Monday, June 11, 2012


It is extremely difficult to understand the key role Fort Mims played in setting the stage for one of the greatest mass migrations in human history; a migration so enormous that it depopulated the older states of the Deep South to the point that it was given a name that sounded like a plague: ALABAMA FEVER!

This superb timeline outlines almost 70 separate events centered in present-day Alabama which occurred in the eighteen months prior to the horrible massacre at Ft. Mims in August of 1813. It is dedicated to the memory of those brave pioneers who fell at the hands of the fanatical Red Sticks and Shawnee.


Thursday, March 26, 1812, Thomas Meredith from present day Fairfield County, S.C.(Winnsboro), was murdered by a drunken Creek Indian on the Federal Road beside Pinchona Creek in present day Montgomery County Alabama.  Meredith was attempting to lead his family west to their new home in Pike County, MS (McComb).

March, 1812: Creek Indian agent Benjamin Hawkins reported that between October 1811 and March of 1812, 233 vehicles and 3716 people had passed his Indian agency heading west on the Federal Road. The Indian agency was located on the Flint River in present day Crawford County, Georgia.

April 14, 1812: U.S. Congress claims Mobile as part of the Louisiana Purchase and incorporates the town and surrounding land west of the Perdido into the Mississippi Territory. Spanish troops continued to occupy Spanish posts in the Mobile area. No American effort was used to expel the Spaniards.

May, 1812:  Arthur Lott (a.k.a. William Lott) from Georgia was murdered by Creek Indians on the Federal Road near Warrior’s Stand in present day Macon County, AL. Lott was attempting to  lead his family to their new home in present day Columbia, MS. (Marion County).

May 12, 1812: Jesse Manly comes home to his cabin on Duck River in present day Humphreys County, TN to find a young man killed, five of the Crawley and Manly children murdered and his wife fatally wounded from being shot and being scalped by Creek Indians who were returning from visiting Tecumseh’s Shawnees. Mrs. Crawley had been kidnapped.

June 9, 1812: Benjamin Hawkins reported that $216 worth of furs and skins had been stolen from storage at his agency by Creek Indians. The furs and skins were in storage because Hawkins had been ordered by Washington to stop forwarding skins because they no longer had any market value.

Late June 1812: Tandy Walker from St. Stephens freed Mrs. Crawley on the Black Warrior River. Mrs. Crawley had been kidnapped by Creek Indians at Duck River in Tennessee.

July 1812: Troops under General Ferdinand Claiborne raised the American flag on Isla Delphina(Dauphin Island) and ordered the Spanish guard on the island “to withdraw or be regarded as prisoners of war.” The pilot was ordered not to aid Spanish or British vessels. The Spanish guard remained on Dauphin Island.

July 26, 1812: Willie Blount of Tennessee accused Benjamin Hawkins of neglect in Mrs. Crawley’s kidnapping and the Duck River murders.

July 28, 1812: Benjamin Hawkins reported that five Creek Indians had been executed after being implicated in the March 26th murder on Thomas Meredith.

August 1, 1812 : Governor David Holmes of the Mississippi Territory created Mobile County. It included the territory south of the 31st parallel between the Perdido and Pearl Rivers. Spanish officials protested and continued to claim the area until she ceded East and West Florida to the U.S. in 1819.

August 4, 1812: U.S. Council of War in New Orleans votes that they are not qualified to give an opinion on General Wilkinson’s proposal that the Spanish pilot of Dauphin Island should be forcibly removed.

August 19, 1812: New Orleans hurricane destroys U.S. Navy station at New Orleans.

September 1812: British Lieutenant James Stirling of the H.M.S. Brazen visits Mobile and Pensacola and advocates bringing the Creek Indians into the War of 1812 on the side of the British.

September 7, 1812:  Benjamin Hawkins reported that a total of eight Creek Indians had been executed for being implicated in the murders of white people on the Federal Road and on the Duck River. Another seven had been cropped and whipped.(Indian Affairs,I,809)

October 17, 1812:  An editorial in the TENNESSEE HERALD accused the British of attempting “to renew upon the Mobile and lower Mississippi the tragedy of St. Domingo.” In other words, incite a slave rebellion like the one that had recently occurred in Haiti.

November, 1812:  John Innerarity of Pensacola was one of the last white men to visit the Upper Creeks before the outbreak of the Red Stick War in 1813. He was trying to resolve Upper Creek debts to John Forbes and Co., successor to Panton, Leslie and Co.

November 24, 1812:  Benjamin Hawkins reported that traveling along the Federal Road through the Creek Agency was “perfectly safe.”

December, 1812: Inauguration of the prophetic movement occurs among the Upper Creek Indians.

January, 1813:  A group of Creek Indians participated in the River Raisin Massacre which occurred near present day Detroit, MI.

February 9, 1813:  Returning south after participating in the River Raisin Massacre, Little Warrior and his group of Creek Indians committed the Cache River Massacre in present day southern Illinois.

February 12, 1813: President Madison signed a bill that ordered the army and navy to seize Mobile.

February 15, 1813: Brigadier General Ferdinand L. Claiborne wrote Daniel Beasley that he would appoint Beasley to Major in the Mississippi Territorial Militia. Major Beasley was the first person killed at Ft. Mims. He was the commander.

February 16, 1813:  Secretary of War Armstrong sent orders to General Wilkinson in New Orleans to capture Mobile.

March, 1813: Captain Isaacs, a Creek Indian who had accompanied Little Warrior to Detroit, turns state’s evidence against Little Warrior according to Nimrod Doyle’s report. (Indian Affairs, I, 843)

March 14, 1813:  General James Wilkinson in New Orleans received his orders from Secretary of War Armstrong to take possession of the country west of the Perdido River and “particularly of the town and fortress of Mobile.”

March 25, 1813: According to a letter from Hawkins to Cornell, Little Warrior presented the Shawnee exhortation of war to the Creek National Council. He was reprimanded and excluded.(Indian Affairs, I, 839)

March 29, 1813: Hawkins wrote Big Warrior a letter concerning Little Warrior. Hawkins ordered the Creek National Council to arrest Little Warrior and the others who participated in the Cache River Massacre in Illinois.(Indian Affairs, I, 839)

April, 1813: Little Warrior is executed by the Creek National Council’s “law menders” along with seven other braves and a squaw. A rumor began claiming that Little Warrior carried a letter he received from a British General near Detroit  authorizing the Spanish in Pensacola to arm the Red Sticks. This letter was alleged to have been passed on to Peter McQueen at the time of Little Warrior’s death.

