November 9 This day during the War of 1812

November 9, 1814 – The Battle of Pensacola was a battle in the War of 1812 in which American forces fought against the kingdoms of Britain and Spain, and Creek Native Americans allied with the British. The American commander, General Andrew Jackson, led his infantry against British and Spanish forces controlling the city of Pensacola in Spanish Florida. The British abandoned the city and it was surrendered to Jackson by the Spanish. After defeating the Red Stick Creeks at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend, there was a migration of refugees to Spanish West Florida. The presence of the Creek refugees had motivated Captain George Woodbine to travel to Pensacola in July 1814. Woodbine’s liaisons with the refugees and the Spanish governor of Pensacola would subsequently lead to the British having a military presence at Pensacola from 23 August 1814, initially occupying Fort San Miguel, and the town itself. The potency of the British force, and its perceived ability to see off any American forces were leveraged by Edward Nicolls in his negotiations with the Spanish. The measure of perceived potency was somewhat reduced, in the aftermath of the failed attack on Fort Bowyer in September 1814.  Just prior to the arrival of the Americans, as relations with the Spanish governor deteriorated, the British force left the town and was consolidated in the outlying Fort San Carlos, and at the Santa Rosa Punta de Siguenza battery (later rebuilt as Fort Pickens). General Andrew Jackson planned to drive the British from the Spanish city of Pensacola in Spanish Florida, then march to New Orleans to defend the city against any British attack. Jackson’s forces had diminished due to desertions. Jackson was forced to wait for Brigadier-General John Coffee and his volunteers to arrive, before moving against the city. Jackson and Coffee liaised at Pierce’s Stockade in Alabama. In early November Jackson assembled a force of up to 4,000 men. On November 2, he moved out towards Pensacola, reaching the city on November 6. Jackson first sent Major Henri Piere as a messenger under a white flag of truce to the Spanish governor, Mateo Gonzáles Manrique. However, the messenger approached the city and was fired upon by the garrison in Fort San Miguel. Eventually a second messenger, this time a Spaniard, was sent through and offered the demand that after the British evacuated the forts, Americans would garrison them until relieved by Spanish troops which would serve only to ensure Spain’s neutrality in the conflict. Manrique denied these demands even though he had no more than 500 soldiers in Pensacola. At dawn, Jackson had 3,000 troops marching on the city. The Americans flanked the city from the east to avoid fire from the forts and marched along the beachfront, but the sandy beach made it difficult to move up the artillery. The attack went ahead nonetheless and was met with resistance in the center of town by a line of infantry supported by a battery. However, the Americans charged and captured the battery. Governor Manrique appeared with a white flag and agreed to surrender on any terms Jackson put forward if only he would spare the town. Fort San Miguel was surrendered on November 7, but Fort San Carlos, which lay 14 miles to the west, remained in British hands. Jackson planned to capture the fort by storm the next day, but it was blown up and abandoned before Jackson could move on it and the remaining British fled Pensacola along with the British squadron (comprising HMS Sophie (18 guns), HMS Childers (18 guns; Capt. Umfreville), HMS Seahorse (1794) (38 guns; Capt. Gordon), HMS Shelburne (12 guns) and HMS Carron (20 guns; Capt. Spencer). A number of Spanish accompanied the retreating British forces  and did not return to Pensacola until 1815. The battle had forced the British out of Pensacola and left the Spanish in control, angered by the British, who had fled in such a hurry once Jackson’s force had attacked, for their destruction of the fortifications and the removal of part of the Spanish garrison. Jackson suspected the squadron which had left Pensacola harbor would return to strike at Mobile, Alabama. Jackson sent out to Mobile, and upon reaching the town he received requests to hurry to the defense of New Orleans. American casualties were negligible; seven dead and eleven wounded. The Spanish and British suffered at least 15 dead or wounded. Lieutenant Colonel Edward Nicolls states there were no deaths among the British, and is of the opinion that the Americans suffered 15 fatalities and numerous casualties.  

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