Attack on Fort McHenry - Jackson takes Pensacola

The attack on Fort McHenry is also known as the Battle of Baltimore.  The battle was actually a combined sea/land campaign fought between British and American forces, September 12–15, 1814, during the War of 1812. 

Under the commands of  Maryland Militia Major General Samuel Smith, Brigadier General John Stricker, and Fort Henry Commander George Armistead,  US forces repulsed sea and land invasions in and around the important port of Baltimore, Maryland.  Although the British forces defeated the Americans at North Point, their very able campaign commander, Major General Robert Ross, was killed by Maryland sharpshooters.  

In the harbor, Commander George Armistead's forces stood against the the British Naval bombardment that hurled over 1500 canon balls at Fort McHenry. They naval action inspired Francis Scott Key to compose the poem "Defence of Fort McHenry," which later became the United States National Anthem.

A VIEW of the BOMBARDMENT of Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, by the British fleet taken from the Observatory under the Command of Admirals Cochrane & Cockburn on the morning of the 13th of Sept 1814 which lasted 24 hours & thrown from 1500 to 1800 shells in the Night attempted to land by forcing a passage up the ferry branch but were repulsed with great loss.
By Charles Jared Ingersoll

Constantinople and St. Petersburg give metropolitan tone to the vast empires of Turkey and Russia, seldom troubled with provincial dissidence or popular independence. Everything governmental and national is the work of an event in the capital, acknowledged without hesitation by all the rest of the country, while persons distant rise in the morning and go to bed at night as has been determined in the chief city. Paris and Vienna have in like manner governed France and Germany. Reasoning from such European premises, the British captors of Washington were not to be persuaded that they did not infer the submission of the United States. Mr. Francis Key, who went on board the British fleet concerning the liberation of a prisoner, and was detained in it till after the attack on Baltimore, could not convince the commanders that the upshot of their ephemeral triumph would not be as they flattered themselves and insisted, submission of the country, when its capital fell; as they argued, incapable of estimating the American polity, federative and free of a union not consolidated, hardly centralized, resting on the transcendental basis of sovereign States and local independence. 

Confident that their seizure of a weak head must paralyze by sympathetic panic the vigorous limbs, when they had hardly wounded and only provoked the whole body to fierce resistance, the defeat of their next attempt, which the British official accounts termed demonstration on Baltimore, signal and complete by land and water, simultaneously with that of their naval and military discomfiture at Plattsburg, was the beginning of a series of disasters providentially punishing their iniquitous prolongation of hostilities. Reasons for attacking Washington and Baltimore were stated in a London paper to be, pursuant to Cochrane's letter, that
"if any towns are to suffer, they should be the objects, in order to crush a large body of privateer shipping in Baltimore, and in Washington to destroy a pretty well supplied arsenal, and thus prevent Congress meeting there again, an event much and generally wished for by the people of New York, Philadelphia and the Eastern States. Let the arsenal and naval storehouses be blown up, and no government will bo able to get a majority in Congress to vote for their re-erection. To the assembly of the legislature at Washington, the influences of the southern legislators may be ascribed:" so argued the London press.

