Jackson at Pensacola
Andrew Jackson

Chekesaw Nation Treaty Ground
Octr 5th 1818.

Dr Sir

I know you will be astonished at receiving an answer to your very friendly letter of the 22d July last at this distant day and from this place. Your letter came to hand by due course of mail, but found me sick in bed - that I could not comply with your request or my own wishes by giving it a speedy answer. It was some time before I recovered so as to use a pen, and when I did, I found myself surrounded by letters and communications relative to my official duties that occupied my whole time that I was able to attend to business untill the arrival of Governor Shelby of Kentucky with whom I was joined in commission to hold a treaty with this nation of a surrender of their right to all lands within the states of Tennessee and Kentucky. We arrived here on the 29th ult. and found everything wrong: an agent unacquainted with Indians, the geography of the country, or even what was the wishes of the government, and not half the nation notified of the time or place of meeting. Runners have gone to all parts of the nation to collect them: we are waiting their arrival and I am thereby afforded a leisure moment to answer your friendly letter.

It affords me much pleasure to see the polite attention of the eastern people towards you. This shows a spirit of harmony towards the southern and western people that I hope will grow into permanent harmony between the two interests, and that violence of party spirit and bickering will cease to exist in our happy country.

On the subject of my taking Pensacola I regret that the Government had not furnished you with a copy of my report from Fts Gadsden and Montgomery. This would have given you a full view of the whole ground. Your are advised of the situation of our southern frontier when I was ordered to take the field and put a speedy end to the conflict with the Seminoles, &c, &c. Our frontier when I reached it was reeking with the blood of our women and children and the massacre of Lt. Scott. When I reached Ft. Scott I found it out of supplies and no alternative left me but to abandon the campaign, or to force my way to the bay of Appalachicola and risque meeting supplies I had ordered from N. Orleans. I chose the latter - and succeeded. Having obtained eight days rations for my men I immediately marched on Muckasookey, where the strength of the enemy was collected, first apprising the Governor of Pensacola why I had entered the Floridas, to wit, not as the enemy but as the friend of Spain; as Spain had acknowledged her incapacity, through her weakness to control the Indians within her territory and keep them at peace with the United States, self-defence justified our entering her territory and doing that for her which she had bound herself to do by solem treaty - that as I was engaged fighting the battles of Spain I had a right and did calculate on receiving all the facilities in the power of the agents of Spain that would aid me in putting a speedy end to the war; advising the Governor in the same letter that I had ordered supplies up the [blank] for my army to Ft Crawford, which I trusted would be permitted to pass unmolested without any delay occasioned by the agents of Spain, but should I be disappointed in my expectation of the friendly dispositions of the agents of Spain, or should my supplies be interrupted by them, I SHOULD VIEW IT AS AN ACT OF WAR AND TREAT IT ACCORDINGLY. I received in answer to this friendly letter a positive declaration that my provisions should not pass; the supplies were by the Governor seized at Pensacola under a demand of transit duties, and my whole army thereby made subject to starvation, and which I never got until I entered Pensacola. I proceeded against Muckasookey, routed and dispersed the enemy, taking some prisoners from whom I learned that the Indians received all their supplies of ammunition from Ft Marks thirty miles distant, and that the noted and notorious Francis the prophet and his party had retired to St. Marks with all his booty taken from Ft Scott; and Inchqueen and his party had retired there also - that the ballance of the Indians had fled to the negroes on the Sewaney [Suwanee] river. I was also informed by the Governor of Pensacola, through captains Call and Gordon, that he expected Ft Marks was in the hands of the Indians and negroes, as they had made demand of large supplies which the commander was not able to comply with, and he was unable to defend the fort. As soon as I had collected the corn and cattle for the supply of my troops, I marched on Ft Marks - when I reached there I found that Francis and party had been in the fort, that the garrison had been supplied with the cattle stolen from our frontier, that our public stores were the granaries of our enemy, and that the Indians had been supplied with all of munitions of war by the commandant - and that the notorious Arbuthnot was then in the garrison. I demanded possession of the garrison to be possessed by my troops during the war, and untill Spain could reinforce it with as many troops as would insure the safety of our frontier and a fulfillment of the treaty