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Group Title: loyalists in West Florida and the Natchez District,
Title: The loyalists in West Florida and the Natchez District
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00082748/00001
 Material Information
Title: The loyalists in West Florida and the Natchez District
Series Title: loyalists in West Florida and the Natchez District,
Physical Description: p. 467-483. : ; 26 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Siebert, Wilbur Henry, 1866-1961
Publisher: s.n.
Place of Publication: Columbus?
Publication Date: 1916
 Subjects
Subject: American loyalists -- West Florida   ( lcsh )
American loyalists -- Gulf States   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States of America -- Florida
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by Wilbur H. Siebert.
General Note: Cover title.
General Note: Reprinted from the Mississippi Valley historical review, vol. II, March 1916.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00082748
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 05365311
lccn - 19004953

Table of Contents
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        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Main
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Reprinted from the MISSISSIPPI
VALLEY HISTORICAL REVIEW
Vol. II, March, 1916


THE LOYALISTS IN WEST FLORIDA

AND THE NATCHEZ DISTRICT











BY
WILBUR H. SIEBERT












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THE LOYALISTS IN WEST FLORIDA AND THE
NATCHEZ DISTRICT

During the period 1764 to 1781, West Florida was a British
province, and embraced a large part of the present states of
Alabama and Mississippi, extending somewhat northward of the
site of Montgomery, Alabama. Captain George Johnstone ar-
rived at Pensacola as the first governor under the new regime in
February, 1764, accompanied by a British regiment and many
highlanders from Charleston and New York. He at once organ-
ized the civil government, and garrisoned Fort Charlotte at
Mobile, Fort Bute at Manchac, and Fort Panmure at Natchez.
The English authorities encouraged immigration, and numerous
settlers came in before the revolution from the Carolinas and
Georgia, from Great Britain and the British West Indies, from
New Jersey, Delaware, and Virginia, and even from the New
England colonies. These settlers formed communities between
Manchac and Baton Rouge, in the Natchez country and in the
region drained by the bayou Sara, the Homochitto, and the
bayou Pierre. In November, 1776, a fresh contingent of New
Englanders, led by Captain Mathew Phelps, settled on the Big
Black river. Many highlanders who had joined the royal stan-
dard under Brigadier General Donald McDonald in North Caro-
lina, February 1, 1776, only to be defeated by the state troops,
took refuge in West Florida soon after. Among the people who
established homes on the shores of the Tombigbee and Mobile
bay were large numbers of adherents to the British cause who
had fled hither through the trackless forests from Georgia and









Wilbur H. Siebert


South Carolina in the early days of the revolution. Other ref-
ugees from the same colonies located on the Tensas river and
lake, where a settlement grew up which is said to have ap-
proached Mobile in population.1
When William Bartram, the botanist, visited Mobile in the
summer of 1777, he found it the center of an extensive trade with
the Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creeks, with a population consist-
ing of a few French and a larger number of people from the
northern colonies and Great Britain. The town then extended
back from the river nearly half a mile, but contained some
vacant houses and others that were in ruins. Pensacola was
already a place of several hundred habitations, including the
governor's stone mansion with its tower, and the spacious resi-
dences occupied by the provincial secretary and certain pros-
perous merchants and professional men. The officers' houses,
together with the council chamber and the barracks for the gar-
rison, were all within the stockaded, tetragonal fortress.
Gathered from all parts of the British dominions, largely cut
off from intercourse with the other American colonies, and sur-
rounded by numerous Indian tribes, the white population of
West Florida, like that of its sister province to the eastward,
had in general no desire to join in the revolution. But there was
danger of an outside attack on the Floridas, and the British
commander in chief, General Howe, desired therefore that the
Indians should be secured for their defense. He clearly ex-
pressed this desire in his orders of August 25, 1776, both to
Governor Patrick Tonyn at St. Augustine and to Colonel John
Stuart, the superintendent of Indian affairs at Pensacola. The
friendship of the tribes if secured, was, however, to be strongly
supported by the troops already in West Florida, which were
supplemented in the fall of 1776 by the arrival of the Royal
American regiment, a corps of loyalists recently raised by
Colonel Beverley Robinson in New Jersey and New York. Not-
withstanding official intimations that there were some enemies
of the crown even in West Florida, Howe was disposed to rely
1 A. J. Pickett, History of Alabama and incidentally of Georgia and Mississippi
from the earliest period (Birmingham, 1900), 320, 323, 331, 332, 334, 336, 339; John
F. H. Claiborne, Mississippi, as a province, territory, and state with biographical no-
tices of eminent citizens (Jackson, 1880), 1: 94, 102, 109, 135, 416.


