to England' aboard the HMS Borer. That same day, in addition, the Borer 'Received a party of black people for a passage to Bermuda', similarly by order of Colonel Nicolls. When the Borer reached Bermuda, the refugees were transferred to HMS Goree, for transit to Halifax. When the Borer reached Bermuda, the refugees were transferred to HMS Goree, for transit to Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

April 22, 1815: The remainder of Royal Marines at Prospect Bluff on the Apalachicola embarked upon the HMS Cydnus and the HMS Carron.

June 29, 1815: Colonel Nicolls embarked from Prospect Bluff for England aboard the HMS Forward.

200 years ago this next February,
THE WORLD HAS EVER KNOWN began in the water at the mouth of Mobile Bay off Dauphin Island when the H.M.S. Brazen
 brought a dispatch from London alerting British Admiral Pulteney Malcolm that peace had been declared between the U.S. and Great Britain and the WAR OF 1812 was over.
Our Nation's SECOND WAR OF INDEPENDENCE had come to an end in the water off Dauphin Island on board the HMS TONNANT, the same Royal Navy ship on which Francis Scott Key had written THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER five months earlier in Baltimore Harbor on the morning of Wednesday, September 14, 1814.

This same water off Dauphin Island was also the place where General Andrew Jackson experienced salt water for the first time in his life five months earlier on Tuesday, September 13, 1814 and was nearly captured by the Royal Navy at the beginning of the 1st Battle of Fort Bowyer on Mobile Point.

image courtesy of Lossing's Pictorial History of the War of 1812


Admiral Pulteney Malcolm~ Last Commander of British Forces on Dauphin Island in 1815

From Parton's LIFE OF ANDREW JACKSON, pages 304 and 305
...the opening fortunes of the 
British were suddenly closed by an event which 
occurred on the 13th, just two days after 
the surrender of Fort Bowyer. 
On that day Mr. R. D. Shepherd(ed. note:aide 
to Commodore Patterson) was standing on the 
deck of the TONNANT conversing with Admiral Malcolm
, a gentleman of the most amiable and genial
 manners, when a gig approached, 
with an officer, who coming aboard the
 TONNANT presented to 
the admiral a package. On opening and reading 
the contents, Admiral Malcolm took off his 
cap and gave a loud hurrah. 
Then turning to Mr. Shepherd, he seized his hand 
and grasping it warmly, exclaimed,
" 'Good news! 
Good news! We are friends. The BRAZEN has just 
arrived outside with the news 
of peace. I am delighted !'" 
adding, in an under tone, " ' I have hated this war from the beginning.' "

image courtesy of Lossing's Pictorial History of the War of 1812

Of all we know about the circumstances surrounding the Battle of New Orleans, we know one thing for certain: the Royal Navy was driven by a powerful and personal hunger for prize money and because of the American embargo and the British naval blockade of the mouth of the Mississippi, New Orleans was filled with at least 4 MILLION POUNDS STERLING OF PRIZE MONEY in the form of ships and commodities such as cotton, sugar, tobacco, hemp, lead, lumber, flour, leather, etc.  

"A large quantity of cotton at that time had accumulated in New Orleans, presenting a peculiarly inviting object to the speculator in Liverpool. The expedition was secretly fitted out in Liverpool. A merchantile house in that city was let into the secret of it. No doubt was entertained of the success of the British army; the capture of New Orleans, the acquisition of Louisiana, and the possession of its 'booty and beauty' were considered fixed facts. This merchantile house wrote to a firm of like character in Havana, giving an account of the expedition, assuring them of its success, and inviting them to participate in a great speculation, and one likely to place all concerned in the possession of great wealth." , THE TALLAHASSEE FLORIDIAN in an article about Robert K. Call's January 8,1855 speech upon the 40th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans. In this speech, Call revealed for the first time the way in which General Andrew Jackson learned of the British plans to capture New Orleans. 