On the 6th of September, 1814, the whole fleet, between forty and fifty vessels of war, got under way, and stood up the Chesapeake, with more than five thousand soldiers, marines, black and white, and seamen, to be landed as infantry, under Admirals Cochrane, Cockburn, Malcolm, Codrington, Captain, now Admiral Napier, and many other distinguished leaders. On the 9th, sailing by Annapolis, on the 11th, reaching the Patapsco, early in the morning of the 12th of September, 1814, they landed at North Point, while several vessels of light draft attempted to ascend the Patapsco, intending to'capture or silence Fort McHenry, ail open fortification, two miles from Baltimore,, and two other water batteries adjacent. General Ross, accompanied by Admiral Cochrane in the van, proceeded without resistance, about four miles, whenfallantly encountered by two companies of terrett's fine regiment, led by Captains Levering and Howard, and Captain Aisquith's rifle company, composing an advance, detached under Major Richard Heath, accompanied as a volunteer by Robert Goodloe Harper, long one of the most distinguished members of Congress, bringing on what was called the battle of North Point by fortunately killing General Ross. Soon overwhelmed by superior numbers, our advance was driven back on their main body, the Baltimore brigade, rather more than three thousand men, commanded by General John Strieker, with whom served three companies of Pennsylvania volunteers under Captains Spangler, Metegar and Dixon, and a company of Maryland volunteers under Captain Qu an till, the whole led by Colonels Sterrett, McDonald, Long, Fowler, and Amey, with Pinkney's rifle battalion under Captain Dyer, some cavalry, commanded by Colonel Biays, and six four-pounders, managed by Captain Montgomery. 

These troops were well posted by General Strieker, and fifteen hundred of them, the only portion actually engaged, for more than an hour bravely withstood the British onset. "We were drawing near," says the English narrative, "the scene of action, when another officer came at full speed towards us, with horror and dismay in his countenance, and calling aloud for a surgeon. Every man felt within himself that all was not right, though none was willing to believe the whispers of his own terror. But what at first we could not guess at, because we dreaded it so much, was soon realized ; for the aid-de-camp had scarcely passed, when the General's horse, without its rider, and with the saddle and housings stained with blood, came plunging onwards. Nor was much time given for fearful surmise as to the extent of our misfortune. In a few minutes we reached the ground where the skirmishing had taken place, and behold poor Ross laid by the side of the road, under a canopy of blankets, and apparently in the agonies of death. As soon as the firing began, he had ridden to the front, that he might ascertain from whence it originated, and mingling with the skirmishers, was shot in the side by a rifleman. The wound was mortal; he fell into the arms of his aid-de-camp, and lived only long enough to name his wife, and to commend his family to the protection of his country. He was removed towards the fleet, and expired before his bearers could reach the boats." 

By this death the command of the British army devolved on Colonel Brooke, whose well composed official report of their speedy and clandestine abandonment of the attempt on Baltimore, attributes it to the failure of the naval attack on Fort McHenry. But the fact was that, discouraged by Ross's death, the promptitude of Heath's assault, and the bravery of Strieker's contest, the enemy were still more disconcerted when they discovered the preparations made by General Samuel Smith for the defence of Baltimore. During more than an hour the battle of North Point was well contested by but fifteen hundred of the Baltimore volunteers against superior numbers of veteran regular troops. The misconduct of one regiment, Colonel Amey's, caused some confusion, and forced General Strieker to yield the field of battle. But most of his inexperienced troops, especially the 5th and 27th regiments, (the latter well trained by Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel Moore,) behaved with a spirit to redeem the dishonor of Bladensburg. 

The British, who lost more than officially reported, confessed thirty-nine killed and two hundred and twenty-nine wounded, while our loss was twenty-one killed and a hundred and thirty-nine wounded, and fifty taken; the most distinguished of our slain, James Lowry Donaldson, a city member of the State legislature, who fell bravely animating the 27th regiment, of which he was adjutant, to manly com-, bat, and Lieutenant Andre. General Strieker took his first position, maintained it, and fell back to the second, with such spirit that Brooke did not venture to pursue. About the time of Strieker's last stand, he was joined by General Winder with General Douglas' brigade of Virginia militia, and Captain Burd's troop of regular cavalry. The Maryland brigades of Generals Stansbury and Foreman, the seamen and marines under Commodore Rodgers, the Pennsylvania volunteers under Colonels Cobean and Findley, the Baltimore artillery under Colonel Harris, and the marine artillery under Captain Stiles, manned the trenches and batteries, at which they remained all night under arms, ready for any assault the enemy might undertake. Sleeping on the battle-ground, Colonel Brooke next day approached Baltimore, whose defences he closely reconnoitered and found bristling with cannon fortifying the hills, manned by not loss than twelve thousand men, whom he showed no disposition to attack, well prepared and resolved as they were to vindicate their firesides by repulsing, capturing or destroying their invaders, who escaped by nocturnal flight.

