Poet, novelist and eventual editor of The London Magazine Edward Kimber (1719-60) spent two years traveling the Atlantic coast of North America, and as a soldier under General James Edward Oglethorpe, participated the 1743 British attempt to gain control of Spanish occupied St. Augustine. Kimber’s writings not only provide a lyrical narrative of experiences in early Florida, but they also show the author’s deep respect and admiration of the, “great and good General” (Relation 3). In Oglethorpe in Perspective: Georgia’s Founder After Two Hundred Years, editors Jackson H. Harvey and Spalding Phinizy explain of Oglethorpe, that, “His egoism, self-confidence, and touchiness made some critical of him” (3). Kimber depicts this critical eye as untruthful of the General. The author says of his writing that it, “will brush off the Filth of Prejudice and Defamation [of those who criticize Oglethorpe], and either make them asham’d of their Ignorance, or dread the Effects of their impotent Efforts, to taint the Reputation of the Man, who has so lately sav’d them from Fire and Sword, and stood between them and all the Miseries of a powerful Invasion” (Relation 3-4).
Kimber’s sojourn in North America inspired him to write about his encounters with colonists, Indians, and nature. These writings were most often published in The London Magazine, which was then edited by Edward Kimber’s father, Isaac Kimber, a Baptist minister and author. However, Kimber was largely unrecognized as an author because many of his works were published anonymously. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, descendants of Kimber began to reveal the true authorship of his works.
In A Relation or Journal of a Late Expedition to the Gates of St. Augustine, on Florida (first attributed to him in 1934, by Sidney A. Kimber), Edward relates his experiences as a soldier in James Oglethorpe’s militia during its raid on St. Augustine. The author of the work was originally simply, “a Gentleman, Volunteer in the said Expedition.” The raid Kimber participated in was an attempt to further expand British holdings and take over the city of St. Augustine from Spanish control. The battle between the Spanish and British over North American territory between South Carolina and Florida lasted for approximately two hundred years, and the battle for St Augustine was one in a long struggle between the two countries. Oglethorpe and his settlement at Fort Frederica play an important role in the long battle for imperial control in the southern region of North America. After defeating the Spanish in what Kimber describes as, “a powerful Invasion” (Relation 3-4) that of the Battle of Bloody Marsh at St. Simons Island in July of 1742, General Oglethorpe received information that the Spanish were readying themselves for another attack. The General took advantage of the increased morale brought about by the victory and the weekend state of the Spanish troupes as an opportunity to advance. He hoped to take St. Augustine before Spanish supplies and reinforcements arrived.
The Relation is written in the form of a journal starting at Fort Frederica in Georgia on July 29, 1743. The account of this journey of sailing and marching toward St. Augustine contains descriptions of nature and the elements, fellow soldiers, and Indians. In the introduction to Itinerant Observations in America, editor Kevin J. Hayes shares the thoughts of one of Kimber’s contemporary critics, who after reading Relation said of the narrative, that it, “is made up of an uncommon Mixture of the sublime and picturesque” (14). The depth of the content in his work suggests that Kimber actually kept a journal during the expedition. His “picturesque” style of writing shows his childhood exposure to literature by his father. It is thought that A Relation may actually be an excerpt Kimber removed from a larger journal he kept of his extended experiences traveling North America: Itinerant Observations in America. While his Observations is more widely read, A Relation does provide specific insight to Florida and its more wild natural setting as well as its early history.
Harvey, Jackson H. and Spalding Phinizy. Oglethorpe in Perspective: Georgia’s Founder After Two Hundred Years. Tuscaloosa: U P of Alabama, 1989.
Kimber, Edward. Itinerant Observations in America. Newark: U Delaware P, 1998. Print.
__________ . A Relation or Journal of a Late Expedition to the Gates of St. Augustine, on Florida: Conducted by The Hon. General James Oglethorpe, with a Detachment of his Regiment, &c. from Georgia. In a Letter to the Reverend Mr. Isaac K—–r in London. London: T. Astley, 1744.
__________ . A Relation or Journal of a Late Expedition & c.: A Facsimile Reproduction of the 1744. Ed. John Jay Tepaske. Gainesville: U P of Florida, 1976.
Krista M. Coker
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
Camp, at Frederica, July 29, 1743.
Dear and Honored Sir,
To make amends for the many Impertinencies I have uttered in the epistolary Way, since I have been absent from Great Britain; I shall honor my self, by relating to you a late Expedition we have made on Florida, under our great and good General; an Expedition, you will find, as great in its Formation, as important in its Design; and as salutary in its Effects, to this Frontier Colony, and the whole North America, as it was bold and hazardous in its Execution. And tho’ the rankling Malice of a few vagabond Carolinians hath, in publick Papers, dar’d to insult their Preserver and Saviour, on the Account of that Incursion; yet the discerning Eyes my Lines will be submitted to, will brush off the Filth of Prejudice and Defamation, and either make them asham’d of their Ignorance, or dread the Effects of their impotent Efforts, to taint the Reputation of the Man, who has so lately sav’d them from Fire and Sword, and stood between them and all the Miseries of a powerful Invasion.