April 4, 1813:  Commodore Shaw arrived at Pass Christian and picked up 30 scaling ladders built to the exact specifications needed to allow troops to climb the walls of Fuerte Carlota (Ft. Conde).

April 7, 1813: U.S. troops left New Orleans with the objective of taking Mobile from the Spain.

Saturday, April 10, 1813:  The invading force of U.S. troops from New Orleans approached Pass Christian.

Saturday, April 10, 1813:  Colonel Bowyer took his troops from Ft. Stoddard near present day Mt. Vernon across the Mobile Delta on Mims Ferry and marched them down the Tensaw side through present day Stockton in Baldwin County.

Saturday, April 10, 1813:  Some U.S. gunboats sailed through Pass Heron in present day southeastern Mobile County while Commodore Shaw crossed into the open sea between Horn and Petit Bois Island.

Saturday night, April 10, 1813:  Captain Atkinson and his detachment of U.S. troops arrived on Isla Delfina (Dauphin Island). The next, morning, Sunday, April 11, they expelled the Spanish guard on Dauphin Island and captured the pilot.

Saturday night, April 10, 1813:  Commodore Shaw on the armed boat ALLIGATOR and Lieutenant Roney’s bark captured Spanish ships in Mobile Bay.

April 11, 1813:  The Spaniards captured the night before on Dauphin Island sailed toward Pensacola.

April 12, 1813:  The galley carrying the Spanish guard from Dauphin Island rowed into Pensacola.

April 12, 1813:  General Wilkinson issued a proclamation to the citizens of Mobile and demanded the surrender of the Spanish commander of Fuerte Carlota (Ft. Conde) and ordered the immediate evacuation of all Spanish troops from Mobile.

Friday, April 15, 1813: The Spanish troops evacuated Fuerte Carlota (Ft. Conde) and boarded a ship sailing for Pensacola. The U.S. occupied Mobile for the first time.

April 17, 1813:  Colonel Carson took the west bank of the Perdido near present day Orange Beach, Alabama and was ordered to build a stockade by General Wilkinson.

April 20, 1813:  General Wilkinson visited Mobile Point for the first time and staked out a fort he called SERAF. This became Ft. Boyer and Wilkinson also recommended building a cooperating battery on Dauphin Island but this part of his plan was either ignored or abandoned.  Wilkinson then traveled via the Bon Secour River to a site on the west bank of the Perdido where he recommended building a stockade.

May 4, 1813: John McKee, Indian agent to the Chickasaws, wrote Monroe that the Creeks would attack but that he might be able to line up the other tribes against them.

May 19, 1813: General James Wilkinson arrived in New Orleans and received orders relieving him of his command and he is transferred north to the Great Lakes. General Flournoy replaced him in New Orleans and soon relocated to Bay St. Louis.

June, 1813: Apodaca, Captain General of Cuba, sent Manrique to replace Zuniga as commander of Pensacola.

June, 1813:  Red Sticks killed the messenger from the Creek National Council who delivered the Council’s invitation for the Red Sticks to come to Tuckabatchee which was located in present day Tallapoosa County, Alabama.(Cornell to Hawkins, Indian Affairs, June 22, 1813)

June 8, 1813: Colonel John Bowyer arrived at Mobile Point. Nine of the heaviest cannon from Fuerte Carlota are transferred there and Bowyer spent more than a year building and commanding the fort.

July 1813:  U.S. authorized Georgia and Tennessee to call up 1500 men each for the militia.

July 1813: Peter McQueen and his Redsticks plunder James Cornel's plantation near Little River (north boundary of Baldwin County), kidnap his wife and sell her in Pensacola.

July 1813: The Little River plantation of Samuel Moniac and Leonard McGee were burned by the Redsticks. Moniac lost 700 cattle, 200 hogs, 48 goats & sheep, valued at $5060, plus a cotton gin, 2000 pounds of cotton, 36 slaves and several houses.

July 15, 1813: Talosee Fixico wrote Hawkins that the Red Sticks killed nine law menders and burned several opposition villages, slaughtering all cattle, hogs, horses, sheep and goats.(Indian Affairs, I, 847)

July 23, 1813: Harry Toulmin wrote Thomas Robinson that a "low spirit of envy and jealousy of the growing wealth and prosperity" of some Creeks led the Redsticks to attack "those chiefs who so far outstripped them in solid advantages."

July 26, 1813: The Creek National Council’s forces were safe in Cussetta after the Redsticks  forced them to evacuate from Tuckabatchee.  Cussetta was located in present day Chattahoochee County Georgia.

July 27, 1813:  Battle of Burnt Corn Creek occurred in present day Monroe County Alabama. This is considered the beginning of the REDSTICK WAR.

July 27, 1813: John Innerarity in Pensacola wrote his brother, James, in Mobile about the Red Stick and Shawnee visit to Pensacola where the Indians forced Spanish Governor Manrique to give them powder and lead. John warned James that the Red Sticks intend to be joined by the Choctaws and to attack Mobile. He suggested that James go see Colonel Bowyer at Mobile Point and hitch a ride to Pensacola. John also returned American mail stolen by the Red Sticks on the Federal Road and dumped in Pensacola during their visit. He wrote his brother to ask General Wilkinson or Colonel Bowyer to send some troops to protect their company’s property at Bon Secour and reported a rumor that Big Warrior had been shot.

August 1, 1813: General Claiborne arrived at Fort Stoddert from Natchez. He found out about the Battle of Burnt Corn Creek and ordered Major Beasley to take command of Ft. Mims.

August 4, 1813: Captain Wilkinson, commander of Mobile’s Fort Charlotte, wrote General Claiborne that he had received the stolen mail from Pensacola and that he had heard that Colonel Caller had “acted with much bravery” at the Battle of Burnt Corn Creek.

