Article Title: Extensive extracts from letters, documents, and reports about U.S. seizure of Amelia, including a notice that American ships in Havana are being detained because of the U.S. action.
Published in: Aurora
Place of Publication: Philadelphia, PA
Publication Date: 1/20/1818
FROM THE CHARLESTON COURIER OF JAN. 9
St. Mary's, Jan. 3, 1818.
To the editorA Spanish officer arrived here this morning, from St. Augustine, with dispatches to our commanding officer at Fernandina ; to know if we had taken possession as friends or foes ; and at the same time saying he was happy we had broken upon that nest of thieves. Business is very brisk for the moment, on account of our navy, and the fitting out of Aury's vessels.He says he would not remain at Amelia, even if the Untied States were now to give it up.
" With this you will receive a kind of vindication, addressed by commodore Aury to this legislative body, previous to the occupation of Amelia, by the Untied States."
Fernandina, Dec. 12.
From the commander-in-chief, to the honorable assembly of representatives.
GENTLEMENSome remarks having of late been made in the United Sates, and the message of the president tending to create suspicions on the legality of the first establishment formed in the Bay of Galveston, province of Texas, anxious to remove any doubt that might exist in the mind of the public, relative to the authority under which I acted, and to prove that from its very commencement, all my cares were directed towards aiding and sustaining the cause of the independence of Mexico, and not to serve my private views or interest, or those of any other ; I have now to the honor to lay before this honorable body, the original documents concerning the same, and beg leave to state briefly the following facts, well known to all who were with me ; some of whom are sitting in this assembly, who can correct me if I err.
After the evacuation of Carthage, (S. A.) by the few republicans who preferred forcing their way through the Spanish fleet, or perish sword in hand rather then surrender to general Morillo ; I proceeded with the squadron under my command to the island of St. Domingo to obtain provisions. My brave followers seeing all hopes lost of rendering any assistance to the cause of new Grenada, whose liberties were crushed the fall of Carthagena, now looked around whither to direct their steps to offer their services, and to spill their blood in the cause of American independence and freedom. The patriots under general Cardenas and Gutierrez, who were at that time struggling for their rights in the province of Texas, attracted their attention, and it was determined that we should proceed as soon as possible to the bay of Galvezton, where we arrived with several prizes some time in July. I immediately wrote D. Manuel de Herrera, minister plenipotentiary of the republic of Mexico to the United States, then at New-Orleans, who answered me and hailed by arrival, as the means of accelerating the execution of plans for establishing forever the independence of Mexico. Mr. Harrera shortly after arrived, and at a meeting of the officers, to whom he exhibited his credentials from the congress of Mexico ; an act or convention was signed on the 12th of September, 1816, and Galveston was declared and acknowledge Puerto Habillitado of the republic of Mexico. I was appointed civil and military governor, and instructions were left me to be observed unless contrary orders were given by the congress itself, with whom I was to communicate monthly or as often as I possibly could. Mr. Herrera, after having established the government, appointed a court of admiralty, named an administrator of public revenues, and collector of customs, c. c.and duly sworn all the officers, civil and military, sailed in the armed schooner general Morelos, captain Boguier, for Boquilla de Piedras, from whence he was to proceed to meet congress, report his proceedings, and concert plans for future operations. This vessel, a private armed one, was lost in the service of the republic. In the beginning of December, I despatched the private armed schooner, the Galvezton, captain Salain, with colonel Garcin on board, with instructions to lay himself personally before the executive my transactions, and receive further instructions ; also to report the arrival of general Mina with several vessels, arms, ammunition troops, c. c. the distressed situation in which he was placed from want of funds, and that I would continue to supply him with what he might require as long as it lied in my power,. This was effected, although at that time I had made considerable advances to the Mexican government. The Galvezton convoyed a schooner with arms and ammunition, which I sent over, having contracted in the name of the government for the same, conformably to my instructions. These vessels found Boquilla de Piedras, and all the coast in possession of the royalists, thereby cutting off all communication between this new establishment and the other Mexican chiefs, with whom alone a correspondence could have been held, as the general congress had been dissolved some time before by General Teran and the new one had not as yet met.
