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In Their Own Words

April 30, 1740

Oglethorpe Planned to Capture St. Augustine

The Duke of Newcastle was Britain’s Secretary of State for the Colonies. On this day, from Ft. Frederica, James Oglethorpe wrote Newcastle on the status of his plans to try to capture St. Augustine, as directed by King George II:

“Having received His Majesty’s orders from Your Grace to make an attempt upon the town and castle of Augustine with what number of men I could be able to raise in Carolina, at Purrysburg and in Georgia, and also with what Indians I could be joined by, I have prevailed with the people of Carolina to raise and pay a regiment of 400 men, of which only 20 yet have joined me. I raise in Georgia one troop of Highland Rangers on horseback, one troop of English Rangers on horseback, one company of Highland foot and one company of English foot, of which the Establishments are enclosed. I am obliged to give this high pay because Carolina has given the same, but after four months they will be upon the same Establishment as the rest of the regiment, if His Majesty is pleased to order them to be continued. I have taken into service the sloops and boats mentioned in the enclosed schedule, besides those which come from Charles Town, being necessary for the transporting the regiment, the other forces and the Indians with their provisions, &c., and for defending the rivers, which would otherwise be open to the insults of the Spanish half-galleys who lately ventured to attack one of the King’s ships under the command of Captain Warren and afterwards saved themselves in shoal water. If Augustine is not taken, the rowboats are the only means of protecting the plantations upon the islands of Carolina from the Spanish half-galleys and launches. For by putting on board them 100 men of the regiment we can fight their galleys in shoal water or defeat their men if landed. Upwards of 100 Indians have already joined me. I expect 1000 in all. The presents and food for the Indians for four months will amount to, by computation, £ Sterling per head. I hope by these, with the assistance of the stores sent from the Office of Ordnance and His Majesty’s ships, to give a very good account of Augustine, though the place is much stronger and better garrisoned than, I believe, was represented at home. My chief dependence is upon the courage of His Majesty’s subjects and the bad situation of the enemy from the crowd of useless mouths, the noneffectives and the discontent of the soldiers, some of whom are taken or desert daily and take on service with us. I hope Your Grace will represent this matter in such a light to His Majesty that provision may be made for payment of the expenses incurred here upon this occasion.

“I am, My Lord, Your Grace’s most obedient, humble servant.”

Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe’s Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Library of Georgia, 1990), Vol. II, pp. 458-459.