M. V. H. R.









Loyalists in West Florida


for the present mainly on the troops in the peninsula and on the
savages. In order to secure unity of action, all the troops in
this region were placed under the command of Brigadier Gen-
eral Augustine Prevost in May, 1777.2
But already the cloud that was to prove ruinous to British in-
terests in the twin provinces had appeared to the southward.
The king's armed sloop, West Florida, had given offense in the
previous April to the Spanish governor of Louisiana by seizing
some small vessels containing cargoes of wine and tobacco, and
Galvez had retaliated by the seizure of all the English shipping
he could find in the Mississippi, on the score that it was engaged
in the contraband trade. This breach of relations was followed
by the erection of temporary works and new barracks at Pensa-
cola, the holding of a council with the Choctaw and Chickasaw
nations at Mobile, and the hurried dispatch of two ships from
New York, one loaded with provisions and the other with pres-
ents for the Indians. By the succeeding November the revolu-
tionary party of Georgia, through the agency of Galphin, was
threatening the Cherokee with destruction for their attachment
to the royal cause, while it had already seduced the northern
Creeks from their allegiance to England. In consequence,
Colonel Stuart issued a proclamation forbidding trade with this
nation, particularly the trade in rum, and proceeded to embody
two companies of refugees, one a troop of light horsemen under
the command of Alexander Cameron, the other company being
placed in charge of Captain Richard Pearis, himself a fugitive
from the vicinity of Charleston, who had entered West Florida
a few months before in company with six others. The duty as-
signed to the second of these companies was the suppression of
the rum trade at Mobile bay.3
The withdrawal of all traders from the Creek nation brought
in six hundred Indians from the friendly towns of the lower
Creeks, together with a deputation from the rebellious Cupitalis.
Numerous conferences followed, and when the highly educated
2 A. B. Meek, Romantic passages in southwestern history; including orations,
sketches and essays (New York, 1857), 89; Pickett, History of Alabama, 342; His-
torical Manuscripts Commission, Report on American manuscripts in the Royal In-
stitution of Great Britain (London, 1904), 1: 56, 73, 84, 107, 108.
SIbid., 118, 123, 137, 147, 182, 186, 187.


Vol. II, No. 4









Wilbur H. Siebert


and influential half-breed chief of the Creeks, Alexander McGil-
livray, appeared at Pensacola bearing a message of repentance
from the Oakfuskee, another of the rebellious tribes, he was sent
back with an invitation for the Oakfuskee chiefs to come and
meet Colonel Stuart in council. Meanwhile, Pensacola had be-
come the rendezvous of many of the Creeks and five hundred of
the Cherokee, the latter having arrived in a naked and forlorn
condition. The principal chiefs among the disaffected tribes
appear to have seized the earliest opportunity to return to their
allegiance to the crown, besides taking immediate steps to expel
the few American traders whom Galphin had recently sent
amongst them. The Seminole Creeks had not wavered in their
loyalty and were now, early in February, 1778, being solicited
by Colonel Stuart to be prepared for action when they should be
summoned. The sufferings of the Cherokee under the wrath of
the Georgians and their prompt relief by the superintendent of
Indian affairs rendered them obedient to the latter's demands
for active service on occasion; and parties of the Choctaw and
Chickasaw, accompanied by a few whites, were already scouting
on the Mississippi river, while large bands of the Kawita, ac-
cording to McGillivray, were demonstrating their loyalty by at-
tacks upon the revolutionists.'
Whatever duties the scouting parties of the Chickasaw and
Choctaw may have performed, they failed to afford the protec-
tion then needed by the settlements on the lower Mississippi,
including those of the Natchez district. This district, with which
we are specially concerned here, extended a distance of one hun-
dred ten miles up the river from Loftus Cliffs to the mouth of
the Yazoo, being ten miles wide at the upper end and forty at
the lower. Besides the people from New England and else-
where who settled in this region before the revolution and in the
fall of 1776, numerous Scotch-Irish from Pennsylvania, Vir-
ginia, and North Carolina also entered the Natchez country in
order to escape from the divided sentiments of friends and
neighbors in the colonies from which they came. In 1776 the
town of Natchez was already in existence, but contained only
twenty log and frame houses, which were all on the river bot-
tom below the bluff. This small village could boast of four
4 Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on American Manuscripts in the
Boyal Institution, 1: 189, 190, 197, 199, 204, 206.


M. V. H. R.









Loyalists in West Florida


merchants, one of the number being James Willing, who had
removed hither from Pennsylvania in 1774. Three years later
Willing had returned to Philadelphia, where his family were
prominent in colonial affairs, and obtained from congress a
commission as captain in the navy for the purpose of under-
taking an expedition down the Mississippi to win the inhabitants
along its banks to neutrality and to bring back provisions. As a
former resident and trader in the district, Willing enjoyed a
wide acquaintance among the older settlers on the river, and it
might be expected that his task would not prove difficult among
the new families many of whom had moved in since the war be-
gan because they were disinclined to take sides against friends
and kindred in their old neighborhoods. Others had come how-
ever, because their loyalty to the king had rendered them ob-
noxious to the whigs in the states where they had previously
lived."
On January 10, 1778, Captain Willing embarked at Pittsburg
in an armed boat called the Rattletrap with a "crew" of twenty-
eight or twenty-nine men. Six weeks later he was at Natchez,
where on February 21 he received the capitulation of William
Hiorn and seven others who are described in the original docu-
ment as "delegates" for the district. Governor Peter Chester
wrote a long letter from Pensacola under the date of March 21
to Major General Prevost at St. Augustine concerning Willing's
activities. In this letter the governor states that the rebel cap-
tain had been able to increase his force to about one hundred
men on his way down the Ohio and Mississippi and, by sending
detachments into the Natchez country, had succeeded in taking
the magistrates and persons of influence by surprise, thus ex-
tracting from them an engagement of neutrality. The Ameri-
cans had then proceeded down the river, taking with them the
negroes and other property of Colonel Anthony Hutchens, and
on February 23, an advanced detachment of the rebels had
seized the armed ship Rebecca at Manchac and made the inhab-
itants of that settlement prisoners on their parole. Meanwhile,
the rest of the invading company, which was joined by several
s Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on American manuscripts in the
Royal Institution, 1: 213; Claiborne, Mississippi, as a province, territory and state,
1: 95, 103, 113, 115, 116, 135; Reuben G. Thwaites and Louise P. Kellogg, Frontier
defence on the upper Ohio, 1777-1778 (Madison, 1912), 191 n.