You will perceive, in the Course of my Letter, the various and uncommon Hardships, our Way of making War in America subjects us to: Hardships equal to those, that the Soldiers of Cato endur’d amongst the parch’d Sands of Libya; or those of Charles XII. among the dreary, frozen Forests of Russia; Hardships unknown, nor thought of, in your modish Campaigns in Flanders; and capable, on the bare Reflecxion, to shock the Soul of a H—p—k Hero. What are our Tents; but the first spreading Beach, or rising Sand-hill, or perhaps, now and then, the superior Comfort of a lofty Tree, or a Palmetto Shade; whilst the harest Marches, beneath the Fire of the Mid-day Sun, are succeeded with unwholesome, noxious Dews, attended with Vermin of all sorts, that poison Rest? Our Drink, not even the translucent Wave; but the first muddy Marsh-Water we can find, or perhaps Water little fresher than that from the Sea. Our Provisions, carried on our Backs; unattended with Baggage-Waggons, or Sumpter Horses; our Officers without any Equipages, but their Swords and their Partisans; and a General himself, partaking the same Fatigue as the meanest Soldier: Yet under all this, a Chearfulness seldom discover’d in Soldiers, and a Flow of Spirits, uninspir’d by any Thing, but a natural Vivacity and Courage, and a temperate and hardy Way of living; an Ardour for Battle, that is inexpressible, and discovers it self in the Eyes of the meanest Centinel. This is a short Trait of General Oglethorpe’s undaunted Regiment; of whom it may be said, with Addison, The War’s whole Art, each private Soldier knows; And with a General’s Thrift of Conquest glows [.…]
On Saturday, Feb. 26, 1742-3, The Detachment of the Regiment, intended for the Expedition on Florida, appear’d under Arms at Frederica; when their Arms and Accoutrements were examined, and every one receiv’d his Complement of Cartages, and was order’d to provide himself with a Haver-Sack and Water-Bottle, for the March. Afterwards they march’d out of the Town, and each Platoon fir’d at a Mark, before his Excellency, for the Prize of a Hat and Matchet, to the Man who made the best Shot at an hundred Yards Distance, in the Fosse round the Fortifications. He afterwards gave Beer to the Soldiers, and order’d the Whole to be ready to proceed by nine the next Morning.
A Command of Men, two Days before, was embark’d on board the Ship Success, Capt. Thompson, who this Day went over the Bar, to cruize off Augustine [.…]
Wednesday, March 2. At one A. M. We weigh’d with a fresh Gale at N.W. but, soon after, struck on a Mud-Bank, where we lay till eight, and then hove off, with the Tide of Flood, and got under Sail, with the Wind at N. N. E. (The Reason of our so frequently running a-ground, was the extreme Length of our Vessel, which was too long to tack in these Inland-Straits, where the Channel is very narrow; tho’ the Sounds, as they are call’d, are almost large enough to bear the Appellation of Seas.) At Noon, the General, Lieut. Goldsmith, and Ensign Wansele, with a Detachment from the Virginian Recruits; and Capt. Carr, with Part of his Marine Company, appear’d in Sight, and pass’d us; and some Time after, Lieut. Maxwell, his Excellency’s Aid-de-Camp, Lieut. Charles Mac Kay, with Part of the Highland Provincial Company, and seventy-five of the Indian Warriors, in the small Perriaguas and Scout-Boats. At two P. M. we came to an Anchor off Fort-William on Cumberland-Island, and join’d the rest of the Fleet : Little Wind N. N. E. and small Rain [.…]
Friday, March 4. The Officers and their Detachments land this Morning, with all their Arms and Accoutrements. At ten, Lieut. Demere, and Ensign Stewart, with the Grenadiers, are boated over the Sound, and encamp on the Island Amelia where Scrugs and Williams, with the Rangers, were encamped before. Eleven P.M. The General and his Retinue, with Officers, Recruits, Rangers, and Indians, sail’d in the small Craft, for St. Juan’s [St. John’s River] from whence they frequently send out Parties for Intelligence [….]
Sunday, March 6. At ten in the Morning S. Coleman, one of his Excellency’s Servants, arriv’d Express, and inform’d us, that the General and his whole Corps were arrived safe at St. Wan’s, where they were encamp’d; and that the Indians were gone to Augustine, in order to knap Prisoners, and gain Intelligence. At eleven, the Detachment embark’d again, being oblig’d to wade to the Boats up to their Middles, the Wind setting on Shore. At twelve, a Ship was seen off the Bar, which sent in its Yawl, and prov’d to be the Success, Capt. Thomson, who inform’d us, he had met with a seventy, and sixty Gun Ship, the Kent, and York, Captains Coates and Mitchell, who were order’d from Jamaica, to cruize for a Galleon and Pay-Ship, from the Havannah, bound to St. Augustine. Wind tort at S. W. In our old Birth all this Night.