Captain Boguier with the existing part of his crew, arrived at Galveston some time in January from Nautla, taken by the republicans under general Victoria, and gave information of the loss of Boquilla, where colonel Villapinto was killed at the commencement of the action, which occasioned his troops to disband, leaving captain Boguier with his crew to defend a small battery. Overpowered by numbers, wounded himself, his first officer killed, and thirty of his men either killed or wounded, he was compelled to retreat to the head-quarters of general Victoria, who upon his safe arrival prepared an expedition against Nautla : that fell into his hands. Upon this, a vessel was immediately sent to inform general Victoria of the situation of things, of the number of troops I had united together, c. The place had once more fallen into the hands of they royalists, who took two men and the captain, who had gone on shore in the boatThe vessel returned and gave gen. Mina and myself, the disagreeable certainty that all hopes were lost of being able to communicate with the interior through this channel.
The bar of Galvezton, during our stay, having proved extremely dangerous, and general Mina being ready and desirous to affect his landing, in order to penetrate into the interior of Mexico and commence operations, I determined upon abandoning this establishment, and seek a more convenient place to answer the views and purposes of my government, and give all the aid and assistance I was able to the patriots. I took on board my vessel what troops and ammunition that could not be put on board the Cleopatra and Neptune, belonging to gen. Mina, and convoyed them to Soto la Marina, where his landing was effected, and after seeing the disebarkment of all those arms, ammunitions, c. proceeded again to Galvezton to take with them several vessels that I had left behind and repair to Matgorda, which, as reported by officers sent for the purpose of examining the harbor, was said to be far more advantageous than any other along this coast.
On my arrival what was my astonishment to find the place very different from what I had been made to understand, for instead of 18 feet of water on the bay, only 10 were found. Still considering that the present position might be advantageous, I remained until experience taught that this point afforded no safety whatever as an entrepot, even in the finest season of the year, for a north wind that blew a short time during the month of June drove 4 vessels on the bar, and the people on board the Chaplain privateer were only saved by the wind's shifting of a sudden, and driving these who had laid hold of parts of the wreck on the beach, where 10 days previous to our arrival, the cannibals had massacred the crew of a vessel cast away on the coast. Placed in this dilemma, having scarcely 5 weeks of provision for those who were with me, the merchants in New Orleans refusing to furnish any upon the credit of the government, destitute of funds, even of my own, and hearing general M'Gregor was to come to Amelia, I determined upon coming here, and in case he was not in possession to take Fernandina with the forces under my command.
On the passage I touched at Galvezton, to join other vessels that had sailed before me from Matagorda, to who I intimated my intentions of abandoning that establishment, giving them orders to follow the division to Amelia. I wrote in consequence to commodore Patterson at New Orleans and to the Collector of the custom House, giving them timely notice, that any transactions in Galvetzon after the 31st of July were unauthorized by me. On my arrival gen. M'Gregor had abandoned the place attacked by the enemies and the garrison harassed by fatigues, was on the point of evacuating, if some arrangement could not be made or any effectual measures taken. An agreement was entered into between the late governor Hubbard, col. Irwin and the officers, and myself ; under the express condition that the Mexican flag should fly, being authorised to hoist the same as the chief of the Mexican Republic. This was effected.
What could have been my motives in coming to the Floridas ? Those that always guided my conduct as a superior officer in the Mexican service. Unable to give any immediate assistance to the other republican chiefs, I came to assist general M'Gregor in liberating the Floridas, thereby drawing the attention of our common enemy, and attacking the tyrant in his other possessions ; convinced, that the independence of the two Floridas once occurred, forces could be raised, which united with those of the other chiefs, might strike a decisive blow to tyranny. My conduct since my arrival at Amelia is so well known to you all gentleman, that it requires no mention to be made of it. I will only ask whether in any one single instance, I have deviated from the principles, which might insure liberty to our oppressed brethren, and gave succour to Mexican patriots, who in spite of repeated disasters still rise with redoubled enthusiasm in defence of their sacred rights.