Vol. II, No. 4









Wilbur H. Siebert


men from the Natchez settlement and a number of French and
Spanish bateau men, together with other banditti, "laid waste"
all the settlements from Manchac to Pointe Coup6e, burning
several houses and appropriating the property of the inhab-
itants, except in a few instances. With this booty a detachment
went on to New Orleans, where, according to report, it was to be
auctioned off by Oliver Pollock, the agent of the American con-
gress. Below New Orleans this detachment had captured the
brig Neptune, its numbers having increased on the way down
the river to between three and four hundred men, according to
the latest reports received by Governor Chester.6
The governor had taken immediate action by sending the
king's war sloops Sylph and Hound to the Mississippi to inter-
cept other rebel craft that might be coming to the support of
Willing's party and to demand from the governor of Louisiana
the restitution of the property brought by the Americans into
his territory. At the same time he had remonstrated against
Galvez's affording protection or furnishing supplies to the reb-
els. Inasmuch as Governor Chester had received word that a
force of two or three thousand men was preparing to descend
upon West Florida from Pittsburg in the following May, he sug-
gested to General Prevost that one of the sloops be ordered up
the river to Manchac to obstruct the passage of the Pittsburg
contingent and also prevent the return of Captain Willing and
his men. That Willing's depredations among the settlements on
the Mississippi had produced a result very different from that
intended by the American congress appears from the circum-
stance that the inhabitants of the Natchez district now appealed
to Governor Chester to send them one hundred men from the
garrison at Pensacola, in order that they might break their
neutrality and resist the rebels, while the settlers at Mobile also
applied for reinforcements. Colonel Stuart sent one of his com-
missaries to set the Indians in motion, and the governor took
steps to raise a new corps of loyalists for the expedition to the
Natchez. He also requested General Prevost to send as many
6 Thwaites and Kellogg, Pioneer defence on the upper Ohio, 191 n., 202, 203; His-
torical Manuscripts Commission, Report on American manuscripts in the Royal In-
stitution, 1: 197, 213; Claiborne, Mississippi, as a province, territory and state, 1:
118.


M. V. H. R.









Loyalists in West Florida


troops as could be spared from St. Augustine, in order that a
detachment might be supplied to Mobile, and that the garrison
at Natchez might be strengthened sufficiently to restore the con-
fidence of the inhabitants there, as otherwise a general exodus
of all the settlers on the lower Mississippi and in the adjacent
parts of West Florida was to be expected. Although General
Prevost found it impracticable to comply with Governor Ches-
ter's demand for troops, Governor Tonyn of East Florida wrote,
March 31, 1778, that he had dispatched three vessels "to scour
the inland passage and frustrate the designs of the Rebels."
Later, word reached St. Augustine that two of these, namely,
the Rebecca and the Hinchenbrook, had fallen a prey to the in-
vaders. Tonyn also ordered Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Brown
and his regiment of East Florida Rangers to penetrate the prov-
ince of Georgia as a corps of observation. It may be added that
Brown did not return until he had destroyed Fort Barrington,
sometime in the latter part of March.7
Meanwhile, the people in the Natchez country had been warned
by Colonel Hutchens, who had been carried off a prisoner by
Willing's men but had since escaped, that the Americans con-
templated a second attack on the river settlements. Accord-
ingly, the settlers immediately formed an armed association of
some three hundred members and sustained an attack near
White Cliffs, in which a number of the Natchez men were
wounded and eight of the enemy were killed. It was just after
this experience that those inhabitants of the district who were
capable of bearing arms volunteered for garrison duty, repaired
Fort Panmure, sent a detachment of their number to Manchac,
which was being plundered by some of Willing's men, and gar-
risoned the old fort there with a party of associated settlers.
Having decided that they were no longer bound by their oath of
neutrality, they also applied for reinforcements, as seen from
Governor Chester's letter to Prevost which we have given above
in substance. In response to this application, Chester sent
them a detachment of seventy-five soldiers from his garrison to
7 Thwaites and Kellogg, Frontier defence on the upper Ohio, 191, n.; Historical
Manuscripts Commission, Report on American manuscripts in the Royal Institution,
1: 213, 221, 236, 239, 260; William H. Siebert, "The legacy of the American revolu-
tion to the British West Indies and Bahamas," in the Ohio State University, Bul-
letin, 17: no. 27, p. 6.


