Sunday, December 26, 2021

ARP231 Paulus Hook

Last week I discussed the Sullivan Expedition against the Iroquois, which turned out to be the major Continental initiative for 1779.  The bulk of the Continental Army, however, remained near New York City, in North Jersey and southern New York.

Washington at West Point

The main source of contention in the area that spring had been the British capture of Stony Point in May, then the Continental recapture in July, which I discussed a few weeks ago.  In June, while the British had still occupied Stony Point, George Washington left the main Continental encampment in Middlebook, New Jersey, and traveled to West Point in New York.  He left command of the main army at Middlebrook with his most senior Major General Israel Putnam.

Paulus Hook
Washington established a new headquarters at a large home in New Windsor, about sixteen miles north of West Point.  It was from there that he directed the attack by General Anthony Wayne on Stony Point, while at the same time keeping tabs on the Sullivan Expedition to the north.  He was also in a good position to receive reports about the Connecticut raids by British General William Tryon that took place in July, and which I discussed a few weeks ago.

Overall, Washington seemed to have a good position.  If he did not have the resources to attack the British garrisons at New York or even Newport, Rhode Island, he also felt comfortable that the British would not be engaging in any major offensive operations either.  Through Colonel Benjamin Talmadge he was receiving good intelligence from the Culper spy ring about British activities in New York.

In late June Washington participated in the festival of St. Johns at a local Masonic Lodge. On July 4, he ordered celebratory fire for the third anniversary of independence, and also pardoned all Continental soldiers who were then sitting under a sentence of death.  

After the Continentals took back Stony Point in mid-July, Washington ordered the destruction of all fortifications on the Point and abandoned it.  Washington believed that the Point was too isolated and could be subject to a British counter-attack. 

Instead, Washington moved from his headquarters north of West Point, and established himself at another home only a mile from West Point.  There, the general personally oversaw the improvement of the defenses.  He wanted to be sure that if the British attempted to move up the Hudson River again, that West Point would be an impregnable fortress that would block any further movement into the Hudson Valley.

Queries: Political and Military

By the summer of 1779, Washington had put the Conway Cabal more than a year behind him.  He had the solid support of the army, as well as in Congress and the public generally.  This is not to say that everyone was happy with him though.

On July 6, the Baltimore Journal & Public Advertiser published a front page anonymous article entitled “Some Queries: political and military, humbly offered to the consideration of the Public”.  The article consisted of a series of “questions” which were designed to lead the reader to a conclusion.  

The article began by noting that the ascension of King George I had brought to power a Tory influence, which had led to rebellion and the limitations of rights in Britain.  These included a greater influence of the crown in government, establishment of large standing armies, and restrictions on the liberties of Englishmen.

The article went on to suggest that states were taking away the liberties and even the voting rights of dissenters, leading the new patriot governments down the same road to tyranny that Britain was already travelling. It also noted a similar concentration of power was taking place in America, with power concentrating on one man: George Washington.  

It noted that military victories were primarily due to the leadership of men like General Gates and General Arnold, while General Washington seemed to get all the credit.  It noted that General Lee had warned Washington of his errors during the New York campaign of 1776 and that Washington’s incompetence led to those losses as well as the loss of an army at Fort Washington.

The article queried that perhaps Washington, rather than General Sullivan, should be blamed for the loss at Brandywine.  Washington also bore blame for the loss at Germantown, and it was only luck that the British did not bother to finish off the army at Valley Forge.

It implied that General Lee was forced out of the army using a stacked court martial, that Washington had put his thumb on the scales of justice, and that the removal was all based on lies.

In short, the article reiterated all the attacks that had been made on Washington over the prior three years.  The response to this attack, however, made clear how much the political situation had changed in the prior year.  To the extent the public read the article at all, people generally condemned it.  Washington, of course, did not speak about it publicly. In private letters, he essentially said people were already well aware of these complaints and that his public support spoke for itself.  President of Pennsylvania, Joseph Reed had a letter published in the same newspaper attacking the premises of the queries.  The editor of the paper ended up publishing an apology for publishing the article in the first place.

Eventually, the anonymous author was outed as General Charles Lee, at this time still on his one year suspension following his court martial.  In the end, the article only lowered public opinion toward Lee, while confidence in Washington remained high.

Paulus Hook

Not letting himself get distracted by these political attacks, General Washington remained focused on the British in New York City.  Following the British withdrawal from Philadelphia, the British had also evacuated all of its outposts in New Jersey, except for a very few toeholds right along the coast which could be protected by the British Navy.  One of those toeholds was at Paulus Hook.

Paulus Hook
The fort at Paulus Hook sat on the New Jersey side of the mouth of the Hudson River, directly across from lower Manhattan.  It was a particularly strong position for the British to hold because the Hook formed a peninsula jutting out into New York Harbor.  The only approach to the fort was through a swampy area that was impassible at high tide.  Only a single path avoided the swampy area approaching the fort.

The Continentals had built the fortifications there in 1776. After the British took New York and the Americans retreated, the British army occupied the abandoned Paulus Hook and continued to occupy it through 1779.

Following the successful attack on the British outpost at Stony Point, the Continentals looked around for other similar outposts to attack.  Paulus Hook looked like a viable target. To lead the raid, Washington turned to Major Henry Lee.

Light Horse Harry Lee

It is not clear if Lee had yet received the nickname of “Light Horse Harry”.  Lee came from one of the most prominent families in Virginia.  He was of no relation to disgraced General Charles Lee.  His father was the first cousin to Richard Henry Lee and Francis Lightfoot Lee, both delegates to the Continental Congress.

Light Horse Harry Lee

Henry was still a teenager when the war began.  Even so, because of his family’s status, he received a commission as a captain in the Virginia cavalry regiment that was formed in 1775.  Captain Lee arrived at Boston by the beginning of 1776 when his regiment was absorbed into the Continental Army.  

Lee’s cavalry company quickly began operating as an independent unit, apart from the larger regiment, with Lee in command.  He provided scouting and reconnaissance support to General Benjamin Lincoln and General Lord Stirling in New Jersey during the Forage Wars of 1777.  His company carried out raids against British patrols and outposts.

General Washington took notice of this young officer’s abilities and began issuing orders directly to the captain as an independent cavalry commander.  Washington also offered to bring Lee onto his personal staff.  Lee declined, wishing to remain in the field.

The following year, while the army was at Valley Forge, Lee continued his services as a scout and a forager.  His men lived off the land during a time when the army could not provide for them, and even captured food supplies headed to the British in Philadelphia, which they sent to Valley Forge.  During this same winter, Lee had multiple encounters with British cavalry units, including one commanded by Captain Banastre Tarleton.  