I flatter myself, that in this narration of facts, and by the documents I have presented, I have proved beyond a doubt that the establishment of Galvezton was legally formed, and that ll that was done by the existing authorities there, was not for private motives or views as said, but for the welfare and aiding by every possible means the patriot cause.
I submit the whole to your wisdom, for you in your prudence to determine what is most appropriate to be done under existing circumstances.
I have the honor to remain,
AURY.By an advertisement in our paper, if will be seen that the joint committee, appointed to investgate the election of Mr. Findlay, wish to bring some of the good folks of Cumberland county to Harrisburg, in order to have the pleasure of laughing at them. We would advise the gentlemen who signed the petition from this county to stay at home less unhappily they might come off worse than Messrs. Cochran and Thackara, and not only have their remonstrances but themselves, thrown under the table. Carlisle Gaz.
SAVANNAH, JANUARY 7.
Advices received here from Havanna, by letter and otherwise, state, that ll American vesels have been detained in consequence of the Americans having taken possession of Amelia Island
A London evening paper of the 26th Nov. remarks, that The frequent meetings of the cabinet council have had an effect on the stock market this afternoon. These meetings were ascribed to some apprehensions of the disposition of France to go to war, rather than discharge the contributions of the allies.The reduction was 3-8 percent, but the funds at the close of business recovered their former ground.
FROM THE NATIONAL INTELLIGENCER.
DOCUMENTS ACCOMPANYING THE MESSAGE OF THE PRESIDENT TO CONGRESS ON THE 12TH INSTANT.
Department of War, January 12th, 1818.
SirI have the honor to transmit copies of the orders which have been given by the acting secretary of war to major Bankhead, in relation to taking possession of Amelia-Island, and copies of the communications which have been made to this department by that officer, which embrace all the information in my possession.
I have the honor to be, sir, with the highest respect, your most obedient servant,
J. C. CALHOUN. The president of the United States U. S. ship John Adams,
Off Amelia, Dec. 22, 1817
SirWe have received orders form our government to take possession of Amelia Island and to occupy the post of Fernandina with part of our force, which will be moved over as soon as it will be convenient for your troops to evacuate it.
To avoid unnecessary delay, we think proper at this time to inform you, in the event of your acquiescence in this demand, that you will be at liberty to depart with the forces under your command, and such property as belongs unquestionably to them will be held sacred.
You are to leave the public property found by gen. M'Gregor at Fernandina, in the same condition it was taken, and the property of the inhabitants of Amelia-Island must be restored to them, where they have been forcibly dispossessed of it, and no depredations on private property from this period will be permitted with impunity.
Should you, contrary to expectations of the president of the United States, refuse to give us peaceable possession of the island, the consequence of resistance must rest with you.
We have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servants. J. D. HENLEY, Capt. in the navy and comd. in chief of the naval force of the U. S. off Amelia.
Maj. 1st battalion artillery, comd. land forces.Gen. AURY, commander and chief of the forces at Fernandina
Headquarters, Fernandina, Island of Amelia,
Dec 22d, 1817 and 8th of the Independence.
GENTLEMENI have the honor to receive your official letter of this day. The nature of its contents, requiring mature deliberation, I have submitted the same to the representatives of the republic, and, as soon as I shall have obtained their opinion, it shall be immediately sent to you.
I can, however, state to you, gentlemen, that no opposition will be made to surrender the Island of Amelia, on the part of this government.
I have the honor to remain, with consideration, gentlemen, your obedient and humble servant, AURYCommander in chief
Commodore J .D. HENLEY, maj.
BANKHEAD, c. c. on board
the United States' ship John
Head Quarters, Fernandina, Island of Amelia.
Dec. 22, 1817 and the 8th of the Independence.
GENTLEMENI have received your official letter of this day, by which in the name of the government of the United States, you summon us to evacuate this place, with the troops under my command, as possession thereof is to be taken by the forces under your command, under certain conditions therein specified.
