Sunday, October 29, 2023

ARP286 Sumter's Law

Last week we covered a number of skirmishes throughout South Carolina in early 1781.  The battle of Guilford Courthouse had left the British army under General Cornwallis decimated.  He retreated to Hillsborough, North Carolina to claim British control of that colony, but really just needed to recuperate and regroup.

General Greene moved his Continentals into South Carolina where he attacked several British outposts, forcing the British to abandon Camden and withdraw the bulk of their forces in the state back to the area around Charleston.  Greene made great use of Colonel Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion during this time, as well as Light Horse Harry Lee and William Washington.

Sumter Returns

One key officer I’ve not mentioned in a while was South Carolina General Thomas Sumter, who had been injured in late 1780 at the Battle of Blackstock’s Plantation.  It was at that battle that Sumter got the nickname “The Gamecock” after British Colonel Banastre Tarleton noted that Sumter had fought like a Gamecock.

Thomas Sumter

Due to his injuries, Sumter spent a few months recuperating at a friend’s plantation.  The British still had a price on his head, so he had to lay low while he recovered.  Sumter had managed to avoid most of the major battles in the Carolina.  He had been retired when the British captured Charleston.  He was detached from the main army under Horatio Gates when they attacked Camden.  He missed the Battle of King’s Mountain because he was away trying to find Governor Rutherford to confirm that he had the authority to command South Carolina’s army.  He was recovering from his wounds during the Race to the Dan and the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.

This is not to say he was not active.  He had fought a bunch of smaller battles and skirmishes during a time when the Continental army had largely abandoned the Carolinas.  His reputation had only grown during this time as the commander of a guerilla army that prevented the British from restoring the King’s peace to the Carolinas.

Sumter’s injury at Blackrock had occurred only days before General Greene had taken command of the army.  So, while the two men had corresponded, they never met in person or fought in battle together.  

Sumter had been upset when Greene gave General Daniel Morgan the command of an army that was fighting along the Carolina frontier.  Morgan was executing a strategy that Sumter had recommended. Even if Sumter was not well enough to take command, Sumter felt slighted that Greene had given the command to Morgan without consulting him.

For a time, Sumter caused problems by ordering South Carolina militia not to obey any order that did not come from him.  The power politics between the militia in the southern states and the Continental army had been a problem since the beginning of the war.  Sumter continued this problem.

Greene learned of this division and wrote to Sumter, trying to sooth over the general’s ruffled pride.  Sumter eventually made nice with Morgan and did what he could.  From his sick bed, however, Sumter coordinated intelligence and logistical support for the Continentals.  

The war moved into North Carolina for a time, and Morgan eventually had to return home to Virginia.  Following Guilford Courthouse in March 1781, Greene returned to South Carolina.   With Sumter still out of the saddle due to his injuries, Greene relied primarily on Colonel Marion for local leadership.  But Greene assured that he would respect Sumter’s command of all South Carolina forces.

By this time, Sumter had recovered sufficiently to ride and was back in the field.  He had begun skirmishing with British outposts and supply trains in South Carolina again, even while the main Continental Army was still in North Carolina.  I mentioned last week that Sumter had attacked Fort Watson weeks before Marion and Lee took the fort.

Sumter’s Law

As the spring fighting season began, however, Sumter found most of his army disappearing.  Militia enlistments had expired, and men needed to return home for their spring planting.  He needed his own army of South Carolina regulars.  

While regulars usually made better and more reliable soldiers, the problem was that you had to pay them. Civil government in South Carolina did not really exist after the fall of Charleston, so Sumter took it upon himself to come up with a scheme of payment for his new army.  The pay deal for the new army became known as “Sumter’s law”.

He offered recruits new uniforms and supplies, which he had from raids on enemy supply depots.  He also offered his soldiers the right to ⅔ of most plunder they took from the enemy, with the remaining third becoming army property.  The main exception was military supplies, which would remain army property. 

Even so, this was not enough to encourage many men to leave their farms and sign up for long term enlistments. So Sumter resorted to some of the most valuable property in the state: slaves.

Every recruit who signed up for a ten month stint would get his own slave at the end of his enlistment.  Officers, of course, got more.  A colonel would get three and a half slaves for a year of service (a slave over 40 or under 10 years would be considered “half”). The army would capture slaves from loyalist plantations for this purpose.  Recruiters received on slave for every 25 soldiers that they enlisted.

The decision to pay for an army with captured slaves was a controversial one.  Colonel Marion refused to participate in the recruitment of soldiers under these terms.  This is not to say that here were abolitionists in South Carolina. There really weren’t any.  But many saw that systematically stripping property from civilians as a bad precedent.  This practice might encourage more loyalists to enlist with the enemy to protect their property. There were also those who saw the inevitable separation of slave families as inhumane.  

Despite objections, the policy went into effect.  Governor Rutledge gave the plan his tacit approval.  Colonel Andrew Pickens raised his quota under Sumter’s law.  General Greene expressed concerns to Sumter about plunder generally, but ignored weighing in on the slaves-for-service policy.

Fort Granby

With his recruiting drive in place, Sumter expected to have a much larger army by April.  In the meantime, Sumter set his sights on Fort Granby, a British outpost near a ferry on the Congaree River.  The fort’s commander was Major Andrew Maxwell, who commanded a garrison of about 300 loyalists.

In February 1782, Sumter learned that the fort was running low on stores.  His small army at the time consisted of 280 men.  He hoped he might capture the fort with just them.  Sumter’s first effort was to paint some logs black to appear as if they were cannons.  He called on the fort to surrender.  The enemy commander, however, at least suspected this was a bluff and refused to surrender.  Sumter then ordered his men to charge the fort walls, but were easily repulsed. 

With that, Sumter settled in to besiege the fort, using rifle fire to harass the enemy garrison.  He called on Colonel Marion to bring reinforcements to take the fort.  Marion never made it there.  The siege began in February, before Lord Rawdon was forced to abandon nearby Camden.  Rawdon dispatched 600 infantry, 200 cavalry, and two field artillery pieces as a relief force to break the siege.

When Sumter learned the relief force was on its way, he lifted the siege and moved down river to attack a loyalist plantation instead.

In early May, Sumter had raised a larger army.  He thought this would be a good time to renew his effort to take Fort Granby.  He brought an army of between 400 and 500 men to renew the siege.  Inside the fort, Major Maxwell had increased his garrison to about 340 loyalists and had five or six cannons.