Arrangements were made to cut off Brooke's retreat by General Winder, with General Douglas's Virginia brigade and some regular troops; but Brooke precipitately made his escape under cover of night, and uncomfortable weather, to the shipping, leaving a few prisoners in our hands.

A grand but shy attack was made by the fleet on Fort McHenry, on the 13th. Formed in a half circle in front of it, but keeping out of range of its batteries, bomb and other vessels fired, during that day and night, eighteen hundred bomb-shells, with multitudes of round shot and rockets, not less altogether than one hundred and sixty tons of iron engines of destruction, with no effect of intimidation or success, and without much destruction, owing to the distance at which the masters of the seas kept from the well known gunnery of the Americans. 

Major Armistead, of the artillery, who commanded Fort McHenry, with his comrades there, were a target for British practice, for the fort returned but few shots, when they found that they fell short of the enemy. Many of the British bombs weighed two hundred and twenty pounds; the uproar of whose reverberations was as terrific as the spectacle of night cannonade was imposing. After firing these missiles into the fort from six in the morning till three in the afternoon, Cochrane moved some of his vessels nearer, and their shot hailed fire on the defendants. But in very few moments, as soon as Armistead's guns reposted within a distance which brought them into contact with their assailants, the latter slipped their cables, hoisted their sails, and fell back beyond the range of our largest guns. 

About midnight, screened by total darkness and lighted by the flame of their own artillery, a few bomb vessels and rocket boats, with a large squadron of barges, manned by twelve hundred men, pushed up the cove beyond Fort McHenry, to assail it in the rear, effect a landing, and try the city; with loud cheers moving on, and flattering themselves that success awaited their last effort, on which the British admiral confidently relied. Fatigue, want of rest and comfort, bad weather and exposure, unprotected by good works from the enemy's fire, without the excitement of returning it, as they were beyond reach of ours, tried the fortitude of the mixed garrison of Fort McHenry. Three companies of Baltimore artillery, commanded by Captains Berry, Judge Nicholson and Lieutenant Pennington, parts of the thirty-sixth and thirty-eighth regiments of United States infantry, under Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart, with Major Lane, of the fourteenth United States regiment, serving as a volunteer, composed Major Armistead's force in the fort: of whom the clumsy gunnery of the British shipping killed but four, among whom were two respectable merchants, Lieutenant Claggett and Sergeant Clemm; wounding only twenty. Two American ship-masters, prisoners on board the frigate Menelaus during the attack, stated, when afterwards liberated, as told to them by British officers, that the attempt was made by eighty boats, carrying each twenty-five men, and defeated with a loss of between four and five hundred. The several water batteries, not only Fort McHenry but Fort Covington, where Commodore Rodgers was stationed with his sailors, and Lieutenant Newcomb of the navy, and the flotilla men from the city battery, under Lieutenant Webster, as well as that of the Lazaretto, deluged the assailants with such torrents of hot snot, as not merely to repulse, but, with great loss, quickly drive them back to their original anchorage out of reach. Baltimore, shaken to its foundations by these tremendous explosions, stood firm in spirit: and it was during the striking concussions of that night conflict, that the song of the "Star-spangled Banner" was composed in the admiral's ship.

Soon after the morning attack on Fort McHenry began, Brooke led his forces within a mile of Baltimore, skilfully followed, however, and judiciously threatened by Winder. The British commander concentrated his force ostensibly for storming the town that night. General Smith, perfectly prepared for it, posted Winder and Strieker so advantageously for attacking Brooke next morning, that, together with the night failure on the water fortifications, the British decamped, about midnight, with great precipitation, favored by total darkness, heavy ram, and the exhausted condition of the Americans, who, during the three days and nights' campaign, had suffered from fatigue, inclement weather and want of rest. The bomb vessels and barges which passed beyond Fort McHenry, after losing many men and suffering considerable damage, saved from annihilation by the total darkness, retreated to their distant positions, out of' reach of shot, whence they kept up the ineffectual bombardment till six o'clock next morning, when they, like the army, drew off, both worsted and convinced of the much greater probability of their own capture or destruction, than that of Baltimore. 