This republic, that of Mexico, nor any other of South America, being at war with the United States, oblige me to state to you that the contents of your letter have greatly surprised this government, and the people of the state. You have nevertheless intimated that, in case of our acquiescence to your demand, we shall be permitted to evacuate this island, which never was nor never has been a part of the United States. Allow me, gentlemen, to observe to you that from the moment we took Fernandina by the force of or arms we entered into the full possession of all the rights, appertaining to our enemy, and that to this day, we have supported these rights, at the risk of our lives and fortunes. The boundaries of the Floridas and the Untied States having been fairly settled by the treaty of friendship, limits, and navigation, on the twenty-second of October, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-five : leave us at a loss to ascertain you authority to interfere in our internal concerns.
Our surprise increases when we reflect that your communication comes as authorised by the government of a people who glory in their respect for the rights of nations, whether great or small, or who no doubt sympathize and wish success to their southern brethren, in the struggle for liberty and independence, in which they are engaged, as were the United States forty years ago.
On the other side, you promise to hold sacred such of our property as unquestionably belongs to our citizens. Who is to be the judge in this case ? The United States, who can by no means claim any jurisdiction from the source of the river St. Marys, down to the ocean, on this side of the centre of the channel ? We entertain too much veneration for your constitution to believe for a single moment that you, supposed already in possession of this Island, which has never been ceded by the king of Spain, or by its inhabitants to the United States, can bring with you a competent tribunal to decide upon this question. The only law you can adduce in your favor is that of force, which is always repugnant to republican governments and to the principles of a just and impartial nation. The same observation may be applied to your interference with the property of the inhabitants, which we have always respected and considered as sacred.
You order us, also, as if we were subject of your government, to leave behind, when Fernandina is evacuated, all the public property that was found at its surrender. The demand is directly contrary to the pubic rights by which all public property captured by the enemy in avowedly that of the captors, when not otherwise stipulated. Are you acting in the name of the kind of Spain or his allies ? As we consider the people of the United States to be unquestionably the only free people on the surface of the globe, we cannot admit that you have now become the adherents of a tyrant ; otherwise your demand is inadmissible and unjustifiable in the eyes of the world, and if we must yield to it all the blame rest with you.
Permit me, therefore, gentlemen, to request of you, to lay before the president of the United States, these remarks, or order that a matter of so serious a tendency may be reconsidered. We have read his excellency's message at the opening of congress, with the utmost concern ; and have concluded that the political situation of this republic has been greatly misrepresented, in the United States thoughe the intrigues of our enemies. We have certainly a right to be heard, for which purpose I shall have the honor of forwarding to your government the necessary documents.
If you are not disposed to let things remain in statu quo, until the presidents further determition be known, I am authorised to assure you that we respect and esteem too highly the people of the United States to carry matters to extremities.
I have the honor to remain, with the highest consideration, gentlemen, your obedient humble servant,
AURY, Commander in Chief J.D. Henley, Esq. captain in the navy, and
commanding the United States naval forces
off Amelia, James Bankhead, Esq. major of the 1st battalion of artillery,
U. States army, and commanding military
U. S. ship John Adams, off Amelia Island,
December 23d, 1817.
SIRWe have had the honor to receive your communication of the 22d inst. and will briefly remark that, as officers in the service of United States, we are bound to obey the orders emanating from the authorities of our government, without any discussion or animadversion on our part as to the correctness of them. We have been ordered by the president of the United States to take possession of Amelia Island, and, as the president has expressed his solicitude that the effusion of blood may be avoided, if possible, it must be gratifying to us to be informed by you that no resistance will be made to us.
We will again remark that private property will be sacred, and that our orders extend only to the public property captured by gen. M'Gregor, at Fernandina.
We propose to land a force to-day, and to hoist the American flag. Under that flag no oppressive or unjust measures will ever be witnessed ; and we feel assured that there will be no difficulties in the arrangements made by us.
The squadron will immediately sail into the harbor, when the commanding officer of the land forces will wait on the commander in chief to make the necessary arrangements for the landing of the troops.
We have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servants, J .D. HENLEY, Captain in the navy and commander in chief of
the U. S. naval forces off Amelia.