Sumter sent a request to Greene for artillery.  Greene sent one cannon.  Realizing that the siege was mostly going to involve a lot of waiting until the garrison go hungry, Sumter left a small portion of his army to continue the siege, while he took the cannon and the bulk of his force to attack the town of Orangeburg, more than a day’s march to the south.

Sumter’s army arrived at Orangeburg on the night of May 10.  The following morning, the loyalist garrison at Orangeburg under Colonel John Fish surrendered.  This was a much smaller force of six officers and 83 men.  Sumter also captured a valuable cache of supplies.

Sumter sent the prisoners to General Greene, although the guards taking them apparently murdered some of the prisoners during the march.  Sumter took the remainder of his army to Fort Motte, where he thought Light Horse Harry Lee and Francis Marion were still holding the fort under siege.  On his arrival, he learned that the Americans had already taken the fort and moved on.  Sumter then returned to Orangeburg for a few days.

While Sumter was away at Orangeburg, Light Horse Harry Lee rode to Granby with about 400 or 500 infantry as well as a cannon of his own.  He had just succeeded in taking Fort Motte and was aware that Lord Rawdon was in the process of returning to Charleston.

Lee fired on the fort that evening with his cannon and infantry.  The next morning, May 15, Lee called on the garrison to surrender.  Maxwell agreed to surrender on two conditions: his men could keep the plunder they had in the fort, and that they could withdraw to Charleston on parole and wait there to be exchanged. The rest of the fort’s stores would be turned over to the Americans.

Lee agreed to the terms and permitted the enemy to depart with their horses and wagons.  The Americans took command of the fort as well as nearly 200 muskets and 9000 cartridges, along with powder, lead, and flints.

Sumter soon learned that Lee had ended the siege at Fort Granby.  He was upset at the terms given to the garrison and that he had, once again, been absent for the battle and missed out on the plunder.  Sumter tried to submit his resignation, citing trouble with his wounds.  

A few weeks earlier, Greene had considered putting Sumter under arrest for his failure to come to Greene’s support at Hobkirk Hill.  But Greene thought better of it and realized the war effort would be best served by keeping Sumter in the field. To help mollify Sumter’s hard feelings over missing the fall of Fort Granby, Greene turned over to Sumter many of the slaves that had been captured in order to pay his army.


With the success in South Carolina, patriots began to maneuver into a position that would allow them to recover most of Georgia as well.  Savannah was too well garrisoned and with naval support, meaning it would be too difficult to recapture.  But retaking the back country and forcing the British to crouch defensively around Savannah did seem possible.  The key to the Georgia backcountry was taking Augusta.

The patriots had threatened Augusta the previous fall, when Georgia Colonel Elijah Clarke launched an assault in September of 1780 before withdrawing after a few days.  But by the spring of 1781, with the British army mostly having left the south, patriot leaders thought they could try again.  

By mid-April several patriot companies had established a fortified camp near Augusta.  This small group primarily acquired intelligence about the town’s defenses and harassed communications and supply lines.  

The Americans found that the loyalists had constructed a pretty impressive defensive system.  Fort Cornwallis became the primary defensive fort, about 200 yards northwest of town.  The garrison had cleared fields of fire around the fort.  Its walls, canons, and other barriers would require an overwhelming force to capture it.  

Two smaller forts, Grierson and Galphin, also helped to secure the town. These smaller forts were more fortified houses.  They could withstand a small raid, but not a full on attack with hundreds of soldiers.  Fort Grierson was only about a half mile from Fort Cornwallis.  Galphin was an isolated outpost about 12 miles away.

In total, the British had 236 provincial regulars and 131 militia.  There were also about 300 Native Americans with them.  Some warriors, but many of those were women and children.  There were also about 200 slaves supporting the forts.

The British commander was Thomas “Burnfoot” Brown.  I’ve discussed Colonel Brown before. He had built a plantation near Augusta before the war.  He got his nickname when patriots literally burned the bottoms of his feet in an attempt to get him to go against the King and swear allegiance to the patriot cause.  Brown had to flee to Florida, where he formed a legion that maintained attacks on Georgia in the early part of the war.  He returned to Georgia with the British Army in 1779 and was one of the most stalwart loyalist leaders in the region.  Like many loyalist leaders, he had ordered the hanging of rebels and knew that he was literally fighting for his life.  He would not surrender easily.

Over the next few weeks, Elijah Clarke brought more patriot reinforcements to threaten loyalist supply lines.  General Andrew Pickens moved a force of 400 militia in between Augusta and Fort Ninety Six so that the fort garrison could not come to the relief of any attack on Augusta.

General Greene deployed Light Horse Harry Lee to join the militia gathering around Augusta.  Lee had a force of several hundred that had just taken Fort Granby.  His men were a mix of mounted and foot soldiers.  Lee’s fear was that the garrison at Fort Ninety-Six would attack and disperse the militia around Augusta before his forces could get there.    As a result, he rushed to the area, having his mounted forces ride ahead, then walk for a time, leaving their horses for the foot soldiers to catch up. Those soldiers would then ride ahead of those walking, leave the horses and walk themselves.  This process of sharing the horses allowed his army to cover 75 miles of back country in only three days.

With Lee’s arrival, along with the forces already there, The patriots had about 1500 soldiers, about a third of whom were Continentals, the rest were militia.

The first target for the patriots was the isolated outpost at Fort Galphin.  It was named for its owner, George Galphin, who was an Indian agent.  As I said, it was just a reinforced house, but it had over 100 defenders.  

A combined force under Clarke and Lee attacked Galphin on May 21.  The attackers used an old but effective trick. They made a weak attack on the fort then retreated. The garrison sent out a patrol to ride down the attackers and kill them.  Once they rode out, A force of Continentals hiding nearby rushed into the fort and took possession rather quickly.

About ten attackers were wounded in the battle.  The only fatal casualty on the American side was a man who died of a heat stroke.  After three or four defenders were killed, the garrison surrendered.  The primary object of taking Galphin was to capture a large cache of supplies there, which were intended as gifts for local tribes.

The larger forces at Forts Grierson and Cornwallis knew they were next.  The commander at Grierson sent out a patrol the following day, managing to surprise a group of patriot militia and capturing about 400 horses.

The day after that, General Pickens and Colonel Lee brought up a larger force to surround Grierson.  Like Galphin, Fort Grierson was named after the commander and property owner, loyalist Colonel James Grierson.

On May 24, patriot forces opened up on Grierson with field cannon and a militia charge.  Back at Fort Cornwallis, Colonel Brown attempted to send a relief force but was driven back inside his fort by enemy fire.