August 6, 1813: Major Beasley wrote General Claiborne at Ft. Stoddert from Ft. Mims that Dixon Bailey had been elected captain by the twenty volunteer militia. Beasley also informed the General that no hostile Indians had been seen but that the inhabitants expected to see them soon and that he’d heard news that Big Warrior had evacuated Tuckabatchee and was safe in Georgia.

August 7, 1813: Beasley wrote Claiborne requesting more whiskey to relieve his men’s fatigue and informed the General that he had ordered a new drum.

August 7, 1813: General Claiborne inspected Ft. Mims. He recommended building a blockhouse at the landing to receive provisions. He also cautioned Beasley to recruit more volunteers, to strengthen the stockade and to respect the strength of the fanatic Indians. He told Beasley to assign an officer and guard to Pierce’s Stockade on Pine Log Creek. Claiborne authorized Beasley to provide friendly Indians and people bearing dispatches with provisions and authorized the purchase of forage for horses.

August 10, 1813: General Flournoy wrote Claiborne from Bay St. Louis cautioning him about not disciplining his officers.

August 12, 1813: Major Beasley wrote Claiborne that the stockade would be finished the next day. He also regretted that his men were being sent elsewhere. One man had died of sickness, some were ill but none were critical.

August 14, 1813: Major Beasley wrote Claiborne about a false alarm. He also reported that Bailey’s company had become large enough to elect a lieutenant but that 8 or 10 of his volunteers were unarmed.

August 14, 1813: General Claiborne at Fort Stoddert mailed Hawkins via the East Florida mail. He wrote about the approaching war with the Creeks and describes the events leading up to the Battle of Burnt Corn Creek. He enclosed a copy of John Innerarity’s July 27 letter to his brother, James.

August 23, 1813: General Claiborne received a report by a Choctaw who came into Ft. Easley in present-day Choctaw County and said the Red Sticks would attack that fort in six days.

August 25, 1813: Claiborne at St. Stephens wrote Major J.P. Kennedy commanding Mt. Vernon warning him of the possibility of an attack at Easley’s and at the Tensaw. He ordered Kennedy to build a blockhouse around the powder magazine at Mt. Vernon.

August 27, 1813:  Judge Harry Toulmin wrote Governor David Holmes a long letter warning him that an attack would occur and that “a large part of our population will fall a sacrifice.” He gave Holmes a status report and basically begs for help.

August 30, 1813: Judge Toulmin wrote General Flournoy from Ft. Stoddert that George Gaines reported that no Indians had been seen and “that the alarm in great measure subsided.” He then reports that Beasley wrote his letter about a false alarm the morning he was killed and Ft. Mims was destroyed. The smoke from the fires could be seen at Ft. Stoddert. Toulmin had no idea the extent of the damage at Ft. Mims but wrote that he had no confidence in the situation.

August 30, 1813: Major Beasley wrote Claiborne the morning of the massacre. He bragged about how much he’d improved the fort and about how much stronger it was. He described the “false alarm” brought in the day before by Randon’s two slaves. He also wrote other Randon slaves were not telling the truth when they reported Indians plundering Randon’s plantation. Beasley also reported that one of his men might die if he didn’t get a bottle of wine and that “It is probable that a few bottles of it would Save his life.”


There is no mistaking the importance of this day in Gulf Coast history. For the first time, Spain surrendered a port on the Gulf of Mexico to the United States. Later this date was immortalized on March 3, 1819 when the U.S. Congress passed a land act that recognized ONLY private land claims in Mobile and Baldwin Counties that were occupied before the Spanish surrender of Mobile on Thursday, April 15, 1813.
Spain continued to claim its sovereignty to over 2500 square miles of coastal Alabama until February 22, 1819 when by the Florida Cession Treaty in Washington, D.C., Spain finally relinquished her claims to the dominion of what would become the State of Alabama later that same year on December 14, 1819.

The 2562 square miles of the Mobile District (the land below the 31st parallel between the Perdido and the Pearl Rivers) was THE SINGLE PERMANENT ACQUISITION OF TERRITORY MADE BY THE U.S. DURING THE WAR OF 1812.
One of the stupidest things said in the speeches at Ft. Conde Saturday was that the capture of Mobile was "not directly related to the War of 1812." Then why was the message from Pensacola announcing the fall of Mobile sent to Apodaca, the Captain General of Cuba in Havana, by way of a British ship? If Mobile had fallen into the hands of the British, there would have been no Battle of New Orleans.  The Brits would have taken Baton Rouge without so much as a fight, cut off access from the Gulf and New Orleans' 4 million pounds sterling in prizes(silver, gold, lead, cotton, hemp, tobacco, sugar, etc.) would have been theirs and there would have been no U.S.A. on the Gulf Coast in 1815.
The reenactor who portrayed Cayetano Perez, the Spanish commander of Fuerte Carlota The reenactor who portrayed General James Wilkinson, the American commander Chief Blue Heron The Spanish flag flying over Fuerte Carlota The Deputy Ambassador of Spain to the U.S., Juan Manuel Molina Lamothe The Spanish flag comes down. Mobile mayor Sam Jones The Americans raise THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER.


DAUPHIN ISLAND, Alabama – When it had only 15 stars and stripes, the American flag was raised over southernmost Mobile County 200 years ago by U.S. troops liberating it from Spanish control during the War of 1812. And yet, when visitors hear about Dauphin Island’s military heritage, it’s primarily the Civil War and Fort Gaines they learn about.

Which is why – at 1 p.m. Thursday, April 11 – officials, residents and others will gather in front of Town Hall at 1011 Bienville Blvd. to celebrate the barrier island’s bicentennial as a U.S. territory, and learn more about its history as America’s first seaport on the 1,500-mile U.S. Gulf Coast.

The patriotic celebration will feature Dauphin Island Mayor Pro-Temp Shirley Robinson and District 3 Commissioner Jerry Carl, as well as songs by 90 students from nearby Dauphin Island Elementary School, a flag demonstration by the Dauphin Island Veteran’s Association and a 2-part historical recounting by resident historians Jim Hall and Robert Register.