JAMES BANKHEAD. Major 1st battalion artillery, commander land
forces, c Gen. AURY, commander in chief of the
forces at Fernandina
Head-quarters, Fernandina, Island of Amelia,
Dec. 23, 1817 and 8th of the Independence.
I have had the honor to receive your letter of this date. I am ready to surrender this place to the forces under your command, whenever you may judge proper to come and take possession thereof.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant.
AURY, Commander in chief
J. D. HENLEY, esq. captain in the navy, c. c.
JAS. BANKHEAD, esq. ,major, 1st bat. c. c.
Department of War, 17th July, 1817.
SirCircumstances having made it necessary to occupy, without delay, Point Petre, and the St. Mary's river, by a military and naval force, I have to request that you instruct the officer whom, in pursuance of the order issued through adjutant general, you may detail to take command at Point Petre, to co-operate with the officer commanding the naval force on that station, in such measures as may be deemed necessary for the preservation of the peace and tranquility of that section of the country, which there is reason to apprehend may be disturbed in consequence of the contest between the Spanish royalists and patriots, for the occupation of the adjacent territory. The officer will also be instructed to use due vigilance to prevent to prevent the violation of the revenue laws of the United States, and in particular to prevent the illicit introduction of slaves into the United States : and in order to do this the more effectually, he will prohibit all vessels freighted with slaves from entering the river St. Mary's.
I have the honor to be, c. GEORGE GRAHAMThe officer commanding at Charleston, S. C.
Extract of a letter from George Graham, acting secretary of war, to major James Bankhead, Charleston, S. C. dated November 12th, 1817.
" I am instructed by the president to direct you to repair immediately to Point Petre, with the effective force under your command, leaving only an officer and a few men as a guard at forts Moultrie and Johnson. Captain Wilson has been ordered to repair with his company now at fort Johnson, North Carolina, to Point Petre, and a detachment of new recruits, under the command of captain Hook, who was on his route to join the 4th infantry, has also been ordered to that place. The troops enumerated above, and those now stationed at Point Petre, will constitute a force of more than two hundred men, of which you will take the command until the arrival of general Gaines. A remittance of five thousand dollars has been made to your battalion quarter-master, whom you will take with you : and you will make requisitions for the necessary supply of provisions, on the contractor's agents. It will be advisable to take from Charleston a supply of salted meat, and a sufficient quantity of flour and hard bread, to serve two hundred and fifty men for thirty days at least."
Department of war, Nov. 12th 1817.
SIRIt appearing to the satisfaction of the president, that the persons who have lately taken out the sanction of any of the Spanish colonies, or of any organised government whatever, and for purposes unfriendly to, and incompatible with, the interests of the United States, he has decided to break up that establishment, and take temporary possession of Amelia Island : for this purpose, the troops ordered to assemble at Point Petre, will co-operate with the naval force which has been ordered to St. Mary's under the command of captain Henley.
It is the anxious wish of the president, that this should be accomplished without the effusion of blood ; and he confidently hopes, that the force destined for the purpose will be of such an imposing character, as to induce those persons who now have the military occupation of the island, to abandon it without the exercise of force ; but, if it should be found to be indispensably necessary, force must be used. You will therefore, immediately on the arrival of captain Henley at St. Mary's, and, in conjunction with him, despatch an officer to demand the abandonment of the island, by those who now exercise authority there, and take such other measures as may be deemed proper to obtain the peaceable possession of it ; also for the preservation of the property of those persons who were residents of the island when it was first captured by general M'Gregor. Should your demand for the evacuation of Amelia be complied with, you will then occupy with a party of your force the position of Fernandina, and take care that the cannon and other implements of war which belonged to the port when captured by general M'Gregor, are not taken off.
If peaceable possession of the island, however, cannot be obtained, and it should be the opinion of captain Henley and yourself, that your joint forces are not competent to the prompt and certain reduction of the naval and military forces which may then occupy the harbor and post of Fernandina, you will, in that event, make a requisition on general Floyd, or such other officer as may command that division of militia of Georgia in which Point Petre is situated, for a force not exceeding five hundred men, to be held in readiness to march at a moment's warning, and await the arrival of general Gaines, who has been ordered to Point Petre, for ulterior measures.