Monday, March 7. Six P.M. we weigh with our Consorts; at ten, stand over Amelia Bar, to Sea, with fresh Gales at W. and flying Clouds, and steer E. S. E. Eight Feet the most shoal Water, on the Bar, at half Flood. At two, P. M. come to an Anchor close to St. Juan’s Bar; at three, P. M. the General’s Cutter came off to us, with David Fellows, his Cockswain, and the Crew, to help us in; at five [degrees], the General came off, in his other Cutter, and order’d us to stand in with the Morning Flood. It continues blowing very hard all Night. We see many Fires up the Country, which we take to be Signals of Alarm by the Enemy.
Tuesday, March 8. This Morning the Wind blowing very hard at N. W. we hous’d our Guns, and lash’d our two nine Pounders to the Mast, putting our Swivels into the Hold. We got down our Fore-Top-Sail, Cross-Jack, and Crotchet-Yards, and made every Thing ready, lest we should be drove from our Anchors, and blown out to Sea. At Night more moderate, Wind W. and N. W.
Wednesday, March 9. This Morning the Wind being moderate at N. W. Fellows went ashore in the Cutter, and brought off Word, that the General had been alarm’d by five or six Guns having been fir’d; but finding that we could not get in, sent Word he would assist us, when the Weather permitted, which we hope will be soon. At nine A. M. his Excellency came off with two other Boats, to tow us in: He himself sounded the Bar, several Times; but finding, that the Sea ran high, and there was but eight or nine Feet Water, we stay’d till Time Of half Flood. At ten, Wind at N. E. and hazy Weather; we lying close to the Bar, and two Sand-Hills bearing W. Southerly. At Noon we all weigh’d and got in, with little Winds at E. N. E. and hazy. We steer’d in W. W. by N. and W. N. W. nine or ten Fathom Water, and came to Anchor about a Mile within the Bar. Fires and Smokes all up the Country. Williams, and some of his Rangers are sent over to Sr. George’s. Pleasant Weather, with little Wind, at S.S.E. [….]
On Wednesday, March 9. at two in the Afternoon, we landed at St. Mathia’s on Florida; and, after being review’d, (and the General’s making a Speech, in which he gave us an Account of the Expedition we were upon;) his Excellency order’d some Barrels of Beer to be given to the Soldiers; when we took up our Quarters on the other Side of a Sand-Hill, or Ridge, overgrown with Palmettos, and divers Kinds of Weeds, in a Savannah, defended on all Sides by a Wood; whose Only Vacuities were some few Glades, made by the Entrance of a Creek, which in several Meanders gently roll’d its Waves from its Source, the River St. Wan’s, till it enter’d the Lake de Poupa, now called Oglethorpe’s Lake. At one End of this Savannah, the nearest to the Entrance of the Lake, and on the River Side of the Sand-Hills, the General fix’d his Head-Quarters; his Tent, by Day, being a Kind of an Alcove, that some neighbouring Shrubs had form’d on each Side; and his Retreat by Night, a Palmetto-Hut, which also held his Provisions, and other Lumber His Servants building themselves Shades of Boughs, &c. on each Side of him. There did this great Man, seated on a Buffalo’s Skin, pass the Hours, whilst encamp’d here, (which were vacant from his daily Journeys along the Beach, or in the neighbouring Woods, for Discoveries,) in instructive Lessons to the Officers and Gentlemen of his Detachment; and their visit generally concluded with a Dinner, or Supper from his Kitchen, (a Wood-Fire in the Neighbourhood of his Hut,) compos’d of barbecu’d Pork, Poultry, which he had on board his Vessels; or Fish, of which large Quantities were catch’d in the aforesaid Creek, which ran before his Hut, and so pass’d, after several serpentine Turnings, into the –Wood, on the contrary Side of the Savannah.
At the other End of the Savannah, we clear’d a Passage, from St. Juan’s Beach, into it, thro’ a thick, mournful Wood, which had been robb’d of Leaves and Growth, by former Indian Fires; in which was placed an Advanc’d Guard of fifteen Men, and an Officer, whose Centries could discover, not only every Thing that approach’d us by Land, that Way, but, also, whatever pass’d the Bar, or appear’d on the neighbouring Shores. On the Sand-Hills, South, and just by his Excellency’s Quarters, our Main-Guard was posted, whose Out Centries could discover all Vessels from the Northward; and from whence, every Thing behind us might be descry’d on its first Appearance. The Rangers were, with their Horses, encamp’d in a small Close near the Soldiers of the Regiment; whilst the new Recruits and Marines, with the Highlanders, either encamp’d on the Beach, or kept on board their respective Boats. Whilst in this Situation, our Men built themselves small Huts, divided themselves into separate Messes, and with the utmost Decorum enter’d into all the Economy of Families. The Woods fell at their repeated Strokes, for Firing and Building; and the whole Place began to look like an inhabited Country. Every Officer had a Hut, at the Head of his Platoon; and, so, was ready to quell any Disorder that might arise. Their Provisions consisted of Rice, Beef, Flour, and Molasses, which were deliver’d for two or three Days at a Time, by the Commissary and Quarter Master, from on board the Store-Schooner; where a Man of every Mess repair’d to fetch it, for himself and Comrades. Their Drink was Water, as was the General’s, and the rest of the Officers, from the Wells we had dug round the Camp; which, to say the best of it, was brackish, green, muddy and stinking. Frequently, when bad Husbandry had exhausted our Provisions before the Time of a Supply, our Men would go out to fish, and oyster: And lo! the whole Camp was overspread with the marine Inhabitants [….]