After the army had effected its escape, the cannonade of Fort McHenry ceased, at six o'clock, on the morning of the 14th, having continued twenty-four hours. Completely foiled by water and land, the invaders officially apologized for their retreat, by stating that, as the river did not admit of near approach to the fort, storming the city, without first taking Fort McIIenry, might liave cost more than it would come to. British admirals and colonels, therefore, withdrew from that last hostile demonstration of the mistress of the sea in the Avaters of the Chesapeake, with the sorry consolation of what Admiral Cochrane's dispatch to Secretary Croker recapitulated as the fruits of the abortion, 
"the burning of an extensive rope-walk and other public erections, causing their inhabitants to remove their property from the city, above all, the collecting and harrassing them around from the surrounding country, producing a total stagnation of their commerce, and heaping upon them considerable expenses, at the same time effectually drawing off their attention and support from other important quarters." 

On the last day of October, 1814, an officer, with a boat's crew from the British sloop -of- war Saracen, landed at the 1 garden of St. Inigoe's, the manor-house of a Roman Catholic establishment, near the mouth of the Potomac, built, in 1705, of bricks brought from England, rifled the chapel, the tabernacle and sacred ornaments of the altar, stole the beds, clock, knives, forks, plate, glass, the missionary's watch, the books, medicines, the clothes hung out to dry and from the wash-tubs. On the 18th November, 1814, Captain Alexander Dixie, commander of the Saracen, sent an officer with a flag of truce, and letter addressed to the clergyman belonging to the chapel at St. Inigoe's, and the other residents there, acknowledging the robbery from the house and chapel, declaring the proceeding unauthorized, and restoring some of the articles taken, "hoping this justice will efface prejudicial sentiments towards the British:" — rare confession and poor atonement for the common rapine practiced by the British navy in the waters of the Chesapeake. 

On the same day. Captain Burd, accompanied by Colonel John Francis Mercer, a respectable gentleman of Maryland, and Mr.John Nelson, at the head of Burd's troop of United States dragoons, surprised by a dashing charge and overcame a much superior number of some three hundred British seamen and marines, on the shore near Snowden's, on the Chesapeake Bay. After ineffectually discharging their muskets in their usual way, the seamen, terrified by the horses close upon them, dispersed and fled, and would have been all taken, but that the riding-master of the troop, a Scotsman named Craig, who was a deserter from the British, became frightened and called out to retreat, which Captain Burd, who was wounded, in vain strove to prevent. Craig's fear was that, if taken, he would be executed as a deserter, and his voice with the troop proved irresistible by its commander, whose conduct on the occasion was exceedingly gallant. 

Mr. Mercer charged with his riding-whip in his hand. In these frequent little contests the military spirit of the country was educated, while the piratical mischief of the enemy roused it everywhere to indignant resistance. To this hour, all along the shores of the Chesapeake to the ocean, British barbarity continues to be borne in mind, and among that portion of the people then charged by political opponents with British attachments, the memory of their brutalities is fresh. Any one of whom there remains the least tradition of omission to resist them, and much more, of affording them aid or succor, is despised to the third generation. These sentiments grow stronger nearer the ocean, and the primitive people of Accomac, Virginian by State allegiance, Marylanders in locality, Avere remarkable for strenuous warfare, while represented in Congress, in 1814, by Thomas W. Bayley, whose son, of the same name, now represents that district. 