By the spring of 1778, after the British evacuated Philadelphia, Washington requested that Lee receive a promotion to major and that he be given command of three cavalry troops.  Lee continued his work with the Continental Army in northern New Jersey and southern New York, providing reconnaissance and foraging for the main army.

When Washington ordered General Anthony Wayne to attack Stony Point, Lee’s soldiers provided the intelligence on the fort’s defenses.  Following the success of Stony Point, Major Lee proposed to General Washington that he be permitted to launch a similar attack on Paulus Hook.

The Plan

Lee first wrote to Washington about his plan.  Washington invited Lee to West Point where the two men spoke in person.  Washington thought the plan needed more work and sent Lee back to draw up a more detailed plan.  

Lee sent his best scout, Captain Allen McLane to surveil the defenses at Paulus Hook.  McLane had done the surveillance for Stony Point, even entering the fort dressed as a civilian and speaking to one of the officers about the fort’s defenses.

Allen McLane

McLane and Lee did not seem to get along well personally.  McLane was a decade older than Lee.  He had raised his own cavalry troop in Delaware when the war began.  His precise involvement in the early years of the war is a matter of dispute, but his cavalry troop was one of those who were put under Major Lee’s command in 1778 when Lee’s command grew to those three cavalry units.  

Lee and McLane immediately ran into confrontations when Lee ordered McLane’s troop to give up its horses and travel on foot.  McLane had not agreed to that when he had joined under Lee’s command, but had no choice but to obey orders.

After conducting surveillance on Paulus Hook, McLane recommended against an attack. He had seen the fort’s defenses for himself and had also spoken with a deserter from the fort’s garrison, who gave him detailed information on the number of men and internal defenses.

As I said, the reason the British had maintained this outpost in New Jersey was that it had a great many natural defenses.  The only land approach was over a narrow path through a salt marsh.  The British had placed several cannons behind a defensive enclosure to cover the path leading to the fort.  British combat engineers had added abatis and other defensive entrenchments to make any approach even more difficult. To access the fort, the garrison had installed a drawbridge over a water-filled ditch.  Inside the fort there was another redoubt with more abatis, along with even more cannons that could be brought to bear on any attack.   To back up the fort, British frigates patrolling New York Harbor could come to the fort’s aid if the fort raised an alarm.

Major William Sutherland of the 64th regiment commanded the fort.  His garrison consisted of more than 250 men, a mix of regulars, Hessians, and NJ loyalists.  There were also a sizable group of noncombatants, wives and children of the soldiers, inside the fort.

The Raid

Despite the risks, Lee proceeded with the attack.  On the morning of August 18, 1779, Major Lee set out from his base in Paramus.  He took empty wagons with him so that it would seem to anyone watching that he was leaving on a standard foraging mission.  With him were two companies of Marylanders under the command of Captain Levin Handy.  He met up, as planned, with about 200 Virginia infantry as well as McLane’s dismounted cavalry.  The total force of about 400 men left New Bridge by 4:00 PM for the sixteen mile march to Paulus Hook.

The night march did not go well.  Major Clark, who was senior to Major Lee, was annoyed that Lee had command of the brigade.  The two men had words about it during the march.  Although Clark remained with the attack, about 100 of the Virginia soldiers abandoned the mission and disappeared.  It took nearly twelve hours for the men to arrive near the fort.  By that time, it was nearly dawn, which would ruin the element of surprise.  The tide was also rising, making it more difficult to get across the swampy terrain and ditches that impeded passage to the fort.  

Paulus Hook
In spite of all this Lee ordered the attack to proceed.  The men were ordered to fix bayonets and not to prime their muskets, in order to prevent a shot from alerting the garrison.  The men broke into three columns for the final two-mile approach to the fort.  As the Continentals had done at Stony Point, Lee had a “forlorn hope” of soldiers sent ahead of the main column to cut down the abatis and make a passage for the main columns.  The British spotted the attackers and began firing as the men worked to cut down the abatis.  Men reported marching through water as high as their breast.  Most of them had their powder damaged by the water, meaning they could not fire their guns, even if they had a chance to load them.

Without firing a shot, the attackers ran forward, threw themselves over the walls of the parapet and entered the central redoubt.  They killed or wounded about fifty of the enemy in hand-to-hand combat.  The fighting was over in a matter of minutes, with 158 of the enemy taken prisoner.  The Americans suffered only two killed and three wounded.

The British commander, Major Sutherland, was not among the prisoners. Sutherland still held a small blockhouse in the fort, supported by forty or fifty Hessians.  The Americans were unable to take the blockhouse without taking great casualties.  The sounds of alarm shots across the river in New York City made clear that the British were alerted to the attack and that soon British ships would be at the fort, ready to attack.

Knowing this, Major Lee opted to leave with what he had already achieved.  He left Major Sutherland and the Hessians in their blockhouse.  He did not bother to spike the fort’s guns.  He had planned to burn the fort’s wooden barracks, but learning that there were invalids, as well as women and children in the barracks, he demurred, not having time to evacuate the building before he could destroy it.

The Escape

Instead, Lee formed his columns and began retreating with his prisoners.  The plan was to march west to the Hackensack River, where General Lord Stirling had left 300 men in support, along with boats to take the raiders upriver.  Lee’s men arrived to find -- nothing.  As it turned out, the officer had been at the rendezvous point, but had expected Lee to arrive hours earlier, while it was still dark.  The officer in charge of the boats, seeing no sign of Lee or his men, and not wanting to hang out in daylight in sight of the enemy, had sailed back up to Newark.

The Continentals’ situation was becoming desperate.  The men had been on the march for over thirty hours, with no meal breaks, and had fought a major battle.  They were soaking wet from their assault on Paulus Hook.  Their ammunition was damaged by the water.  They could only move slowly because the prisoners were dragging their feet, hoping for rescue.  There was an enemy foraging party in the region that could attack them at any time, and there was no telling if the British were sending out a large rescue party that could descend on the retreating army at any time.

They had no choice but to continue on foot and hope for the best.  Lee divided his three columns to begin the march to the north, dividing the prisoners to march with each column as well.  As they began their desperate escape from British territory, they finally had some good news.  About half of the Virginians that had abandoned the attack the previous day, showed up for duty.  Since these men had working guns and dry powder, Lee divided up the 50 reinforcements to serve as a rearguard for each of the three columns.

 A short time later, the columns encountered a larger group of 200 Continentals, sent by Lord Stirling to search for them.  The reinforcements arrived just in time because shortly afterward, a group of loyalists attacked the column.  