You will take with you from Charleston, the necessary military stores, and such heavy cannon as may be required for the reduction of the fort on Amelia Island, in the event of resistance.
As no answer has been received to the communication addressed to you from this department on the 17th July last, it becomes necessary to request that the receipt of this may be acknowledged, and that you also advise this department regularly of your movements.
I have the honor to be, c c. GEORGE GRAHAM Major JAMES BANKHEAD,
Commanding at Charleston, S. C.
Fernandina, Amelia Island,
December 24, 1817.
SIRI have the honor to lay before you the correspondence held with gen. Aury, the late commander of this place, and to inform you, that the American flag was raised here yesterday afternoon.
Several days will elapse before gen. Aury can withdraw his followers, but I have taken every measure to ensure tranquility, by ordering all his black soldiers to be embarked on board one of the ships lying in the port, and by not suffering any person to appear in the town with arms, but his officers ; and the moment their vessels are prepared to receive the whole of them, they shall depart.
Most of the inhabitants of this place, at this time, are followers of Aury, and those persons who have been drawn here from motives of speculation, who are, I suspect, of that profligate character generally engaged in the violation or evasion of our revenue laws. I shall therefore, consult with com. Henley, and will enforce such regulations as may become likely to preserve order, until I receive instructions from the government.
Until this place is completely evacuated by this band of negroes and privateersmen, I have deemed it prudent to keep the whole of my force here. On their departure I shall move all but one company to Point Petre.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully,
Your most obedient servant,
Major 1st battalion artillery, S. D. commanding
detachment U. S. Troops.
GEORGE GRAHAM, Esq. Acting Secretary at War.
Fernandina, Amelia Island, Dec. 27, 1817.
SIRI had the honor to forward to the war department, on the 24th inst. a copy of the correspondence with gen. Aury, previous to the landing of the troops under my command ; and I herewith sent a duplicate of the same.
Some difficulty has arisen form a want of competent authority, to settle the disputed claims of the residents of this place against the late government and the followers of Aury, who do not seem disposed to comply with their engagements.
One or two vessels have arrived here with cargoes which the owners are desirous to land, and it might be improper to permit it without obtaining security for the duties which the laws of the United States require ; and other vessels loaded in this port have met with some delay in clearing for their destination ; but the counsel of gen. Gaines, who arrived here last night, will regulate my conduct, and will, in a great measure, relieve my anxiety.
I have been obliged to exercise my authority, as commanding officer at this place, to preserve order ; and I am happy to say, that nothing unpleasant has occurred. I cannot say when gen. Aury and his party will sail. Their vessels are much out of order, and their arrangement to that effect progress but slowly. The morning after I landed, I ordered all the black and French troops to be embarked on board some of their vessels ; but the crews of their privateers, and many others of all nations, whom it is difficult to restrain form violence and excess, are still here.
Until I am honored with your instructions, I hope that the course I may pursue may meet the approbation of the president.
Gen. Gaines leaves this for the western frontier of Georgia the day after to-morrow.
I have the honor to be, with high respect, your most obedient servant, JAS. BANKHEADMajor 1st battalion artillery, and commanding this post To the hon. the secretary of war
Navy Department, Jan. 13th, 1818.
SIRI have the honor to enclose, herewith, copies of orders to captain John H. Elton, and com. J. D. Henley, in relation of Amelia Island : also a letter from the latter officer, communication information of the surrender of that place to the military and naval force of the United States, together with the correspondence which took place on that occasion.
I have the honor to lie, with the highest respect, sir, your most obedient servant,
B. W. CROWNINSHIELDTo the president of the United States.
Navy Department, July 17, 1817.
SIRProceed immediately with the United States' brig Saranac under your command to the river St. Mary's in Georgia, and inform the military commander of your arrival, and of the objects epecially designated to you in these orders.
