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crime, for which he was liable to be arraigned and tried by a court martial. The facts, as have been before related, respecting Ambrister's conduct, were proved. The court, in the first instance, sentenced him to be shot; but on reconsideration, revoked that sentence, and ordered him to receive fifty lashes, and to be confined to hard labor, with a ball and chain, for a year. On the 29th, general Jackson approved the sentence of the court, in the case of Arbuthnot, and approved the first sentence, as he termed it, of the court in the case of Ambrister, and disapproved of their reconsideration, and ordered both the prisoners executed the same day. In passing final sentence upon Ambrister, the general remarks, as it is an established principle of the laws of nations, that any individual of a nation making war upon the citizens of another nation, forfeits his allegiance, and becomes an outlaw and pirate.”
The institution of this court, its proceedings and result, and the proceedings of the commanding general in relation to Ambrister, in annulling the final sentence of the court, and substituting, one which they never had passed, were matters of much animadversion. However the victims might have deserved their fate, and although the United States might be benefited by making them an example, this was a proper subject of consideration for the government, and not for a court martial; and it was a matter of great regret that a tribunal, established by law, for very different purposes, and having jurisdiction over the lives of American citizens, connected with the army, should be made the instrument of inflicting capital punishment upon persons,
who could, under no pretence, be considered liable to such a sentence.
Capture of Pensacola. At St. Marks, the general learned that some of the fugitive Seminoles had crossed the Apalachicola, and taken refuge in West Florida. Adopting the principle that no hostile Indian was to be tolerated in any part of the Floridas, he determined to pursue his search through that province. Having garrisoned St. Marks with two hundred men, under major Fanning, he proceeded, on the 29th, to fort Gadsden, arrived there on the 2d of May; on the 10th, crossed the Apalachicola, and after a march of twelve days, without finding an enemy, arrived on the banks of the Escambia, a short distance above Pensacola. Here the general received a spirited remonstrance from the
governor of West Florida, against his entrance into the province, and approaching the town, as a violation of the rights
of Spain, amounting to an act of direct war, and threatening to resist him with all his force. The general had learned that some fugitive Indians from the east had passed through the town, obtained some provisions there, and escaped across the bay. This circumstance, together with a disposition to show the governor that his
remonstrances were unavailing, induced him to march into Pensacola. On the 24th, he took possession without resistance, the governor and all the military force having sought refuge in the fortress of the Barancas, at the entrance of the bay, six miles below the town. On the 25th, the general invested the fort, and after a bombardment which continued, with some intermission, until the evening of the 27th, it was surrendered to the United States. The Spanish civil and military authorities, were transported to Havana ; the American flag hoisted at Pensacola and the Barancas; and the province, occupied by general Jackson's trobps. Colonel King, of the 7th-infantry, was appointed civil and military governor, and captain Gadsden, collector of the port of Pensacola. The subordinate officers were to be appointed; the revenue collected, and the laws administered under the direction of Colonel King,
The general and his troops effectually scoured the eastern part of the province. Captains M'Girt, and Boyle, of the Alabama militia, were directed to raise a company of sixty mounted men each, and complete the destruction of the In. dians in the western. Having made these arrangements, the general discharged his Tennessee volunteers, and re. turned to Nashville, leaving general Gaines in command.
Orders to take St. Augustine. On the 7th of August, he issued an order to general Gaines, that in case he could find proof that hostile Indians had been entertained, and supported by the Spanish authorities, at St. Augustine, the only remaining post in either of the Floridas, unoccu. pied by American troops, to march directly to that place. În communicating his proceedings to the war department, the general strongly recommends the retention of the Flo. ridas, and the establishment of a cordon of posts in the territory, sufficient to crush any hostile movement.
Proceedings of the executive. On receiving official intelligence of these operations, the president called a cabinet council, consisting of the secretaries of state, treasury, and war; and proposed, for their consideration, the following questions :
“ Ist. Shall Pensacola be retained, risking all consequen. ces at home and abroad?
2d. Shall the captured Spanish posts be restored, and general Jackson put on his trial before a court martial, for a breach of orders, and unofficer like conduct?
3d. Shall the posts be restored, and the acts of general Jackson disavowed, at the same time justifying the motive ?"
The council decided that the posts should be restored, re. quiring of the Spanish government, that they should be garri. soned by a force sufficient to enable them to fulfil the stipu. lations of the treaty of 1795, and that general Jackson should Bot be tried by a court martial. In pursuance of this advice, Pensacola and the Barancas were immediately restored, and St. Marks ordered to be given up whenever a Spanish force, apparently competent to its defense should appear to take possession.