The attackers were loyalists under Lieutenant Colonel Abraham Van Buskirk.  These loyalists had left Paulus Hook on a foraging mission before Lee’s attack.  They came across the retreating columns on their return and engaged.  

Fortunately for the Americans, the reinforcements from Lord Stirling exchanged a few volleys before the attackers withdrew from the superior force.  The column continued its march to New Bridge, with their prisoners.  Once back to safety, within American lines, the men collapsed and got some much-needed rest.


The Continental celebrated the raid as a great victory.  The Continental Congress sent a commendation to Major Lee, and struck a gold medal in his honor.  Lee was the only officer below the rank of general to receive such a medal during the Revolutionary War.  Congress also granted a reward of $15,000 to be distributed among the men who participated in the mission.  Of course, $15,000 in depreciated continental paper money in 1779 was not as much as it once was, but still a nice gesture.

Lee Medal
Lee’s dispute with Major Clark later resulted in Lee being court martialed for usurping command from a superior officer.  However, since Lee had taken the command pursuant to direct orders from General Washington, the court martial acquitted him with honor.

Since Lee did little damage to the fort itself, other than capturing most of the garrison, the British sent reinforcements to reoccupy the fort at Paulus Hook.  They would continue to garrison the fort until the end of the war.

Next week, John Paul Jones raids the British coast.

- - -

Next Episode 232 Jones and the Armada

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Further Reading


Queries: Political and Military;view=fulltext;q1=Memoirs

Queries in Newspaper:

Hickman, Kennedy American Revolution: Major General Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee, 2019:

Henry Lee:

Schenawolf, Harry “Captain Allen McLane: Death Defying Spymaster of the American Revolution” Revolutionary War Journal, March 3, 2019:

The Battle of Paulus Hook:

Battle of Paulus Hook:

Cecere, Michael “The Court Martial of Major Henry Lee” Journal of the American Revolution, September 10, 2019.

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

Alden, John R. General Charles Lee, traitor or patriot? Baton Rouge, Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1951 (borrow only). 

Baker, William Spohn Itinerary of General Washington from June 15, 1775, to December 23, 1783, Philadelphia, J.B. Lippincott Co. 1892. 

Boyd, Thomas Light-horse Harry Lee, New York: C. Scribner's sons, 1931 (borrow only). 

Farrier, George H. Memorial of the centennial celebration of the battle of Paulus Hook, August 19th,  Jersey City: M. Mullone, 1879. 

Gerson, Noel B. Light-Horse Harry: A Biography of Washington's Great Cavalryman, General Henry Lee, Doubleday & Co. 1966 (borrow only). 

Sherman, William T. (ed) A Sketch of Allan McLane (1828) by Alexander Garden, of Lee’s Legion

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Cole, Ryan Light-Horse Harry Lee, Regnery, 2018. 

Gerson, Noel B. Light-Horse Harry: A Biography of Washington's Great Cavalryman, General Henry Lee, Doubleday & Co. 1966 (or borrow as free book, see above). 

Michell, Craig Bergen Summer 1779: The Enterprise Against Paulus Hook, Bergen County Historical Society, 1979. 

Piecuch, Jim and John Beakes 'Light Horse Harry' Lee In the War for Independence, Nautical & Aviation Pub Co of Amer, 2013. 

Ward, Christopher The War of the Revolution, Macmillan Company, 1952. 

* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

ARP230 Sullivan Campaign

Over the summer and fall of 1779, the Continental Army, in concert with New York militia, embarked on a campaign of destruction against the Iroquois.  It became known as the Sullivan Expedition, after the commanding officer, General John Sullivan.  The goal of the expedition was to wipe out the remaining Iroquois villages in update New York that had been supporting raids against settlers.

The Americans had already gone on a similar mission against one of the Iroquois tribes, the Onondaga.  This action was focused primarily against the Seneca and Cayuga tribes, the two western most tribes in the Confederacy.  The Mohawk had already largely been displaced, and the Oneida and Tuscarora were mostly allied with the Americans.  The Seneca was the largest of the Iroquois tribes, making up nearly 50 percent of the Iroquois Confederacy.  Seneca land, on the western part of the Iroquois Confederacy, had historically faced the brunt of most warfare, leading to a reputation of the Seneca being particularly ferocious warriors.

The Continental Congress’ Board of War had proposed a similar campaign for 1778, with Horatio Gates leading the assault, and including the capture of Fort Detroit.  Gates, however, was never able to get the resources and never even really even began efforts to execute such an expedition.  

Iroquois Raids

Joseph Brant, 1776

The Iroquois, under leaders such as Joseph Brandt and Cornplanter, and with loyalist support from leaders like John Butler and his son Walter Butler, conducted regular raids throughout upstate New York and northern Pennsylvania, including what became known as the Wyoming Valley Massacre and the Cherry Valley Massacre.  These raids were designed to force settlers to withdraw from the area, and to return lands to the Iroquois, who would operate under crown protection from Quebec.  Iroquois and loyalists killed or captured numerous settlers, destroyed property and food, hoping that the survivors would move to safety, further to the south and east.

The settler population did decrease, but many remained, living near one of the many numerous small forts that were built to defend against the constant threat of raids and surprise attacks.  Those settlers who lived in harm’s way, appealed to the state government and to the Continental Army for protection and assistance against the attacks.

American Response

Washington had discussed the Iroquois problem at length with the Continental Congress during his visit to Philadelphia over the prior winter. Initially, initially, Gates was offered the command of the expedition in 1779, but he declined.  Washington then turned to General John Sullivan.

Sullivan, by this time, was a reliable veteran of several campaigns, most recently the assault on Newport, Rhode Island.  In May 1779, George Washington gave orders to General Sullivan to assemble an army of annihilation.

The Expedition you are appointed to command is to be directed against the hostile tribes of the Six Nations of Indians, with their associates and adherents. The immediate objects are the total destruction and devastation of their settlements, and the capture of as many prisoners of every age and sex as possible. It will be essential to ruin their crops now in the ground and prevent their planting more.

I would recommend, that some post in the center of the Indian Country, should be occupied with all expedition, with a sufficient quantity of provisions whence parties should be detached to lay waste all the settlements around, with instructions to do it in the most effectual manner, that the country may not be merely overrun, but destroyed.

But you will not by any means listen to any overture of peace before the total ruinment of their settlements is effected. Our future security will be in their inability to injure us and in the terror with which the severity of the chastisement they receive will inspire them.