According to Register, Hall will cover the island’s history prior to its capture by U.S. troops under Capt. Atkinson on April 11, 1813, with Register illuminating the occurrences of that day and beyond.

Dauphin_Island_bicentennial.jpgView full sizeThis sign will welcome attendees to the Dauphin Island bicentennial celebration on April 11, 2013 at Town Hall, 1011 Bienville Blvd. (Courtesy Robert Register) 
The goal, according to Register, is to educate all who attend about the island’s heritage – much of which isn’t even known to those who live there.
“It’s super important so everyone can get on the same page,” said Register, a retired teacher. “So we can begin to put the story of Dauphin Island together so that everybody that visitors meet on the island can tell the same story.”

That story depicts the takeover of what was then known by the Spanish as Isla Delfina, and how that event lit the fuse that would eventually lead to the capture of Mobile to the north by the United States. Having a landing place for vessels, soldiers and supplies was a crucial turn, according to Register.

“This was important to the United States because it was establishing a seaport, a harbor, on the Gulf of Mexico during a time of war,” he said.

Dauphin Island’s is a rich history involving some of the most traditional and emerging super powers in the civilized world, Register said. Which is a major reason for Thursday’s event, he said.
“You’re going to have to get out your history book if you’re going to understand what went on here,” he said.

Thursday’s celebration is only one of many events signifying south Alabama’s role in the War of 1812 history. On Saturday, April 13, Spanish Ambassador Ramon Gil-Casares will be on hand at Fort Conde as part of an event to showcase the 200th anniversary of Mobile’s relinquishment by Spain to the United States.

In September, 2014, a celebration recognizing the first Battle of Fort Bowyer will be held at what is now Fort Morgan near Mobile Point; and then again on Feb. 14, 2015, signifying the bicentennial of the fall of that fort, which was “the last land battle of the conflict which began two centuries of peace with Great Britain,” according to a resolution adopted by the Mobile City Council.

Dauphin Island Bi-Centennial Thursday, April 11th

Dauphin Island, AL – Nearly 200 years ago, on April 11th, 1813, Dauphin Island became the first location to fly an American flag along the entire stretch of what is now the United States Gulf Coast – an area that stretches over 1,500 miles from Brownsville, TX to Key West, FL.

At the start of the War of 1812, Dauphin Island was known as Isla Delfina and belonged to Spain. During the early war years it served as a staging ground for Spanish and British soldiers who were allied against the young American colonial states. As fate would have it, an American regiment under the command of Captain Atkinson stormed the strategic island on the night of Saturday April 10th, 1813. By Sunday morning, the island had been captured and an American flag depicting 15 starts and 15 stripes was seen flying for the first time in place of the Spanish. The victory over Dauphin Island served as a decisive point in the war and allowed for US troops to move shortly thereafter up Dog River in preparation to capture Mobile.

Please join the Town of Dauphin Island and residents of South Mobile County Thursday, April 11, 2013 as we celebrate this once in a lifetime historical moment.

The Island will hold a thirty-minute ceremony featuring County Commissioner Jerry Carl, Dauphin Island Mayor Pro-Temp Shirley Robinson, resident island historians, the Dauphin Island Veteran’s Association, and musical performances from the children of the Dauphin Island elementary school.

 Celebrate Dauphin Island's Bicentennial as a U.S. Territory on April 11! On that date in 1813, U.S. troops ousted the Spanish and raised the American flag over the Island for the first time in history. The American flag raised on that day was the 15-star flag... the Star Spangled Banner. The Town of Dauphin Island, Dauphin Island Veterans Association, Dauphin Island Heritage and Arts Council and Dauphin Island Elementary School will present a "Star Spangled Banner Ceremony". including a presentation of the historical events of that April day 200 years ago, patriotic music by the Island's children, and the ceremonial raising of the Star Spangled Banner to proudly wave over the Island once again. The ceremony will begin at 1 PM on April 11 at Town Hall on the island! Everyone come out!

Two hundred years ago today, on Sunday, April 11, 1813, a detachment of U.S. troops expelled the Spanish guard from Dauphin Island and for the first time in history, the Stars and Stripes flew over the American shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Today we take it for granted that the dominion of the United States extends unchallenged from Brownsville, Texas to Key West, Florida, but two hundred years ago there was not one American harbor on the entire Gulf and it would take what some would call an act of war on the part of the United States to open that first harbor to American commerce and all of you are now standing where it all started, a place we call today Dauphin Island, Alabama.

Every American living on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida or Texas today should thank their lucky stars for Dauphin Island because the Americanization of the Gulf of Mexico started right here.

In 1813, America was a nation at war. For the second time in our history, we decided to take on the greatest power on the face of the Earth, Great Britain, and we knew that the blue water English navy needed harbors on the Gulf and that their ally, Spain, owned these harbors and were willing to allow the Brits to use these ports to dispose of their captured prizes, repair her blockading fleet and incite insurrection among our Southern blacks and Indians so the U.S. Congress and President Madison decided to put an end to it on Mobile Bay and in April of 1813, they did just that.

On Saturday, April 10, 1813, near Grand Bay, the flotilla that made up the American invading force split into two divisions. The armed schooner ALLIGATOR carrying General Wilkinson and Commodore Shaw along with Lieutenant Roney’s gunboat, sailed out to sea by way of the Horn Island Channel off the west end of Petit Bois Island. The rest of the flotilla consisting of at least three gunboats and fourteen small transports carrying over 600 soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 3rd and 7th regiments headed toward Heron Pass.

 On the night of the 10th, Captain Atkinson and a small detachment of American soldiers landed on what was then the Spanish island of Isla Delfina and captured the Spanish guard consisting of a corporal and six men along with the Mobile Ship Channel pilot.

When the sun came up on Sunday, April 11, 1813, it was Isla Delfina no more. For the first time in American history, the Stars and Stripes flew on the American shores of Dauphin Island and the Spaniards were placed on a galley scheduled to sail for Pensacola. In the meantime, the ALLIGATOR and other American gunboats cruised the mouth of the bay between here and what is now Ft. Morgan, blockading all ships and preventing them from entering or leaving Mobile Bay. They captured several ships including a Spanish transport carrying an artillery lieutenant, a detachment of troops and supplies destined for the Spanish fort in Mobile.

