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Defeat of the Seminole Indians, &c.
ahead ever since I have been down; the rudder of the vessel is in a bad condition, but I will manage to have it done to-night; the wind, I am in hopes, will be fair in the morning, when I will get under weigh and make all possible despatch. I will make old Lewis pilot me safe. If these Indians don't conduct themselves straight, I would use rigorous means with them; beware of Mr. Jerry; I found him on board when I came; keep a good look out. I have sent two kegs of powder, and one bar of lead. Yours, &c. R. C. A. Question by the prisoner. Did you not frequently hear me say that I would have nothing to do with the Indians in exciting them to war with the United States?
Answer. I do not recollect.
Question by the prisoner. Are you acquainted with Lewis Phenix, and have you not heard him express ill-will against me in consequence of my wishing him to pilot me to St. Mark's? Answer. I never did.
Question. Do you know of my sending troops at any time to fight against the United States, and have I not been constantly with you, so that you would have had an opportunity of knowing if there had been any sent by me?
Answer. I have not; they might have been sent without my knowledge.
JACOB HARMON, a witness on the part of the prosecution, being duly sworn, stated that, some time in the latter end of March, or first of April, the prisoner took possession of the schooner Chance, with an armed party of negroes, and stated his intentions of taking St. Mark's; on his way thither, going ashore, he learned from some Indians that Arbuthnot had gone on to St. Mark's, which induced him to return. The witness also stated that, while the prisoner was on board, he had complete command of the negroes who considered him as their captain. The prisoner took the cargo of the vessel up towards Suwanee, which consisted of, with other articles, pine kegs of powder, and five hundred pounds of lead.
The evidence on both sides being closed, the prisoner was allowed until five o'clock this evening to make his defence.
The time allowed the prisoner for the preparation of his defence having expired he was brought before the court, and made the defence marked M, which is attached to these proceedings.
The court was then cleared, and the proceedings read over by the recorder, when, after due deliberation on the testimony brought forward, the court find the prisoner, Robert C. Ambrister, guilty of so much of the specification to the first charge as follows, viz: "and did excite them to war with the United States by sending their warriors to meet and fight the American army, he being a subject of Great Britain, which Government was at peace and friendship with the United States and all her citizens;" but not guilty of the other part of the specification: guilty of the first charge; guilty of the specification of the second
charge, and guilty of the second charge; and do therefore sentence the prisoner, Robert C. Ambrister, to suffer death by being shot, two-thirds of the court concurring therein.
One of the members of the court requesting a reconsideration of his vote on the sentence, the sense of the court was taken thereon, and decided in the affirmative; when the vote was again taken, and the court sentence the prisoner to receive fifty stripes on his bare back, and be confined with a ball and chain to hard labor for twelve calendar months.
The court adjourned sine die.
EDMUND P. GAINES, Major General, Pres't of the Court. J. M. GLASSELL, Recorder.
FORT ST. MARKS, April 28, 1818. The United States of America vs. Robert Christy Ambrister.
Who being arraigned before a special courtmartial upon the following charges, to wit:
1st. Aiding, abetting, and comforting the enemy; supplying them with the means of war; he being a subject of Great Britain at peace with the United States, and lately an officer in the British colonial marines.
CHARGE 2d. Sending and commanding the Lower Creek Indians in carrying on war against the United States.
To the first charge the prisoner at the bar pleaded not guilty, and as to the second charge he pleaded guilty, and justification. The prisoner at the bar feels grateful to this honorable court for their goodness in giving him a sufficient time to deliberate, and arrange his defence on the above charges. The prisoner at the bar here avails himself of the opportunity of stating to this court that, inasmuch as the testimony which was introduced in this case was very explicit, and went to every point the prisoner could wish, he has nothing further to offer in his defence, but puts himself upon the mercy of the honorable court.
ROBERT C. AMBRISTER.
HEADQ'RS, DIVISION OF THE SOUTH, Ad'jt Gen's Office, camp 4 miles north of St. Mark's, April 29, 1818.
At a special court-martial, commenced on the 26th instant at St. Mark's, and contined until the 28th, of which brevet Major General E. P. Gaines is president, was tried A. Arbuthnot on the following charges and specifications, viz:
CHARGE 1st. Exciting and stirring up the Creek Indians to war against the United States and her citizens; he, A. Arbuthnot, being a subject of Great Britain, with whom the United States are at peace.
