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In Their Own Words

February 02, 1740

Oglethorpe Letter to Stephens on Spanish Expedition

In January, James Oglethorpe had taken a force of almost 200 men southward from Frederica, past the St. Johns River, and on to St. Augustine to see personally the size and location of Spanish forces. After his probe, Oglethorpe returned to Frederica, where he wrote William Stephens (who was president of the northern half of the colony) in Savannah:

“Since the Spaniards began hostilities by attacking Amelia and murdering the men there, I pursued them into Florida, swept the River Saint Mathao, by the Indians called Alata which the Spaniards would fain now call Saint John’s.

“I landed on the Spanish main, drove their out-guards and the Indians burnt three guard houses. I proceeded one day’s march towards Saint Augustine, stayed three days hunting their cattle and ravaging the country, but could not provoke them to action. Their horse and a party of Negroes and Indians appeared, but when off upon a gallop and took shelter in their forts.

“The Spaniards had in Florida, besides the fortress of Augustine, the fort of Saint Mark’s [the Castillo de San Marcos], with a garrison of 80 regular troops, 100 Spanish transports, besides Negroes, Indians &c… .

“They had also a new fort called Saint Francis de Pupa on the British side of Saint Mathao or Alata above mentioned. This fort was an encroachment and built not long since to protect a ferry over the River Alata to defend their communication with Saint Mark’s and to give them an entry into that part of Georgia inhabited by the Creek Indians and also all the Northern parts of Georgia and Carolina by land… .

“Over against this, on the South side the Alata, which is there so wide as to be no longer a river but a lake, they had a fort called Picolata in the shape of a star and a ferryboat, going from the one fort to the other.

“They had also the fort of Saint Diego, seven leagues from the Alata, six from Augustine, and three from the sea.

“They had another called Rossa with a garrison mostly Indians.

“Another called Chiketo, with four bastions, the garrison mostly Indians and partly regular troops, and lies about a league from Augustine.

“Another called Pinion.

“And they were building a new one of stone, called Moosa, to protect the plantations they had granted to runaway Negroes, who were armed and officered in order to garrison the same… .”

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe’s Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), Vol. II, pp. 451-452.