The garrison at Fort Grierson had only a little over one hundred defenders, and quickly recognized that they were outnumbered.  Colonel Grierson and his men decided to flee the fort and tried to break through the enemy lines in an attempt to reach Fort Cornwallis, about a half mile away.  A few dozen men managed to make it.  The patriots engaged with the fleeing garrison.  They killed about thirty of them.  According to battle accounts, many of those killed were trying to surrender, but killed anyway.  The patriots did capture another 45 or so.  They also captured the fort’s two cannons, which would soon be used against Fort Cornwallis.

Even isolated, Fort Cornwallis was much more defensible and had a larger garrison.  The patriots opted not to try to storm the fort, but settled in for siege.  As the siege began, the patriots began building a tower near the fort in order to be able to fire over its walls.  

Brown sent one of his men to pose as a deserter, in an effort to burn the tower.  Colonel Lee, however, did not believe the man’s story and had him arrested.  There was also a small abandoned house near the tower.  Brown had filled in with gunpowder, in homes of blowing it up when the Americans surrounded it, but the patriots managed to take the house, and the powder, without it blowing up.

The patriots spent a week digging trenches closer to the walls of Fort Cornwallis.  Brown refused several calls to surrender.  By June 2, the attackers had managed to take out the defenders two cannons.  Two days later, June 4, Lee prepared for his final assault on the fort.  Before launching his attack, Lee gave the defenders one final chance to surrender.  Brown knew the end was near and only asked to surrender the following day since the 4th was the king’s birthday.  Lee permitted the surrender to take place on the 5th.

The terms of surrender allowed Brown and his King’s rangers to be released on parole and return to Savannah. The militia in the fort, however, would be held as prisoners of war.  Brown was so hated that he had to be escorted to Lee’s tent under a guard of Continentals, for fear that one of the patriot soldiers would try to kill him during the surrender.

The following day, Lee rode north with his Continentals, to assist with the Siege of Fort Ninety-six.  The militia escorted Brown and his men back to Savannah, although several patriot militia followed in an attempt to assassinate Brown.

Brown made it back to Savannah, but others were not as lucky.  Loyalist Colonel Grierson and his second in command Major Henry Williams were confined with their men and were to be given parole.  Instead, several militia shot them, wounding Williams and killing Grierson.  Afterward the term “Georgia parole” was used as a colloquialism for murder.

Next week: we follow Light Horse Harry back to South Carolina where he contends with the final British outpost in the back-country: Fort Ninety-Six.

- - -

Next Episode 287 Fort Ninety-Six

Previous Episode 285 Hobkirk Hill

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Further Reading


Waters, Andrew “Sumter's Rounds: The Ill-Fated Campaign of Thomas Sumter February-March 1781” Journal of the American Revolution, May 23, 2018

Robertson, Heard. “The Second British Occupation of Augusta, 1780-1781.” The Georgia Historical Quarterly, vol. 58, no. 4, 1974, pp. 422–46. JSTOR,

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

Crow, Jeffrey (ed) The Southern Experience in the American Revolution, Univ. of NC Press, 1978.

Greene, George Washington The Life of Nathanael GreeneVol. 1Vol. 2, & Vol. 3, New York: Cambridge Univ. Press 1867-1871. 

Gregorie, Anne King Thomas Sumter, Sumter County Genealogical Society, 2000 (borrow only).

Hartley, Cecil B. Life of Major General Henry Lee & The Life of General Thomas Sumter, New York: Derby & Jackson, 1859. 

Weigley, Russell Frank The Partisan War: the South Carolina Campaign of 1780-1782, Univ. of SC Press, 1970 (borrow only). 

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Bass, Robert D. Gamecock: The Life And Campaigns Of General Thomas Sumter, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1961 (borrow on

Berlin, Ira (ed) Slavery and freedom in the age of the American Revolution, Charlottesville: Univ. Press of Va. 1983 (borrow on

Carbone, Gerald Nathanael Greene: A Biography of the American Revolution, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010 (borrow on 

Ferling, John Winning Independence: The Decisive Years of the Revolutionary War, 1778-1781, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2021. 

Golway, Terry Washington's General : Nathanael Greene and the triumph of the American Revolution, H. Holt, 2006. (borrow on

Lumpkin, Henry From Savannah to Yorktown: the American Revolution in the South, Univ of SC Press, 1981 (borrow on 

Tonsetic, Robert L. 1781: The Decisive Year of the Revolutionary War, Casemate, 2011 (borrow on 

* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

ARP285 Hobkirk Hill

We last left Nathanael Greene‘s, southern army at the battle of Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina in March 1781. After that battle, Greene had to decide what to do next. Although he technically lost the battle by withdrawing from the field, he had inflicted a grievous wound on General Cornwallis’ British army by taking so many British casualties.

General Cornwallis retreated eastward with his army to Wilmington, North Carolina. At first Greene shadowed Cornwallis.  But as the British army got closer to the coast, Greene knew he was not going to pick a fight where the army had backup from the British Navy.  He would only fight the British on ground that he chose.

The North Carolina militia that was with Greene would see its enlistments end at the end of March.  The men needed to get home and begin their planting season and were not inclined to stick with Greene.  With that, Greene’s army shrank back mostly to its core of Continentals.

Greene decided to leave North Carolina again, this time moving southward to South Carolina. If he could get Cornwallis to follow him, he could draw the British out of North Carolina and back further south.  That would be a strategic victory for the Continentals.  If Cornwallis did not follow, Greene could pick off the British and loyalist outposts in the backcountry of South Carolina and Georgia.

In many ways, Greene’s decision to move south violated good military practice. He knew that forces were gathering in Virginia, and that by moving away from those armies, he was once again dividing Continental forces in the face of a larger enemy that was concentrating its army, for an obvious attack. Green also risked that Cornwallis would chase after him and attack him in his rear while he was focused on other targets.

Greene’s second in command, the Baron Von Steuben said as much in letters to Greene. Von Steuben hoped that Greene would provide him with some assistance in Virginia against the growing army under General William Phillips. Instead, Greene was running in the other direction. When Von Steuben asked Greene in letters about why he was headed away from the enemy. Greene responded in a letter. “don’t be surprised if my movements don’t correspond with your Ideas of military propriety. War is an intricate business and people are often [saved] by ways and means they least look for or expect.”

Green went on to explain in his letter that because his march southward made no military sense that it would confuse general Cornwallis. Perhaps it would make the enemy think that he had some secret reason for doing what he was doing. But, of course, he really didn’t have any secret reasons. He was just trying to confuse the enemy by violating some basic precepts of good military strategy. 

