Every Hazard and Fatigue
The Siege of Pensacola, 1781Series:
Imprint: Helion and Company
218 Pages, 7.1 x 9.8 in, 36 b/w illustrations, 2 b/w maps, 18 color illustrations, 4 color photos
- November 2023
- Temporarily out of stock. Ships in 2-3 weeks.
The Siege of Pensacola was the longest siege of the war in North America. It was the final act of Bernardo de Gálvez’s remarkable Gulf Coast Campaign and stands out as a classic tale of warfare and sacrifice.
In the final years of the American Revolution, the military situation was changing from a dogged stalemate to a crisis that the British or the Americans could turn to their advantage. France’s entry as an active participant had highlighted the difficulties of the rebels’ new alliance, not its strengths. The successful British defense of Savannah in 1779 drew British eyes southwards, and in 1780, Charleston fell, and Gates’ southern army was crushed at Camden.
It was a perilous moment for the rebellious colonies. British dominance in the south would give them a strong strategic position from which to prosecute the war. A ray of hope came from Spain, which had entered the war as a French ally in 1779. From then until 1780, British possessions from the Mississippi and along the Gulf of Mexico suddenly came under threat from the daredevil Governor of Louisiana, Don Bernardo de Galvez. By 1781, Pensacola was the last British-held post in West Florida.
The British garrison in Pensacola was strong, and its commander, Major General John Campbell, was determined to defend his fort. If Gálvez’s campaign was typical of those undertaken by the likes of Amherst and Montcalm more than 15 years before, then the siege itself was also a model of eighteenth-century grit, fieldcraft and chivalry.
It was grim work, and both sides endured hardship and fatigue as the siege progressed. As Spanish reinforcements were slowly released from Havana, the British depended more and more on the assistance of loyalists and an auxiliary force of Creeks and Choctaws collected by their Indian Agents to oppose the Spaniards.
The story of the siege of Pensacola and the Spanish and Spanish-American part in the Revolutionary War represents a different side to the struggle; far removed from Redcoats and Patriots, it is also a story of great drama, color and sacrifice that helped shape the character of the United States.
Historian René Chartrand says that Joshua Provan is ‘the first historian to really mix all the elements together and suggest the true military consequences of the siege on the War of American Independence. It has been mooted, but never this well demonstrated.