Among the volunteers from Pennsylvania, repairing in masses and great numbers to be organized, armed, equipped, and disciplined for the rescue of Baltimore, was Mr. James Buchanan, the present (1848) Secretary of State of the United States. Like Mr. Harper, a federalist, condemning the war, Mr. Buchanan was among the young men of Lancaster, where he lived,to volunteer to fight for it; and as a private dragoon in the troop of Captain, afterwards Judge, Henry Shippen, hastened to the scene of action. Without commissions or orders, those citizens of a neighbor State flocked to the post of danger, and organized themselves into regiments with the ardor which has often surpassed enlisted, and more orderly embodiment, chose their own officers, and throughout their brief service faced danger Avith a constancy which neither discipline nor pay can always produce. The present Secretary of State mounted guard, at one time, a stalwart sentinel, with naked sabre in his hand, at the door of General Smith. 

As before stated in the Bladensburg narrative, that fine national anthem, "Star-Spangled Banner," was a stroke of lyrical genius, by another federal gentleman, from the Baltimore conflict. Among the British prisoners at Bladensburg was a Sergeant Hutchinson, of the sappers and miners, an intelligent young man, grateful for the kindness and attention which he and his wounded companions received when left behind at Ross's departure from Washington. A respectable physician of Marlborough, Dr. Beans, with some of his servants, having captured some English stragglers on the retreat of the British army; when informed of it, a detachment was sent back to retaliate by capturing him and take him on board their shipping as a prisoner, to be sent to Bermuda. Mr. Francis Key went with a flag of truce on board the British fleet to solicit Dr. Beans' release, provided with letters from Sergeant Hutchinson and other British prisoners, strongly representing the humane treatment they had all enjoyed, and Gen. Ross, with characteristic generosity, restored Dr. Beans, at Mr. Key's solicitation. But as the fleet was then about proceeding to attack Baltimore, Mr. Key was detained till after that event. Taken with the British to the mouth of the Patapsco, his little vessel was kept under the guns of a frigate during the bombardment, watching the shells and listening to the cannonade, which the admiral boasted would soon reduce the fort and the city to surrender. 

All day Mr. Key watched the American flag on the fort; and when the wet, gloomy, and terrible night rendered the star-spangled banner invisible, the bomb-shells were Mr. Key's signs till daylight once more revealed the flag of his country, proudly waving defiance to the discomfited enemy. Under these circumstances he composed the stanzas which have become a national anthem.

KEY, Francis Scott, author, born in Frederick county, Md., 1 Aug., 1780 died in Baltimore, Md., 11 Jan., 1843, was the son of John Ross Key, a Revolutionary officer. He was educated at St. John's college, studied law in the office of his uncle, Philip Barton Key, and began to practice law in Frederick City, Md., but subsequently removed to Washington, where he was district attorney for the District of Columbia. When the British invaded Washington in 1814, Ross and Cockburn with their staff officers made their headquarters in Upper Marlboro, Md., at the residence of a planter, Dr. William Beanes, whom they subsequently seized as a prisoner. Upon hearing of his friend's capture, Key resolved to release him, and was aided by President Madison, who ordered that a vessel that had been used as a cartel should be placed at his service, and that John S. Skinner, agent for the exchange of prisoners, should accompany him. Gen. Ross finally consented to Dr. Beanes's release, but said that the party must be detained during the attack on Baltimore. Key and Skinner were transferred to the frigate "Surprise," commanded by the admiral's son, Sir Thomas Cockburn, and soon afterward returned under guard of British sailors to their own vessel, whence they witnessed the engagement. Owing to their position the flag at Fort McHenry was distinctly seen through the night by the glare of the battle, but before dawn the firing ceased, and the prisoners anxiously watched to see which colors floated on the ram­parts. Key's feelings when he found that the stars and stripes had not been hauled down found expression in "The Star-Spangled Banner," which gained for him a lasting reputation. On arriving in Baltimore he finished the lines which he had hastily written on the back of a letter, and gave them to Capt. Benjamin Eades, of the 27th Baltimore regiment, who had participated in the battle of North Point. Seizing a copy from the press, Eades hastened to the old tavern next to the Holliday Street Theatre, where the actors were accustomed to assemble. Mr. Key had directed Eades to print above the poem the direction that it was to be sung to the air "Anacreon in Heaven." The verses were first read aloud by the printer, and then, on being appealed to by the crowd, Ferdinand Durang mounted a chair and sang them for the first time. In a short period they were familiar throughout the United States. A collection of Key's poems was published with an introductory letter by Roger B. Taney (New York, 1857). James Lick bequeathed the sum of 860,000 for a monument to Key, to be placed in Golden Gate park, San Francisco, Cal., and it was executed by William W. Story in Rome in 1885-'7. The height of this monument is fifty-one feet. It consists of a double arch, under which a bronze figure of Key is seated. It is surmounted by a bronze statue of America with an unfolded flag. The material is travertine, a calcareous stone of a reddish yellow hue, extremely porous, but of great durability.