Vol. II, No. 4









Wilbur H. Siebert


take post at Manchac, and a small body of Loyal Carolina Ref-
ugees under the command of Captain Michael Jackson to garri-
son Fort Panmure. Jackson soon made himself unendurable by
his oppressive treatment of the volunteers and inhabitants gen-
erally and was placed under arrest by Colonel Hutchens; Cap-
tain Thaddeus Lyman was then put in charge by the associated
loyalists at Natchez. Jackson, however, had the support of
about thirty deserters and others, and kept the garrison in a
distracted condition for several days, being able by his treach-
erous dealings to reinstate himself in command twice during this
period. Then Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Dickson, the com-
mandant at Manchac, dispatched Captain Foster to assume
control at Natchez, and Jackson and his followers secretly de-
camped, carrying with them all the portable property of the fort
they could lay their hands on. Those remaining behind who
had acted with Jackson were sent under guard to Pensacola,
where several were ordered shot.8 Willing and the rest of his
party, meantime, had sailed from Manchac to the Tensas settle-
ments above Mobile, and had tried to enlist the people there in
their cause. In 1779 Captain Willing sent his troops north
under the command of Lieutenant Robert George, who placed
them under the orders of General George Rogers Clark. But
Willing himself proceeded to Mobile, was captured there and
placed in confinement in the stone keep of Fort Charlotte. He
narrowly escaped being hanged in the plaza in front of that
fortress; but was shipped to New York at the close of the year.9
If Willing's adventures accomplished nothing for the Ameri-
cans, they at any rate moved the new commander in chief of the
British forces, Sir Henry Clinton, to send one thousand troops
under Brigadier General John Campbell to Pensacola, at the
same time that he dispatched three thousand under Lieutenant
Colonel Archibald Campbell to take possession of Savannah.
Clinton's instructions to the former officer made it clear that he
was to assume command of the king's soldiers in West Florida,
8 Claiborne, Mississippi, as a province, territory and state, 1: 121-123; Historical
Manuscripts Commission, Report on American manuscripts in the Royal Institution,
1: 260; Pickett, History of Alabama, 348, 349.
9 Thwaites and Kellogg, Frontier defence on the upper Ohio, 192 n.; Meek, Ro-
mantic passages in southwestern history, 90.


M. V. H. R.









Loyalists in West Florida


that a new fort, already ordered to be erected at Manchac, was
to be garrisoned with three hundred men, and that two galleys
were to be provided for the protection of inland navigation and
the prevention of subsequent invasions. The troops which ar-
rived at Pensacola at the close of December, 1778, included two
provincial corps, namely, the Pennsylvania Loyalists under the
command of Lieutenant Colonel William Allen, and the Mary-
land Loyalists under that of Lieutenant Colonel James Chal-
mers. The strength of these regiments at the end of the follow-
ing February was 183 and 331 men, respectively. Lieutenant
Hugh Mackay Gordon of the .Sixteenth regiment of foot, who
mustered them, wrote in March that the Maryland Loyalists
could not be mustered until February 22, owing to the number
sick with the smallpox, which had carried off a great many and
had induced General Campbell to disperse one company. The
writer described Pensacola as "the worst place in the world,"
where nothing was to be had but lean pork and beef, except
poultry which was extravagantly dear, and added that the only
thing in which the place abounded was a beautiful white sand
that circulated freely.10 General Campbell found conditions
there so much to his distaste that after a residence of two and a
third months he asked to be relieved, asserting that he was un-
equal to the fatigue and trouble afflicting him.1
About a month later this general threw some light upon the
situation among the loyalists on the Mississippi by reporting
that Captain Hutchens' and Captain Syman's [Lyman's] inde-
pendent companies, having officers and noncommissioned officers
with few or no men under their command, were to be reduced,
and that Captain [Francis] Miller's company, which was still on
foot, was to be treated as military or as bateau men. General
Campbell also referred to the alarming situation of the garrison
at Manchac, which had recently suffered from inundation, was
experiencing difficulties in obtaining provisions, was suffering
10 Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on American manuscripts in the
Royal Institution, 1: 314, 323, 339; Winslow papers, A. D. 1776-1826, edited by Rev-
erend W. O. Raymond, M.A. (St. John, N. B., 1901), 39; Reverend W. O. Raymond's
manuscript notes on Colonel Edward Winslow's muster rolls (St. John, N. B.).
11 Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on American manuscripts in the
Royal Institution, 1: 396.