The armed schooner ALLIGATOR carrying General Wilkinson and Commodore Shaw eventually anchored off Dauphin Island and held a council of war to make plans for landing the invading force. This meeting must have included a representative from Colonel Bowyer who had brought an army unit down from Mt. Vernon. Boyer’s 200 men carried five bronze field cannon with them and had earlier crossed the delta on Mims’ Ferry and had marched from Fort Mims down the Tensaw River Road through Stockton. Boyer’s job was to dig his cannon emplacements on Blakeley Island across the river from Fuerte Carlota, the Spanish fort in Mobile.

As the sun sat on Dauphin Island’s first day as American territory, the American flotilla approached the north bank of Dog River and prepared for the invasion and capture of Mobile on Monday, April 12th.

STARS & STRIPES The Spanish flag that flew over Mobile in April of 1813


INVITE THE AMBASSADOR OF SPAIN TO BE THE SPECIAL GUEST OF THE CITY FOR THE 200TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE TURNOVER OF MOBILE BY SPAIN TO THE UNITED STATES, AND TO DESIGNATE FORT CONDE AS FORT CARLOTTA WITH THE HISTORIC FLAG OF SPAIN TO BE RAISED DURING THE PERIOD MARCH 13 – APRIL 13, 2013. The following resolution was introduced by Councilmember Richardson. RESOLUTION 60-070-2013 Sponsored by: Mayor Jones and Councilmember Williams WHEREAS, The City of Mobile was captured from the British during the War for American Independence by General Bernardo de Galvez for the Kingdom of Spain; and WHEREAS, Mobile remained part of Spanish West Florida from 1780 to 1813; and WHEREAS, the Spanish involvement in Mobile played pivotal roles in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 along the Gulf Coast; and WHEREAS, reminders of the Spanish tenure are seen in street names such as Eslava, Espejo, and Joachim, as well as Spanish Plaza; and WHEREAS, the Spanish heritage significantly adds to the rich tapestry of Mobile's history; and WHEREAS, Mobile was part of the only territory to exchange hands during the War of 1812; and WHEREAS, this year marks the 200th anniversary of the turnover of Mobile by Spain to the United States; now therefore BE IT RESOLVED, that in honor of Mobile's Spanish heritage, on March 13, 2013 Fort Conde be again known as Fuerte Carlota and the historic flag of Spain be raised over the Fort until April 13, 2013 when the name shall revert to Fort Conde and the Stars and Stripes be raised; and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the City of Mobile officially invite His Excellency H. E. Ramon Gil-Casares Satustegui, Ambassador of Spain, to be the special guest of the City during the period of time March 13-April13, 2013 to honor and commemorate Spain's valued contribution to the history of Mobile; and BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the City of Mobile continues to honor its role in the War of 1812 noting February 14, 2015, as the 200th anniversary of the fall of Fort Bowyer, the last land battle of the conflict which began two centuries of peace with Great Britain. The resolution was read by the City Clerk; and unanimous consent for its immediate consideration being granted, Council member Richardson moved its adoption, which motion was seconded by Council member Gregory, and the vote was as follows: Ayes: Richardson, Carroll, Small, Williams, Gregory, Copeland Nays: None The vote was then announced by the City Clerk, whereupon the Presiding Officer declared the resolution adopted.

First American map of the mouth of Mobile Bay commissioned by General Wilkinson Dauphin Island and Mobile Point in April 1813 Dauphin Island growth- pine, water oak, live oak, magnolia 1813 portage from Bon Secour River to present day Portage Creek in Orange Beach- 311 chains (20,526 feet) Perdido Bay in April 1813 (notice Innerarity Point)

Two hundred years ago today, on March 14, 1813, Major-General James Wilkinson in New Orleans received a February 16 order from President James Madison’s  Secretary of War John Armstrong requiring Wilkinson to “ immediately, on receipt of this dispatch, proceed with so much of the force under your command, as you may deem  sufficient, to possess yourself of the territory in question: and particularly of the town, and the fortress of Mobile.” So began the actual American invasion and occupation of Mobile.

Next month, late on the afternoon of Monday, April 15, patrons of the bar rooms along Mobile’s newly established Dauphin Street Entertainment District will be ordering their first drink of Happy Hour. If they toast anything, it’ll probably be the end of Tax Day. Few of the drinkers will be aware that they could also be toasting the actual moment of the American Bicentennial of Mobile.

April 15, 1813 may not have much meaning or significance to someone walking down Dauphin Street with his open alcoholic beverage on a Monday afternoon sundown in 2013 but it sure had a whole lot of meaning to the souls who owned lots on Dauphin Street  two centuries ago. Whether you were Spanish, French,  English or American, you had one thing in common with every other free man back then: a very personal interest in land claims.  By an official act of Congress, the only way your deed to a Mobile city lot could be recognized as valid by the United  States was for a Mobile resident to prove that they were living on the lot before Thursday afternoon, April 15, 1813: the day the Spanish army took down their flags and walked out of town; the day America took over Mobile.

The Americans and most Mobilians did a little celebrating on that Thursday afternoon two hundred years ago. A group of Mobilians formed a militia unit and volunteered to assist the American invasion. According to Peter Hamilton, Wilkinson wrote the Secretary of War and stated that he believed that the Mobile volunteers “will prove themselves worthy the name of Americans , and a match for equal numbers taken from the best troops in the world.” By order of General Wilkinson, the celebration of the  American invasion and occupation began at about 5 o’clock in the afternoon at “the moment the rear of the Spanish troops have passed the Glacis. This detachment is to be formed in front of the Fort, the Artillerist with lighted matches and twenty-four rounds of blank cartridges. The troops will be under arms at four o’clock, and on the discharge of the cannon will march to town and take such position as may be hereafter ordered. On taking possession of the Fort, the standard is to be hoisted and a national salute fired from the batteries, to be followed by a similar salute from the navy, after which the troops will be marched back to camp.”

So next month, on Monday afternoon, April 15, at five o’clock, please consider the consequences of  two centuries of America’s possession of Mobile’s soil, and, as you walk down the sidewalk in the newly established Dauphin Street Entertainment District,  hoist an open alcoholic beverage high toward Fuerte Carlotta de Mobila for all the empires, French, English, Spanish and American, that have called Mobile home.