Friday, March 11. The Drums beat to Arms at nine, and we remain’d in that Posture till twelve at Noon, expecting immediately to march; but had, then, Orders to retire to our Huts. The General’s Policy was, and is, very observable, in the frequent Alarms his People receive, and the frequent Motions he obliges them to make; knowing very well, that the Rust of Inactivity and Idleness too soon corrupts the Minds, and enervates the Body of the Soldier. To this are, perhaps, owing, the many different Fatigues, his Regiment goes thro’ in Georgia, which he is always promoting; as, clearing Roads, draining Swamps, Marshes, &c. which so harden’d and strengthen’d the Roman Legions, who have left, from the Time of Caesar to the Declension of their Empire, eternal Monuments of Industry and Labour, in all the Countries they subdu’d. At two o’ Clock, a hard Rain (accompanied with repeated Lightnings, and Thunder-Claps, that are common in these Southern Climates, and are wonderfully severe; the whole Element seeming to be kindled into a livid Flame, and all Nature meeting with a general Dissolution) set in, and continued till we were thoroughly soak’d, and our Arms had received considerable Damage. At four o’ Clock, the Cowhati Indians, who went to Augustine, after so long Expectations, and divers Conjectures about their long Stay, return’d; bringing with them five Scalps, one Hand, which was cut off with the Glove on, several Arms, Clothes, and two or three Spades; which they had the Boldness to bring away, after having attack’d a Boat with upwards of forty Men in it, under the very Walls of the Castle, killing about twenty of them, and over-setting the rest; who also had met with Death, but for the continu’d Fire of their great Guns. It seems, that they were Pioneers, and were going, under an Officer, to dig Clay for the King’s Works. We heard them long before they came in Sight, by the melancholy Notes of their warlike Death-houp. For the Spaniards having kill’d one of their People, they, as usual with them in that Case, gave no Quarter, and therefore brought his Excellency no Prisoner; which was what he earnestly desir’d. To give you a lively Idea of what occurs here, of these Sons of the Earth, I premise some Description of their Figure, Manners, and Method of making War. As to their Figure, ’tis generally of the largest Size, well proportion’d, and robust, as you can imagine Persons nurs’d up in manly Exercises can be. Their Colour is a swarthy, copper Hue, their Hair generally black, and shaven, or pluck’d off by the Roots, all round their Foreheads and Temples. They paint their Faces and Bodies, with Black, Red, or other Colours, in a truly diabolic Manner; or, to speak more rationally, much like the former uncultivated Inhabitants of Britain, whom Tacitus mentions. Their Dress is a Skin or Blanket, tied, or, loosely cast, over their Shoulders; a Shirt which they never wash, and which is consequently greasy and black to the last Degree; a Flap, before and behind, to cover their Privities, of red or blue Bays, hanging by a Girdle of the same; Boots about their Legs, of Bays also; and what they call Morgissons, or Pumps of Deer or Buffalo Skin, upon their Feet. Their Arms, and Ammunition, a common Trading-Gun; a Pouch with Shot and Powder; a Tomohawk, or Diminutive of a Hatchet, by their Side; a Scalping-Knife, Pistol &c. But, however, you’ll see their dress, by those the General has carry’d to England. As to their Manners, tho’ they are fraught with the greatest Cunning in Life, you observe little in their common Behaviour, above the brute Creation. In their Expeditions they hunt for their Provision, and, when boiled or barbecu’d, tear it to Pieces promiscuously with their Fists, and devour it with a remarkable Greediness. Their Drink is Wee-tuxee, or Water, on these Occasions; but, at other Times, any Thing weaker than Wine or Brandy, is nauseous to them; and they’ll express their great Abhorrence by spitting it out, and seeming to spew at it: All which is owing to the Loss of their native Virtues, since the Europeans have enter’d into all Measures for trading with them; for, view them without Prejudice, you will perceive some Remains of an ancient Roughness and Simplicity; common to all the first Inhabitants of the Earth; even to our own dear Ancestors, who, I believe, were much upon a Level with these Indian hunting Warriors, whom his Excellency has so tam’d, since his being in America, and made so subservient to the Benefit of the English Nation.
When they make an Incursion into an Enemy’s Country, they decline the open Roads and Paths, and only scout along the Defiles and Woods, ready to pop on any Prey that shall appear in the open Country; whom they attack with terrible and mournful Cries, that astonish even more than their Arms. If none of their own Party is kill’d, they take Prisoners all they can lay Hands on; but if on the contrary, they give no Quarter. Before they go to War, they undergo the Ceremony of Physicking, which is done very privately in the Recesses of some hoary Wood, remote from the Eyes of any white Person; and generally employs a Day or two: Then performing the Ceremony of their War-Dance, they are ready to begin their Work. These two last mention’d Ceremonies seem to be a Mixture of the religious and the political. Their Medicine is a Kind of red Paste &c. &c. but of what made, the Lord above knows [….]
