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Reasons for the War
On June 18th of 1812, America went to war with Great Britain. The war continued until December 24th, 1814, when the Treaty of Ghent was signed by both sides. One of the primary reasons for the start of the war was due to British naval ships blocking U.S. outgoing shipments. Other grievances include impressment of U.S. sailors and restrictions on American efforts to expand. The war began in the northern part of the United States before shifting down towards the south. During the year 1812, while America was focusing its forces towards the north, Florida was facing its own conflict. Radical Creek Indians called the Red Stick Creeks had begun demonstrating hostility to the Americans; the British Navy took advantage of this and came to the Pensacola Bay to issue weapons to the Indians. The British force, led by Colonel Nicholls, took control of Fort Barrancas, Fort San Miguel, and Santa Rosa. They recruited help from the Indians and African American slaves, many of whom had been hurt by American expansionism and slavery.
Andrew Jackson marched to Pensacola with 5,000 men mostly from Tennessee, but also including Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians, to take the area back. Jackson sought a peace treaty with Governor Manrique; he sent Major Henri Pierre as a messenger underneath a white flag of peace to the Spanish governor, but Pierre was fired upon by the barracks in Fort San Miguel. Jackson made a second attempt by sending another messenger with demands that they evacuate the forts and surrender until the Spanish troops relieved them. This would aid in the guarantee of Spain’s detachment in the battle, but the request was denied.
On November 7th, British troops in Fort San Miguel prepared for Jackson’s force to attack from the west, but Jackson had only sent 500 of his men to the west; the rest had gone around to the east straight to Fort San Miguel unbeknownst to the British. The soldiers were unprepared and proceeded to be attacked from both sides. Governor Manrique surrendered that day with few casualties. Jackson was able to take back Fort San Miguel that very night, but was unable to get to Fort Barrancas and Santa Rosa. These two forts were later destroyed by the British Naval force in a torch-and-burn operation before retreating to the Gulf of Mexico. Following the battle, Jackson’s army marched to New Orleans, where the war concluded in January 1815.
Battle of Pensacola
The battle in Pensacola is said to be one of the most important battles in the final stages of the War of 1812 because of the tactical implications that took place. America faced many defeats against the British along with Canadian and Native American forces. Nevertheless, U.S. troops were able to fend off attacks on New York, Baltimore, and New Orleans. For many at the time, the Treaty of Ghent had ended what was considered to be the second war of independence and led to an increase in the nation’s morale.
McGovern, James R., Andrew Jackson and Pensacola, Pensacola, FL: Dept. of History University of West Florida, 1974 (accessed September 14, 2016)
Williams, John Lee, The Territory of Florida: or Sketches of the Topography Civil & Natural History of the Country, the Climate, and the Indian Tribes, From the First Discovery to the Present Time with a Map, Views, & C., Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1962 (Accessed September 14, 2016)
"War of 1812." History.com. 2009. Accessed October 01, 2016. http://www.history.com/topics/war-of-1812.
Vinson, Joe. "1814 Battle of Pensacola Pivotal for Nation | Studer Community Institute." Studer Community Institute. 2014. Accessed October 01, 2016. http://studeri.org/2014/11/1814-battle-pensacola-pivotal-nation/.