Here's a link to a Latour map in the Historic New Orleans Collection that the Lossing's map of Louisiana and Florida was based upon.


  Mobile's James Innerarity~ Elected the first President of the Mobile Town Council after the advent of the American Flag and the man who provided General Jackson with the letters that outlined the British plan to conquer New Orleans.

Pensacola's John Innerarity ~ the younger brother of James who sent letters to Mobile warning General Jackson of the arrival of the British Expeditionary Force in Bermuda and the man who sent McVoy on a "Paul Revere Ride" from Pensacola to warn the Americans at Fort Bowyer on Mobile Point of the immediate attack by the British  in September of 1814.

"...this will be one of the most frightful events which ever occurred in America- a powerful savage [ed. note: Red Sticks] and Negro Army, joined by the slaves of the Country, who if not met and drove into the Sea without delay will Carry fire and sword thro' that devoted Country." Havana merchant Vincent Gray in his letter to Secretary of State James Monroe warning of British Colonel Nicolls plans to build an advance base on the Gulf to militarize Indians and runaway slaves with support from Colonial Marines from the British West Indies. Gray wrote a similar letter to Mobile's James Innerarity but it has not been found.

"Is it not somewhat striking, that a Scotchman's son (James Innerarity) and an Irishman's son (Andrew Jackson) should have been singled out by Providence as instruments for accomplishing such mighty results as flowed from the Battle of New Orleans?" ~ William S. Coker, "How General Andrew Jackson Learned Of the British Plans Before The Battle of New Orleans." Gulf Coast Historical Review, Fall 1987

"...but for this intelligence so fortunately and singularly given, New Orleans, would most probably have fallen without a battle, and without a renowned hero to grace its history." ~ Journal of Robert Keith Call, an officer in Jackson's army during the Creek War of 1813-1814 and during the Pensacola, Mobile and New Orleans campaigns of 1814 and 1815.

From The John Forbes Company: Heir to the Florida Indian Trade: 1801-1819 
by David White(PhD. dissertation, U of A, '73).... 

(a description of the Inneraritys by British Lt. Colonel Edward Nicolls from the letter "Nicolls(Prospect Bluff) to British Admiral Cochrane, 8-12-1814" in the Cochrane Papers..... 

" I lost no time is sending out spies and soon learnt that the enemy had plenty of intelligence, the Mayor of Mobile [James Innerarity] has a brother in this town, his name is Innerarity. I have found him a great scoundrel, inveigling our men to desert and keeping them at work in the American territory at a place called bon secour where he had an inland communication with New Orleans 
, by which he sets at defiance your orders of blockade and imports tobacco and cotton, in spite of our cruisers. I have a letter that was intercepted from his brother the Mayor of Mobile, desiring that their people at bon secour to stop sending provisions to Pensacola, as General Jackson has ordered an embargo on provisions for the purpose of starving us out. The fellow at first pretended great pleasure at seeing us, and offered me everything, but when I put him to the test,I found him a great traitor." 

[David White continues on page 155....] Nicholls was quite correct in his estimate of the Innerarities. John Innerarity kept his brother informed of the movements of the British and transmitted copies of Doyle's [storekeeper at Prospect Bluff, location of Nicholls's Negro Fort on the Apalachicola] to Mobile where his brother promptly passed the information to American officers. 

image courtesy of Lossing's Pictorial History of the War of 1812

Ever wonder how all of Dauphin Island became part of the AMERICAN PUBLIC DOMAIN?

GENERAL JAMES WILKINSON CLAIMED HE HAD BEEN DEEDED ALL OF DAUPHIN ISLAND BY JOHN FORBES AND COMPANY ON MARCH 29, 1806 DURING THE SPANISH REGIME AND HE CLAIMED AMERICAN TITLE AFTER HE RAISED THE AMERICAN FLAG OVER MOBILE ON APRIL 15, 1813. Forbes bought the island to give to Wilkinson because Wilkinson had helped Forbes get some of the money owed his company by the Choctaws. (Both John and James Innerarity were employees of JOHN FORBES AND COMPANY. James ran the company's business in Mobile and John ran the headquarters in Pensacola.)

