The Forgotten Campaign in the Wake of Jackson

From 1810 to 1818 the United States actively sought to acquire Spanish Florida as U.S. territory. Several attempts by various adventurous characters were made and since mostly forgotten. The most successful attempts to steal Florida from Spain were conducted by Andrew Jackson in 1814 and 1818. The least-known attempt to take Florida was conducted by Major Uriah Blue in late 1814 and early 1815.

andrew Jackson from an engraving done in France in 1817.
He was very popular with the French after the Battle of New Orleans.

(Note:  One of the Muskogee traditions is to spell Andrew Jackson with lower case letters: andrew jackson).

General Andrew Jackson took over Pensacola on November 7, 1814.  He soon left to meet the British at New Orleans for the battle that would make him famous. jackson left Major Uriah Blue in Florida to be his rear guard, and to attack Red Sticks that had escaped Jackson’s wrath at Horseshoe Bend.  Blue’s regiment of around 1000 troops included a large number of friendly Creek, Chickasaw, and Choctaw Scouts; and the famous frontiersman David Crockett.

Blue’s exhibition ended in failure; brought about by the same reasons that helped the Seminoles during the many years the United States fought against them. Little knowledge of the land the troops were operating in, lack of support & supplies, climate, and failure to engage the main Indian force in Florida helped end Major Blue’s exhibition.

After Blue’s force crossed the Escambia River north of Pensacola, their Creek Scouts located a Red Stick camp and killed two warriors. Davy Crockett joined in the mutilation of the victims and the victory dance. A village was located further down, where Blue’s force claims to have killed 20 more Red Stick warriors. 150 women and children were taken prisoner.

Heading south, the exhibition reached the area of Garcon Point on Pensacola Bay. Another skirmish occurred with more Red Sticks killed and captured. (Mid-December 1814, before December 18th.) Several Indians escaped across the bay to Pensacola. They took refuge at the tanning yard of John Innerarity’s trading house in Pensacola. The Americans charged in, broke down the warehouse door, and captured about ten Indians and Negroes who had taken refuge.

The American force wandered further north and east to the Blackwater River. East of the Yellow River around December 23rd, they found another Creek village and killed 30 warriors and captured 75 prisoners. The chief, Alabama King, was killed, and a large number of packhorses were captured. The skirmish is believed to be near present-day Crestview and Gum Creek Hill in Okaloosa County.

The day after Christmas the Americans attacked the Indian village of Holmes’ Village on the Choctawhatchee, probably near what is today Vernon in Washington County. They charged the village and learned that the Creeks had fled, leaving very little for the starved Americans seeking provisions. They did capture a few warriors in the area, but this offered little.

Although they burned a few villages and killed or captured several Red Sticks, Major Blue’s force was in trouble. They had no supplies, and there was nothing to resupply them from the villages they attacked. The Creek War had taken its toll on the Indians who were without good crops and food stores. The only cattle found to feed the troops were stolen from local settlers; not a good way to garner among the settlers. A large force of Blue’s men was sent back to Fort Jackson in Alabama or even further north towards Pennsylvania. Blue went back to the Pensacola and captured Fort Barrancas, but did not get much to feed his troops there either. By January 9, 1815, Blue’s force was back at Fort Montgomery in south Alabama, and the campaign was ended.

The final result of Blue’s exhibition by his claims were 50 Indians killed and 200 taken prisoner. Several villages and camps were destroyed. No American casualties are mentioned. All of this is hard to verify and reports are incomplete. Blue’s force was split up into several groups. Dates of battles and numbers of hostiles killed and captured are not all known. Eyewitness accounts differ.  Three years later, Andrew Jackson returned to Florida and attacked the Creeks and Seminoles with much more destructive results.