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In Their Own Words

September 18, 1740

Florida Invasion Failure Explained in Letter

From Savannah, Keeper of the Public Stores Thomas Jones wrote to John Lydes explaining the failure of James Oglethorpe’s Florida invasion and siege of St. Augustine:

“I wrote to you from Fort Diego in Florida July 6th ultimo wherein I gave you some account of the state of our then warlike preparations against the Spaniards, which have not succeeded according to expectation. Many of the Carolina officers ran away, several of the private men both of the Carolina and of the General’s own regiment (being Irish) deserted and went to the Spaniards. The flux and fever raged, especially among the Indians in the camp. The captains of our men of war before Augustine were not unanimous and at length quitted that station, fearing the hurricanes which sometimes have happened in the months of August or September in these coast. The General is returned with the troops, many of them sick but now I hear pretty well recovered, to the camp at Saint Simon’s, having left garrisons at the fort that are between the camp and Florida. He has been himself very ill but is recovered… . The Spaniards made several sallies (with a body commonly of six hundred men) but were every time beat back by the General with his own regiment and Indians, with the loss of several men and horses on their side and that without the loss of one man of ours in any of these attacks. The greatest disaster that befell our forces during this short campaign was at Moosa [Fort Mose] about three miles from Augustine, where a company of Scotch Highlanders and some Indians (not observing the orders given them by the General) were surprised by a party of 500 Spaniards in the nighttime, who killed 16 and took 26 prisoners.” [Actually, the casualties were much higher.]

Source: Mills Lane (ed.), General Oglethorpe’s Georgia: Colonial Letters, 1733-1743 (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), Vol. II, p. 474.