The recent occupation of Amelia Island by an officer in the service of the Spanish revolutionists, occasions just apprehensions, that from the vicinity to the coast of Georgia, attempts will be made to introduce slaves into the U. States, contrary to the existing laws ; and further attempts at illicit trade in smuggling goods in violation of our revenue laws.
You are hereby directed to detain and search every vessel, under whatever flag, which may enter the river St. Mary's or be found hovering upon the coast under suspicious circumstances, and seize every vessel freighted with slaves, or whose doubtful character and situation shall indicate an intention of smuggling.
In the execution of these orders, you will take special care not to interrupt or detain any vessel with regular papers, and of a national character, upon lawful voyages to or from a port or ports of the United States.
The traffic in slaves is intended to be restrained, and in the performance of this duty, you will exercise your sound judgment in regard to all vessels you may visit.
Communicate frequently to this department, every event connected with this service, and, if it shall be found necessary, a further naval force will be sent, either to strengthen your command, or to relieve you so as to pursue your original destination. If you find it necessary, upon your arrival at St. Mary's to employ, a good pilot, well acquainted with the coast, rivers, and inlets, you are authorized to do so.
I am very respectfully your obeditent servant,
B. W. CROWNINSHIELD, Captain JOHN H. ELTON, Commanding U. States' brig Saranac, New York
Navy Department, Nov. 14, 1817.
SIRhaving been appointed to the command of the United State's ship John Adams, you are hereby ordered, in conformity to the wishes of the president of the Untied States, to proceed forthwith to the port of St. Mary's in Georgia, taking with you the United States' brigs Enterprize and Prometheus, and the schr. Lynx. If the two latter have arrived in New York, and are in a state of readiness to accompany you ; but you will not procrastinate the departure of the ship John Adams on account of these vessels, as any of them not fully prepared to proceed with you shall be ordered to join you as soon as practicable at St. Mary's, at which place you will find the United States' brig Saranac, captain John H. Elton, and gun boat No. 168, lieutenant commandant R. M'Call, both of which vessels will act under your orders.
The object of the president of the United States in ordering this naval force to St. Mary's is to remove from Amelia Island the persons who have lately taken possession thereof, and, as it is understood and believed, without authority from the colonies, or any organized government whatever, and to the great annoyance of the United States. It has therefore been determined that these persons shall be removed from that island, and that possession shall be taken for the present, by the land and naval forces of the United States.
On your arrival at St. Mary's, you will consult with the officer commanding the military force, who is instructed to co-operate with you in the performance of this service.
It is hoped that these persons will withdraw without bloodshed ; and you will, for this purpose, should your relative rank be superior to that of the commanding officer of the land forces, make known to the chief commanding in Amelia, the determination of the government of the United States to take possession of the island, and if the said chief, and the armed forces under his command, will be peaceably quit the island, you will permit them so to do, taking special care that no depredations be committed on the inhabitants, whom it will be your duty to protect from violation or injury, either in their persons or property.
Should the force, however, now in command of the island, contrary to all expectations, resist and refuse absolutely to give up and abandon the same, you are to co-operate with the military force of the United States, to proceed and take possession of the island, in the name and by the authority of the United States.
Should you fall in with, on your way to St. Mary's, or find in Amelia, any vessels from the United States, armed and equipped by American citizens, acting as privateers, contrary to the laws of the United States, you will capture such and send them to Savannah, in Georgia, to be dealt with according to law.
You will detain all prizes, or other vessels, having slaves on board, as the presumption is strong that they are intended to be smuggled into the United States. You will report, from time to time, to this department, the operations of the force under your command.
I am, very respectfully, c.
B. W. CROWNINSHIELDCom. J. D. HENLEY.
P. S. These orders are not to be delivered to any person.
U. S. Ship John Adams, off Amelia, Dec. 24, 1817.
SIRI have the honor to transmit a copy of the correspondence, with general Aury, late commander of this place, and to inform you that the American flag was yesterday hoisted at Fernandina, and the Island of Amelia taken possession of by the land forces under major Bankhead, of the United States' artillery.