Imagine to your self a Body of sixty or seventy of these Creatures, marching in Rank and File, (and by their martial Figure, and Size, forming, or extending a Front equal to that of two hundred Men,) with the mournful Howls and Cries, usual on the Occasion, and every now and then popping their Pieces off, which was answer’d by the Main-Guard, as they pass’d, in a continually resum’d Fire. His Excellency was seated, to receive them, under some neighbouring Trees, on a Buffalo’s Skin, surrounded by his Officers; when every one approaching him, he shook them by the Hand, welcom’d them home, in the Indian Tongue, and thank’d them for the Service they had done him. The War Captains, or old Men, he retain’d; who being seated, had three Hogs, Fish, Oysters, Bread, Beer, and divers other Refreshments given them; when they inform’d his Excellency, there was no Camp at Diego; And then his Excellency propos’d their marching again to Augustine, with him and his People; but, whether they had been handled more severely than they represented, or, whether they were terrify’d with the great Guns, &c. they seem’d not much inclin’d to it; and seeing that the General used a few Persuasions for that End, they objected to his small Number, told him, they could shift well enough, but were not pleas’d with the white Mens Method of going to War [….]
Monday, March 14. … At for, we reach’d Horse-Guards, about a Mile below our Camp, a Place on the Beach, where the Spaniards, before the Siege of St. Augustine, kept a Party of Cavalry, at a Look-out, which is now destroy’d. At this Place, a Boat had landed some Barrels of Beer, which was distributed at a Pint a Man; and such an unexpected Bounty from the General, wonderfully elated the Soldiers. We march’d briskly from this Place, along St. Juan’s Beach, till the Cover of Night brought us to the first Fresh-Water Camena (or Creek, as ’tis call’d by our Augustine Veterans) where we halted; and mounting the Sand-Hills, lay under Arms, in a Bottom, between two Ridges, mounting a Double-Guard, till the next Morning. The fiery Heat of the Sun, darting its Beams on us, which were reflected back by the Sand, and almost scorch’d and blinded us, during this Afternoon’s March of fourteen Miles, was scarce bearable, by such of us, as were new ones at this Trade; nor could we have stood it, but that the refreshing Breeze from the Sea chear’d our Spirits. The Water we brought in our Cantines, and Bottles, was boiling hot; and our Arms burnt us, when we touch’d the Steel. His Excellency, and his Horsemen rode before; and in our Van, march’d the Highlanders, and Capt. Horton with his Grenadiers; whilst the Rear was brought up by the new rais’d Virginians, under Ensign Wansel. In the Night the Sand blew on us from the Hills, and, together with the hateful Dew, made our Lodging more uncomfortable than can be described.
Tuesday, March 15. Arriving, after an Hour’s March, to the Road that leads to Diego, we struck into it, from the Beach, and had then a Prospect of the neighbouring Country. ‘Twas with the utmost Satisfaction, I survey’d this Part of the finest Land in North America, which seem’d quite open, and was only, here and there, diversify’d with rising Hummocks of Trees and leafy Thickets, which serv’d to enliven the variegated Scene. In short, I began to fancy myself in Britain, whose Pastures and Meadows are still so fresh in my Mind; whilst an Infinity of uncommon Birds were chanting their wild Notes on every Bush and Brake. Happy, unhappy Spaniards! Possess’d of the finest Countries in the World, you lose them by your Covetousness and Pride! Our Thirst, each Man’s Water being expended, began to be very severe; so that the General soon order’d an Halt in a Marsh, where we refresh’d with Provision, and such muddy Water as the Place afforded, at about ten o’ Clock in the Morning. Here it must be noted, that every Person carried his own Provision, (in his Knap-sack, or Haver-sack, on his Back, Officers and Gentlemen not excepted,) of which, we had for seven Days, at the Allowance of a Pound of Biscuit, and ten ounces of Cheese per Man; which, with Beef, if the Men chose it, was, and is the usual Allowance. At one, we resum’d our Rout (and by the Narrowness of the Path were oblig’d to march one a-breast) thro’ this fine sallow Country, which, before the Siege of Augustine, was replete with lowing Kine, and bleating Flocks of Sheep; but since that, they allow no Settlements in the Country, and keep all their Cattle on the Matancas, continually in fear of another Invasion; leaving this fine Land desert and uncultivated. … we march’d thro’ several Bogs and Swamps up to our Bellies. At half an Hour after three, we reach’d a thick Wood, (after having pass’d a large Creek, at low Water; which, had the Tide been in, would have taken us up to the Neck,) where his Excellency halted us, for some Refreshment, and where we had Plenty of Water, thick, and stinking enough, from a neighbouring Marsh. His Excellency’s Prudence and Conduct is highly to be admir’d in halting his Men at proper Times, in shady Places, where Water may be had; which, indeed, is the Secret of preserving Men in these hot Climates; and the contrary