 It’s your right as an American.

When the sun came up over Isla Delfina on Sunday, April 11, 1813, it may have seemed like the start of any ordinary day but by sundown, the United States of America had acquired the entire mouth of Mobile Bay and the quiet island called Isla Delfina by her Spanish inhabitants was now Dauphin Island and Mississippi Territory stretched to the Gulf of Mexico for the first time.
On that day in April 200 years ago when Captain Atkinson and his detachment of U.S. troops captured the Spanish pilot and expelled the Spanish guard of Isla Delfina ending Spanish rule west of the Perdido, the Anglo Saxon civilization of the original thirteen states replaced the Latin culture of West Florida with its Cuban roots, Cuban army, Cuban navy, Cuban priests and a government originating in Havana.
The War of 1812, sometimes called “The Forgotten War” or “The Second American Revolution”, ended with no clear winner but the consequences of two events of that war changed the land we now call Alabama forever. In April of 1813 the U.S. Army and Navy under the command of Major-General James Wilkinson seized Mobile and ended Spanish control of the Tombigbee River thus opening the Alabama and Black Warrior Rivers for unhindered American commerce with the Gulf of Mexico for the first time. Then in the following year of 1814, another force of friendly Indians and Tennessee militia under the command of General Andrew Jackson subdued the Creeks at Horseshoe Bend and ushered in a series of Indian treaties which in the next twenty years removed most of the Indians from what we now call the Gulf South. Thus the two decades after 1815 gave  rise to the phenomena known as “Alabama Fever”, the greatest human migration ever witnessed in the New World and unrivaled until 30 years later when gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill in California.
These events from two centuries ago which we will begin to commemorate next month opened a frenzied period in history where thousands risked their lives for the chance to make their riches in Alabama’s Cotton Kingdom and for the next two hundred years, the sands of old Dauphin Island have flown the American flag and witnessed mariners sail from Mobile Bay to ports of call in every corner of the globe.


According to Isaac Joslin Cox in THE WEST FLORIDA CONTROVERSY, 1798-1813, troops under General Claiborne of the Mississippi Territorial Militia raised the American flag on Dauphin Island in July of 1812 as a precautionary measure to control Mobile Bay.  Claiborne ordered the Spanish guard on the island “to withdraw or be regarded as prisoners of war. The pilot was forbidden to aid  Spanish or British vessels.” (THE WEST FLORIDA CONTROVERSY,page 610; Claiborne to Monroe, July 26, 1812, Miscellaneous Letters, MS., Vol. 27, Bureau of Indexes and Archives;  Zuniga to Claiborne, July 12, 1812, Claiborne to Zuniga, July 24, 1812,ibid.; Minute of Council of War, July 11, July 31, 1812, Legajo 1793, Papeles de Cuba.)
According to an American Council of War held in New Orleans on August 4, 1812, General Wilkinson proposed “to remove the Spanish pilot from Dauphin Island, in order to cut off all communication with the vessels of the enemy, and to provide for the defence of the bar, at the entrance of Mobile bay, if possible.”(Wilkinson’s MEMOIRS OF MY OWN TIMES, Vol. 1,page 503 ) On this proposition, Wilkinson’s Council of War did “not feel themselves qualified to give an opinion” and Wilkinson refused to move against the Spanish garrison on Dauphin Island without some sort of authorization from Washington. This is the way things stood until March 14, 1813 when Wilkinson received an order “from John Armstrong who had been appointed to the war department, to possess myself of the country west of the Perdido, and particularly of the town and fortress of Mobile. It was necessary to mask the design, to prevent the post from being reinforced from Pensacola, and thereby to save the effusion of blood, which national policy as well as humanity forbade. Measures were taken with Commodore Shaw and the navy, and the necessary equipments were pressed, but we were not able to reach the vicinity of the place before the night of the 8th; dispossessing a Spanish guard at Dauphin island in our route, and intercepting a Spanish transport destined to Mobile, having on board an officer and a detachment of artillerists, with provisions and munitions of war for the garrison.” (page 507, Wilkinson’s MEMOIRS OF MY OWN TIMES, 1816)
An April 28, 1813 article appearing in Volume 1, Number 1 issue of THE MOBILE GAZETTE was reprinted in the June 1, 1813 issue of the Washington REPUBLICAN, published in that early capitol of the Mississippi Territory. Concerning the American invasion and occupation of Dauphin Island, it read:”On the evening of the (April) 8th under a little shift of wind, the transports passed off shore from Pass Christian and , after fighting against contrary winds, arrived at Pass Herron on the afternoon of the 10th. Captain Atkinson took command of a party sent for the purpose of surprising the Spanish guard and of capturing a pilot from Dauphin Island. The party completed their mission before midnight, and the following morning the Spanish corporal and six men boarded a galley bound for Pensacola.” (page 81, Jack D.L. Holmes, THE MOBILE GAZETTE and the American Occupation of Mobile in 1813, Journal of the Alabama Academy of Science, 47(2,April 1976).
Cox in THE WEST FLORIDA CONTROVERSY implies that Dauphin Island was occupied by the Americans and the Spanish guard was expelled on April 11, 1813 when he writes on page 617,” After a delay at Pass Christian, where he narrowly missed an unprofessional death by drowning, Wilkinson moved toward Mobile. On April 10 Perez (Spanish commander at Mobile) reported his proximity, and added that he himself had provisions for five days only, and that in case he received no further aid, he would either capitulate or evacuate the fort. Giving him discretion to get provisions if he could, Zuniga(Spanish Governor of West Florida in Pensacola) bade him abandon his evil intention of surrendering. He should assemble his officers and read them the royal order of April 13, 1811, prescribing the conduct for him to follow. This advice was not very helpful in lieu of more substantial aid. On the very day he sent it (April 12, 1813) the detachment from Dauphine Island, ousted from that place by Wilkinson’s orders, presented itself at Pensacola.”(Perez to Zuniga, April 10, 1813, Zuniga to Perez, April 12, 1813, Legajo 1794, Papeles de Cuba.)
Peter J. Hamilton in his 1897 COLONIAL MOBILE doesn’t give us the exact date of the American invasion of Dauphin Island but he does imply that it occurred just before Wilkinson’s landing at Mobile. Hamilton writes on page 410, ”The plan succeeded admirably. The Spanish troops on Dauphine Island were compelled to retire; vessels were intercepted; and the first intimation with Don Mauricio Zuniga, the governor at Pensacola, had of any hostile intention of the Americans was on April 12, when the Dauphine Island detachment presented themselves before him. He wrote such a letter of mingled surprise and deferential consideration as only a Spaniard could indite. It was handed to Wilkinson by Bernard Prieto at Mobile on the 15th.”
After reviewing these accounts of the 1813 American invasion and occupation of Mobile Bay, it is the opinion of this writer that the Spanish guard and pilot on Dauphin Island were apprehended and expelled on the morning of April 11, 1813, and at that time the Spanish colors were struck and the Stars and Stripes flew unchallenged on Dauphin Island for the first time in history.
Other sources which should be consulted in the future:
James Innerarity to John Forbes, April 24, 1813, Greenslade Papers.(I believe this letter is in the Panton, Leslie & Co. papers.  Innerarity’s grave is in Section 5  of Mobile’s Magnolia Cemetery. I have photos of the grave.)
Report of James Wilkinson, April 28, 1813, in NILE’S WEEKLY REGISTER, Vol. 14, June 5, 1813.
A paper by H. Pillans on the relation of the Mobile District to Louisiana Purchase was read before the Iberville Historical Society and published in the MOBILE REGISTER, March 15, 1904.
Report of Cayetano Perez to Mauricio de Zuniga, San Carlos de Barrancas (Pensacola), 29 April 1813, Archivo General de Indias (Sevilla), Papeles procedentes de la Isla de Cuba, Legajo 165-B.

