« ZurückWeiter »
Spanish duties paid. The general, however, without obtaining the governor's assent, or complying with his terms, sent on his provisions, which were suffered to pass without interruption.
Relative condition of the forces. On the first appearance of an Indian war in the south, General M'Intosh, a half breed, and chief of the upper Creeks, had been taken into the United States' service, with fifteen hundred warriors. The whole force now arrayed against the Seminoles, consisted of 800 regulars, 1000 Georgia militia, 1000 Tennesee
volunteers, and 1500 Indians, composing a formidable army ! of 4300 men. The enemy to be combated, consisted of a few hundred fugitive Indians and negroes, hid in the swamps and wilds of the Floridas, with no means of raising or subsisting a military force of any magnitude.
Destruction of the Mickasuky villages. General Jackson, having made the necessary arrangements at fort Gadsden, set out on the 26th of March, in quest of his enemy. On the 1st of April, near the Mickasuky villages, he was joined by the main body of the Tennessee volunteers, who, hearing of the starving condition of the garrisons at fort Gaines and fort Scott, took a circuitous route through Georgia, to obtain subsistence. A small distance from the principal village, one of his spy companies had a short conflict with a few Indians, who fled at the approach of the flanks. The army found the villages all deserted. The habitations, amounting to three hundred, were burned; the adjacent country reconnoitered, and an abundant supply of corn and cattle obtained. Evident indications of a hostile spirit towards the Americans, were found at these villages. In the council house of the Kenhagwa's town, belonging to the king of the Mickasukians, were more than fifty fresh scalps; and in the centre of the public square, stood the old Red-stick standard, a red pole strung with scalps, recognized from the hair, to have been taken from the heads of the unfortunate companions of Lieutenant Scott.
Leaving M·Intosh and a portion of his warriors to scour the country, and hunt the straggling Seminoles in the neighborhood of Mickasuky, the general took up his line of march for fort St. Marks, a small Spanish post at the mouth of a river of the same name, at the head of the Apalachy bay. Capt. M.Keever, who brought the supplies from New Orleans, with Col. Gibson, had been sent round into this bay, with orders to cruise near the mouth of the river, to take
any Indians who might be endeavoring to escape in that direction. By hoisting an English flag he succeeded in decoying on board, two chiefs, Francis Hillishago, who had been to England to solicit aid for the dispossessed Creeks, and who was the principal instigator of this war; and Hornottlemied, an old Red-stick chief, who commanded the party which massacred Lieutenant Scott and his companions.
Capture of St. Marks. At St. Marks, General Jackson. found a feeble Spanish garrison, but no enemy. He demanded of the commandant, that the fortress should be occupied by the American troops ; while the latter was deliberating on this demand, and requesting time to communic te with his superior, the general entered the fort, hoisted the American flag, and shipped the Spanish authorities and troops to Pensacola.
Arbuthnot. Near St. Marks he found Alexander Arbuth. not, a Scotch trader from New Providence, who was carrying on an extensive intercourse with the Indians and negroes of East Florida. He had a store at the Sawaney villages, and was the owner of a small schooner, with which he carried on his trade between that place and the Bahamas. At this time, he had left his store and vessel in charge of his son, and came to St. Marks on the business of his occupation. The general seized Arbuthnot, and put him in close confinement; hung the two Indian chiefs taken on board M.Keever's vessel ; left a small garrison in the fort; and on the 9th of April, marched for Bow-legs town, and the ne. gro settlements on the Sawaney river.
Sawaney settlements. These were 107 miles in an easterly direction from St. Marks ; and were the principal rendezvous of the parties, committing depredations on the Georgia frontier. On the 10th he was joined by the rear of the Tennessee volunteers, and M·Intosh's party. On the 16th a reconnoitering party of six mounted Indians was discovered, who immediately fled to the towns, and gave the alarm. The American troops arrived at sunset, killed eleven Indians and negroes, and took two prisoners. The next day the towns were destroyed; a considerable quantity of corn and cattle secured, and the adjacent country traversed in pursuit of stragglers. Arbuthnot's schooner was captured at the mouth of the Sawaney river, and employed to transp. rt the sic and baggage of the army, to St Marks. On the 18th, General Jackson made prisoner of Robert C. Ambrister, late a lieutenant of marines in the British service, under Nicolls.
Return to St. Marks. The proceedings at Sawaney, the general considers as having terminated the Seminole war ; which, as he states, had been rather a war of movements than of battles. The overwhelming force called into service upon this occasion, precluded the necessity of fighting; the enemy thought of nothing but securing their safety by flight. The Georgia militia and M·Intosh Indians were discharged; and on the 21st of April, the general, with the regular troops and Tennessee volunteers, commenced his return to St. Marks, and reached that place on the 25th, having performed a march of 107 miles, through the wilderness and swamps of East Florida, in five days.