CHARGE 2d. Acting as a spy, aiding, abetting, and comforting the enemy, and supplying them with the means of war.
CHARGE 3d. Exciting the Indians to murder
Defeat of the Seminole Indians, &c.
and destroy William Hambly and Edward Doyle, confiscate their property, and causing their arrest with a view to their condemnation to death, and the seizure of their property, they being citizens of Spain, on account of their active and zealous exertions to maintain peace between Spain, the United States, and the Indians.
To which charges the prisoner pleaded not guilty. The court, after mature deliberation on the evidence adduced, find the prisoner, A. Arbuthnot, guilty of the first charge, and guilty of the second charge, leaving out the words "acting as a spy;" and, after mature reflection, sentence him, A. Arbuthnot, to be suspended by the neck until he is dead.
Was also tried Robert C. Ambrister on the following charges, viz:
CHARGE 1st. Aiding, abetting, and comforting the enemy, and supplying them with the means of war, he being a subject of Great Britain, (who are at peace with the United States,) and late an officer in the British colonial marines. CHARGE 2d. Leading and commanding the Lower Creek Indians in carrying on a war against the United States.
To which charges the prisoner pleaded as fol. lows, viz: To the first charge not guilty; to the second charge guilty, and justification.
The court, on examination of evidence, and on mature deliberation, find the prisoner, Robert C. Ambrister, guilty of the first and second charges, and do therefore sentence him to suffer death by being shot. The members requesting a reconsideration of the vote on this sentence, and it being had, they sentence the prisoner to receive fifty stripes on his bare back, and be confined with a ball and chain to hard labor for twelve calendar months.
The special court, of which Brevet Major General E. P. Gaines is President, is dissolved. By order of Major General Jackson.
ROBERT BUTLER, Adj. Gen.
ADJ'T AND INS. GEN'S OFFICE,
September 23, 1818.
A true copy from the original papers on file in this office.
DEPARTMENT OF WAR, Aug. 14, 1818. SIR: I enclose for your information a copy of the orders to General Gaines, growing out of the late decision of the President, relative to St. Mark's and Pensacola. [See letter to General Gaines of August 14, 1818.]
I was directed by the President to wait the re-
Major Gen. ANDREW JACKSON.
The following depositions and documents accompanied Mr. Lacock's report made to the Senate on the 24th of February, 1818:
General Gaines, of the 1st of September; and an
DEPARTMENT OF WAR, Feb. 10, 1819. letter of the 8th instant, I now transmit an extract SIR: Agreeably to the request made in your of General Jackson's letter of the 10th of August last, and a copy of General Jackson's order to General Gaines, of the 7th of last August, in reThe Commanding General approves the find-lation to St. Augustine; a copy of the order to ing and sentence of the court in the case of A. Arbuthnot, and approves the finding and first sentence of the court in the case of Robert C. Ambrister, and disapproves the reconsideration of the sentence of the honorable court in this case. It appears from the evidence and pleading of the prisoner that he did lead and command, within the territory of Spain, (being a subject of Great Britain,) the Indians in war against the United States, those nations being at peace. It is an established principle of the laws of nations that any individual of a nation making war against the citizens of another nation, they being at peace, forfeits his allegiance, and becomes an outlaw and pirate; this is the case of Robert C. Ambrister, clearly shown by the evidence adduced.
J. C. CALHOUN. Hon. ABNER LACOCK, Chairman, &c.
HEADQ'RS, DIVISION OF THE SOUTH,
SIR: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your order of the 26th ultimo, which reached me last night; its contents are duly noted, and will be promptly attended to.
