In 1702 war broke out in Europe over the question of who should succeed the Spanish throne, a relative of the King of France or a relative of the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. In reality, it was a continuation of the wars in the 1600s between the Roman Catholics and Protestants. In North America much of the initial warfare preceded formal declarations of hostilities in Europea and was between the French army garrisoned in Quebec and the New England militia. Great Britain did not provide significant military assistance to New England until considerable combat had already occurred. The initial British assistance became a disaster when over 1,000 men died in ships that broke up in rocky waters near Port Royale.
France had only about 500 Caucasian colonists in all of La Louisiane in 1701. It was in no position to aggressively attack the Carolina Colony. There was no North and South Carolina at that time. However, French naval and army officers in La Louisiane were far better trained and more experienced than the small Spanish garrisons at St. Agostino and Pensacola.
By the end of the 17th century Spain was no longer the world’s superpower. The shear size of its empire and far flung colonial populations made it economically important, but providing garrisons and naval protection for colonies around the world had drained it treasury, while the economy of the mother country was falling farther behind the economies of the Protestant countries. Muskogean provinces in what is now Georgia continued to be hostile to Spain and played a major role in destroying or driving out Spanish missions and forts.
One of the Muskogean provinces that brought the most terror to Spanish missions and outposts was called the Chichameco’s by the Spanish. The name was derived from a nomadic tribe in northern Mexico that rebelled against Spanish rule in the late 1600s. However, their real name was probably Chikamako, which means “place to look out” in Chickasaw. It is the origin of the geographic name “Chickamauga’ near Chattanooga, TN. The Chikimakos raided Spanish missions to obtain Native American slaves to sell to Virginia planters.
Strategy for Conquering British colonies
Pierre Le Moyne was one of the most successful and brilliant military leaders in French history. In anticipation of a war with Great Britain over control of the Southeastern corner of North America, Le Moyne devised the “Project Sur de Carolina.” Its text and maps described a long range plan to drive the colonists of southern Carolina into the ocean. It was one of the first, or one of the first, examples of long term military strategy being organized into a printed document. Iberville proposed to use the Indian allies of France and Spain first to eliminate all English trading posts, then with lightning attacks on the frontier settlement wipe out the militia and drive thousands of women and children into the walls of Charleston. Here they would be starved into surrender with a conventional blockade by the French Navy and Marines.
Le Moyne fortified Mobile and met with Spanish military officials in Pensacola in January 1702 to discuss a coordinated strategy to prosecute the war against the Carolina heretics and their Muskogean allies. The word Creek Indian would not appear on maps for another 40 years. Pensacola means “Live Oak People” in the Apalachicola (Lower Creek language.) Apalachi means “torch bearers” while Apalachikola means “Torch Bearer People.”
The burden of defending France’s new colonies in Louisiane fell upon the Spanish and their Apalachee Indian allies. Le Moyne advised the Spanish military to arm its Apalachee Indian serfs in the Florida Panhandle or otherwise face disaster. The Spanish were reluctant to arm a people, who might rebel against their domination, but eventually faced the reality that there were 10 times as many Europeans living in Carolina as there were in Florida.
1702 – Spanish invasion of the Muskogee Confederacy
In 1702 France considered what is now western Georgia, to be part of La Louisiane. However, France had no forts in the interior of the Lower Southeast. Spain claimed all of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, but its military normally ventured no more than about 50 miles into the interior. Approximately, 90% of the river basin was occupied by the Muskogee Confederacy.
Spanish governor Joseph de Zúñiga y Zérda ordered Captain Francisco Romo de Uriza to invade the Muskogee Confederacy to destroy important trading centers then attack Charleston from its hinterlands. His army of armed Apalachicola militia, Spanish militia and Spanish regulars numbered about 800 men. British officials in Charleston had no knowledge of the invasion, but Apalachicola scouts observed the enemy heading north through the Florida Panhandle and reported back to the Apalachicola town of Achita, just as Carolina trader, Anthony Dodsworth was visiting. The Apalachicola decided to repel the invasion before it had a chance to destroy Muskogean towns. Achita’s leaders contacted the Chiska (Chickasaw) living on the nearby Chickasawhatchee River. There was not time to contact other members of the Muskogee Confederacy or Yamasee Confederacy.
The combined army of Apalachicola’s, Chickasaws, Dodsworth, plus his apprentices and African slaves numbered about 400. They camped near the confluence of the Flint and Apalachicola Rivers. Using one of the standard Creek Indian military tactics, they left their camp and hid in the bushes. When the Spanish army attacked the deserted camp, the Apalachicola and Chickasaws annihilated them. Only about 300 Spanish and Apalachee returned to La Florida. The banks of the Flint River were literally covered with dead Spaniards and Apalachees.
1703-7 – Joint Muskogean-English Invasions into Florida
In 1703, Governor James Moore of Carolina led a combined Muskogee, Yamasee and English army into northeastern Florida that completely destroyed its mission system and burned the town of St. Augustine. The British were unable to capture the Castillo San Marcos, so the invasion was considered a failure.
The following year, Moore led an army composed of 50 Carolina militiamen and over 1000 Muskogees, Apalachicolas and Yamasees into the Florida Panhandle. Several thousand Apalachees were either killed or enslaved. The estimates vary, but somewhere around 3,000 Christian Apalachees were marched back to Charleston in chains to be sold at dockside markets to Caribbean slave traders. The life expectancy of a Southeastern Indian sent to sugar plantations in the West Indies was about a year. However, some Apalachee towns were hostile to the Spanish. They voluntarily traveled to the Savannah River where they established towns that lasted until the American Revolution. Afterward they moved to western Georgia and joined the Creek Confederacy.
Another joint British-Muskogean army invaded northern Florida in 1705. It destroyed what few Apalachee villages and Spanish haciendas remained. By 1707, northern Florida was uninhabited except for fortified settlements at St. Augustine and Pensacola. Chorakee and Muskogean slave raiders roamed the entire peninsula at will from then until the end of the war in 1713. Chorakee raiders even ravaged Native villages as far south as Lake Okeechobee. By 1714 the half million+ indigenous peoples, who had once occupied Florida were essentially extinct, with the exception of some Apalachee villages that had fled to Pensacola.
Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur de I’berville contracted malaria in 1706 while based in Mobile. He traveled to Havana in 1707 to recover his health and plan a joint French-Spanish invasion of the Carolinas. However, he soon died of Yellow Fever. The invasion never left Havana harbor. He died, but his detailed plan to crush the heretics remained in paper form at the garrisons in Biloxi, Mobile and Pensacola. It was to be used in the near future.
The next article in this series will discuss the Yuchi-Cherokee War, the Yamasee War and British intrigues among the French Indian allies in eastern Tennessee.