Ambrister. The next object was the disposition of the prisoners, Arbuthnot and Ambrister. The nature and magnitude of their offences against the United States, appears from the following relation. In-June, 1817, Arbuthnot had obtained a power of attorney from twelve Seminole chiefs, in very general terms, authorizing him to act in the affairs of their nation, as he thought proper. He had represented to the Red-sticks, or fugitive Creeks, and induced them to believe, that they would be supported by the British government, in a war with the United States, for the recovery of their lands. He had written to the British ministry, to their ambassador at Washington, and to the governor general of the Bahamas, soliciting assistance for this object. In his capacity of trader, he had sold the Indians powder and ball, which might be applied to the purposes of war, as well as of hunting. He had induced the Indians to make prisoners of Hambly and Doyle, two Spaniards, settled on the Apalachicola, friendly to the Americans, by representing that they were instrumental in bringing upon them the forces of the United States. While the army was on its march from Mickasuky to St. Marks, Arbuthnot being at the latter place, wrote a letter to his son, advising him of its approach, and that it was probably destined for Sawaney ; and directing him to take the measures necessary to secure his property ; to give information to the inhabitants, and advise them by no means to attempt to fight the Americans, but to save themselves by an immediate flight. In January, 1818, he wrote a letter to Governor Mitchel, American agent for the Indians in the southern department, endeavoring to avert the impending war, claiming that the Indians were not the aggressors, and praying that the excesses of which they had been guilty, might be overlooked, as the effects of an indignant spirit against an invading foe. Governor Mitchel
was so far convinced of the truth of these representations, that in his testimony in answer to an inquiry from the committee of the Senate, as to the causes of the Seminole war, he stated, that previous to the attack of Fowltown, aggressions were as frequent on the part of the whites, as of the Indians; and that that attack, in his opinion, was the immediate cause of the war.
Robert C. Ambrister was a young man man of twentyone, who had borne a lieutenant's commission in the Bri. tish service, under Nicolls and Woodbine, and had remained in the Floridas as a kind of successor and agent to them. He had resided a considerable time at Sawaney, and pursued the same general system of measures in relation to the negroes and Indians as Arbuthnot had done, though not to the same extent, or in concert with him. When the alarm was given of the approach of the American troops, he put himself at the head of what Indians and negroes he could rally, broke open Arbuthnot's store, and distributed its contents, among which were some powder and ball, to his followers, and attempted to organize a party to go out and fight the Americans. Except in this attempt, in which he entirely failed, neither of the prisoners had borne arms, or committed any hostility, against the United States.
Principles of warfare with Indians. Notwithstanding the manner in which the Indians carry on their wars, by an indiscriminate murder of all who fall within their reach, authorizes any mode of retaliation which their enemy may think proper to pursue; the United States, in their hostilities with them, have never carried the principle any further than to destroy their habitations and means of subsistence, and in this manner intimidating them, and compelling them to retire at such distances from the frontier, as that they would be unable to renew their ravages. Death or corporal punishment in any shape had never been inflicted on a prisoner, with the consent of the government. A foreigner, taken in arms, is justly considered in the same light as an enemy with whom he is associated. Admitting that Arbuthnot and Ambrister, by their conduct, though neither of them were taken in arms, deserved the same treatment as the savages with whom they had connected themselves, there was no pretence for considering them in any more unfavorable light, or taking their lives, upon any principle of civilized or savage warfare. After the Indians and negroes were completely subdued, and not an enemy was to be found in arms in the Floridas, it remained a question exclusively for government to determine, in what manner these two Englishmen were to be disposed of. The commanding general, however, did not think it necessary to trouble either congress or the executive with any questions on this subject.
Court martial.. On the 26th of April he detailed a court martial, consisting of General Gaines as president, and six officers of the regular troops, and an equal number of Tennessee volunteers, as members, with orders to meet at twelve o'clock on the same day, " for the purpose of investigating the charges exhibited against Arbuthnot and Ambrister, and such others, similarly situated, as might be brought before them, and to give their opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the prisoners, and what punishment, if any, should be inflicted."
Trial of Arbuthnot. The charges preferred against Arbuthnot, were,
1st. “Exciting and stirring up the Creek Indians to war against the United States, he being a subject of Great Britain, with whom they were at peace:
2d. Acting as a spy, aiding, abetting, and comforting the enemy, and supplying them with the means of war: And,
3d. Exciting the Indians to murder and destroy William Hambly and Edmund Doyle, and causing their arrest with a view to their condemnation to death, and the seizure of their property, on account of their active and zealous exertions to maintain peace between Spain and the United States, they being citizens of the Spanish government.”.
The facts with regard to Arbuthnot's connection and intercourse with the Indians, as before related, were proved. Hambly was admitted to testify what the Indians told him in relation to the prisoner's conduct; and Ambrister was rejected as a witness, on the ground that he was under arrest for similar charges.
The court decided, that the third charge was not within their jurisdiction; that the first and second were proved except acting as a spy, and sentenced the prisoner to be hanged.
Trial of Ambrister. On the 27th the court proceeded to the trial of Ambrister, on the following charges :
“1st. Aiding, abetting, and comforting the enemy, and supplying them with the means of war. And,
2d. Leading and commanding the lower Creeks, in car(rying on a war against the United States."
To the first charge, the prisoner pleaded not guilty. On the second, he admitted the fact, but denied that it was a