Monday, February 9, 2009
Fort George - The American Revolution in Pensacola, Florida
In my last post I discussed the little known Battle of Fort Charlotte, fought in Mobile, Alabama, during the American Revolution. This battle was followed one year later by one of the most significant yet least known battles of the Revolution.
During the spring of 1781, General Bernardo de Galvez led an army of Spanish, French, Irish and American troops against the British stronghold of Pensacola, Florida. It would take two months for the city to fall, but when it did, the course of U.S. history was forever changed.
The capture of Pensacola, for example, returned control of West Florida and the lower Mississippi River to Spain and France. This eventually allowed the Louisiana Purchase to take place, but perhaps even more importantly it removed Great Britain from the borders of the southern states. Had England still possessed Florida during the War of 1812, it is doubtful that the United States could have survived. It would have provided a natural base for invading the South and, coupled with the disastrous campaigns in the North, likely would have ended the war in favor of the British.
It is also safe to assume that the British would never have turned Florida over to the United States in 1821, as the Spanish eventually did.
A small portion of the Pensacola battlefield is preserved at Fort George Park at the intersection of Palafox and La Rua Streets near downtown Pensacola. The park features a reconstructed section of Fort George, the primary British defense of the city, and also offers interpretive panels explaining the battle.
To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/fortgeorge.