of which, perhaps, destroy’d so many in the West-Indies. Here our Men found out the Contrivance of putting Orange-Peel into their Bottles, which temper’d the Water’s Heat, and, by its generous Bitter, imparted a noble Warmth to the Stomach. The Oranges were found by the Indians, for they grow wild in this Country. The Heat of the Day being over, we march’d thro’ several scrubby Marshes, and Savannahs, and over a large Creek, which haply was at low Water, till we arriv’d at a Kind of a Pine-barren (falsely and absurdly so call’d, from producing nothing but those Trees;) where we encamp’d, or rather lay on our Arms, all Night; his Excellency taking up his Quarters in a hollow Thicket, to the Right of his People. All this Day’s March, we saw the melancholy Spots the Indians had set Fire to, which, in some Places, had spread near a Mile, destroying all before it, and leaving whole Forests in Ruin. These, it seems, were the Fires we discover’d at Sea; which were not made by the Enemy, but our own Indians: And following this Policy, his Excellency set Fire to the Woods, before we march’d from the aforesaid Halting-Place; that the Enemy might be deceived, and think we were still there. When we were settled in our Encampment, a Number of Men were detach’d to dig Wells, for we stood in great Want of Water; and seven or eight were immediately sunk, which supply’d us very well; but the Water was brackish. We are in great Hopes the Spaniards will come down upon us. Guard as usual. Several of the new Men, not being capable to hold out, were sent back, under the Care of a Corporal. We reckon our selves thirty Miles from St. Wan’s and twenty from Augustine.
Wednesday, March 16. We continue our March, till we arrive, at twelve at Noon, scorch’d to Death, and in great Want of Water, to a Place call’d the Grove, which truly merits that Name; where there is a running Brook of the finest Water I ever drank. In this Morning’s March, mostly thro’ Pine-barrens, diversify’d with many entertaining Prospects, and the Sight of a Million of Paroquets and other Birds peculiar to the Place, several of our Men fail’d, and were taken up by the Horses: It was so hot, we were almost barbecu’d, and we met with no Water. Being so near the Enemy, his Excellency, in every open or expos’d Place we march’d thro’, order’d Captain Horton to form us, and so march in Rank and File, as long as the broad Road continued.
This Brook, we are now solacing our selves by, this charming reviving Rill, is seated between two large Pine-barrens, in a Kind of a Bottom, which is quite obscure, from the Thickets that defend it, on the Side of Augustine; and on the other Side, a most delicious Grove of Cypress, Laurel, &c. extends its leafy Honours, into the Air, affording a fine, shady Retreat, from the broiling Beams of the Sun. Here our People, throwing aside their Arms and Clothes, gave Way to the pleasing Rest it afforded them; whilst the crystal Stream was incessantly quaff’d, and every diverting Discourse or mirthful Interlude, so common with Soldiers, took Place; which charm’d the General, who was delighted to see the usual, natural Flow of Spirits in his Men, unassisted by ought, but a Vivacity and Chearfulness, inspir’d by native Courage, Vigour, and Health. ‘Twas here, that, seated under an Oak, his Excellency treated his Officers, and other Gentlemen, with Ham, and a Glass of Wine each; but more particularly, with his pleasing and instructive Discourse [.…]
At five, we again set forward, and march’d over a large, and prodigious long Pine-barren, (melted continually with the igneous Rays darting without Intermission on our Heads,) which was so regular an one, as to appear more like a wide, extended regular Grove, than so wild a Place. … Marching thro’ the Woods is rather more incommodious than the Beach, on account of so many Stumps and Palmetto Roots, as we meet with, which bruise our Feet, and often occasion us to tumble down. Towards Evening we came up to several Defiles of Thickets, &c. which made us cautious of an Ambuscade; but we pass’d them, without being attack’d, and arriv’d in the broad High-Road leading to Augustine, at about eight o’Clock, accounting ourselves about one Mile from the Ruins of the fatal Mousa, and three from St. Augustine.
We struck off from the Road, into a Savannah on the Right; where a Double-Guard being mounted, and Centries plac’d, we laid down on our Arms, to take some little Repose, after so long Day’s March; in the latter Part of which, we met with no Water; and here, when we dug Wells, none could be had that was drinkable; but, however, Necessity obliging, we strain’d it from the Mud, thro’ our Teeth and Handkerchiefs; and, in some Measure, thereby cool’d our heated Throats. Here we could plainly hear the Tattoo beat in the Cattle of St. Augustine, and our most advanc’d Centries could hear theirs challeng’d. At three in the Morning, a false Alarm being, spread, that one of the Guard had deserted, the Adjutant was ordered silently to wake us, and we march’d, with as great Circumspection and Caution as possible, back to the Entrance of the afore-mentioned Defiles, before the Break of Day, the Grenadiers bringing up our Rear.