SEE "No. 14" on PAGE 499 of AMERICAN STATE PAPERS, PUBLIC LANDS, VOLUME 5 where representatives of his estate were denied title by the American land commissioners in 1828 because the commissioners questioned the legality under Spanish law of the owner prior to Forbes gaining his title from Galvez who claimed ownership of Dauphin Island by right of conquest.

From AMERICAN STATE PAPERS, Public Lands, Volume 5, pages 498 and 499:

Abstract of claims to land in that part of the former land district of Jackson Court-house which lies within the State of Alabama, presented to the commissioners, appointed under the act of Congress of March 3, 1827 "An act supplementary to the several acts providing for the adjustment of land claims in the State of Alabama" founded on orders of survey, requetes, permissions to settle, or other evidences of claim, derived from the French or Spanish authorities, and, in the opinion of the commissioners, not entitled to confirmation

By whom claimed: Legal representatives of Jas. Wilkinson
Original claimant: Joseph Moreau
Nature of claim: Transfer before the commandant
Date: March 20, 1806
By whom claimed: Bernardo de Galves
Quantity: unknown
Where situated: Dauphin Island, mouth of Mobile Bay
Survey: unknown
Inhabitants and cultivation: from- occupied some time in the year 1813
                                                  to- unknown

The U.S. commissioners reasoning for denying title to Dauphin Island to the General James Wilkinson estate:
"#14. The transfer, before the commandant, from the devisee of the original claimant to Forbes and Company, merely states that it was obtained as a donation from Galves, the conqueror of it, and does not recite the date or any of the circumstances attending it. The commissioners are not advised of any power in Galves, merely as conqueror, to grant the soil. If such power existed, the purchase by Forbes and Company on March 29, 1806, solely for the use and benefit of General Wilkinson, as alleged by their conveyance to him, who was not a Spanish subject, is believed to have been in violation of the Spanish laws relating to lands."

Since his Daddy claimed to have owned all of Dauphin Island since 1806, it makes sense that Captain James B. Wilkinson (husband of Federal judge Toulmin's daughter) would die there. 

Capt. James B. Wilkinson, son of Maj. Gen. James Wilkinson and Toulmin’s son-in-law, died on Dauphin Island on 7 Sept. 1813 (Thomas Robson Hay, “Some Reflections on the Career of General James Wilkinson,” Mississippi Valley Historical Review 21 [1934–35]: 475–76 n. 5; Carter, Territorial Papers, Mississippi, 6:438).