I have received no late advices from General Gaines, although I have for some time expected the return of the express sent to him on the 24th of November last. Taking into view the strength of the Seminoles and their adherents, as reported to you by General Gaines, and the aggregate of his strength, regulars and militia, amounting to but one thousand eight hundred men, which cannot possibly afford a like number of effectives; considering, likewise, that the greater portion of
Defeat of the Seminole Indians, &c.
his forces are draughted militia, from Georgia, Should the one thousand volunteer mounted who may apply for their discharge at the expira-gun-men attend to my appeal to their patriotism, tion of three months from the time they were I shall send on a confidential agent to Georgia, first mustered, and who may be disposed to claim to have the necessary supplies for them procured this right, and abandon the campaign, about the and forwarded by the quartermaster, if any there, time I could reach Fort Scott, I have deemed it to Fort Gaines; and, if none, by the agent sent, both prudent and advisable to call from the west with instructions to draw on Quartermaster Genend of the State of Tennessee for one thousand eral Gibson for the amount of his purchases; this volunteer mounted gun-men, to serve during the is done to facilitate the march of the volunteers campaign. With this force, in conjunction with called for. I need not observe that, without quarthe regular troops, I can act promptly, and, with termaster's funds, an army cannot be wielded the smiles of Heaven, successfully, against any either with promptitude or effect. Promptitude force that can be concentrated by the Seminoles in the present campaign will be a great saving to and their auxiliaries. Viewing, however, the lives the United States, both in character and purse. of our citizens as too precious to be risked in a I have the honor to be, &c. contest with savages, with the odds of two to ANDREW JACKSON, one, unless where real necessity demands the exposure, I have therefore written to the Governor of Georgia to continue in the field the one thousand men required by General Gaines.
The result of the appeal I have made to the patriotism of those brave men in West Tennessee, who have so often followed me to the field of danger, will be known by the 19th instant, and I hope to leave this for Fort Scott on the 22d. Of my movements, and success in raising the mounted volunteers, you shall be advised.
It may appear to the Government, on the first view, that mounted men are the most expensive; but when we consider the rapidity of their movements, the amount of quartermaster's expenditures for pack-horses, baggage-wagons, and other means of transport indispensable to footmen, in this instance saved, mounted gun-men, as auxiliaries in such a campaign as the one contemplated, will be found to save both blood and treasure to the United States. The volunteers that have been invited to the field are of tried materials, and such as can be relied on in the day of danger and trial. With respect, &c.
I feel myself much at a loss for correct topographical information of the country occupied by the Seminole Indians, and particularly of that portion which may possibly become the seat of war. Should there be any maps, plans, or charts, of the section of country alluded to, in the secret bureau of the War Department, you will oblige me by having a copy transmitted to Fort Scott as early as practicable.
HEADQ'RS, DIVISION OF THE SOUTH,
Nashville, January 13, 1818. SIR: Being advised that the assistant deputy quartermaster general of General Gaines's brigade has resigned, and being unadvised as to quartermaster's funds within the seventh department, I have to request that necessary funds be forwarded to Quartermaster General Gibson, at Fort Scott, whom I have ordered to meet me at that place without loss of time.
Major General Commanding.
Extract of a letter from Major General Jackson to
NASHVILLE, August 7, 1818.
I am happy to find that the notorious Micco de Cozey is at length destroyed. The distress of the Indians for provisions I expected. Your providing for their wants meets my entire approbation; it will meet the entire approbation of the Government, as it corresponds with the usual humanity extended to the suffering Indians.
I have noted with attention Major Twiggs's letter, marked No. 5. I contemplated that the agents of Spain, or the officers of Fort St. Augustine, would excite the Indians to hostility, and furnish them with the means of war. It will be necessary to obtain evidence substantiating this fact, and that the hostile Indians have been fed and furnished from the garrison of St. Augustine. This being obtained, should you deem your force sufficient, you will proceed to, take, and garrison, Fort St. Augustine with American troops, and hold the garrison prisoners until you hear from them to Cuba, as, in your judgment, under existthe President of the United States, or transport ing circumstances, you may think best.
carried on by me, or this order, are not on the Let it be remembered, that the proceedings ground that we are at war with Spain. It is on the ground of self-preservation, bottomed on the broad basis of the law of nature and of nations, and justified by giving peace and security to our frontier; hence the necessity of procuring evidence of the fact of the agents or officers of Spain having excited the Indians to continue the war against us, and that they have furnished them with the means of carrying on the war. This evidence being obtained, you will (if your force is sufficient) permit nothing to prevent you from reducing Fort St. Augustine, except a positive order from the Department of War.
Orders, some time since, have been given to the officer of the ordnance commanding at Charleston, to have in readiness a complete battering train, the number and caliber of the guns pointed out. I have no doubt you will find them in readiness.
Defeat of the Seminole Indians, &c.