Fort Watson 

In South Carolina, the British still had thousands of soldiers. Most of them, however, were stationed around Charleston.  They maintained several outposts to assert control of the entire state.  One of the largest was at Camden, where the British defeated the Continentals a year earlier.  If Greene could take Camden, it would be seen as a major victory.

In order to isolate and weaken Camden, Greene first tried to cut off the supply lines between Camden and Charleston.  He gave that mission to his cavalry commander, Colonel Light Horse Harry Lee.  He told Lee to link up with Colonel Francis Marion’s local militia.

The British had built a small fort along the Santee River between Camden and Charleston to facilitate supply lines.  Fort Watson got its name from the British officer who ordered its construction: Lieutenant Colonel John Tadwell Watson.   British Lieutenant James McKay commanded a garrison of 114 regulars and loyalists.  Given the number of patriot raids in the region, it was designed to withstand a sizable attack.  The defenders had set the fort on high ground, with a wall surrounded by three rows of abatis.  They had cut down all trees within rifle range in order to deny cover to any attackers.  

General Thomas Sumter had attacked the fort in February, but without success.  However the attack caused Colonel Watson to pursue Sumter, which is why Lieutenant McKay commanded the fort with a reduced garrison.

Lee and Marion targeted the fort.  Taking it would not only isolate Camden from Charleston.  The attackers also wanted the food and ammunition stored at the fort.  Lee had about 300 men under his command.  Marion had another 80.  The combined forces approached the fort on April 15, 1781 and demanded its surrender.

Although the British garrison was outnumbered nearly four to one, McKay was confident of his defenses and refused to surrender.  Given the defenses, the attackers hoped to avoid a frontal attack and had no artillery to assault the fort.  Instead, they settled in for a siege.

At the outset, things did not look good for the attackers. They tried to cut off the fort’s access to water, but the garrison had a well within the fort walls.  Marion’s militia also faced an outbreak of smallpox, although fortunately the Continentals under Lee were inoculated.  If the siege went on too long, a relief force from Charleston might chase off the Americans.

After about a week, the Americans decided on a new plan.  The fort was built on a mound of about 22 feet.  On that was a seven foot wall.  The attackers needed a way to get over that wall.

Maham Tower at Ft. Watson
One of the American officers, Major Hezekiah Maham, suggested they build a tower and use riflemen to fire into the fort.  Over the next five days, the soldiers cut down trees and put together the parts for a tower, known as Maham Tower.  They did this in the forest, out of sight of the garrison.

The men dragged out their parts and assembled the fort overnight on April 22.  The tower stood over forty feet tall and allowed riflemen to fire through loopholes cut into wooden defenses that were built into the tower.  The riflemen had a clear shot over the wall at anyone inside the fort.

The next morning several riflemen climbed into the tower, supported by a larger detachment of soldiers  behind man-made defenses at its base.  

The British fired on the tower, killing two Americans.  Inside the fort, several men were hit, including Lieutenant McKay, who was wounded. The riflemen in the tower forced everyone in the fort to take cover, meaning they could not provide much defensive fire.  The attackers used this opportunity to disassemble the abatis and prepare for an all out attack on the fort walls.

Lieutenant McKay, seeing preparations for a final assault, surrendered the fort and its garrison.  The Americans captured the fort supplies, and then destroyed the fort.  Under the terms of the surrender, the Americans allowed the surrendering officers to keep their swords and baggage, and return to Charleston under parole.  The enlisted regulars, about two-thirds of those captured, were also permitted to return to Charleston and await exchange.  The thirty-six loyalists, however, were taken as prisoners.

All of the supplies in the fort went to Lee’s Continentals, except for the ammunition, which Marion’s men desperately needed to continue to fight.  After removing the supplies from the fort, Marion ordered it burned so that the British could not come back and occupy it again after they left.

Hobkirk Hill

Even before the Siege at Fort Watson had ended, General Greene moved his main army closer to Camden in hopes of taking that outpost.  Rather than a direct attack, Greene set up a defensive position just north of Camden at a place known as Hobkirk Hill.

Camden, at the time, was only a small village of twenty one houses.  But the British had built defenses all around the town that would make any direct attack costly.  There were eight earthen redoubts, surrounded by ditches and abatis.

Nathanael Greene
Greene had about 1500 Continentals which he deployed on April 20th.  The British were already aware of his presence. Continental skirmishers engaged with British pickets the day before to test their defenses.   Greene might have had more soldiers, but on the eve of battle, 250 of his North Carolina militia insisted that their enlistments were up and that they be discharged.  Greene personally pleaded with them to stay, noting they were about to go into battle, but they refused and left the rest of the army as they marched home.

Hobkirk Hill offered the Americans the high ground.  The position gave them a good view of an approaching enemy with a forest on one side and a swamp on the other, thus preventing a surprise attack on their flanks.

On the night of April 24, an American deserter entered the British lines at Camden.  He told the commander, Lieutenant Colonel Francis Rawdon, that Greene was still awaiting reinforcements and that he did not yet have his artillery.  If the British launched a surprise attack, they could be victorious.

Lord Rawdon was only twenty six years old at the time, but was an experienced officer.  He had been fighting in the Revolution since he had led his regiment at Bunker Hill, six years earlier.  Cornwallis had left Rawdon in full command of the South Carolina frontier, which included pretty much everything outside of the greater Charleston area.

Rawdon figured that an attack would be his best opportunity, and prepared to march out to the enemy the following morning.  If Greene did not have his artillery yet, and could link up with Lee and Marion after a few days, attacking now was Rawdon’s best option.

At around 9:00 on the morning of April 25, Rawdon marched out of Camden with 900 soldiers. These included several regiments of regulars, several provincial regiments with considerable battlefield experience, and two field cannon.  He did not know that Greene’s force was considerably larger than his, and did have its artillery in place.

Greene had sent some of his artillery away, after hearing a rumor that reinforcements were on their way to Camden to support Rawdon.  But when those rumors proved false, the artillery returned to Hobkirk Hill, and was in place by the morning of the battle.  At around 11:00 the British column ran into the American pickets, Delaware Continentals under the command of Captain Robert Kirkwood.  The skirmishing that took place gave the Americans time to form up their lines on the hill.

Two Maryland regiments, under the overall command of Colonel Otho Holland Williams, made up the American left flank.  Two Virginia Regiments under General Isaac Huger made up the right flank.  The British came through the woods, formed ranks and began a slow advance toward the Americans.