The black troops of general Aury have been embarked on board one of their ships lying in the port, and the remainder of his followers will be sent off the island, as soon as the necessary arrangements can be made for the purpose. They are now engaged in watering their ships, and in the course of a week I hope to see all of them over the bar.
Most of the respectable inhabitants of this place retired on its capture by M'Gregor, and those now here are principally adventurers who have been attracted by motives of speculation, and, as I suspect, and have every reason to believe, been engaged in the violation of our revenue laws, to prevent which in future, such precautions will be taken as are within my power, and which will, I presume, be adequate to the purpose.
This will be sent by an express to Darien, the mail leaving this place but once a week.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,
JOHN D. HENLEYThe Hon. B. W. CROWNINSHIELD,
Secretary of the Navy
United States ship John Adams,
off Amelia Dec. 30, 1817.
SIRSince my arrival here I have been so much engaged that I have not had one moment to write to my friends. You no doubt, however, have some idea of my situation ; and from my official reports know that the American flag is now flying on Amelia Island. As there are many novel cases which must present themselves, I should have been better pleased had my instructions been full ; but we are now left to act as circumstances may require ; and I fear that Aury and his followers will give us much trouble before they quit the island. I am sorry to add that the Americans appear to be much worse than any others. Should we be able to get through the business so as to meet the approbation of the department, I shall feel much gratified ; but I trust that should I err in any steps that I may take, it will be considered by the president as an error of judgment ; for I do assure you that nothing would be so pleasing to me as to have my conduct here approved by the executive. I have endeavored to keep as close to the letter of my instructions as possible, and have avoided every difficulty that I possible could. I regret very much the difficulty of communicating with the government. We have only one mail per week, and that does not remain in St. Mary's long enough to enable us to answer letters that we may receive by it.
The situation of my ship you are no doubt acquainted with, as I have written several times to the secretary on the subject. I, however, do not wish to leave this place until every thing is settled, and the government have established some kind of police for the better government of this place, which I am in hopes will take place, ere long. I am fearful that Aury expects that the American government will relinquish Amelia ; which impression will retard his departure.
I have the honor to be, sir,
Your most obedient servant,
J. D. HENLEY. Hon. B. W. CROWNINSHIELD,
Secretary of the navy, Washington
" Extract from the capitulation of the island of Amelia" dated at Fernandina, 29th June, 1817, and signed by Francisco Morales and Joseph de Yribarren," attested by Bernardo Segiu" and approved by Gregor M'Gregor."
" Brigadier gen. MacGregor, commander in chief of all the forces both naval and military, destined to effect the independence of the Floridas, and authorised by the constituted authorities of the republics of Mexio, Buenos Ayres New-Grenada, and Venezuela, offers to don Francisco Morales, capitan del regimento de Cuba, and commandant, civil and military, of the Island of Amelia, the following term, c. c."
Extract from a proclamation of Gregor MacGregor, dated at Head-Quarters, Amelia Island, June 20, 1817, and signed, Gregor M'Gregor," attested by Joseph Yribarren, secretary.
" Gregor M'Gregor, brigadier general of the armies of the United Provinces of New Grenada and Venezuela, and general in chief of the armies of the two Floridas, commissioned by the supreme director of Mexico, South America, c. c." In the name of the independent governments of South America, which I have the honor to represent, I thank you for the first proof of your ardor and devotion to her cause, and I trust that, impelled by the same noble principles, you will soon be able to free the whole of the Floridas from tyranny and oppression."
Extract of a letter form general Aury, to capt. J. D. Henley, commanding the United States naval forces off Amelia Island, and to major James Bankhead, commanding the United States military forces off the same place dated at
" Head-quarters Fernandina, Island of Amelia,
December 22d, 1817.
" Allow me gentlemen, to observe to you, that from the moment we took Fernandina by the force of our arms, we entered into full possession of all the rights appertaining to our enemy, and that to this day we have supported these rights at the risk of our lives and fortunes. The boundaries of the Floridas and the United States, having been fairly settled by the treaty of friendship, limits and navigation, on the twenty-seventh of October, one thousand seven hundred and nine-five, leave us at a loss to ascertain your authority to interfere in our internal concerns."