The April 28, 1813 Mobile Gazette’s article describing the American occupation of Mobile.

During the first days of the month of March, Major-General Wilkinson received at his headquarters orders for taking possession of the eastern part of Louisiana. The only predictable obstacle which might have delayed the project was the presence of the enemy [editor’s note: the British], who navigate these waters, or the Spaniards at Pensacola, who might have learned of our plans. Thus, speed and secrecy were essential requirements for our movements.
The General had already assembled the troops and gathered the equipment for the expedition. Under the pretext of preserving the health of his troops, he ordered a battalion from the 3rd Regiment sent from English Turn to Pass Christian. Also, with the feigned object of working on fortifications under construction at Petite Coquille, he sent a company of artillery and a battalion of the 2nd Regiment sent from New Orleans. By March 26th, these preliminaries were completed, and on the 27th Commodore Shaw received orders to dispatch a division of gun boats to take possession of Mobile Bay and cut off all communication with Pensacola. Lieutenant-Colonel Bowyer, who had a respectable force near Fort Stoddard, received his orders to be prepared to march at a moment’s notice.
The General left New Orleans on the 29th of March aboard the schooner ALLIGATOR and sailed along Bayou St. John to Lake Ponchartrain by twilight of the same day. At daybreak the wind died and, in order to hasten his rendezvous with the troops at Pass Christian, he transferred to a bark which tacked back and forth against the wind opposite Petite Bais in fifteen feet of water. Here he remained for some time with little hope of being aided, inasmuch as no one had noted their dangerous situation, although several Spanish fishermen discovered the stranded boat and came to the aid of the half-drowned occupants. The boat was towed ashore where it was scraped and cleaned.
At sunset the General reboarded and by midnight and arrived at Petite Coquille, having made a side-wind crossing of three leagues across one arm of the lake. The troops selected for the mission passed muster the following day and embarked on April 1st for the rendezvous, being convoyed by GUNBOAT NUMBER 27. This boat ran aground in the Rigolets, and since it was almost sundown the General ordered the transports to proceed to their destination by the best way possible. He left himself the following morning and by evening was stopped on Grand Isle. He then transferred from the gunboat and boarded a sloop, which brought him to the Pass by nightfall. As they were passing Bay St. Louis, GUNBOAT NUMBER 22 fired two shots at them, one of which passed between the sloop’s masts.
On the morning of the 3rd he sent an express to Lieutenant-Colonel Bowyer with orders to descend Mobile River and occupy the bank on the opposite side of the bay. Then after discovering that Commodore Shaw’s orders had not yet been received by the gunboats assigned to the blockade (because Lieutenant Bainbridge had previously requested them to help him at the mouth of the Mississippi where he had been stranded), the General sent the armed boat ALLIGATOR ahead to Mobile Bay under the command of Mr. Shepherd, with a sergeant, corporal and twelve men.
Commodore Shaw arrived at the Pass on the 4th, and the following day he sent Lieutenant Roney to the bay with a gunboat. Everything had been prepared and completely outfitted in advance, including 30 scaling ladders. The troops embarked on the 7th and sailed into a heaving sea with the wind from behind. On the evening of the 8th with light winds the transports passed off shore from Pass Christian and , after fighting against contrary winds, arrived at Pass Herron on the afternoon of the 10th.
Captain Atkinson took command of a party sent for the purpose of surprising the Spanish guard and of capturing a pilot from Dauphin Island. The party completed their mission before midnight, and the following morning the Spanish corporal and six men boarded a galley bound for Pensacola.
At ten o’clock three of the transports were still far behind. Nevertheless, the General ordered the other transports to increase their speed. Because of this, many of them ran aground repeatedly as they tried to negotiate the narrow passes. On the previous afternoon Commodore Shaw left the flotilla and headed for open sea by way of the pass between Horn Island and Petit Bois. He then cruised in Mobile Bay with the ALLIGATOR and Lieutenant Roney’s bark and succeeded in capturing several ships, among which was a transport carrying an artillery lieutenant, a detachment of troops and provisions for Fort Charlotte. At the same time, Lieutenant-Colonel Bowyer swiftly descended the Tensaw and encamped opposite the city with five bronze field cannon.
After our flotilla entered the bay and anchored, the General held a meeting in which he discussed various landing plans. He made the necessary arrangements and issued appropriate orders. Sails were raised, and by evening the flotilla arrived at l’Ance de Mobile. The wind calmed and the atmosphere was serene with clear moonlight and profound silence. The first inkling that the Spanish commandant had of the General’s approach was the sound of our men’s band music which shattered the stillness of the night.
On the afternoon of the following day a column of six hundred of our men filed toward the copse of woods which faced the fort and took up their positions. At the same time, Major H.L. Pierre, the General’s aide-de-camp, carried a message to the Spanish commandant. He was ordered to surrender the town and evacuate his men. This was done on the 15th when the Stars and Stripes replaced the insignia of despotism amid a joyful sound of artillery salutes. This act gave incalculable joy to the Americans and to all friends of mankind.