James Innerarity was entrusted with weapons and supplies for the Indians and to keep up the good work of stirring up the blacks.(ed. note: COMPLETELY UNTRUE AND AN ABSOLUTELY INSANE STATEMENT ABOUT James Innerarity who was elected THE FIRST AMERICAN PRESIDENT OF THE MOBILE TOWN COUNCIL IN MARCH 1814! HE PROVIDED JACKSON WITH THE MOST VALUABLE INTELLIGENCE ABOUT THE BRITISH INVASION FOR THE NEW ORLEANS CAMPAIGN. HIS COMPANY, JOHN FORBES AND  CO.,who this idiot calls "THE FIRM", LOST ITS ASS IN THE WAR OF 1812 including it's slaves) Innerarity withheld those supplies put into his care, whereupon the Seminoles and Red Sticks showed their economic sophistication by annulling the cessions of land just made to The Firm and scalping those of its employees who strayed into the backcountry.(ed. note: THIS WRITER KNOWS OF NO WAR SUPPLIES BEING PROVIDED BY JOHN FORBES AND CO. TO WARRING INDIANS AND BLACKS AND ALSO KNOWS OF NO MURDERS OF JOHN FORBES and CO. EMPLOYEES DURING THE WAR OF 1812. THE CREEK NATIONAL COUNCIL cleared most of their debts with an 1804 land grant called  THE FORBES PURCHASE. The Red Sticks and the Seminoles had no tribal council and NO AUTHORITY TO ANNUL A DAMN THING. In 1835 THE U.S. SUPREME COURT ruled that the entire 1.25 million acre FORBES PURCHASE east of the Apalachicola was perfectly legal and this comes down to us to this day as A LEGAL BASIS FOR CONTRACT LAW IN THIS COUNTY AND THIS LAND GRANT WAS NEGOTIATED IN PRESENT-DAY HOUSTON COUNTY, ALABAMA, IN 1804 BY NONE OTHER THAN MOBILE'S JAMES INNERARITY!)
Still under misapprehensions about the loyalty of the former Tories, the British commander at Pensacola informed its Spanish governor of his plans to attack Fort Bowyer, Mobile and then New Orleans. The governor confided in his confessor, Father James Coleman. Coleman promptly passed the word to another visitor to his confessional – Innerarity.(ed. note: The deluded author is now talking about James Innerarity's brother, Pensacola's John Innerarity) Innerarity dispatched an agent named McVoy posthaste to Fort Bowyer, to acquaint the Americans with what the British had in mind. Forewarned, the garrison made a massacre of the British assault.(ed. note: NOT ONLY WAS THE FIRST BATTLE OF FORT BOWYER NOT A MASSACRE OF THE BRITISH BUT THE BRITISH MISREAD AMERICAN STRENGTH IN MOBILE BAY AND ABANDONED IT AS A POINT OF INVASION FOR THE CONQUEST OF NEW ORLEANS.)  Finally the British understood. After retreating to The Firm’s plantation next to the fort,(ed. note: John Forbes and Co. had a store, lumber mill and brick kiln at Bon Secour, many miles from Fort Bowyer) they freed nine hundred slaves (ed. note: TEN SLAVES! and did a total of $5,890 damage) and put to the torch all its buildings. Some of those slaves subsequently joined the coalition against the Americans, as did many released from The Firm’s plantations in East Florida. An indignant Inneraritiy wrote John Forbes: “Time was when the name of Englishman was honorable, now it is synonymous with nay it is a term to designate a man capable of every thing that is low, vile, base, villainous, atrocious.”(ed. note: THIS IS FROM A LETTER JAMES INNERARITY IN MOBILE WROTE HIS BROTHER JOHN WHO WAS IN PENSACOLA ON NOVEMBER 18, 1814, JUST A FEW DAYS AFTER JACKSON'S CAPTURE OF PENSACOLA FROM THE BRITISH)
Comfortably within the fortifications of Mobile,  Jackson laughed at the British flotilla beyond the barrier islands and commenced moving at his own pace against Pensacola, the possession of Spain, a neutral state.(ed. note: JACKSON AND HIS MEN ANTICIPATED AN IMMEDIATE INVASION OF MOBILE BY THE BRITISH. MOBILE HAD NO FORTIFICATIONS! FORT CHARLOTTE WAS A JOKE WHEN GALVEZ TOOK IT IN 1780! NEUTRAL SPAIN'S PENSACOLA HAD BEEN INVADED BY THE FOE OF THE UNITED STATES!)

June 17, 1814: An American who had embarked from Pensacola on June 8 sailed into 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.