Thursday, March 17. Halting at Day-Break, we form’d, in a small Marsh, on both Sides enclos’d with thick Woods; at whose Entrance grew a Multitude of large Palmettos. … In this Station, we were almost devour’d with Vermin, and distracted for Want of Water; which, after digging in the Wood, we could not find. His Excellency, and six or seven Horsemen, in order to decoy them out, rode from hence as far as the Out-Centries of the Spaniards, who retir’d, without firing, into the Castle, pursu’d by him to the very Walls. But finding nothing could provoke them to appear, he returned, proposing to lie in the same Posture for two or three Days, and to send out frequent Parties to the very Gates of the Town. However, this Design was baulk’d, by the Desertion of one Eels, of Col. Cook’s Company; a Fellow, who was discontented, and knew our Number, Disposition, and every Thing, which the Relation of could induce them to sally upon us. He was pursued, but had hid himself in the Woods; from whence, he afterwards went to the Enemy. Finding our Situation, by this, would be too dangerous, his Excellency order’d the Whole to march, himself Always bringing up the Rear.
At eight o’Clock, we enter’d the long Pine-barren, when our Indians discovered a fine, cool Spring, at the Root of a large Oak; the very Mention of which occasion’d several of our Men to desert their Arms, and run towards it; for which, two of them were tied Neck and Heels, as an Example to the rest. We all march’d up to this charming Place, this Mosaic Stream, gladen’d, as the Israelites were on a like Occasion; and after drinking and filling our Bottles, resum’d our March, and at five in the Afternoon arriv’d at the Grove, where we halted, and boiled Dumplins, of some Flour his Excellency had on one of his Horses, which he generously distributed to the Men. Then setting forward, we arriv’d at Night to the afore-mention’d Wood, near Diego, after so prodigiously fatiguing a March, of more than twenty Miles; in which, Numbers dropp’d down thro’ the excessive, torturing Heat, and fainting Labour, and were forc’d to be brought up on the Horses, which follow’d.
Friday, March 18. The Mens Feet are very much blister’d, and even our old Marchers jaded to Death; and arriving on St. Juan’s Beach, that hard Ground, after marching thro’ the Woods, batter’d our Feet extremely. However, we march’d briskly, under all these Disadvantages, and arriv’d at four o’ Clock to our former Camp, at St. Wan’ s, and again took Possession of it, with Drums beating, and found the Vessels and all safe. Just before, arriv’d two Boats from Frederica, with Provisions and twenty Auxiliary Indians of the Creek Nation, who were dispatch’d by Capt. MacKay, and forwarded by Fort-Major Stewart, at Fort-William. By them we were inform’d, that all was well at Frederica.
Saturday, March 19. The Rangers and their Horses were this Morning ferry’d over to Talbot, in order to proceed home; and Lieut. Mac Kay, with his Highlanders, was sent in his Boat up the Lake de Poupa, or Oglethorpe, to see if the Spaniards had begun to repair the Fort of that Name, and that of Piccalatta ; the former of which was kept, during the Siege of Augustine, and garison’d by the General, first, under Lieut. Hugh Mac Kay, since deceas’d; next under Ensign Cathcart, and afterwards under Ensign Anthony Morelon, since a Lieutenant. At the Railing the Siege, it was demolished by Capt. Dunbar. We boil three Days Allowance of Beef. In the Afternoon, the aforesaid Indians set out for St. Augustine, on an Expedition. Several Complaints being utter’d of the Badness of the Beef and Water, his Excellency, to set a good Example, eats and drinks nothing else.
Sunday, March 20. Two more Boats arrive from Frederica, with Cherokee Indians; and soon after a Schooner, with the Upper-Creeks, Cussitaes, Ocunj’s, and Cowhati’s; Part of whom left us, and return’d to Frederica, as before related; and some of the Talpooses, Tuckabahhe and Savannee Nations, who came to assist the General, making in all seventy. Various Conjectures are pass’d of his Excellency’s Intentions, and the Men seem to be uneasy for Want of Action. Our present Post, if the Spaniards have any Souls, must be very dangerous, and all Precautions are taken to receive them in a proper Manner. An Indian Conjurer prophesies they will be down upon us this Night; and therefore, to humour those People’s Superstition, a Double-Watch is kept; and another Advanc’d-Guard mounted under Ensign Chamberlaine, as far off as the Horse-Guards [….]
Saturday, March 26. At Noon his Excellency embark’d in the Walker, with forty Soldiers, besides the Ship’s Crew, and forty-six Indians, who were resolv’d to go on this Sea-Expedition with him; which was an extraordinary Offer from them, and show’d their Value for the General, whom they call their Father. Captain Carr was left, with his Scout-Boats, to wait for those Indians who went by Land. The Remainder of the Detachment embark’d in the other Boats. The rude Manners of the Indians on board, who without Ceremony took up the Cabin and all the Conveniencies, for Lodging, and their Arms, and Lumber, were somewhat irksome, especially considering their Nastiness; however, as his Excellency himself was pleased with lying roughly on the Deck, all the Voyage, no body else had the lean Reason to complain [….]