I enclose you the report of Captain Henley of the naval force on that station. You will open a correspondence with Commandant A. G. Dallas, to insure his co-operation, provided it should be required. I trust, before this reaches you, you will have destroyed the settlement collected at Suwanee; this can easily be done by a coup de main, provided secrecy of your movements be observed, and a great expedition of march used. Without expedition of movement, and great caution, you will be discovered, and the enemy will filee, or endeavor to ambuscade you; both of which ought to be guarded against.
Have a careful eye to your supplies on hand, that, before they are consumed, others may be ordered and reach you. Without necessary supplies, an army cannot operate with effect. The late scarcity ought to teach us a lesson on this head, never to be forgotten. I therefore expect that no scarcity will happen at any place, post, or garrison, intrusted to your care. I shall expect to hear from you shortly; and that you and your brigade may be successful in all your operations, and cover yourselves with glory, is my heartfelt wish.
I am, very respectfully, yours, &c.
HEADQ'RS, DIVISION OF THE SOUTH,
Nashville, August 10, 1818.
the points now occupied by our troops, and a war ensues, an attempt will no doubt be made to penetrate our country by the Appalachicola, and, by the aid of the Indians, to reach the Mississippi at or above the Chickasaw Bluffs. Should this be done with a formidable force, in our unprepared state, it is highly probable that the enemy might reach the banks of the Mississippi. Occupying these points will prevent the danger of such an occurrence; surrender them, and I would not, without a much stronger force, hold myself responsible for the safety of my division. But with those points fortified as recommended, and with an effective force of five thousand men, I pledge my life upon defending the country, from St. Mary's to the Barrataire, against all the machinations and attacks of the Holy Alliance and combined Europe.
By Captain Gadsden you will receive some letters, lately enclosed to me, detailing the information that the Spaniards at Fort St. Augustine were again exciting the Indians to war against us, and a copy of my order to General Gaines upon this subject. It is what I expected, and proves the necessity and sound policy of not only holding the posts which we are now in possession of, but likewise of our possessing ourselves of Fort St. Augustine. This alone can insure peace and security on our Southern frontier.
suppose that they will abandon rights, or assume
It is alone by a just and bold course of conduct that we can expect to obtain and insure respect from Europe, and not by a timid, temporizing policy. The first commands admiration and esCaptain Gadsden will likewise deliver you his teem, the latter contempt. But, from the comporeport, made in pursuance of my order, accom-sition of the present Administration, I can never panied with the plans of the fortifications thought necessary for the defence of the Floridas, in connexion with the line of defence on our Southern frontier. This was done under the belief that Government will never jeopardize the safety of the Union, or the security of our frontier, by surrendering those posts, unless upon a sure guaranty, agreeably to the stipulations of the articles of capitulation, that will insure permanent peace, tranquillity, and security, to our Southern frontier. It is believed that Spain can never furnish this guaranty. As long as there are Indians in Florida, and it possessed by Spain, they will be excited to war and the indiscriminate murder of our citizens, by foreign agents and Spanish offiThe conduct of Spain for the last six years fully proves this. It was under the belief that the Floridas would be held, that my orders to make the report were given to Captain Gadsden. To this I refer you; its perusal will show you how important it is, not only to the defence and security of the frontier, but to the whole United States. It points to our vulnerable points, and shows our country can and was intended to be invaded, during the last war, from this quarter; and that the attempt would have been made, had not the Creek Indians been subdued previous to the arrival of the British troops; and, afterwards, their attempt to gain possession of Mobile bay was frustrated by the repulse they met with at Fort Bowyer. If possession is given of
Major General commanding. Hon. J. C. CALHOUN, Sec'y of War.
DEPARTMENT OF WAR, Sept 1, 1818. SIR: General Jackson has transmitted to this Department a copy of his letter to you of the 7th ultimo. It is to be presumed that his orders in relation to St. Augustine were given before he was apprized of the decision of the President in relation to St. Mark's and Pensacola; as the principle on which that decision was made would equally extend to the case of St. Augustine. You
Defeat of the Seminole Indians, &c.
will accordingly not carry that part of General Jackson's order into execution, except to collect with care the evidence of such facts as go to prove any countenance or assistance from the Spanish authority in St. Augustine to the hostile Indians; and should you ascertain that they have afforded any, you will report the facts, properly supported by evidence, to this Department. You will also report the facts on which you ordered the issue of rations to the Indians, and the extent of the issue-I refer to the issue which is alluded to in General Jackson's letter to you of the 7th ultimo, as the Department has not yet received any information on the subject. I have, &c. JOHN C. CALHOUN.