image courtesy of Lossing's Pictorial History of the War of 1812


Meanwhile, hostilities had actually commenced in that quarter. When Jackson reached Mobile, late in August, he was satisfied that an attempt would be made to seize that post as soon as the great expedition of which he had rumors should be prepared to move. Mobile was then only a little village of wooden houses, with not a thousand inhabitants, with no defenses against artillery, and scarcely sufficient to withstand an attack from the rifles of Indians. At the entrance to Mobile Bay, thirty miles from the village, was Fort Bowyer (now Fort Morgan), occupying the extremity of a narrow sand cape on the eastern side of that entrance, and commanding the entire channel between it and Dauphin Island. It was a small work, semicircular in form toward the channel, and of redan shape on the land side. It was weak, being without bomb-proofs, and mounting only twenty guns, and all but two of these were 12-pounders and less. And yet this was the chief defense of Mobile; for, the enemy once inside of the bay, there would be no hope for holding the post with the troops then at hand. So, when Jackson perceived, early in September, that a speedy movement against Mobile from Pensacola was probable, he threw into Fort Bowyer one hundred and thirty of the Second regular infantry, under Major William Lawrence, one of the most gallant officers in the service. At the same time, he sent orders for Colonel Butler to call out the enrolled Tennessee Volunteers, and have them led immediately to Mobile. 

Major Lawrence made vigorous preparations to resist the enemy by strengthening the fort as much as possible, and providing against attacks upon it from cannon that might be planted upon sand-hills near, which commanded it. These preparations were not completed when, on the morning of the 12th of September, Lieutenant Colonel Nichols appeared on the peninsula, in rear of the fort, with one hundred and thirty marines and six hundred Indians, the latter led by Captain Woodbine, who had been attempting to drill them at Pensacola. Toward evening four British vessels of war hove in sight, and anchored within six miles of Mobile Point. These were the Hermes, 22; Sophia, 18; Caron, 20; and Anaconda, 18, the whole under Captain Percy, the commander of the squadron of nine vessels in Pensacola Bay, already mentioned, of which these were a part. In the presence of these formidable forces, the little garrison slept upon their arms that night. 

On the following morning Nichols reconnoitred the fort from behind the sand-hills in its rear, and, dragging a howitzer to a sheltered position within seven hundred yards of the work, threw some shells and a solid shot upon it without much effect. Responses from Major Lawrence were equally harmless; but when, later in the day, Percy’s men attempted to cast up intrenchments, Lawrence’s guns quickly dispersed them. Meanwhile several light boats, engaged in sounding the channel nearest the fort, were dispersed in the same way. 

The succeeding day [September 14.] was similarly employed; but early on the morning of the 15th it was evident to the garrison that an assault was about to be made from land and water. The forenoon wore away, while a stiff breeze was blowing, and when it slackened to a slight one from the southeast, toward noon, the ships stood out to sea, They tacked at two o’clock, and bearing down upon the fort in order of "line ahead," the Hermes (Percy’s flag-ship) leading, took position for attack. The Hermes and Sophia lay nearly abreast the northwest face of the fort, while the Caron and Anaconda [ed. note: This mistake in Lossing goes all the way back to Latour who first identified the Anaconda as a participating ship. The HMS Anaconda was nowhere near Fort Bowyer. According to its ship log, it was anchored on that day in Campeche Bay of the Yucatan] were more distant. Lawrence then called a council of officers, when it was determined to resist to the last, and not to surrender, if finally compelled to, unless upon the conditions that officers and privates should retain their arms and private property, be protected from the savages, and be treated as prisoners of war. This being their resolution, the words "Don’t give up the fort" were adopted as the signal for the day. 21 