So Washington's made very clear here, he was not talking just about attacks against hostiles.  He was talking about wiping out all of the Indian settlements in the region that might be able to provide any assistance to enemies going forward.  In doing that, they were to destroy their homes, destroy their food, destroy everything, and force them to leave the area.

The plans called for a three-pronged attack.  General Sullivan would assemble an army at Easton, Pennsylvania, and move north up the Susquehanna River.  Sullivan’s Continentals included New Hampshire and Massachusetts regiments under the command of General Enoch Poor, The New Jersey Brigade under William Maxwell, and Pennsylvania regiments under General Edward Hand.

A second force under Brigadier General James Clinton would move from Otsego Lake, down the Susquehanna to meet up with Sullivan at Tioga.  A third division under Colonel Daniel Broadhead would leave Fort Pitt, in Pennsylvania, moving north into western New York.  Eventually, the plan called for all three Armies to merge and attack Fort Niagara.  However, the main goal was for these to destroy all enemy towns and villages, and to kill or capture any members of hostile tribes that they encountered.

Slow Start

Washington had hoped that the armies would begin marching in spring.  General Sullivan delayed as he called for more food and supplies to support his army of over 3000 men while on the march. Sullivan arrived in Easton on May 7.  He remained there for about six weeks before leaving in mid-June.  He marched north for a few days before reaching the Wyoming Valley, where he camped again and awaited more supplies.  

 Gen. John Sullivan

Sullivan complained that the food shipped to his army was moldy or otherwise inedible.  Supplies of clothing were inadequate.  Even the cattle were so weak that they could not walk.  Sullivan also complained that he still did not have enough men.  Even though 3000 was a large number, Sullivan had to leave behind men to guard his rear, meaning his forces would already be depleted before they could reach the enemy.  He had been promised another 750 Pennsylvania Rangers who never arrived.  Sullivan even bypassed Washington to write President John Jay directly with his concerns.

Finally, Sullivan departed Wyoming for New York on July 31.  By that time, he was so laden down with supplies that his soldiers complained that it was nearly impossible to get all the wagons through the wilderness trails.

The delay also meant that any element of surprise was lost.  British General Frederick Haldimand in Quebec had received reports about Sullivan’s Army.  He did not send any forces to engage though.  Haldimand believed that the Americans would move to assault Fort Niagara and then march into Quebec. So the British mostly reinforced their defensive positions in Canada and awaited that attack.

As Sullivan’s army made its way up the Susquehanna, they found abandoned Indian villages, which they pillaged and burned.  Although the Indians could not assemble the numbers to challenge the Continentals, they did make their presence known.  On July 15, they killed and scalped one man and wounded another who were driving horses to the army.  Two days later, they killed and wounded two more.  Soldiers had to stay on alert at all times, and keep together as much as possible.  Several other soldiers died of heat exhaustion or drowning during this difficult march.

By mid-August, Sullivan reached his first goal, Tioga.  There, they built a fort with a stockade.  As Sullivan awaited the arrival of General Clinton’s division, he sent a scouting party to the Indian village of Chemung, a dozen miles to the north.  The scouts reported several hundred Indian warriors. 

Sullivan took the bulk of his army to surround the village, but found it deserted.  The Indians had abandoned the village to the superior force.  The Continentals burned the forty houses in the village, as well as crops growing in the field.  General Hand led a brigade further north in search of the Indians.  He ran into an ambush but, with his larger numbers, quickly overwhelmed his attackers.  The natives abandoned the attack after killing seven Continentals and wounding thirteen more.

Clinton’s March

James Clinton
General James Clinton had assembled his force of about 1600 Continentals and militia at Otsego, near modern day Cooperstown.  While he waited, he had his men dam the river.  On August 9th, as he prepared to march, his men destroyed the dam, sending flood waters down the Susquehanna.  Clinton had built 200 small boats carrying his supplies, which rode the flood waters downriver, at the same time destroying riverside villages and planting fields along the way.

The soldiers marched behind the flooding river, burning, looting, and destroying the villages that they found in their path.  After about ten days of marching Clinton’s forces met up with about 1000 men under General Poor that Sullivan had deployed in search of Clinton.  The combined force marched back to Tioga, arriving on August 22.  With Clinton’s arrival, Sullivan had an even larger force of about 4500 men under his command.


This enlarged Army left camp on August 26, leaving a small garrison at Tioga, in the new Fort Sullivan. Sullivan deployed his army’s four divisions.  Hand’s division took the lead, including three companies of riflemen under Colonel Daniel Morgan.  Maxwell marched on the left flank and Poor on the right flank.  Clinton’s division marched in the rear.  Movement was slow as the men worked their way through the wilderness.  Moving ammunition wagons proved particularly frustrating.  Soldiers had cut up their tents to make canvas bags so that they could carry flour and other provisions on their backs rather than relying on wagons.

As they approached the Iroquois village of Newtown, scouts reported that the enemy was concentrating forces there.  Loyalist Colonel Walter Butler had combined his roughly 250 Butler’s Rangers with a 1000 man force of mostly Seneca warriors led by Sayenqueraghta [phonetically rendered as Kaieñãkwaahtoñ] and others Iroquois under Joseph Brandt and Cornplanter.

As Sullivan had slowly assembled his army all spring and summer, the loyalists and Iroquois tried to assemble an army to oppose them.  Without the cooperation of British Regulars though, the best they could do was a force that was somewhere between one-third and one-fourth size of the Continentals.  The Iroquois determined they would make their stand just outside of Newtown.  They built a redoubt at the top of a hill on the road leading to Newtown, giving them a view of the approaching enemy.  They also extended the defenses in a U shape down each side of the road, inside the forest line.  The hope was that the Continentals would approach the redoubt and begin battle.  Warriors would then emerge against the rear of the column on both sides of the road, throwing the Continentals into chaos and panic.

Battle of Newtown

The Americans approached Newtown on August 29.  Using a common tactic, Iroquois warriors fired on the front of the column, then retreated quickly down the road. They hoped to get the Americans to chase after them, leading them into that larger ambush.  The lead forces, however, under General Hand, experienced with Indian fighting, suspected a trap. They had Iroquois scouts of their own, Oneida, Tuscarora, and Stockbridge warriors who predicted such a trap.  

Instead, Hand brought up a number of small field artillery to fire on the enemy redoubt from a distance.  At the same time, the two flanking divisions attempted to move around the enemy and surround the loyalist forces.  One flank would attack first as a feint, drawing more warriors to that side.  Then the other flank would strike the weakened other side and roll up the enemy.

It was a good plan, but did not execute very well.  The wilderness terrain made advancing slow and difficult.  The loyalists managed to see the trap unfolding in time to make their escape.  Most of the loyalist militia and Iroquois warriors escaped through a swampy area where the Americans did not follow.

