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In Their Own Words

April 01, 1740

Oglethorpe Letter on War with Spain

Writing to the Duke of Newcastle in London, James Oglethorpe wrote the following from Charles Town, South Carolina:

“War being declared with Spain and the Spaniards having killed some of our men, I took the forts of Picolata and Saint Francis de Pupa from them and several prisoners … .

“We expect a great body of Indians to our assistance. The Cherokees, I hear, are already upon their march with 500 men, and more are to follow. And I hope we shall have a larger assistance from the Creeks… . I am in great hopes of taking the town [St. Augustine]. There are 2000 odd hundred people, men, women, and children in it. If I drive them into the castle [the Castillo de San Marcos fortress], they, being pestered with useless mouths, will very probably make them surrender upon my bombarding the place.

“This province [South Carolina] is very much reduced by sickness, revolts of the Negroes and other accidents, yet the danger to them from [St.] Augustine is so great that they raise and maintain a regiment, a troop of horse, a large body of volunteers for that siege. But their credit being very low and their taxes very heavy they could not find money for this expense, and I have been obliged to advance them £4000 Sterling upon the credit of their future taxes, without which the siege [of St. Augustine] could not be carried on.”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe’s Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743, Vol. II (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), pp. 456-57.