The Hermes drew nearer the fort, and when within range of its guns the two 24-pounders were opened upon her without much effect. She made a faint reply, and anchored within musket range of the work, while the other three vessels formed in battle line under a heavy fire. It was now half past four in the afternoon. The four vessels simultaneously opened fire, and the engagement became general and fierce, for broadside after broadside was fired upon the fort by the ships, while the circular battery was working fearfully upon the assailants. Meanwhile Captain Woodbine opened fire from a howitzer and a 12-pounder from behind a sand dune seven hundred yards from the opposite side of the fort. The battle raged until half past five, when the flag of the Hermes was shot away, and Lawrence ceased firing to ascertain whether she had surrendered. This humane act was followed by a broadside from the Caron, and the fight was renewed with redoubled vigor. Very soon the cable of the Hermes was severed by a shot, and she floated away with the current, her head toward the fort, and her decks swept of men and every thing else by a raking fire. Then the flag-staff of the fort was shot away and the ensign fell, when the ships, contrary to the humane example of the garrison, redoubled their fire. At the same time, Woodbine, supposing the garrison had surrendered, approached with his Indians, when they were driven back in great terror by a storm of grape-shot. Both sailors and marines found the garrison in full vigor, and only a few minutes after the flag fell it was seen floating over the fort at the end of a sponge-staff to which Major Lawrence had nailed it. The attacking vessels, battered and in peril, soon withdrew, excepting the helpless Hermes, which grounded upon a sandbank, when Percy fired and abandoned her. At almost midnight the magazine of the Hermes exploded. So ended, in a repulse of the British, the attack on Fort Bowyer, upon which ninety-two pieces of artillery had been brought to bear, and over thirteen hundred men had been arrayed against a garrison of one hundred and thirty. The latter lost only eight men, one half of whom were killed. The assailants lost two hundred and thirty-two men, of whom the unusual proportion of one hundred and sixty-two were killed. 
The result of the strife at Mobile Point was very mortifying to the British. It was wholly unexpected. Percy had declared that he should allow the garrison only twenty minutes to capitulate. That garrison – that handful of men – had beaten off his ships and his co-operating land force with ease. The repulse was fatal to the prestige of the British name among the Indians, and a large portion of them deserted their allies and sought safety from the wrath of Jackson, whom they feared, by concealment in the interior of their broad country. The result was most gratifying to the Americans, and gave an impetus to volunteering for the defense of New Orleans. Jackson wrote a commendatory letter to Major Lawrence, and that officer received one also from Edward Livingston, chairman of the Defense Committee of New Orleans, assuring him of the joy and gratitude felt by the inhabitants of that city when they heard of his gallant defense of Fort Bowyer. At the same time it was resolved to present to Major Lawrence an elegant sword in the name of the citizens of New Orleans.

HMS Hermes (22 guns) Captain William Percy
At Mobile Bay~17 killed 5 mortally wounded with a total of 25 wounded

HMS Carron (20 guns) Captain Robert Cavendish Spencer
At Mobile Bay~ 1 mortally wounded with a total of 5 wounded
HMS Carron had originally transported 61 Marines to the Gulf coast in July 1814. (HMS Carron and  HMS Hermes were carrying Nicolls, 3 other officers, a surgeon, 11 non-commissioned officers, and 97 enlisted men'. This is sourced in ADM 1/506 folio 478 and  WO 1/142 folio 487.) The muster shows that 21 Royal Marine infantry were carried on board. The muster also states 'Indian Warriors victualled - 58 in number'.

HMS Sophie (18 guns) Captain Nicholas Lockyer
At Mobile Bay~ 5 killed, 4 mortally wounded with a total of 17 wounded
Below is a transcription of the Sophie's log, reference ADM 52/4355
Thursday 15 September 1814
AM at 4 Fresh breezes & cloudy
4.50 weighted frun de sail arsv log in chase of a stranger NW
7 ha orded Chace proved to be on Sperrrish SW now N Orleans bar and to Pensacola in battent 8 Ship made all sail ti go on
10.30 Carron made signal to weigh keuning docum to bar bg Mobile Sq in Co
11.30 Shortened Sail & made two off Bar Noon Mod & Fine W Mobile Fort North Dist 4 miles Hermes, Carron, Childers 4 Schl in Co PM Mad & bble Winds Weighed & made sail
2.30 Working to Entrance bar Made & shortened sails arship to keep occushahon Hermes lead the van - Sophie follow, Carron & Childers accompanying
3.20 The Fort of Mobile assumed a firing
3.30 Hermes anchored
3.40 Sophie anch'd is a thring up our Kanou bacosr
3.45 rep FS daron TS commence firing star'd guns upon the Fort as did Hermes point N 1/2 E 1/2 Male
4 Swang to starboard commenced W Larb'd lewing Several gerisis Starb'd Side disabled amd Sigh 203 Hermes much exposed to a raking fire Capt went on B Hermes, Several guns disabled larb'd side
5.30 Sigh prepane taltey 66 - 6 objd Enemy's Colours shot away which shw schoiched
6.20 cut from bower and slipped straw - lift off fining. Hermes aground. Boats employed eg in transporting men
6.40 Hermes afire found. All stage Back shrounds M Rigging 2 Fore Missing Bnerried. Mawline M Boom and Top Lifts and all sonnad ropes shot again - great many shot hurled side - Sophie in a perfect M with hall 1 missing 7 came Tio in 4 fin Pugh og vap Damages 8 wecghel sum fin this most 9-366 camme two in 5 pins