Wednesday, March 30. At one A. M. we tack’d and stood in for the Land; at three D°, stood off, it inclining to be calm; at eight D°,’ made a Signal to speak with the Masters of the Transports, Mac Kensie, Warren, and Nunez; and we all stood in for St. Augustine-Bar, with little Wind at E. and hot Weather. We see lying within the Bar, one Galley and two Half-Galleys, who not daring to venture out, the General would have landed and attack’d them from Shore; but found it impracticable still, the Sea ran so high: So finding it impossible to land, after alarming and insulting the whole Coast by Sea, as he had their Castle by Land, he ordered to bear away for St. Juan’s. Little Wind at S. E. we set all our small Sails. At five P.M. the General sent his Aid-de-Camp on board the Success, with Orders for her and the other Vessels to make the best of their Way home. At eight D°, we came to an Anchor of St. Juan’s-Bar in nine Fathom Water, with the Wind at S. E. and moderate.
Thursday, March 31. At six A.M. weigh’d and stood in dole for the Bar. At seven D°, his Excellency went ashore in his Cutter; and soon after we set the Indians on Shore, firing thirteen Guns as they went over the Side. Beer was given afterwards to our Men, and under the Discharge of our Cannon, we named the Mount at the Entrance of this Bar, OGLETHORPE‘S MOUNT. The Indians not being return’d from Augustine, the General waits for them; and therefore at the Return of our Boat, we weigh’d, Wind at S. S. E. At three P. M. we were a-breast of Fort-William, and fired two Guns, as the Signal. At fix D°, stood over the Bar of St. Simon’s into the Sound, and sound the Success on her Station. We proceeded directly for Frederica, and at nine at Night landed there; the other Vessels being arriv’d safe the Morning.
A few Days after, the General return’d with the Remainder of his Party, and all the Indians; those who went to Augustine, not having taken any Prisoner, nor seen a Spaniard without the Walls; so much were they terrify’d with our late Attempts. And since this, several Parties of our Indians have been out, to their very Gates, and kept the Watches in the utmost Panic and Fear, bringing his Excellency three or four Prisoners, at different Times, all whom he has carried to England with him.
When I reflect upon General Oglethorpe’s great Qualities, and his indefatigable Zeal in serving his Country; his many hazardous and painful Expeditions (particularly that of the Siege of Augustine, in which he was betray’d and neglected by the mean Carolina Regiment, and many of the Men of War;) and his late glorious Defeat of the Spanish Invasion of Georgia: When I reflect on his breaking a good and vigorous Constitution, to render Persons under his Command, easy and happy; his extending his Compassion to the Miserable of all Sorts, and in short, his Possession of every Civil and Military Virtue; I am shock’d, that Envy itself dare mean to taint his Character with its foul Blast: But what Merit is Proof against some foul Tongues, and fouler Hearts; when God himself cannot escape them? But he will soon prove to them, that there are other Qualities than Impudence, and a Knack at Slander, requir’d for the Talk of opposing his excellent and just Measures. — From an impartial Survey of his Actions, the Tendency of which, I have, perhaps, had many Opportunities to contemplate, I can’t forbear to sing with Addison, only with the Variation of the Person,
Oglethorpe’s Acts appear divinely bright,
And proudly shine in their own native Light.
Rais’d of themselves, their genuine Charms they boast
And those who paint them truest, praise them most.
I can’t relinquish my Subject, Dear Sir, without just touching on the Character of a young Gentleman, who was left Commander in Chief at Frederica, in the General’s Absence, Captain-Lieutenant James Mackay; who at an early Age, and in a Service, where the Marrow of the Military is hardly acquirable, has established the Reputation of an able and experienc’d Officer: But that Encomium, you’ll find, falls far short of therest ofhis Character, when I inform you, that to the sweetest Temper, is join’d the most generous Soul. Couragious, just, virtuous, humane, kind, and temperate, he blesses all who know him, and restores the Golden Age wherever he appears: And ‘tis not barely Gratitude for Favours received, that draws from me this Panegyric; but the Conviction I am under, that he deserves this, and more, from all that ever had the Honour to be acquainted with him.
I conclude, Honoured Sir, with expressing the same Sentiments of Gratitude to a Gentleman who has been the Solace and Tutor of every Hour I have spent in this Country, and to whom I owe all the little military Knowledge I may or shall be possess’d of. To explain whom I mean, may I be continually deserving of the Friendship of Lieutenant Anthony Morelon, (at whose Desire this Journal was at first undertaken;) a Gentleman as amiable and useful in his private Character, as he is by the Confession of the best Judges acknowledged to be, in his Capacity of a good and able Officer.
I long to embrace you, to throw myself at your Feet; but you’ll allow same Time to the Workings of a laudable Ambition, and to the Desire I have to render myself worthy the Favour and Protection of so great a Man, as General Oglethorpe; to deserve which is to deserve all that’s good in Life. Tho’ you have lost, some Time, your dear E —– K—– yet you may ever expect the same tender requisite and due Regards from him, who; tho’ in Name different, in Sentiment will always be like him; and to you whom I owe all I am, or possess in my mind,
Ever most dutiful, obedient, and affectionate.
G. L. Campbell,
v. E. K.