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Siege of Fort Mose
Part of the War of Jenkins' Ear
St Aug Fort Mose01.jpg
Site of the old fort
DateJune 26, 1740
LocationFort Mose, Florida
Result Decisive Spanish victory
Belligerents
 Kingdom of Great Britain Spain Spain
Commanders and leaders
John Palmer Antonio Salgado
Francisco Menendez
Strength
170 regulars and indians[1] 300 regulars, militia,
Indian auxiliaries and free blacks[1][2]
Casualties and losses
68[3]–75 killed,[4]
34 captured[3]
10 killed,
20 wounded[5][6]


The siege of Fort Mose (often called Bloody Mose, or Bloody Moosa at the time) was a significant action of the War of Jenkins’ Ear which took place on June 26 of 1740. A Spanish column of 300 regular troops backed by allied Seminole warriors consisting of Indian auxiliaries, maroons, and zambos commanded by Captain Antonio Salgado stormed the strategically crucial position of Fort Mose.[7] The fort was occupied by 170 British soldiers under Colonel John Palmer as a part of James Oglethorpe's offensive to capture St. Augustine. Taken by surprise, the British garrison was virtually annihilated.[7] Palmer himself, three captains and three lieutenants were among the British troops killed in action.[6] After the battle the fort was destroyed and not rebuilt until 12 years later.[8][9]

Background[]

Located two miles north of St. Augustine, Fort Mose was established in 1738 by the Spanish as a refuge for British black slaves escaping from the colonies of Georgia and South Carolina. Escaped slave women and children were given work on Spanish plantations in Florida while male slaves who passed military inspection were granted their freedom by Spain in return for Catholic conversion and four years of military service.[10] The new fort was the first settlement of free blacks in North America,.[11] The fort consisted of a church, a wall of timber with some towers, and some twenty houses inhabited by a hundred people.[11] The maroons were made Spanish militia by Governor Manuel de Montiano and put under the command of Captain Francisco Menendez, a mulatto or creole. Fort Mose's militia soon became a matter of concern for the British colonies.[11] The fort served as both a freed slave colony and as Spanish Florida's front-line of defense against British attacks from the north. The Spanish intention was to destabilize the plantation economy of the British colonies by creating a community that would serve as a beacon for slaves seeking escape and refuge. Word of the existence of a free black settlement reached the Province of South Carolina and helped set off the Stono Rebellion in September 1739. During the slave revolt, several dozen blacks attempted to reach Spanish Florida unsuccessfully. The fort ultimately proved to be an important factor in the Siege of St. Augustine [12]

Battle[]

At the outbreak of the War of Jenkins’ Ear in 1739, General James Oglethorpe, governor of Georgia, encouraged by some successful raids by British American Rangers in the frontier, decided to raise a significant expedition to capture and destroy St. Augustine, capital of Spanish Florida.[13] As part of the campaign he realized the necessity of capturing and holding Fort Mose. Oglethorp launched his campaign. Regular troops from South Carolina and Georgia, militia volunteers, about 600 allied American Indian Creek and Uchise allies and about 800 black slaves as auxiliaries made up the expedition, which was supported by sea by seven ships of the British Royal Navy.[13] Montiano, who had at his disposal 600 regulars including reinforcements recently arrived from Cuba, was forced to resist entrenched, although on several occasions he attacked the British lines by surprise.[2]

Approaching St. Augustine, a British party under Colonel John Palmer composed of 170 men belonging to the Georgian colonial militia, the Scottish Highlander 42nd Regiment of Foot (old) and the auxiliary native allies,[2] rapidly occupied Fort Mose, strategically situated on a vital travel route.[7] The fort had been previously abandoned by orders of Manuel de Montiano due the assassination of some of its inhabitants by Indian allies of Great Britain.

While the Oglethorp expedition laid siege, Montiano considered his options. Knowledgeable of the strategic importance of Fort Mose, and realizing the vulnerabilities it presented to the British American siege, if recaptured, Montiano decided to undertake the counter-offensive operation. At dawn on June 15, Captain Antonio Salgado commanded Spanish regulars, and the Seminole band led by Francisco Menendez and Indian auxiliaries in a surprise attack on Mose.[2][4] The attack was initiated two hours before the British soldiers awoke so that they could not prepare their arms for defense.[14] About 70 of them were killed in bloody hand to hand combat with swords, muskets and club work.[4]

Aftermath[]

The Spanish victory at Fort Mose demoralized the badly divided British forces and was a significant factor in Oglethorpe’s withdrawal to Savannah.[4] In late June St. Augustine was relieved from Havana and the Royal Navy’s warships abandoned the land forces.[4] Governor Montiano commended the Maroons for their bravery,[14] and although Fort Mose had been destroyed during the siege, their inhabitants were installed in St. Augustine for the next decade as free and equal Spanish citizens.[14]

See also[]

Notes[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Wasserman p.61
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Martínez Láinez/Canales p.239
  3. 3.0 3.1 Quesada p.49
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Landers p.37
  5. Marley p.254
  6. 6.0 6.1 Gómez
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Burnett p.167
  8. Jones p.13
  9. Henderson p.94
  10. Riordan, Patrick: Finding Freedom in Florida: Native Peoples, African Americans, and Colonists, 1670-1816, pages 25-44. Florida Historical Quarterly 75(1), 1996.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Martínez Láinez/Canales p.236
  12. Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker (2001). "The many-headed hydra: sailors, slaves, commoners, and the hidden history of the revolutionary Atlantic". Beacon Press. p. 205. ISBN 978-0-8070-5007-1. http://books.google.com/books?id=PwrovfJvlKsC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 Landers p.35
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Wasserman p.96

References[]

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