Vol. II, No. 4









Wilbur H. Siebert


losses by desertion, and was finding that material for the con-
struction of the new fort could not be secured in less than twelve
months.12
In the meantime Colonel John Stuart had died at Pensacola
on February 21, 1779, and at the end of April Clinton had ap-
pointed Captain Alexander Cameron as superintendent of In-
dian affairs. Cameron was absent on official business in the
Cherokee country at the time, and remained so all summer, with
the result that the Indian department fell into a state of con-
fusion. Early in May Campbell reported to the commander in
chief that the Sixteenth regiment was worn out in the service,
and requested another in its place, together with a force of car-
penters to make possible the erection of the fort at Manchac.
He also discovered that the governor of Louisiana was trying to
win the Choctaw to the cause of Spain. At length, on June 15,
1779, the Spanish monarchy declared war against England.
Under these circumstances it is not difficult to understand why
Spanish officers paid frequent visits to the Natchez district dur-
ing the same summer. The report that Colonel George Rogers
Clark had been victorious at Vincennes in the previous February
led Campbell to reinforce Lieutenant Colonel Dickson at Man-
chac with the grenadier company of the Waldeck regiment, and
to deem it prudent to forward the remainder of this corps to the
Mississippi as rapidly as transports could be procured. On
August 20, the independence of the American states was pro-
claimed at New Orleans "by beat of drum," and nine days later
two British transports returning from the Amite river where
they had just landed a detachment of the Waldeck troops, were
seized at Galveston by the Spaniards, while Galvez was seen
marching with considerable force towards Manchac. The
strength of the British at this post and at Natchez was at the
time, September 14, about 457 men, not including the officers.
General Campbell was already at Red Cliffs, at the entrance of
Pensacola harbor, as were also the Pennsylvania Loyalists. The
number of vessels in the harbor was insufficient to carry more
than two hundred fifty men, although Campbell expected to ob-
tain others from Mobile. He had only one armed vessel at
hand, a second being on lake Pontchartrain. The rest of his
12 Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on American manuscripts in the
Boyal Institution, 1: 397, 411, 443, 446, 470.


M. V. H. R.









Loyalists in West Florida


force was presumably standing on the defensive at Pensacola
and Mobile. Thus situated, General Campbell had good reason
for writing to Clinton representing his inability to execute Lord
George Germain's orders to attack New Orleans. It is, how-
ever, stated in some private correspondence of the time that an
expedition for this purpose was ready to embark, when the news
came that Don Galvez had obliged the British troops on the
Mississippi to capitulate.13
According to local historians, Galvez stormed Fort Bute at
Manchac on September 7, 1779, and then advanced up the river
with fifteen hundred men to Baton Rouge, whither Colonel Dick-
son had retreated to make his stand in a more tenable position
behind a redoubt and lines lately thrown up at Watt and Flow-
er's plantation. Dickson's force at this point is said to have
comprised four hundred regulars and one hundred fifty militia
of the country. The commandant's resistance was spirited,
though brief, and he capitulated on September 21, surrendering
the British posts on the lower Mississippi, the Amite, and
Thompson's creek, and the entire Natchez district. Leaving
Colonel Grandpre in command at Natchez, Galvez now returned
to New Orleans, and made preparations to reduce Mobile. After
breasting a hurricane, he summoned Elias Durnford, the com-
mandant of Fort Charlotte, to surrender on March 1, 1780.
Durnford was able to hold out until the thirteenth, when he also
capitulated, agreeing to hand over to Spain the whole region
from the Perdido to the Pearl.14
The next task of Galvez was to take Pensacola. To this end
he brought reinforcements and heavy artillery from Havana,
and early in April sent.a p shql 1Yo .lpnlpbell for the neutral-
ity of the Indians,..p.l'.ie'.body'6f'whb~$o ad..been assembled in
the provincial caeptAl: 'However, the savages1;hceid the patience
to await the..ahi'sh attack.and dApaqbd' day by'dl~y;.while those
who lingere'fixed onjA.p I9.* bt :20 '.s the date Zof their de-
parture.* ".t'the end of November 1779, Campbell had disbanded
the two companies of Loyal Refugees raised by Colonel Stuart
two years before, but in the following year found it expedient to
1s Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on American manuscripts in the
Royal Institution, 1: 403, 423, 424, 427, 431, 448, 470, 477; 2 (1906): 28, 30, 31, 33, 63.
14 Ibid., 2: 72, 77, 102; Claiborne, Mississippi, as a province, territory and state,
1: 125.