The Star-Spangled Banner

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner!  Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto:  "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

General Samuel Smith, who, as major general of the Maryland militia, ably commanded at Baltimore, was an opulent merchant, for thirty years member of Congress, in both branches, and from the time of the Revolution had been prominent in American annals. As commander of Fort Mifflin, then Mud Fort, in the war of the Revolution, he was distinguished for its courageous and successful defense against an English water attack; on which occasion his lieutenant, Plunkett, a Baltimore merchant, who emigrated, for love of liberty, from Ireland to America, was brother of the Irish chancellor, eminent in the British House of Lords, as Lord Plunkett, for the Irish talent of eloquence, and for liberal politics. General Smith's niece became the wife of the younger brother of the Emperor Napoleon, and his daughter married the eldest son of the English Chief Justice, Sir James Mansfield. The general's son-in-law, Mr. Christopher Hughes, represented the United States, longer than any other American, at several European courts, in successful diplomatic intercourse and uncommon personal familiarity with many of the monarchs and great numbers of elevated personages, from the commencement of his valuable services in that capacity, as secretary of the American commission at Ghent. Of the republican party, General Smith was temperate and conservative in the support of its principles throughout his long public career; never hold an office by Executive appointment, or otherwise than by popular or legislative election; and at the advanced age of eighty-six years laid down, at last, his life in Baltimore, a city of a hundred thousand people, which he had inhabited when little more than a village.

Corps of letter writers, since become part of American public intelligence and influence, then did not exist: though there were occasional fabrications of that kind, one of which published in a Boston journal, reported from Baltimore, that there was "a contest there between the civil and military powers; the former are for a capitulating embassy, but the military men will not consent." A London paper, of the 17th June, stated that 
"the grand expedition preparing at Bourdeaux for America, under the gallant Lord Hill, is destined for the Chesapeake direct. Our little army in Canada will, at the same instant, be directed to make a movement in the direction of the Susquehanna; and both armies will, therefore, in all probability, meet at Washington, Philadelphia, or Baltimore. The seat of the American government, but more particularly Baltimore, is to be the immediate object of attack. In the diplomatic circles it is also rumored that our naval and military commanders on the American station have no power to conclude any armistice or suspension of arms. They carry with them certain terms, which will be offered to the American government at the point of the bayonet. The terms, of course, are not made public; but there is reason to believe that America will be left in a much worse situation, as a naval and commercial power, than she was at the commencement of the war." 
Thus infatuated were London and Boston, when Baltimore repelled the menaces, contrivances, and expectations, regarded, no doubt, with unmanly fear by some of the inhabitants of the Atlantic seaports, countenanced by disaffection, but indignantly and strenuously repelled by nearly the whole Union, and crushed forever in the newest, weakest, and least Americanized part of it—Louisiana. The invading British army, from Canada, was chased from Plattsburg at the same moment that the army from France was driven from Baltimore, and the third and greater division, striking at New Orleans, was demolished there with still more impressive overthrow.