with the U States on the part of Spain. This was refused me. I saw across St. Marks river the smoke of my enemy; delay was out of the question. I seized Arbuthnot in the garrison and took possession of it. The noted Francis, who had just returned with a briagidier general's commission, a good rifle and snuff-box presented by the Prince Regent, had been captured the day before with four of his followers by Capt. McKeever whose vessell they had visitted, mistaking it for a vessell expected from England with supplies for the Indians, as he stated. I ordered him this principle chief to be hung, and marched the next day for Sewanney, where I routed the Indians and negroes, took Ambrister, a British officer who headed the negroes, Arbuthnot's schooner with all their papers, which led to the conviction and execution of Arbuthnot and Capt. Ambrister, both of whom was executed under sentence of a court-martial at Ft. Marks. I returned to Ft Gadsden, where preparing to disband the militia force I recd information that four hundred and fifty Indians had collected in Pensacola, was fed by the Governor, and a party furnished by the governor had issued forth and in one night slaughtered eighteen of our citizens, and that another party had, with the knowledge of the governor, and being furnished by him, went out publickly, murdered a Mr. Stokes and family, and had in open day returned to Pensacola and sold the booty, amongst which was the clothing of Mr. Stokes. This statement was corroborated by a report of Gov. Bibb. I was also informed that the provisions I had ordered for the supply of Ft Crawford and my army on board the U. States schooner Amelia was seized and detained at Pensacola with a small detachment of regulars and six hundred Tennesseans. I marched for Pensacola; whilst on my march thither I was met by a protest of the governor of Pensacola, ordering me out of the Floridas, or he would oppose force to force and drive me out of the territory of Spain. This bold measure of the governor, who had alleged weakness as the cause of his non-fulfillment of the treaty with the U. States, when united with the facts stated, of which I then had positive proof - that at that time a large number of the hostile Indians were then in Pensacola, who I had dispersed east of the Appalachicola - unmasked the duplicity of the governor and his having aided and abetted the Indians in the war against us. I hastened my steps, entered Pensacola, took possession of my supplies. The governor had fled from the city to the Barancas, where he had strongly fortified himself. I demanded possession of the garrison to be held by American troops until a guarantee should be given for the fulfillment of the treaty and the safety of the frontier. This was denyed. I approached the Barancas with one 9lb piece and 5 8/10 inch howitzer. They opened their batteries upon me. It was returned spiritedly and with two pieces against forty odd mounted of 24 [pounders?] the white flag went up in the evening and the capitulation entered into, which you have seen. It is true I had my ladders ready to go over the walls which I believe the garrison discovered and was afraid of a night attack and surrendered. When the flag was hoisted the[y] had three hundred effectives in the garrison- this number of Americans would have kept it from combined Urope [Europe]. There was one Indian wounded in the garrison and the others were sent out in the night across the bay before I got possession. Thus Sir I have given you a concise statement of the facts and all I regret is that I had not stormed the works, captured the governor, put him on his trial for the murder of Stokes and his family, and hung him for the deed. I could adopt no other way to "put an end to the war" but by possessing myself of the stronghold that was an asylum to the enemy and afforded them the means of offence. The officers of Spain having by their acts identified themselves with our enemy, became such, and by the law of nations subjected themselves to be treated as such. Self defence justified me in every act I did. I will stand justified before God and all Urope, and I regret that our government has extended the courtesy to Spain of withdrawing the troops from Pensacola before Spain gave a guarantee for the fulfilment of the treaty and the safety of our frontier. It was an act of courtesy that nothing but the insignificance and weakness of Spain can excuse, but it is not my province to find fault with the acts of the government, but it may have a reason to repent of her clemency.

Make a tender to your lady of my sincere respects and best wishes for her happiness and receive Sir for yourself an expression of my unfeigned friendship and esteem - and - [I] remain respectfully

Yr. mo. ob. serv.


P. S. My eyes are weak and my hand trembles I am still weak and much debilitated Nothing but the hope of being serviceable to the wishes of my government and interest of the state of Tennessee could have induced me to have undertaken the journey. A. J.

The Honble
G. W. Campbell
Minister at Russia


Essays Historical and Literary by John Fiske
The MacMillan Company, New York, 1902, pages 259-263