The end result was what could have been a major bloody battle ended up with casualties of a skirmish.  Out of thousands engaged, the loyalists suffered only 17 killed, 16 seriously wounded and 2 captured.  The Americans suffered 11 killed and 32 wounded.  The bulk of the loyalists and Iroquois escaped, ceding the field to the Americans, but suffering few battle casualties.

The Americans then proceeded into Newtown, destroying all of the buildings, supplies, and surrounding fields.  After the battle, the loyalist forces were unable to regroup for another fight.  So, the Americans continued on their march, destroying more Iroquois towns and food supplies.

Broadhead Expedition

Around the same time as the battle of Newtown, Colonel Broadhead had left Fort Pitt and was marching up the banks of the Allegheny River into New York. 

Initially command of this expedition was going to fall to General Lachlan McIntosh.  You may recall that McIntosh had been involved in much of the early war events in Georgia.  After he killed Button Gwinnett, the President of Georgia, in a duel, Washington ordered McIntosh north to avoid any revenge attacks against him by Gwinnett allies.  McIntosh spent the winter in Valley Forge, then had taken command at Fort Pitt, where he had hoped to organize a campaign against Fort Detroit.

By the spring of 1779 though, when the Sullivan Expedition was getting organized, the British had captured Georgia and Washington had to recall General Robert Howe and replace him with Massachusetts General Benjamin Lincoln.  Washington decided that Georgia needed back its top officer in the Continental Army and sent McIntosh to serve under General Lincoln in the southern theater.

That left Colonel Broadhead in command at Fort Pitt.  Initially, General Washington wanted to call off the offensive from Fort Pitt entirely.  He wrote to Brodhead in April ordering the Colonel to remain at Fort Pitt and just be prepared to act against any Indian attacks against the settlers in Western Pennsylvania.  The Mingo Indians in that area were allied with their Seneca neighbors and quite hostile to the western settlers.   You may recall that this was right after the Americans had abandoned Fort Laurens in Ohio, when hostile local tribes had forced the withdrawal back to Fort Pitt.

As it turned out though, following the capture of British Governor Henry Hamilton, the Pennsylvania frontier seemed to settle down.  Violence continued, but only in relatively small and disorganized groups.  Brodhead made use of local militia to pacify the area around Fort Pitt for miles.  He informed Washington of the success he was having.  In July, Washington responded by giving approval for a move northward, hoping his raid would add continued distraction for the Indians already facing Sullivan’s offensive.

Brodhead left Fort Pitt in mid-August with about 600 or 700 soldiers, including allied warriors from the Delaware tribes, as well as companies from Virginia and Pennsylvania regiments.  Most of the Mingo had already received word of the Continental offensive in the region and had fled their homes.  Broadhead’s men encountered multiple abandoned villages, which they burned, along with the fields of growing food.  

The forward companies of the detachment did encounter a few dozen enemy warriors at Thomson’s Island.  There was a brief skirmish where perhaps five enemy were killed and a few wounded.  This may have just been a large hunting party that they had stumbled across.  That was really the only real resistance that he encountered. 

Brodhead continued his march of devastation, but never made it into New York.  He returned to Fort Pitt via a different path, plundering and burning more native villages during his return.  By the time he reached Fort Pitt in mid-September, his month-long expedition had levelled at least a dozen villages.  The raiders also returned with plundered supplies that would sell for over $30,000.


Although Broadhead’s successful raid was relatively short, General Sullivan continued to reign destruction throughout upstate New York through most of September.  Following Newtown, the Army marched northward, through the Finger Lakes region, continuing to plunder and destroy more villages.  After Newtown, they did not even encounter even minor attacks against them.  The warriors had had enough and had retreated toward Quebec.

In late September General Clinton’s division moved east, into Mohawk Territory.  They entered a village known at Teantontalago which was populated by Mohawk Indians who had pledge to remain neutral.  Not recognizing their neutrality, the Continentals ordered the male inhabitants arrested and sent to Albany to be held in custody.  

Peter Gansevoort

Most of the soldiers involved were local New York soldiers under Colonel Peter Gansevoort.  Many of them had friends or family who had been left homeless from prior Indian raids.  The Mohawk farms at Teantontalago were not burned.  Instead, the Americans allowed dispossessed settlers to take over these farms in this relatively safe and secure region of the state.  Buildings, horses, cattle, and crops were all made available to settler families who needed them.

This was one of the most highly controversial components of the whole expedition, because it involved confiscating property from Indians who had broken with their fellow Mohawks in order to remain neutral.  Some may have even performed services for the patriot cause.  Former Continental General Philip Schuyler, who had negotiated with these tribes years earlier, was outraged at this action against noncombatant people who posed no threat to the patriots.  Despite Schuyler’s objections, the actions stood.  General James Clinton’s brother, NY Governor George Clinton allowed the Mohawk to be held in Albany for the winter and never returned their property to them.

Continentals Celebrate

Overall, the Sullivan Expedition was considered a success.  Washington had hoped it would be capped off with the capture of Fort Niagara, but since Sullivan’s army did not have any heavy artillery, this did not really seem possible.

Most people in New York and New England approved of this effort to remove the Iroquois as a great victory.  The Continental Congress, however, was less than enthusiastic.  Sullivan’s continued demands for more supplies and his going over Washington’s head directly to Congress did not win him any friends in that body.  Given the popularity among the people for the action, elected officials did not go after him directly, but neither did they give him much praise for his victory.

Hard Winter in Quebec

The total warfare in upstate New York had its intended effect.  By one estimate, the Expedition had destroyed over 160,000 bushels of corn and levelled 40 Iroquois towns and villages.  More than 5000 Iroquois men, women, and children fled to Quebec, seeking assistance from the British.  The British garrison at Quebec had nowhere near the resources to feed and house all these people.  Over the harsh winter of 1779-1780, hundreds of Iroquois died from starvation or exposure.

Loyalist forces had lost access to friendly villages in New York.  Future raids from Canada would become more difficult and require carrying more of their own supplies.  Although raids would continue the following spring, the Sullivan Expedition effectively broke the hold of the Iroquois over their traditional homeland in upstate New York.  Only a few members of friendly tribes remained in the region.  

The Iroquois gave George Washington the nickname: Conotocaurius (Town Destroyer). This nickname would apply to future US Presidents as well.

Next Week: the British in New York City continue to conduct raids on New Jersey, including one at Paulus Hook.