Hobkirk Hill
Seeing that the American lines were longer than the British lines, Greene ordered his own lines to advance as well, hoping to envelop both flanks of the British line.  Seeing the problem, Rawdon brought up his reserves to extend his lines.  

Even so, Rawdon had only about 900 soldiers against nearly 1500 under Greene. As the two lines advanced, things began to break down.  

On the left flank, after Captain William Beaty was shot dead, the Maryland line began to collapse.  The regiment’s Colonel John Gunby ordered his men to pull back and reform.  But his second in command did not get the orders and continued to advance with only part of the regiment.  The other Maryland regiment’s commander, Colonel Benjamin Ford, also fell leading to even more confusion.

On the right flank the First Virginia Regiment took heavy fire and also pulled back, leaving the Second Virginia to take the full brunt of the British advance.  

Green had sent his cavalry under William Washington on a long ride to get around the British rear and attack them from behind. But before Washington could get to the battlefield, it was over.

With his lines descending into chaos, Greene ordered a retreat and abandoned Hobkirk Hill.  

Despite the battlefield confusion, the lines managed to withdraw without collapsing in a panicked run.  Greene was even able to withdraw his cannons, although he personally had to get off his horse and help push the cannons off the field.

The Americans fell back about six miles.  The British did not pursue.  Rawdon was already out numbered.  He did not want to get too far from his base at Camden, especially if the Americans might soon receive reinforcements.  Rawdon pulled back to Camden.

The fight had been a brutal one.  The British lost over 200 killed and wounded, and another 50 captured.  The Americans took 270 casualties, about half of those being captured. Among the prisoners captured by the Americans were perhaps two dozen who were believed to be American deserters.  Greene held court martials and hanged at least five of them

Following the battle Greene was depressed.  He outnumbered the enemy, even without having to rely on militia, and still lost the battle.  He blamed his field officers for the loss, particularly Colonel Gunby.  He even called a court in inquiry into Gunby’s actions during the battle. Greene also expressed a concern to other officers that they might be pushed back into the mountains and have to cede South Carolina to the British, even without Cornwallis to defend the state.

A few days later though, his mood brightened. Lord Rawdon, following the bloody battle, and after hearing about the fall of Fort Watson, decided that his outpost at Camden was too much of a risk.  On May 10, the British evacuated Camden and marched back to Charleston. 

Fort Motte

Even before the British withdrew from Camden, Greene continued his efforts to take out smaller British outposts wherever possible.  Following the fall of Fort Watson, Green ordered Lee and Marion to take Fort Motte, a supply depot on the Congaree River.

Although Lee and Marion had fought well together at Fort Watson, there were divisions between Marion’s militia and the Continentals.  One flash point at this time was over horses.  Marion had been confiscating horses from locals that he believed to be loyalists.  It was how he kept his militia mounted and on the move.  Greene, who was trying to improve public opinion toward the patriots, told Marion to stop doing this. 

Mrs. Motte directs officers to burn Fort Motte
Marion, who was already frustrated by the fact that his men were getting no food or supplies from anyone, threatened to resign his command if Greene was going to prevent him from taking what he needed from loyalists.  Greene had to backpedal and make sure that Marion continued to provide the necessary local support for actions against British outposts.

Fort Motte was set on a plantation.  Its owner was a widow named Rebecca Brewton Motte.  Her husband, Jabo Motte had fought for the patriots at Fort Moultrie in 1776, but had died of an illness in 1780.  The British took over the plantation in early 1781, allowing Rebecca and her family to reside in an old farmhouse.

The Motte plantation proved to be in a valuable position, near McCord’s Ferry, and along a route used to ship supplies from Charleston to Camden.  The British garrisoned the plantation with 80 regulars, 59 Hessians, and 45 loyalist militia, along with a single field cannon.  Command fell to British Lieutenant Donald McPherson.  The garrison occupied the plantation’s mansion, which sat at the top of a hill.  They build defenses, including abatis, a ditch, several palisades and a wooden parapet, along with two block houses to cover the flanks.  It was used primarily as a supply depot for goods shipped to the British garrison at Camden.

Before the British evacuated Camden, Greene viewed the capture of Fort Motte as yet another way to isolate the Camden outpost.  Lee’s legion, along with Marion’s militia, arrived at Fort Motte on May 7.

Fearing that  frontal assault against the defenses would prove too costly, Lee opted for a siege.  He had a single field cannon, which he positioned to fire at the mansion.  He then used his soldiers, supplemented by local slaves, to dig a zig zag trench toward the enemy lines.

Lord Rawdon

By May 10, the trenches were complete. Lee called for Lieutenant McPherson to surrender the fort.  Although heavily outnumbered, McPherson still hoped that a relief force from Camden would come to his rescue.  Although Lord Rawdon evacuated Camden that night, his army would march past Fort Motte on its way to Charleston and could relieve the garrison.

On the night of May 11, both the attackers and defenders saw British campfires in the distance, and anticipated the relief force would arrive within two days.

Lee decided the only way to win would be to set the mansion on fire and burn the fort.   He obtained Mrs. Motte’s consent to burn the home.  According to some accounts, he used flaming arrows. Other evidence suggests the men fired ramrods with combustibles attached onto the wooden roof.

British soldiers scrambled onto the roof to douse the fires, but Lee fired grapeshot from  his cannon to keep them away.  With the house now on fire, McPherson surrendered the fort. Both sides then struggled to put out the fire and save the mansion.

The British garrison was taken prisoner, and the Americans managed to capture a canon, 140 muskets, and a great many supplies being held at the depot.

Following the fort’s surrender, another fight erupted.  General Greene arrived at Fort Motte just after the British surrender, and just in time to enjoy a dinner with the officers of both sides in the dining room of the widow Motte’s farmhouse.  It was the first time Greene and Marion had met in person.  Also at the table was British Lieutenant McPherson, and several other captured officers who were now American prisoners.

As the officers enjoyed a dinner together, one of Lee’s officers, allegedly on Lee’s orders, hanged three of the captured loyalists.  These were men identified by the Americans as having burned patriot houses in earlier actions.

Upon hearing the news, Marion dashed out of the house to find two of the loyalists already dead, and a third dangling from a noose slowly suffocating.  He cut down the man and told the Continentals that he would personally kill any man who tried to hang any more of his prisoners.

Civil Authority

Tensions between militia and Continentals was nothing new. While Greene struggled to smooth over their differences, he had other concerns.  With Rawdon’s evacuation of Camden and the fall of key outposts, the patriots were re-asserting control of South Carolina.