Vol. II, No. 4









Wilbur H. Siebert


form a new troop, called the West Florida Royal Foresters, and
to erect a redoubt at Red Cliffs for the defense of Pensacola
harbor. The troop of Foresters numbered only forty-three on
April 1, 1781, while the united corps of Pennsylvania and Mary-
land Loyalists contained but three hundred ten, rank and file,
on February 1 of the same year. Campbell's other forces com-
prised the following regiments: the Royal American, the Third
Waldeck, the Sixteenth, the third battalion of the Sixtieth, and
a company of Royal Artillery. In the opening days of January,
1781, the Spanish troop ships assembled in Mobile bay, and at
daylight on the seventh a large detachment from Pensacola,
consisting of the third battalion of the Sixtieth regiment, the
Waldeck soldiers, the Royal Foresters, and the Pennsylvania
and Maryland Loyalists, attacked the enemy's post at Mobile
village, only to be repulsed. Some British ships that were or-
dered to cooperate with the land forces in this assault were pre-
vented from doing so by the weather and the ebb tide."1
Galvez now marched his land forces, estimated at four thou-
sand French and Spanish, to Pensacola, and his fleet entered
the harbor there about March 12. From this date until May 9,
the bombardment of the place continued with little intermission.
During the siege, according to the journal of one of the defend-
ers of Fort George, the loyalist volunteers, the Indians, and the
Pennsylvania and Maryland regiments distinguished themselves
by their courageous attacks on the enemy. On the night of
May 8, a shell falling upon the magazine, exploded it and carried
away the principal part of the advanced works, besides killing
more than a hundred men in the fort. This disaster gave the
Spanish the opportuni..tito. apprqa'dh frpm the landward side
and fire at clope':ran. g thus considerably'. creasing the death
roll of the RB~tigh: The situation of thoe'.iJ*'the beleaguered
town had i~w"become "Q dsfsperate.4hat.Gener:al .ampbell and
Governor Chester signed alrilct Be f.'srjie.ender on'- )y 9, yield-
ing the whole province to the arms of Spain. More.thn a year
later Campbell proudly asserted his belief that history would
exonerate him for his defeat. This sentiment he expressed in a
15 Claiborne, Mississippi, as a province, territory and state, 1: 125; Reverend W. O.
Raymond's manuscript notes on Colonel Edward Winslow's muster rolls; Historical
Manuscripts Commission, Report on American manuscripts in the Boyal Institution,
2: 122, 146, 159, 161, 201, 233, 234, 246.


M. V. H. R.









Loyalists in West Florida


letter of June 17, 1782, to Galvez in which he gloried in the rec-
ollection, as he put it, of the resistance which his handfull of
gallant and intrepid officers and men" had offered to the "multi-
tude of foes (in the combined forces of France and Spain)" in
a manner which he would leave "to the chaste pen of a candid
historian to relate." 1
The settlers in the Natchez district had been astonished by
Galvez's easy victory at Baton Rouge, but were fully convinced
that he would be overwhelmed at Pensacola. They therefore
sent a courier to Campbell, evidently during the Spanish bom-
bardment of the provincial capital, proposing to make a diver-
sion in his favor by rising and recapturing Fort Panmure. The
general returned a favorable answer, together with commissions
for their officers in order, as he explained, to prevent the emigra-
tion of the people of Mobile and Natchez from West Florida.
As matters turned out, he could scarcely have hit on a surer way
of promoting their exodus. The officers who were involved in
this plot were Colonel Anthony Hutchens, Captains Thaddeus
Lyman, Jacob Blomart, Jacob Winfrey, Philip and John Al-
ston, Thomas Lyman, and Christian Bingaman. At the head
of a large number of loyalists, these men took their position on
an eminence north of Natchez, April 22, 1781, and were joined
there by fifty warriors of the Choctaw nation, who had come in
with the courier on his way back from Pensacola. Under the
cover of night the insurgents planted their artillery so as to bear
on the fort, and the next day an exchange of artillery fire oc-
curred. On the twenty-ninth, the Spanish commandant sent a
flag of truce to Colonel Hutchens, promising clemency to the
armed settlers, if they would surrender their leaders and dis-
perse. The royalists promised to return an answer within
twenty-four hours, but instead sent a forged letter, purporting
to contain the intelligence that Fort Panmure had been mined,
that the people of the country were joining the insurgents in
large numbers, and that the commandant could only save his
"garrison by surrender. The ruse was successful, the fort capitu-
lated, and the Spaniards were permitted to withdraw to Baton
Rouge under escort. On the way thither the escorting party
16 Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on American manuscripts in the
Boyal Institution, 2: 279, 281, 286; 3 (1907): 22; Claiborne, Mississippi as a prov.
ince, territory and state, 1: 126.


Vol. II, No. 4









Wilbur H. Siebert


under Captain Winfrey sighted a body of the enemy and some
Indians coming up the river and fled in consternation, although
in a skirmish that followed fourteen were killed and some cap-
tured. The remainder, who with friends joining them numbered
about two hundred, prepared to make a stand against the Span-
iards at White Cliffs, but soon received word that General Camp-
bell had been defeated and that West Florida had become a
Spanish province."
Thus, nothing remained for the insurgents except to seek
safety in flight. Accordingly, they gathered their families,
horses, and movable effects together and fled to the cane swamps.
Thence more than one hundred individuals, besides slaves, set
out on horseback, with their meagre belongings and supplies
packed on other horses, for the British settlements on the Sa-
vannah. In the course of their wanderings, which lasted five
months, they traveled over the prairies in the present state of
Mississippi, suffering the pangs of thirst in a season that was
unusually dry; they were deprived of their pack horses and
plundered of their effects by hunting parties of Indians; they
made a detour near the Tennessee river and penetrated the
mountains of Blount county, Alabama, and in July 1781, worn
and starving, they were fortunate enough to find temporary
shelter and refreshment in the Creek town at Hickory Ground
in the southern part of the present Wetumpka, on the east bank
of the Coosa river. Thus rested and recuperated, the party pro-
ceeded on its journey, crossing the Tallapoosa, Chattahoochee,
and Flint. Then the fugitives divided into two groups, one of
which turned in the direction of East Florida, and succeeded in
reaching Savannah in safety. The other group fell into the
hands of the whigs, but being released, appears to have arrived
at the same destination. We are informed that General Lyman
and his three sons were among these refugees, and that when
the British evacuated Georgia in July, 1782, one of the sons went
to New York, another to Nova Scotia, and the third to the island
of New Providence in the Bahamas. Two others, namely, Doc-
tor Dwight and his wife, returned to Northampton, Massachu-
17 Claiborne, Mississippi as a province, territory and state, 1: 126-130; Historical
Manuscripts Commission, Report on American manuscripts in the Royal Institution,
2: 246, 300; Pickett, History of Alabama, 351-360.