We learn that Colonel Carson, to whom was assigned the duty of reconnoitering the Eastern frontier of Florida, arrived at Perdido River on the 17th. On the western bank of which he found a Spanish post occupied by a sergeant and seven men. He caused them to take a hasty leave of the United States. They moved towards Pensacola.

General Wilkinson’s April 12, 1813 Proclamation to the Citizens of Mobile:
Given at camp, near Mobile, 12 April 1813.
Signed, James Wilkinson

War of 1812 reenactors

Joseph Anderson, U.S. Senator from Tennessee who submitted the bill to Congress which became a secret act authorizing President Madison to use the army and navy to take Mobile.


A SECRET ACT OF CONGRESS authorizing the President of the United States to take possession of a tract of country lying south of the Mississippi territory and west of the river Perdido. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That the President be, and he is hereby, authorized to occupy and hold all that tract of country called West Florida, which lies west of the river Perdido, not now in possession of the United States. Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That, for the purpose of occupying and holding the country aforesaid, and of affording protection to the inhabitants thereof, under the authority of the United States, the President may employ such parts of the military and naval force of the United States as he may deem necessary. Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That for defraying the necessary expenses, twenty thousand dollars are hereby appropriated, to be paid out of any moneys in the treasury not otherwise appropriated, and to be applied for the purposes aforesaid, under the direction of the President. Approved, February 12, 1813.

 From Confederate Military History - 1899 - Volume 1.djvu/214 The affairs of East Florida were in this indefinite shape when Congress assembled in November, 1812. Mr. Anderson, of Tennessee, brought up the matter in the Senate December 10, 1812. A committee was appointed, from which committee Mr. Anderson reported a bill (Annals of Congress, 1812-1813, pp. 124, 127), January 19, 1813, to take possession of both the Floridas, East Florida to be held subject to future negotiation with Spain. This bill was amended so as to apply only to that portion of Florida west of the river Perdido, in which form it passed the Senate February 5th by a vote of 22 to n, and passed the House February 8th. It became a law, by the President s signature, February 12, 1813. (Ibid., pp. 132, 133.) It was thus definitely decided by Congress to occupy West Florida permanently by virtue of the title derived under the cession of Louisiana in 1803, and to refuse its sanction to the occupation of East Florida. a link concerning Congress' secret act of February 12, 1813, authorizing the President to use the army and navy to take West Florida (The Mobile District). image courtesy of the Alabama Department of Archives & History

Back in late March, Courtney Haden of Birmingham's WELD Magazine interviewed me concerning my plans to promote the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 in the Gulf South during the next few years.

In that interview I mentioned my intentions to promote events related to the Bicentennial of the Advent of the American Flag over the Port of Mobile which will occur on Monday, April 15, 2013. Please consider this website as your source for all information concerning the commemoration and celebration of this important Alabama anniversary. FLAG OF SPAIN 1808-1813
 image courtesy of Wikipedia THE FLAG OF JOSEPH BONAPARTE, KING OF SPAIN
image courtesy of Wikipedia article about Joseph Bonaparte,eldest brother of Napoleon & King of Spain in 1813
Bonaparte was King of Spain on the day the Spanish withdrew from Mobile but he would hold onto the throne for only a little more than two more months. He abdicated the throne after the defeat of his army by the British allies under Wellington at THE BATTLE OF VITORIA on June 21, 1813.
Many of the British troops who won this victory would later participate in the British burning of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., the assault on Ft. McHenry in Baltimore, the 1st and 2nd Battles of Ft. Bowyer on Mobile Point and the Battle of New Orleans.

image courtesy of the Military Society of the War of 1812
The Spanish District of Mobile west of the Perdido River was the ONLY land permanently acquired by the U.S. during the War of 1812.

At 5 o'clock on Thursday afternoon,April 15, 1813, the U.S. Army and Navy under the command of Major General James Wilkinson raised the American flag of 15 stars and 15 stripes above Mobile's Fuerte Carlota for the first time and two centuries of progress began that have advanced all of mankind.

Please join with us next Monday, April 15 as we celebrate 200 years of American achievement at the Port of Mobile.

 A letter supporting our celebration by Forrest Latta published in the Tuesday, April 17, 2012 edition of the Mobile Press-Register:

  Mobile should celebrate its history on April 15

Few days are more meaningful and less remembered in Mobile than April 15, one whose enshrinement is nearly 200 years overdue. The reason, while involving Uncle Sam, has nothing to do with taxes.

 It was on this day in 1813 when an American flag was raised over the city. We like our July fireworks and rightly so, but Mobilians forget that we watched from the British side originally.

 Next, it was the Spanish who landed at Choctaw Point in 1780, winning Mobile after a fierce battle. When the Louisiana Territory was sold by Napoleon in 1803, some Washingtonians thought it included Mobile.

 Except nobody told the Spaniards. Within 10 years American forces sent by President James Madison arrived by land and sea. The Spanish captain surrendered and American colors were raised on April 15, 1813.

 Our springtime Liberation Day on April 15 could be a wonderful "reverse" July 4th, meaning not when Mobilians celebrate America but when Americans celebrate Mobile. It’s a day to remind ourselves what a prize we are — fought over by nations for our city’s location, splendid resources and colorful charm.

 Mobile’s history and its future will be forever defined by its map coordinates.

What American city of this description would fail to tell such a story by celebrating its own liberation?

 So, how about April 15 for our own special party July Fourth-style?

Let’s invite the world to join us.



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