Greene wrote to Governor John Rutledge, by this time in Philadelphia, to urge him to return to South Carolina and restore civil authority.  With British forces bottled up around Charleston, Greene wanted to establish that the rest of South Carolina was once again under patriot control.

Next week: we continue the battle for South Carolina as the fights continue over the last of the British outposts along the frontier.

- - -

Next Episode 286 Sumter's Law 

Previous Episode 284 Pensacola

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Further Reading


Dornfest, Walter T. “JOHN WATSON TADWELL WATSON AND THE PROVINCIAL LIGHT INFANTRY, 1780-1781.” Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, vol. 75, no. 304, 1997, pp. 220–29. JSTOR,

Price, David Hobkirk Hill: "A Major Minor Battle" Journal of the American Revolution, June 27th 2023.

Dacus, Jeff "The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Misfortune: The Fall of Fort Motte" Journal of the American Revolution, March 19, 2020.

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

Crow, Jeffrey (ed) The Southern Experience in the American Revolution, Univ. of NC Press, 1978.

Greene, George Washington The Life of Nathanael GreeneVol. 1Vol. 2, & Vol. 3, New York: Cambridge Univ. Press 1867-1871. 

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Carbone, Gerald Nathanael Greene: A Biography of the American Revolution, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010 (borrow on 

Ferling, John Winning Independence: The Decisive Years of the Revolutionary War, 1778-1781, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2021. 

Golway, Terry Washington's General : Nathanael Greene and the triumph of the American Revolution, H. Holt, 2006. (borrow on

Lumpkin, Henry From Savannah to Yorktown: the American Revolution in the South, Univ of SC Press, 1981 (borrow on 

Murphy, Daniel William Washington, American Light Dragoon: A Continental Cavalry Leader in the War of Independence, Westholme Publishing, 2014. 

Nelson, Paul D. Francis Rawdon-Hastings, Marquess of Hastings, Fairleigh Dickinson Univ. Press, 2005. 

Tonsetic, Robert L. 1781: The Decisive Year of the Revolutionary War, Casemate, 2011 (borrow on 

* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

ARP284 Pensacola

Most of what I’ve been covering recently is the fighting through the south: Virginia, Georgia, and the Carolinas.  This week I'm going to head a little further south.

While the British and Americans were fighting in the southern states, the British had another fight along the Gulf of Mexico.  We last focused on this region back in Episode 229 when Spain first entered the war in 1779.  Spanish General Bernardo de Gálvez took Baton Rouge and forced out the British outposts in what is today the state of Louisiana.

Spain was not planning on a defensive war.  It wanted to capture more territory wherever possible.  After Gálvez had secured the area around Baton Rouge, he prepared for new offensives on British outposts in what is today Alabama.

Fort Charlotte

Several months after his capture of Baton Rouge, Gálvez launched a fleet from New Orleans with the target of taking the British Fort Charlotte, on the western shore of Mobile Bay.  He had requested additional reinforcements from Cuba but had to proceed without them.  It took several weeks for the fleet to land on February 9, 1780, a few miles from Fort Charlotte.  A couple of weeks later, reinforcements from Cuba brought his total force to about 1200 soldiers.

Spanish Troops at Pensacola
Gálvez received word that the British garrison at Fort Charlotte was only about 300 men.  Fort Charlotte had originally been Fort Conde, built by the French.  At the end of the Seven Years War, the French burned the fort before turning the area over to the British.  Although the British had rebuilt the fort, by the time the Revolution began, it had fallen into disrepair again.  The garrison consisted of one regiment of regulars (the 60th) along with loyalists from Maryland and Pennsylvania, as well as some local militia.  Captain Elias Durnford commanded the fort.

On March 1, Gálvez demanded the fort’s surrender, which Durnford refused.  Gálvez prepared for a siege, setting up cannons around the fort.  Meanwhile Durnford sent an urgent request to General John Campbell at Pensacola for reinforcements.  Campbell sent a relief column, which had to march overland.  It was a difficult passage, made worse by heavy rains.

Spanish artillery hammered the fort for about two weeks, finally branching the fort walls on March 13.  The following day the British garrison surrendered.

With the fall of Fort Charlotte, Gálvez focused on the larger prize of Pensacola.  Until he could get more soldiers, however, Gálvez satisfied himself with securing Fort Charlotte, then traveling to Cuba to request more reinforcements.  

Gálvez had tried to bring a small fleet from Havana to Pensacola in the fall of 1780.  The offensive failed when a hurricane wiped out much of his force.  

Gálvez returned to Havana to raise another army.  He left a force of 200 Spanish regulars in a new fort on the eastern side of Mobile Bay, only about thirty miles from Pensacola.

Battle of Mobile Bay

General Campbell commanded about 500 soldiers at Pensacola.  Some were British regulars, along with a handful of Waldecker grenadiers.  Waldeck was one of many small German states, like the Hessians, who had rented out soldiers to the British army.

The bulk of Campbell’s forces were provincial regiments from Pennsylvania and Maryland.  After the hurricane severely weakened Spanish forces, Campbell sent a force of about 800 men led by Waldecker Captain Johann von Hanxleden.  None of these were regulars.  Hanxleden took a company of Waldeckers, but half of his force was made up of Loyalists.  The other half was Creek, Chickasaw and Chocktaw warriors who had agreed to fight with the British.

The Hanxleden expedition took three days to reach the Spanish defenses on January 6, 1781.  The British attacked the following morning at dawn. Many of the surprised Spanish were caught outside of the defenses.  When about forty soldiers rushed for a nearby boat, the attackers fired a volley and cut them down. Native warriors then rushed after the dead and wounded to scalp them.

The main Spanish force got into its defenses and opened fire.  The Spanish commander on site, Lieutenant RamĂłn de Castro y GutiĂ©rrez launched a bayonet charge against the enemy.  The British commander, Captain Hanxleden was killed along with about twenty other soldiers.  Although the Spanish were heavily outnumbered, the charge surprised the attackers who turned and fled.  The remaining expedition returned to Pensacola.

British Defenses

Over the winter, the British received more reinforcements.  By early 1781, General Campbell commanded a garrison of about 1300 British regulars, German soldiers, provincial regiments, and militia.  

John Campbell
I’ve mentioned General Campbell before,  Campbell was a Scottish officer who joined the British army during the Jacobite Rising of 1745.  His father was a British Admiral.  The younger Campbell helped put down the rebellion by his fellow countrymen.  Following the Battle of Culloden, his unit deployed to Europe where he saw action at Flanders in 1747.