- - -

Next Episode 231 Paulus Hook 

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Further Reading


The Sullivan-Clinton Campaign:

The Clinton-Sullivan Campaign of 1779:

Soodalter, Ron Massacre & Retribution: The 1779-80 Sullivan Expedition

Sullivan's Expedition against the Iroquois

Newtown, NY August 29, 1779:

Crytzer, Brady J. “Allegheny Burning: George Washington, Daniel Brodhead, and the Battle of Thompson’s Island” Journal of the American Revolution, May 12, 2015:

Brodhead’s Raid on the Senecas

Williams, Sherman. “THE ORGANIZATION OF SULLIVAN'S EXPEDITION.” Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association, vol. 6, 1906, pp. 29–36.,


Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

Cook, Frederick Journals of the Military Expedition of Major General John Sullivan Against the Six Nations of the Iroquois, Knapp, Peck & Thomson, 1887. 

Craft, David The Sullivan expedition: an address delivered at the Seneca County Centennial Celebration at Waterloo, September 3, 1879, Waterloo, NY: Observer Book and Job Printing House, 1880. 

McKendry, William, Davis, Andrew McFarland, Winsor, Justin Sullivan's expedition against the Indians of New York, Cambridge: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1886. 

Rising, Oscar E; Hubley, Adam, A New Hampshire lawyer in General Washington's army; a biographical sketch of the Hon. John Sullivan, LL. D., major general in the Continental army, and an account of the expedition under his command against the Six Indian nations in 1779, Geneva, N.Y., Press of W. F. Humphrey, 1915.

Tiffany, Norton A. History of Sullivan's campaign against the Iroquois, Lima, NY: A.T. Norton, 1879. 

Tomlinson, Everett T. Marching Against the Iroquois, Boston: Houghton Mifflin and Co. 1906. 

Trussell John B.B. Jr. The Sullivan and Brodhead Expeditions, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, 1976. 

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Boardman, Fon Wyman Against the Iroquois: The Sullivan Campaign of 1779 in New York State, H. Z Walk, 1978. 

Eckert, Alan The Wilderness War, Jesse Stuart Foundation, 2003. 

Fischer, Joseph R. A Well-Executed Failure: The Sullivan Campaign Against the Iroquois, July-September 1779, Univ. of SC Press, 1997. 

Graymont, Barbara The Iroquois (Indians Of North America), Chelsea Press, 2005. 

Hardenbergh, John L., William McKendry, & William Elliott Griffis Narratives of Sullivan's Expedition, 1779: Against the Four Nations of the Iroquois & Loyalists by the Continental Army, Leonaur, 2010. 

Stephens, Karl F. Neither the Charm Nor the Luck: Major-General John Sullivan, Outskirts Press, 2009. 

Taylor, Alan The Divided Ground: Indians, Settlers, and the Northern Borderland of the American Revolution, Alfred A. Knopf, 2006. 

Williams, Glenn The Year of the Hangman: George Washington's Campaign Against the Iroquois, Westholme Publishing, 2005.

Williams, Marie Danielle Annette The Revolutionary War in the Adirondacks: Raids in the Wilderness, History Press, 2020. 

* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

ARP229 Baton Rouge

This week, we take our first look at Spain’s entry into the war.  Recall that Spain had entered into a treaty with France in May 1779, which meant it would go to war with Britain.  Spain did not enter into any treaty of alliance with the United States.  Spain’s primary interest in entering the war seems to be the recovery of several colonies lost to Britain in earlier conflicts, and particularly recovery of British-occupied Gibraltar, at the southern border of Spain.  The treaty with France obligated France to remain in the war until the two countries forced Britain out of Gibraltar.  The treaty terms said nothing about the United States.

The Spanish King Carlos III was reluctant to enter the war at all.  Although he was no friend of Great Britain, he was nervous about the idea of encouraging American colonies to rebel against a European monarch if they did not like his rule.  Spain controlled most of North and South America at the time, as well as much of the West Indies.  It really did not want to set a precedent that would lead to wars of liberation throughout the Americas.

Having committed to enter the war, Spain would proceed with efforts to recover land from a weakened and divided Britain.  In July, the Crown issued orders to its colonial leaders authorizing them to attack British possessions where they thought they could take land.  One of those colonial leaders was Bernardo de Galvez of Louisiana.

Bernardo de Galvez

Governor General Bernardo de Galvez had been born in southern Spain, the son of a prominent military general who would later serve as a Viceroy in New Spain.  At a young age, Bernardo received formal military training at Spain’s top military academy.  His education was cut short by the Seven Years War.  By age sixteen, Galvez was a lieutenant and part of an offensive to invade Portugal, which was largely defended at the time by British regulars.

Bernardo de Galvez
Following the end of the war, Galvez served in a joint Spanish-French regiment, where he learned to speak French, something that would serve him well in his future career.  A few years later, made his first trip to America, where he served in New Spain, fighting to conquer the Apaches.  

Although Spain laid claims to all of North America west of the Mississippi at this time, it’s hold on the area north of modern day Mexico was rather tenuous.  It planted a few missions, but Native tribes still resisted Spanish authority in much of the area.  Galvez got experience as an Indian-fighter and survived several serious wounds. He returned to Europe for a time and was involved in a failed effort to invade Algiers.  Throughout this time, Galvez impressed his superiors as an effective and daring officer.

By 1776, Galvez was a full colonel and was teaching at the military academy at Ávila.  That same year, he received an appointment, effective January 1, 1777, to become the new Governor of the Louisiana Territory.

Spanish Louisiana

This was not among the prime Spanish colonies in America.  Louisiana had traditionally been a French territory.  When the Seven Years War ended, France turned over Quebec and its other holdings in Canada to Britain, At that point, France’s hold on Louisiana became tenuous. Outside of a small detachment in New Orleans, there was no significant military presence in the territory.  Louisiana had continually cost France more than they gained from the colony.  With the British colonies in North America pushing west, Versailles only saw increasing defense costs in the colony’s future.

Near the end of the Seven Years War, France turned over the Louisiana Territory to its ally, Spain.  This was ostensibly to compensate Spain for its losses of other colonies during the war.  But it really seems that France just didn’t see a way that Louisiana would not just become a financial sinkhole and was happy to be rid of it.  France probably figured that Britain would demand all of Louisiana at the end of the Seven Years war, combining it with conquered Quebec.  So, France secretly signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau with Spain, ceding Louisiana in 1762, the year before it signed the Treaty of Paris with Britain in 1763, which finally ended the Seven Years War.