M. V. H. R.









Loyalists in West Florida


setts, the doctor being afterwards lost on a voyage to Nova
Scotia.18
Colonel Hutchens and twenty other men lingered in conceal-
ment until they learned that a party of Choctaw was in pursuit
of them. Then they started on horseback to overtake the larger
party, whose wanderings and sufferings have been briefly de-
scribed above. On the second night of their flight they were
overtaken by the Indians and all were slain but Hutchens and
one companion, who managed to escape to Savannah. Thence
Mr. Hutchens went to London, where he remained several years,
after which he was permitted to return to Natchez through the
intercession of the influential loyalist merchant, William Panton
at Pensacola, with the Spanish authorities. Then John Alston
with another small party of loyalists, which seems to have in-
cluded Captains Blomart and Winfrey, Parker Carradine,
George Rapalje, John Smith, and William Eason, made his way
to the Creek nation, where he and his companions were arrested
by the Indians. After being carried to Mobile, they were for-
warded to New Orleans and condemned to death on the charge
of rebellion, but were pardoned by the governor.19
Still a fourth party of those active in the revolt and consisting
of Captain Thaddeus Lyman, Philip Alston, Christian Binga-
man, John Ogg, Caleb Hansborough, John Watkins, William
Case, John Turner, Thomas James, Philip Mulkey, Ebenezer
Cossett, Thompson Lyman, and Nathaniel Johnson, escaped to
the Cumberland settlements in Tennessee. Like the band which
had been transported to New Orleans, the members of this party
were pardoned and permitted to return to their homes in the
Natchez district. Although the Spanish government had con-
fiscated the property of the loyalists, it now cancelled these con-
fiscations in numerous instances, while in other instances it
nullified purchases of lands from those insurgents who had sold
is John W. Monette, History of the discovery and settlement of the valley of the
Mississippi, by the three great European powers, Spain, France, and Great Britain,
and the subsequent occupation, settlement and extension of civil government by the
United States until the year 1846 (New York, 1846), 462, 463; Pickett, History of
Alabama, 360; Timothy Dwight, Travels in New England and New York (London,
1823), 1: 306-316.
19 Pickett, History of Alabama, 360; Claiborne, Mississippi, as a province, terri-
tory and state, 1: 131, 133.


Vol. II, No. 4









Wilbur H. Siebert


out before effecting their escape. The properties thus recov-
ered were restored in whole or in part to the original owners, or
to their wives and children.20
Whether any of the refugees from West Florida became
dwellers among the Indians in the present states of Alabama
and Mississippi is not known, although local historians assert
that many loyalists did so. James G. Gunn, a native of Vir-
ginia, was one of those who found an asylum among the Chick-
asaw, settling first near Toshish in what was later known as
Pontotoc county and afterwards in Lee county, Mississippi.
Mr. Gunn grew wealthy and owned many negro slaves. It is
said that he celebrated the birthday of George III throughout
his life, and forbade the commemoration of the fourth of July
on his plantations. His name is perpetuated in that of "Gun-
town" in Lee county. Among the stories who sought shelter in
the Chickasaw country now constituting Montgomery county,
Alabama, were James Russell, Thomas Love, and Messrs. Allen
and Pickens. Love married an Indian wife and lived near the
site of Mount Meigs. Four of his sons became chiefs among the
Chickasaw. Allen acquired a farm near Tocopola. Little is
known of Pickens, except that he came from South Carolina,
where his family had espoused the cause of American indepen-
dence.2
At least one important loyalist remained in West Florida
after the Spanish conquest. This was the Scotchman, William
Panton, whose large estates in Georgia and South Carolina had
been confiscated on account of his adherence to the British
crown, and who established himself on St. Mary's river early in
the revolution. Later he removed to Pensacola, where he was
carrying on an extensive trade when Galvez took that place in
1781. He soon entered into an agreement with the Spanish au-
thorities, which proved of mutual benefit, affording Mr. Panton
the opportunity of uninterrupted commerce, while the new gov-
ernment of West Florida secured the benefit of his influence over
the Indian tribes south of the Tennessee river. Moreover, Pan-
20 Claiborne, Mississippi, as a province, territory and state, 1: 133-135.
21 Mississippi Historical Society, Publications (Oxford), 8: 543, 545, 560, 586, 587;
Pickett, History of Alabama, 421, 422.