Andrew Jackson takes Pensacola
On November 7–9, 1814, the Battle of Pensacola was waged by American forces, led by Andrew Jackson, against against British and Spanish forces controlling the city of Pensacola in Spanish Florida. The British abandoned the city and it was surrendered to Jackson by the Spanish.

At dawn, on November 7th, Jackson and his 3,000 troops flanked Pensacola from the east to avoid the forts' batteries and marched along the beachfront. Slowed by the sandy beach, due to the artillery, the delayed attack met a mild resistance in the center of town by a line of infantry supported by a battery. After a valiant charge routing the enemy, Spanish Governor Manrique appeared with a white flag and agreed to an unconditional surrender if General Jackson would spare the town. Fort San Miguel was also surrendered on that day. 

The British troops fled to Fort San Carlos, 14 miles to the west, to regroup with their comrades holding the fort. The following day, the British blew-up the Fort and sailed west to prepare for a campaign against New Orleans. The Battle of Pensacola casualties and losses were 7 Americans killed and 11 wounded with the enemy reporting 5 killed and 12 wounded.

Fort San Miguel was built as British Fort George at Pensacola,  in 1778 atop Gage Hill. The fort was the largest of a trio of fortifications on the hill, along with the Queen's Redoubt and the Prince of Wales Redoubt. It was surrendered to Spanish forces under Bernardo de Gálvez in the 1781 Siege of Pensacola and renamed Fort San Miguel.

Battle of Pensacola
By Virginia Frances Townsend

On November 3, 1814, General Jackson set out for the old Spanish town of Pensacola, with its fine harbor, on the Gulf of Mexico. He had three thousand troops. They carried no baggage. Three days later they halted within a mile and a half of the town. Jackson had acted without orders from his government. But he evidently did not entertain a doubt that it would sustain him.

In his first message to the Governor, he disavowed any hostile intent on Spanish subjects or Spanish property. His aim, he declared, was directed solely against the enemies of the United States. These, the British and their Indian allies, were sheltered in the forts. He therefore demanded their surrender, "but he also pledged his honor to restore the forts as soon as the danger was over."

This unparalleled challenge to a foreign power with which the United States was at peace, received at first no reply. Maurequez, the Spanish governor, was simply thunderstruck by its audacity. His sympathies, no doubt, were with the British and the savages. But the enemy, strong in numbers, and flushed with recent victory, was at his gates. He consulted with his officers. At last he brought himself to the point of replying, "Governor Maurequez could not accede to General Jackson's request."

The night was far advanced when the messenger returned with this answer.

"Turn out the troops." That was all General Jackson's comment.

Wild consternation filled the old Spanish town of Pensacola on the morning of November 7, 1814. The American forces had stormed the place; they had entered the town; they had already carried two batteries, when the distracted Governor, throwing to the winds all his stately old Spanish dignity, rushed into the streets bearing a white flag.

A little later the Governor and the General stood face to face. The town was at the mercy of the latter, and the Spaniard had to agree to the terms of the imperious American. He engaged that the forts should be surrendered.

All this time seven British men-of-war lay in the bay. But the Americans had entered the town by a route least exposed to a cannonade.

Though the town was Jackson's by the end of that brief autumn day, there was naturally some delay in surrendering the forts.

During the night a frightful explosion aroused the inhabitants of Pensacola. When the morning broke Fort Barrancas was a heap of ruins, and the British fleet had disappeared from the harbor.

Andrew Jackson had won his second victory!

There was no time to waste at Pensacola. The army returned to Mobile without the loss of a single man. But Jackson was bitterly disappointed at the escape of the fleet, which he feared might sail for Mobile. It never seems to have entered his mind that his unwarrantable proceedings on foreign territory could possibly be disavowed by his government or be questioned by a single American.


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