Destruction of Chehawtown. During the period of these operations in the Floridas, Governor Rabun, in consequence of depredations recently committed on the Georgia frontier, by a party of Indians from the towns of Philemmes and Hoppones on the Flint river, issued an order, on the 14th of April, to Captain Obed Wright, of the Georgia militia, then stationed on that frontier by order of the governor, to destroy those towns. An order of this description implies, that all the fighting Indians that can be found, should be slain, property of every description carried off or destroyed, the houses burned, and the non-combatants driven into exile. Unfortunately, Captain Wright, on his march was informed that the chiefs of the offending towns were at the Chehaw village, one of the principal towns of the M‘Intosh Indians, on the same river, fifteen miles above fort Early, whose warriors were then with General Jackson in the Florida expedition. In consequence of this information, Captain Wright directed his march to this village, and executedhis orders with exemplary severity, on its unarmed and unoffending inhabitants.
The surviving chiefs made a humble and pathetic representation of their distressed situation, to the United States agent, who immediately ordered the captured property to be restored, and assured them, in behalf of the government, that their losses should be remunerated, and the officer under whose orders it had been done, punished.
Correspondence between Jackson and Rabun. Intelligence of this event reached General Jackson on the 7th of May, on his march from St. Marks to Pensacola. He immediately wrote to Governor Rabun, stating “that it was strange and unaccountable that a governor of a state should assume the right of making war upon an Indian tribe, at perfect peace, and under the protection of the United States. You, sir,” the general adds, “as a governor of a state within my military division, have no right to give a military order while I am in the field. Captain Wright must be prosecuted and punished for this outrageous murder, and I have ordered him arrested and confined in irons, until the pleasure of the president of the United States shall be known upon the subject.”
The governor, in reply, remarks, “Had you, sir, been in possession of the facts which produced the order, it is to be presumed you would not have indulged in a strain so indecorous and unbecoming. Wretched and contemptible, in. deed, must be our situation, if it be a fact, as you state, that a governor of a state has no right to give a military order while you are in the field: when the liberties of the people of Georgia shall have been prostrated at the feet of a military despotism, then, and not till then, will your imperious doctrine be submitted to. You may rest assured, that if the savages continue their depredations on our unprotected frontier, I shall think and act for myself in this respect. You demand that Captain Wright be delivered to Major Davis in irons. If you,sir,are unacquainted with the fact, I beg leave to inform you that Captain Wright was not under your command. He having violated his orders in destroying the Che. haw village instead of the Hippones and Philemmes towns, I had, previous to receiving your demand, ordered him to be arrested; but before he was apprehended agreeable to my orders, he was taken by your agent, and afterwards liberated by the civil authority. I have since had him arrested and confined, and shall communicate the whole transaction to the president of the United States for his decision, together with a copy of your letter.”
General Jackson replied, advising the governor to study the laws of his country, before he entered the lists of controversy with him on the subject of their relative powers and duties. The governor reciprocated this advice, by recommending to the general to examine the orders of his superiors with more attention than was usual for him, before he undertook to prosecute another campaign. This terminated their correspondence upon the subject. Captain Wright was seized and put in close confinement by Major Davis, under an order from General Jackson; and liberated by the civil authorities of Georgia, by a habeas corpus, on the ground, that that general had no right to imprison one of their citizens who was not in the military service under his command. Governor Rabun, on the 29th of May, as captain general of the Georgia militia, under whose orders Captain Wright acted, caused him to be arrested and held in confinement, subject to such order as the president of the United States should give upon the subject. The president directed his trial before the circuit court for murder, and a warrant issued to the marshal to him into custody; Captain Wright, in the mean time, broke his parol, fled, and avoided a trial.
Views of the Seminole war. The incidents of this Se. minole Indian hunt, which has been dignified with the name of war, in a military point of view, are of very
little consequence, and unworthy of a minute detail in a general history of the times. It eventuated in the slaughter of about sixty hostile Indians and negroes, with the loss of twenty of the M'Intosh party. No white man was slain in the expedition. Seven hundred huts were destroyed, and their miserable and deluded inhabitants driven into exile. Two Indian chiefs, not taken in arms, but decoyed by stratagem on board an American vessel, were hung without ceremony or trial. Two English renegadoes suffered death by a military execution: the Floridas cleared of hostile savages, the Spanish authorities transported to Cuba, and the territory seized, and put under the military occupation of the United States. The peculiar characteristics of this war rendered it a subject of deep interest. On the one hand, the United States received great and essential benefits. The very extensive and exposed southern frontier was rendered secure from Indian depredations. The .exemplary severity exercised upon the savages and their anprincipled advisers, were well calculated to strike terror upon tribes remote from the scene of action, and to deter savage whites from associating with Indians for the purpose of plunder and devastation.
But these advantages were purchased by a sacrifice of principle, which Americans hold too dear to be bartered for any such objects. They have a constitution, framed with great circumspection, to guard their rights from the encroachments of power. Every violation weakens its au. thority, and affords a precedent which may be perverted to the worst purposes. The danger increases in proportion to the high standing and popularity of the person by whom it is transgressed; and
much greater wh done by a military than a civil officer. Pretenses of necessity, and an osa tentatious zeal for the public good, are never wanting to jus,