He returned to active service during the Seven Years War as an officer in the Black Watch Regiment under James Wolfe.  Campbell was wounded in the British assault on Fort Ticonderoga in 1758 during the French and Indian War. By the end of that war, he was a lieutenant colonel commanding a regiment in the West Indies. 

By 1775, Campbell was serving under General Thomas Gage in Boston.  He was part of the relief force that rescued the British column at Lexington.  The following year, he was part of the British attack that captured New York City.  In 1778, he received promotion to brigadier general and the commission as commander of West Florida, commanding from Pensacola.

Campbell found the defenses in West Florida to be woefully inadequate and immediately began requesting more soldiers and resources to build fortifications.  He spent much of the next two years using what he could get to improve British defenses in the region.  In early 1779, he received a promotion to major general and command authority over all of West Florida, which stretched from the Mississippi River to just west of what is today Tallahassee.  

Pensacola itself had been growing into a rather sizable town by colonial standards.  But by 1780, the population fell off considerably.  Part of this was the threat of war, but there was also a major earthquake in the region in May of 1780.  The quake damaged or destroyed most buildings in the town. Many colonists who could, left Pensacola for other parts of the empire.  By 1781, there were only a few hundred residents.  A good portion of those were slaves. Therefore, local militia was not a big consideration in British defenses.

He also had the promised assistance of nearly 2000 native warriors, primarily Choctaw and Creek.  By March though, many of the native warriors had left.  Campbell still had about 800 warriors, but sent another 300 home, not realizing the Spanish were preparing another attack.

The Spanish commander, Gálvez, had received intelligence reports on British defenses in 1780, but Campbell had been busy over the winter building more defenses.

The primary defensive work was Fort George.  The British had originally built the fort in 1778 to protect Pensacola. Campbell spent considerable time improving the fort’s defenses. The fort sat on a hill just to the north of the town, where it had a field of fire into the town and into the water beyond it.  The fort was an earthen work, designed to withstand artillery fire.  It was surrounded by a ditch and wooden palisades to prevent any direct assault. 

Since there was a slightly higher hill to the north of the fort that an enemy could use against the fort, the British built two redoubts, known as the Queen’s Redoubt and the Prince of Wales Redoubt to deny the enemy the use of that high ground.

To prevent entry into the bay, the British had also garrisoned a long established fort just south of Pensacola, at the entrance to Pensacola, known as the Royal Navy Redoubt.

Spanish Fleet from Cuba

After the hurricane in the fall of 1780, prevented a Spanish invasion at that time, Gálvez returned to Cuba.  Once again, he sought an overwhelming force to take Pensacola and West Florida for the Spanish.  In February of 1781, Gálvez got the support he needed from Havana.  A Spanish fleet carried about 1300 Spanish regulars to Mobile Bay.  Captain Jose Calvo de Irazabal commanded the fleet.

Bernardo de Galvez

Among the Spanish soldiers was Spain’s Hibernia Regiment, made up of Irish soldiers who had joined the Spanish army.  The regimental commander was Arturo O’Neil, an Irish-born officer who had served in the Spanish Army for more than 25 years.  O’Neil and the Hibernia regiment had participated in numerous campaigns across Europe, Africa, and South America over the years.

The regiment had shipped out for Havana in 1780, part of a fleet of 141 ships carrying a total of nearly 12,000 infantry under the command of Lieutenant General Victoria de Navia.  This was the largest single Spanish army sent across the Atlantic ever.

In Cuba, O’Neill met with Gálvez on one of Gálvez’s first trips to Havana looking for reinforcements.  The two officers knew each other from campaigning in Algiers many years earlier.  The Hibernian Regiment remained in Cuba when Gálvez made his first attempt on Pensacola in the fall of 1780, when it was wiped out by the hurricane.  When Gálvez returned in the spring, O’Neill’s regiment deployed with the new fleet.

The fleet consisted of thirty large ships, several smaller gunboats and over 1300 soldiers. It took a week and a half for the fleet to sail from Havana to Mobile Bay.  

On March 9, 1781, the fleet began to arrive.  That evening part of the army landed on Santa Rosa Island, a barrier island just south of Pensacola.  The Spanish found that the British artillery from the Royal Navy Redoubt was not operational and did not fire on them. The Hiberniens set up their own artillery and forced the withdrawal of British ships that were in Pensacola Bay.

Gálvez attempted to sail into the bay.  The bay was a difficult one.  Barrier islands made the entryway rather narrow, and sandbanks made the draft rather shallow for larger ships.  Gálvez had to offload supplies to Santa Rosa Island in order to make sure the ships could clear the shallow water in the entrance to the bay.

Pensacola Bay
One of the ships, the 64 gun San Ramon ended up getting grounded in its attempt to enter the bay.  British artillery was able to fire on the ships, although the distance from Fort George made the fire relatively ineffective.  

Still the shallow water and enemy fire was enough for the Spanish Naval commander, Captain Calvo, to refuse to send any more naval vessels into Pensacola Bay.  Gálvez disagreed.  As Governor of Louisiana, he was able to commandeer the part of the fleet that was from Louisiana and enter the bay with those ships.  Gálvez sailed into Pensacola bay on March 18 aboard the Gálveztown.  Three other ships from Louisiana followed.

Calvo and the rest of the fleet refused to enter, despite the fact that British artillery fire in the ships had proven ineffective.  Calvo decided that his mission to deliver Gálvez and his army to Pensacola was complete.  He raised anchor and sailed his ships back to Havana, leaving Gálvez and his small army on their own.

The Siege

Gálvez made O’Neill his aide-de-camp and put O’Neill in charge of scouting patrols.  A few days later, on March 28, O’Neill’s scouts landed on the mainland near Pensacola and defended against an attack by about 400 Choctaw warriors.  As the Spanish established themselves just outside of Pensacola, they received reinforcements from Spanish troops marching overland from Mobile.

Spanish at Pensacola

After scouting the considerable British defenses, Gálvez and O’Neill decided against a direct assault, and settled in for a siege.  The Spanish dug trenches and built a covered road to protect soldiers from British artillery.  

On April 12, while reconnoitering British fortifications, Gálvez was wounded.  He turned over battlefield command to one of his officers and a close friend, Colonel JosĂ© de Ezpeleta.