M. V. H. R.









Loyalists in West Florida


ton introduced Colonel Alexander McGillivray, the representa-
tive of the Creek and Seminole nations, to the Spanish governor
of Pensacola, with the result that an arrangement was entered
into by which these tribes were to become allies of Spain, make
peace with the Chickasaw and Cherokee, surrender all intruders
who came to stir up rebellion against the Spanish government,
deliver up any white subjects of the United States taking shelter
among them, besides fugitive slaves from Louisiana and Florida,
and abandon the practice of taking scalps in war. In return for
these concessions the Creeks and Seminole were to receive the
rights of trade at the most advantageous places. That Mr. Pan-
ton sacrificed nothing by his services to the new government
appears from the fact that in 1789 the firm of Panton, Leslie,
and Company was in possession of large trading establishments
at St. John's, St. Mark's, St. Augustine, Mobile, Pensacola, and
at Chickasaw Bluff on the Mississippi. The most important of
these was at Pensacola, and comprised a store usually contain-
ing a stock worth fifty thousand dollars, together with ware-
houses where furs and skins were assorted and packed for the
foreign markets, being shipped in schooners belonging to the
firm, which constituted a fleet of fifteen vessels.22
Of those who were taken prisoner at Pensacola, some families
were detained there on account of sickness. When they were
able to depart, they were shipped to New York by way of Ha-
vana before the end of December, 1781. Brigadier General John
Campbell and Captain Adam Chrystie, the latter being the com-
manding officer of the Royal Foresters, may have gone with this
contingent. At any rate, the latter is known to have been at
Newton, Long Island, early in April, 1782, and the former in
New York city by the middle of the following month. There
were fourteen Royal Foresters, sixty-eight Pennsylvania Loyal-
ists, and one hundred thirty-seven Maryland Loyalists still at
Pensacola on April 24, of the same year. Doubtless they were
sent north soon after, some of them being placed in the hospital
on their arrival at New York. Indeed, hospital accounts dated
June 24, 1782, are still extant for part of the Loyal American
22 Claiborne, Mississippi, as a province, territory and state, 132 n.; Pickett, His-
tory of Alabama, 2: 60, 96.


Vol. II, No. 4









Wilbur H. Siebert


regiment, as well as for part of the Maryland and Pennsylvania
corps.23
On September 12, 1783, Sir Guy Carleton ordered eleven corps
of loyalist troops and detachments of three others transported
from that rendezvous of American stories to the St. John river
in what is now the province of New Brunswick. Among these
corps were the Loyal American regiment and the Pennsylvania
and Maryland Loyalists. Most of the families of the Maryland
corps sailed in the ship Martha with the fall fleet, but their ves-
sel was wrecked late in the same month, off the Tusket river,
and over one hundred lives were lost. "It is recorded," says
Paul Leicester Ford, "that the troop stood drawn up in com-
pany order, while the women and children were ordered into the
boats, and the few survivors among the men were chiefly saved
by clinging to the wreckage." In an undated list of persons
who embarked for Nova Scotia, probably aboard the fated trans-
port, we find the names of Lieutenant Colonel James Chalmers,
organizer of the troop, and Lieutenant Colonel William Allen
of the Pennsylvania Loyalists. Captain Adam Chrystie of the
Royal Foresters was in New York city November 3, when he
signed a petition for a grant of land in Nova Scotia. A census
of the disbanded corps and loyalists on the river St. John, bear-
ing the same date, shows two hundred eighty-nine Loyal Ameri-
cans, seventy-three Pennsylvania Loyalists, and seventy-two
Maryland Loyalists. These numbers included the women and
children, as well as the men. Most of these people were already
settled on their lands, the location of the Marylanders being on
the east side of the river in the parish of St. Mary's, and that of
the Pennsylvanians being in Southampton and Northampton par-
ishes on the same side. Part of the Loyal American regiment
also settled on the St. John, being scattered in various communi-
ties, while the remainder went to Nova Scotia.4
23 Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on American manuscripts in the Roy-
al Institution, 2: 372, 439, 489, 514, 535, 540; Reverend W. O. Raymond's manuscript
notes on Colonel Edward Winslow's muster rolls; Siebert, "The legacy of the Amer-
ican revolution to the British West Indies and Bahamas," in the Ohio State Uni-
versity, Bulletin, 17: no. 27, p. 13.
24 Raymond, Winslow papers, 132, 133, 156 n., 211 n., 243 n., 244, 245; Orderly
book of the "Maryland loyalists regiment," June 18th, 1778, to October 12th, 1778.
Including general orders issued by Sir Henry Clinton, Baron Wilhelm von Kuy-


M. V. H. R.










Vol. II, No. 4 Loyalists in West Florida 483

phausen, Sir William Erskine, Charles, Lord Cornwallis, General William Tryon, and
General Oliver De Lancy. Kept by Captain Caleb Jones, edited by Paul L. Ford
(Brooklyn, 1891), 2; Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on American man-
uscripts in the Royal Institution, 4 (1909): 105, 380, 409, 420, 443, 479; New Bruns-
wick Historical Society, Collections (St. John, N. B.), no. 5, p. 206, 207.

WILBUR H. SIEBERT
OnIO STATE UNIVERSITY
COLUMBUS




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