HMS Childers (18 guns) Captain Umfreville

Arsene Latour's book, published in the the US after the war, had asserted that HMS Anaconda was the fourth vessel, and this inaccuracy still persists to this day.

The muster shows that 29 Royal Marine infantry were carried on board, as were 12 Marine gunners.
The fourth Royal Navy ship to participate in the 1st Battle of Fort Bowyer

Thursday 15 September 1814
HM Sloop Childers
At anchor off Mobile Bay
Raining at Noon
Light winds & fine
2.15 weighed and made sail in the following order: Hermez[sic] Sophie Carron Childers
2.30 Hermez Gint
3 Fort on Mobile Point commenced firing at Hermes which she returned at 3.30-3.45 Sophie opened her fire wind light and variable made all sail
4.20 Carron aphirsid her broad side
4.45 came to luistal that from the Fort with the Brot Bower with ossiings rraced to half a cable comissicar and and lrifit info kroney fire on the fort
fire from the fort going dark 5.45 Hermes gone
6 man and action the boats ready to bord and Hermes drifting out. 
6.10 Hermez Gint
To rescue the crew Hermes aground to the south of the fort
6.45 guasend facing out the cables and made sail fathom off auch with the small Bow 5 fins Fort North 2 miles
7.30 Boats returned all 4 the min being removed from the Hermes recd to evacuated men and 38 of the Creek. Obsd the Hermes in flames. Supplied the following provisions to Marines and Indians on sh for order bread 826lbs rum gallons beef 2 barrels twenty seven lbs eight lbs each pork two barl fifty 
At 11 Hermes blew up


Private James Rose of the Woolwich Division deserted on 18 September 1814 from Pensacola, just after the first attack on Fort Bowyer. Private Charles Butcher, a labourer from Switzerland, was the sole fatality from Nicolls's detachment at the attack on Fort Bowyer on 18 September 1814. Ship-borne casualties were: 
HMS Hermes 17 killed in action, 5 died of wounds, 19 wounded 
HMS Sophie 6 killed in action, 4 died of wounds, 12 wounded 
HMS Carron nil killed in action, 1 died of wounds, 4 wounded 
All of these 69 casualties from the battle are named in Admiral Cochrane's letter to the Admiralty dated 7 December 1814 which is in the correspondence file, UK National Archives reference ADM/1/505.

The Ships of the Royal Navy that Participated in the Second Battle of Fort Bowyer in February 1815:

HMS VENGEUR  was a 74-gun third rate Vengeur-class
 ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 19 June 1810 at Harwich.o

At least 37 other Royal Navy ships participated in the action along with the landing of 1300 soldiers before the surrender of Fort Bowyer. For a transcription of Cooke and Gleig's experiences on Dauphin Island during February and March of 1815, please click on




HMS  NORFOLK (no Internet records of this troop transport ship)

HMS SEAHORSE This ship embarked 64 Royal Marines from Prospect Bluff on the Apalachicola and weighed anchor for England on April 15, 1815.