A week later, the Choctaw launched another attack.  While fighting off this attack, the Spanish observed a large fleet approaching the bay.  They feared a British relief fleet would trap them inside the bay and compel them to retreat overland to Mobile or surrender.  However, it turned out to be a joint Spanish-French fleet under the command of JosĂ© Solano y Bote and François-Aymar de Monteil.  The fleet carried thousands more soldiers and sailors under the command of Field Marshal Juan Manuel de Cajigal.

Havana had received reports that a British squadron might be moving to relieve Pensacola, so the large fleet deployed to ensure a Spanish victory.  After the fleet’s arrival the attacking force totaled over 8000 soldiers and sailors.  The forces landed on April 22.  This time, the naval ships remained to protect the besiegers from any relief fleet.

The Spanish continued to dig trenches closer to the British, bringing in more men and artillery.  Several days after their arrival, the Choctaw launched a third attack only to be repulsed once again.  Two days later, British soldiers from the Queen’s Redoubt launched an assault on Spanish positions that were getting too close to their walls.  But they were also driven back into their defensive positions.

By April 30, Gálvez believed the Spanish were in position to launch an all-out attack on Fort George.  Spanish artillery began firing in an attack that continued day after day.  Given the size of the attack force, only a massive British relief fleet or an act of God could prevent the fall of Pensacola.

Then, a few days into the assault, another hurricane blew over the region.  The fleet had to move out to sea for fear of being wrecked against the shore.  Gálvez and the army, however, remained in place.  Torrential rains filled their trenches with water as the men did the best they could 

Destruction of Queen's Redoubt
As the hurricane subsided a group of Creek chiefs came to meet with Gálvez.  They offered to sell cattle to the army and offered to mediate an agreement with the other Creek and Choctaw warriors who had attacked the Spanish.  It appears the local tribes realized that the Spanish were likely to prevail and wanted to get on their good side before it was too late.

Shortly after the visit, a lucky Spanish shot managed to hit the ammunition magazine in one of the British redoubts, killing much of the garrison.  This was what the British called the Queen’s Redoubt, and what the Spanish called Fort Crescent.  Colonel Ezpeleta then charged into the redoubt, capturing it for Spain.  He then moved howitzers and cannons into the remains of the redoubt to open fire on the other British redoubt and Fort George.

The British returned fire, but soon realized that their position was untenable.  On May 8, two days after the fall of the Queen’s Redoubt, General Campbell accepted the inevitable.  He ordered Fort George to raise a white flag and surrender.


Over the course of the Siege, the British had suffered about 200 casualties, with about 1100 troops surrendering and becoming Spanish prisoners of war.  The Spanish attackers had lost 74 dead and 198 wounded.

Gálvez personally accepted the British surrender.  West Florida became a Spanish colony.  On June 1, the combined Spanish-French fleet, along with most of the army, left Pensacola and returned to Havana.  The fleet planned to attack other British possessions in he West Indies.  Spain’s Hibernia regiment returned to Havana with the rest of the army, but their commander, Colonel O’Neill, remained in Pensacola. Gálvez appointed O’Neill to serve as the colony’s first Spanish military-governor.

Arturo O'Neill
Under the terms of capitulation, Spain took prisoner the entire British Garrison, possession of the fort and all its supplies, and the entire colony of West Florida.  By some accounts about 300 British colonists who were living in West Florida fled to Georgia following the Spanish takeover of the colony.  The Spanish shipped the captured garrison back to British occupied New York where they would remain on parole until exchanged.

Back in Pensacola, Governor O’Neill did his best to prepare a defense of Pensacola against a future British attack.  He built up the Royal Navy Redoubt at the mouth of Pensacola Bay to make it more difficult for an enemy fleet to enter.  The British fort was deemed too far from the coast, so O’Neill built a second fort closer to the shore.  These forts would later become known as Fort Barrancas Coloradas.  O’Neill also built artillery positions on Santa Rosa Island, on the other side of the entryway into Pensacola Bay in order to make any attempted entry by ship very costly.

O’Neill also spent considerable time building up the defenses north of Fort George in order to protect it from a land-based attack

As it turned out the defenses would not be needed.  The British would not attempt to retake West Florida.  The battle of Pensacola would put the colony under Spain’s control for the remainder of the War.  When the war ended, Britain would also cede East Florida to Spain.  The Spanish victory at Pensacola helped to bring about that outcome.

Next Week, we return to the Carolinas, where the absence of the British army under General Cornwallis allows the militia and  Continentals under General Greene to retake the region.

- - -

Next Episode 285 Hobkirk Hill 

Previous Episode 283 Petersburg

 Contact me via email at

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Further Reading


 Battle of Fort Charlotte:

Capture of Fort Charlotte:

Haarmann, Albert W. “The 3rd Waldeck Regiment in British Service, 1776-1783.” Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, vol. 48, no. 195, 1970, pp. 182–85. JSTOR

Holmes, Jack. “Alabama’s Bloodiest Day of the American Revolution: Counterattack at the Village, January 7, 1781.” Alabama Review 53 (July 1976): 208-219:

John Campbell:

Baker, Maury, and Margaret Bissler Haas. “Bernardo de Gálvez’s Combat Diary for the Battle of Pensacola, 1781.” The Florida Historical Quarterly, vol. 56, no. 2, 1977, pp. 176–99. JSTOR, 

Beerman, Eric. “Arturo O’Neill: First Governor of West Florida during the Second Spanish Period.” The Florida Historical Quarterly, vol. 60, no. 1, 1981, pp. 29–41. JSTOR,

Haarmann, Albert W. “The Siege of Pensacola: An Order of Battle.” The Florida Historical Quarterly, vol. 44, no. 3, 1966, pp. 193–99. JSTOR,

Worcester, Donald E. “Miranda’s Diary of the Siege of Pensacola, 1781.” The Florida Historical Quarterly, vol. 29, no. 3, 1951, pp. 163–96. JSTOR,

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

Farmar, Robert, Journal of the siege of Pensacola from the enemy's first appearing: March 9 to May 10, 1781, typed manuscript. 

McGovern, James R. (ed) Colonial Pensacola, Univ of Southern Mississippi Press, 1972 (borrow only). 

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Caughey, John W. Bernardo De Galvez in Louisiana, 1776-1783, Pelican Publishing, 1972. 

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

Garrigues, Eduardo "I Alone": Bernardo de Gálvez's American Revolution, Arte Publico Press, 2019. 

Manuel, Dale Pensacola Bay: A Military History, Charleston: Arcadia, 2004 (borrow on  

Odom, Wesley, S. The Longest Siege of the American Revolution: Pensacola, Independently Published, 2020.

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.