Spain, of course, already claimed all of the lands to the south and west of Louisiana.  Its territories in Mexico held valuable silver mines and were major profit centers for the Spanish Empire.  Spain had ceded East and West Florida to Britain, in exchange for the return of Cuba, at the end of the Seven Years war.  So, Louisiana served as a buffer between British encroachment and New Spain, what we today call Mexico.

The French residents of Louisiana were not quite so happy about becoming Spanish subjects.  For all of its size, Louisiana was still mostly Indian territory, with few Europeans living there.  Most of the 7500 French speaking colonists lived in and around New Orleans.  Roughly one-third of those were slaves of African descent. A few French fur traders continued to operate up the Mississippi River, bringing their furs to New Orleans for sale.  In 1764, two years after Louisiana became Spanish, French residents of Louisiana founded Saint Louis, in what is today Missouri.

For the first few years of Spanish rule, not much changed.  Spain seemed to have as little interest in ruling Louisiana as the residents did about living under Spanish rule.  A Frenchman by the name of Jean-Jacques Blaise d'Abbadie had been running Louisiana for the French and was tasked with overseeing the transition to Spanish rule.  In 1764, about a year and a half after France gave Louisiana to Spain, authorities informed d’Abbadie, that he could just continue to run the territory on behalf of Spain.

On the ground, little changed.  The locals still spoke French, exchanged money in French livres, and even continued to fly the French flag over the city.  When Governor d’Abbadie died the following year, the senior military officer in the colony, French Captain Charles Philippe Aubry took over administration.  That same year, the locals sent a delegation to France to try to convince King Louis to take back control of Louisiana.  The King had no interest in doing so, and refused to give them an audience.

In 1766, about three and a half years after Louisiana became Spanish, Madrid finally sent its own Governor, Antonio de Ulloa to New Orleans.  De Ulloa arrived in April with about ninety soldiers and a handful of civil servants to run the territory.  Seeing that Louisiana still seemed mostly French, and unsure whether he could compel the locals to obey him, de Ulloa did not formally present his credentials, and allowed the French Captain Aubry to continue running the government.  He sent requests to his superiors in Havana, asking for more soldiers to help enforce his administration, but could not get any assistance.

Finally in 1767, de Ulloa held a ceremony at the Spanish fort of La Balize to take control of Louisiana.  But even after that, he did not move to do much of anything.  He raised the Spanish flag at La Balize, but the French flag still flew at New Orleans.  Everyone just seemed to be taking their time in the Big Easy, not worrying too much about laws or governments.

It wasn’t until 1768 that de Ulloa began taking action by cracking down on the massive smuggling in New Orleans.  Spanish tariffs and trade restrictions had been virtually ignored for years.  Merchant vessels had been coming and going at will, with almost nothing being paid to officials.  The Governor’s attempts to get the locals to obey the laws that had been on the books for years, and to pay tariffs was too much for the locals to take.  Several French locals, still holding official positions in the Spanish government, encouraged the locals to fight back.  Riots broke out in New Orleans in October 1768.  Governor de Ulloa, still without any real military support, just boarded a ship and left Louisiana.  

The locals, having won, put in place their own government again, reinstated Aubry as governor, and sent delegations to France, begging the King once again to take back the territory.  Once again, the King ignored their pleas.

Meanwhile, Spain decided it needed to get serious about Louisiana. It sent Alejandro O’Reilly to put down the revolt.  O’Reilly was an Irish-born soldier who had taken a Spanish commission as a young man and had risen through the ranks of the Spanish Army during the War of Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War.  He had more recently set up Spanish military defenses at Puerto Rico, and married a Cuban woman from a leading family.

Alejandro O'Reilly
O’Reilly, raised a force of about 2100 Cubans, with a fleet of 23 ships, and sailed for New Orleans.  The show of force was enough for the locals to accept O’Reilly as the new leader.  A bloodless return of power to Spain took place quickly.  The Spanish flag finally flew over New Orleans.

O’Reilly called in nine of the ringleaders of the revolt to hear their reasons for the overthrow of de Ulloa.  When they arrived, he told them they had committed treason and were all under arrest.  Six of the men eventually hanged.  Other prominent members of the revolt were imprisoned in Cuba or exiled from Louisiana.  The properties of many elite families involved in the revolt were confiscated.

The local Creole’s were taken aback by the brutal response to what had been a bloodless event up until this time.  They gave him the nickname Bloody O’Reilly for executing leaders from some of the top Creole families.  But the actions drove home that Louisiana was, in fact, Spanish, and that trying to change that would be dealt with harshly.  

After less than a year, O’Reilly left in 1770, turning over command to Luis de Unzaga. Although Unzaga had served under O’Reilly and participated in the crackdown.  His tenure as governor tried to restore good relations with the locals.  Unzaga granted pardons to many of the revolt leaders still in prison and married the daughter of an elite Creole family.  Under his rule, Louisianans came to accept Spanish rule.

It was under Unzaga’s Administration that he began corresponding with George Washington, and appears to have provided some military assistance to the rebellion in the British colonies.  Unzaga also opened up the port at New Orleans to patriot privateers and merchant ships, all during the time when Spain was still officially a neutral party.

After Unzaga received a promotion to become Captain-General of Venezuela, Bernardo de Galvez became Louisiana’s new governor in 1777.  Galvez inherited a sparsely populated colony that bordered British West Florida and which had a 1300 mile border with the British colonies along the Mississippi River.  The French locals had accepted Spanish rule, but were still wary of it.  Galvez, soon after taking office, married a daughter of a prominent creole family, in fact she was the sister of Unzaga’s wife.  He continued the policies of allowing American shipping into New Orleans, and permitted military supplies to be taken up the Mississippi River, then to the Ohio River, where it eventually reached the Americans via Fort Pitt. 

So even before Spain got involved in the war, it covertly assisted the American rebellion, mostly to weaken its enemy, Britain.  However, unlike its ally France, Spain never formed an alliance with the United States during the war.  When Spain declared War on Britain in June of 1779, it allied with France, but made no treaty with the United States. King Carlos ordered that Spanish soldiers would not fight alongside the Americans.  Instead, Spain would focus on taking more colonies in America, and around the world from its enemy, Britain.

British West Florida

Days after Spain declared war on Britain, the ministry in London sent secret orders to General John Campbell in Pensacola, West Florida, ordering him to attack New Orleans and take control of Spanish Louisiana.  

Campbell was a longtime veteran of the British Army, having fought in the Jacobite Rising, the War of Austrian Succession, and the Seven Years War.  He came to America as a colonel in 1776 under  General Cornwallis, serving in the New York Campaign, and in late 1778, leading the raid on Egg Harbor (see Episode 199).  Shortly after that, he received promotion to brigadier general and command of West Florida, headquartered in Pensacola.  West Florida includes what we call today the Florida panhandle, as well as what is today southern Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.  It extended all the way to the Mississippi River, to Spanish-controlled New Orleans, with its western outpost at Baton Rouge.  