Gen. E. P. GAINES.
Extract of a letter from J. C. Calhoun, Secretary of
SEPTEMBER 8, 1818.
I enclose a copy of my orders of the 14th ultimo to General Gaines for your information. I concur in the view which you have taken in relation to the importance of Florida to the effectual peace and security of our Southern frontier; and such, I believe, is the opinion of every member of the Administration. In fact, the grounds assumed are very far from being feeble. St. Mark's will be retained until Spain shall be ready to garrison it with a sufficient force; and Fort Gadsden, and any other position in East or West Florida, within the Indian country, which may be deemed eligible, will be retained so long as there is any danger; which, it is hoped, will afford the desired security. We ought, it is true, never to resort to timid measures to avoid war; but it appears to me that a certain degree of caution (not from the fear of the Holy Alliance) ought, at this time, to mark our policy. A war with Spain, were it to continue with her alone, and were there no great neutral Powers to avail themselves of the opportunity of embarrassing us, would be nothing; but such a war would not continue long without involving other parties, and it certainly would, in a few years, be an English war. In such a war I would not fear for the fate of our country; but, certainly, if it can be prudently and honorably avoided for the present, it ought to be. We want time-time to grow, to perfect our fortifications, to enlarge our navy, to replenish our depots, and to pay our debts. I speak to you frankly, knowing your zeal for our country, with whose glory, yours is now identified. No one who has examined my political course will, I am sure, think that these opinions are influenced by timid councils.
desirous to provide for the safety of the inhabitants on the frontiers during my absence, I have sought an interview with the officer in command at this place. At Camp Montgomery I learned that you would probably reach this place in a few days, and indulged the hope of seeing you. An interview with you would have been to me a source of much pleasure, and I regret that my arrangements will not permit me to await your arrival.
The Indians commenced their murderous incursions on the frontier settlements in January last, when two men were killed in this neighborhood. No events occurred afterwards to excite apprehension until the 14th of March, when a house on the Federal Road, near Poplar Spring, was attacked, and eight persons killed. This intelligence reached me at Claiborne, from whence a detachment of mounted riflemen was immediately ordered to the place, for one month's service. A few days afterwards five men, while from whom fifteen hundred or two thousand doltravelling the road, were fired at, and three killed; lars were taken. The people, for the most part, communication by mail, or otherwise, with Georwere flying for safety in every direction, and all gia, wholly suspended. The Indians were known three posts were established by my order, at which to be still in that quarter. In this state of things, there are in the whole about one hundred men, who have instructions to scour the woods from day to day. A fortnight since they found a camp; but, on their approach, the enemy fled to a contiguous swamp, from whence they fired, and killed one man. forms me that he thinks the number of Indians The commanding officer innow in the neighborhood considerable. I should have mentioned that, in April, a house, within fifteen or twenty miles of Claiborne, was attacked; the husband killed, and wife and two daughters wounded. Thirty dollars, a quantity of bacon, and away, taken and carried to Pensacola, where I article which could be conveyed believe the murderers might still be found.
and another wounded, near the Poplar Spring. I yesterday learned that one Indian was killed, This detail of events however was probably unnecessary, as you will receive from Major Young pal object is to state that, in my efforts to protect every intelligence upon the subject. My princithe people over whom I preside, the territorial treasury being destitute of funds, has afforded me no supplies whatsoever; nor has it been in the power of the commanding officer here to render the aid which he has uniformly manifested the best disposition to afford. I am desirous that the troops should be considered as in the service of the United States, and the accounts adjusted when their term of service expires. One company rendezvoused at Poplar Spring, for three months' service, on the 10th April, and a detachment of twenty-five at Sepulger lately, for the same term of service. The expenditures incurred have been considerable, and altogether beDEAR SIR: Proceeding to Georgia for the pur-yond my means of paying. You will readily pose of bringing my family to this Territory, and perceive how unpleasant has been my situation
[NOTE. The order of the 14th of August, referred to in the above extract, has been already communicated to Congress.]
FORT CRAWFORD, May 19, 1818.