Campbell complained that he had almost no soldiers to defend the colony.  He had brought a few companies of loyalists and Germans to supplement his two regiments of regulars.  He found the colony’s defenses to be in no condition to fend off an attack.  He also noted that he had no money to pay his soldiers and had to give them paper notes for several months.  Campbell sent repeated calls for more soldiers, guns, and money, but got rather little.  Instead, London promoted him to major general and told him to work it out with what he had.

When war with Spain finally did come in June, the ministry ordered Campbell to attack New Orleans. Secretary of State Germain authorized him to work with the navy in Jamaica in order to get the support he needed for an invasion.

Unfortunately, Campbell never received those orders.  Instead, they were intercepted by a ship that delivered them to Spanish Governor Galvez.  Once aware that Spain and Britain were at war and that the British had orders to attack Louisiana, Galvez decided that the best defense was a good offense.

Fort Bute

The first target for Galvez was Fort Bute, a small British garrison on the British side of the Mississippi River, a little over 100 miles up river from New Orleans.  The fort had only about two  dozen Hessian soldiers.  Galvez had received notification of war, and the British attack plans in late July.  By the end of August, he had recruited a force of about 600 soldiers, about a quarter of which had been Spanish regulars.  The remainder were new recruits, along with about 60 local militia and ten American volunteers under the command of Oliver Pollock.  As he led his army toward Fort Bute, he was joined by more volunteers so that nearly 1400 men in total joined the campaign. Many of these were Native American warriors.  Several dozen of the volunteers were free blacks living in Louisiana.  

While the column lost several hundred men to desertion during the march, they were still no match for the handful of defenders at Fort Bute.  When Galvez arrived with his army on September 6, he had to inform the local garrison that Spain and Britain were at war, and demanded their surrender.  The garrison refused at first.  It was already late in the day when Galvez arrived, so he waited until morning to begin his attack.

The fight that morning has been described only as a light skirmish, after which the garrison surrendered.  One defender was killed, a sentry at the fort.  Two others were wounded.  Six others managed to escape, and made their way to Baton Rouge, about ten miles further upriver, to warn the larger garrison there of the coming attack. Galvez rested his men for six days, preparing for the more serious battle against Baton Rouge.

Baton Rouge

On September 12, the Spanish army approached Baton Rouge.  The British commander there, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Dickson, commanded a larger force of about 400 regulars, supplemented by about 150 loyalist militia.  Dickson had recognized early on that Fort Bute was not really defensible, which is why he left only a token force there.

Instead, the British had spent the prior few weeks building Fort New Richmond.  The defenses included a high earthen wall, a moat, chevaux de frise, and thirteen cannon.  These defenses gave the British the ability to hold off a larger force.

Galvez had brought cannons with him, but his soldiers arrived well before the cannons.  The Spanish surrounded the fort to prevent communications with other British garrisons further upriver, but did not have the firepower to take down the defenses.

Galvez sent his militia through a wooded area to test the British defenses.  British cannons opened up on the attackers with massed volleys.  However, because the attackers were in a wooded area, they were able to take cover and took only three fatal casualties.

British Surrender at Baton Rouge
The Spanish laid siege for several weeks as Galvez awaited the arrival of his cannons by ship.  Once they arrived, Galvez had a portion of his army make a great deal of noise at night to draw British attention and fire.  At the same time, on another side of the fort, Galvez had other soldiers dig trenches and install his cannons for use against the fort.  The following morning, September 21, Galvez opened fire on the fort.

After a three hour artillery duel, Galvez paused and offered the British the opportunity to surrender.  Colonel Dickson accepted.  Part of the surrender terms included an agreement that Fort Panmure, at modern day Natchez, about 90 miles upriver from Baton Rouge, would also surrender its garrison of eighty men.  Galvez sent a contingent of 50 men, along with a British messenger, to take Fort Panmure.  The British commander there was obviously perturbed that Colonel Dickson had surrendered his force without any consultation, and accused Dickson of throwing his garrison under the bus in order to get better terms for his own garrison.  Despite his annoyance, Dickson followed orders and surrendered the fort.


With the surrender of Fort Bute, Fort New Richmond, and Fort Panmure, the Spanish took complete control of the Mississippi River and the western portion of West Florida.  Spanish privateers also captured several British supply ships on the river and on Lake Pontchartrain, including one with 54 German soldiers.  Galvez left the bulk of his regulars at Baton Rouge and returned to New Orleans with about 50 soldiers to celebrate his victory.  As a reward for his initiative, Galvez would see a commission as a general.

A few days after Fort Panmure surrendered, a British messenger arrived at the fort warning the commander that Spain and Britain were at war and that he should join General Campbell in Pensacola for an attack on New Orleans.  So Campbell was finally getting the word out, but it was far too late.  Spain had taken the initiative and had secured the region.

Next Week, we head back to New York as General John Sullivan takes on the effort to clear out the Iroquois and secure upstate New York for the patriots.

- - -

Next Episode 230 Sullivan Campaign 

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Further Reading


Bernardo de Galvez,

Fleming, Thomas “Bernardo De Gálvez” American Heritage Magazine, Vol. 33, Iss. 3, April/May 1982:

Trickey, Erick, “The Little-Remembered Ally Who Helped America Win the Revolution” Smithsonian Magazine, Jan. 13, 2017,

Spanish Colonial Louisiana:

Slavery in Spanish Colonial Louisiana:

Haarmann, Albert W. “The Spanish Conquest of British West Florida, 1779-1781.” The Florida Historical Quarterly, vol. 39, no. 2, 1960, pp. 107–134. JSTOR,

Battle of Baton Rouge:

The Battle of Baton Rouge:

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

Gayarré, Charles History of Louisiana: The Spanish Domination, New York: William J. Widdleton, 1867. 

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

De Ville, Winston Yo Solo: The Battle Journal of Bernardo de Galvez During the American Revolution, Claitor's Law Books and Publishing, 2011. 

Haynes, Robert V. The Natchez District and the American Revolution, Univ. Press of MS, 1976. 

Paquette, Gabriel (ed) & Gonzalo M. Quintero Saravia (Editor) Spain and the American Revolution: New Approaches and Perspectives, Routledge, 2019. 

Quintero Saravia, Gonzalo M. Bernardo de Gálvez: Spanish Hero of the American Revolution, Univ. of NC Press, 2018. 

* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.