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and which no wisdom or skill could remove.
When public opinion settled down into a more quiescent state, the voice of censure gradually died away, and the conviction prevailed, that the causes of the failure ought not all to be thrown upon the General. His main error seems to have been, that he did not obtain a more accurate knowledge of the shoals and depth of water in the harbour of St. Augustine, and of the actural strength and condition of the garrison ; yet this may have been impracticable. The question still remains, whether it was prudent to undertake the expedition while this uncertainty existed.
These events took place in the year 1740. During the year following there was comparative tranquillity, and Oglethorpe was principally occupied with the civil government of the colony, and in guarding the frontiers and coasts against any hostile approaches of the enemy. On one occasion, with an armed sloop and schooner, he went in chase of a large Spanish ship, which had anchored near the mouth of the Savannah river. "Losing sight of this ship in a storm, he sailed for the harbour of St. Augustine, passed over the bar, and engaged two armed vessels for an hour and a quarter, with the intention to board them ; but they pushed towards the town and were rescued by six galleys, which came out and joined in the action.
It was at length ascertained, that the Spaniards were preparing a formidable armament at Havana for an invasion of Georgia and South Carolina. In May, 1743, a squadron sailed from that port for St. Augustine, with a large body of troops under the command of the Spanish general Rodondo. The expedition was to be commanded by Monteano, the governor of East Florida. The approach of the Havana Heet was discovered by the captain of an English cruiser, and the intelligence was immediately conveyed to Oglethorpe. Without a moment's delay he despatched a messenger to the governor of South Carolina, requesting the aid of that province. This application was coldly received, and the inhabitants of Charleston, by a strange want of foresight, mistaken policy, or distrust of the military abilities of Oglethorpe after his recent failure in Florida, resolved to prepare for their own defence and leave Georgia to its fate. A small naval force was finally fitted out, but it did not reach the scene of action in time to render any service towards repelling the invaders, - No. 113.
Oglethorpe repaired to Frederica, and engaged in the most active preparations for meeting the enemy. He collected bis forces at that place, consisting of his own regiment, Highlanders, provincial rangers, and Creek and Cherokee warriors, who had cheerfully obeyed his summons. His whole number of men, however, amounted to but little more than seven hundred. On the 28th of June, the Spanish feet, consisting of thirty-six sail, large and small, appeared off the bar at the mouth of the Altamaha river.
After remaining a week to take soundings they sailed up the river, exchanging shots as they passed along with Fort St. Simon's and the batteries. They landed on the island, within a short distance of Frederica, and erected a battery, upon which they mounted twenty cannon. Finding his works at the south end of the island no longer available, Oglethorpe spiked the cannon and retired with the troops to Frederica. It was now the principal effort of the Spaniards to force a passage through the woods to that town. Oglethorpe employed the main body of his troops in strengthening the fortifications, and sent out scouting parties to watch the motions of the enemy and obstruct their advance. Dense forests and deep morasses were to be passed by the Spaniards, and these offered the Highlanders and Indians good opportunities for ambuscades and for harassing and annoying them at every step. The invaders were repulsed in two skirmishes, in which Oglethorpe's men fought with signal bravery, spurred on by the ardor and courage of their commander. Many of the enemy were killed, and more than a hundred were taken prisoners. These successes were followed by others, till at length the Spaniards retreated to the place of their first encampment, and began to entrench themselves more strongly under the protection of the guns in their ships.
In this state of things, Oglethorpe was informed by two English prisoners, who had effected their escape, that there were great dissensions in the Spanish camp, on account of a want of provisions, sickness, and their recent discomfitures, insomuch that the troops from Havana bad withdrawn from those of St. Augustine, and encamped by themselves at a distance. Oglethorpe instantly resolved to take advantage of this posture of affairs, and to attack one of these camps by surprise. He marched in the night with a select body of men, till he came within a mile and a half of the enemy's
camp He then halted his troops, and went forward in person with a small party to reconnoitre. While he was near the Spanish lines, one of his attendants, a Frenchman, fired his musket lo alarm the Spaniards, ran off, and escaped to the enemy. It was now necessary to make a hasty retreat to Frederica. Chagrined at this disappointment, Oglethorpe hit upon a stratagem, which accomplished his purpose more effectually than he could have hoped to do it by a battle. This transaction has been variously related by historians, but Dr. Harris has published an account of it for the first time, in Oglethorpe's own words, written a few days after it happened, in a letter to the Duke of Newcastle, as follows:
“ A Frenchman who, without my knowledge, was come down among the volunteers, fired his gun and deserted. Our Indians in vain pursued, but could not take him. Upon this, concluding that we should be discovered, I divided the drums into different parts, and they beat the Grenadier's march for about half an hour ; then ceased, and we marched back in silence. The next day I prevailed with a prisoner, and gave him a sum of money, to carry a letter privately and deliver it to that Frenchman who had deserted. This letter was written in French, as if from a friend of his, telling him he had received the money ; that he should try to make the Spaniards believe the English were weak ; that he should undertake to pilot up their boats and galleys, and then bring them under the woods, where he knew the hidden batteries were ; that if he could bring that about he should have double the reward he had already received ; and that the French deserters should have all that had been promised to them. The Spanish prisoner got into their camp, and was immediately carried before the General, Don Manuel de Monteano. He was asked how he escaped, and whether he had any letters ; but denying he had any, was strictly searched, and the letter found, and he, upon being pardoned, confessed that he had received money to deliver it to the Frenchman, (for the letter was not directed.) The Frenchman denied his knowing any thing of the contents of the letter, or having received any money or correspondence with me. Notwithstanding which, a council of war was held, and they decreed the Frenchman to be a double spy ; but General Monteano would not suffer him to be executed, having been employed by him. However, they embarked all their troops with such precipitation, that they left behind their cannon, &c., and those dead of their wounds, unburied.”
pp. 264, 265.
Thus ended this formidable Spanish invasion, which in the outset seemed so threatening, that it filled all the southern colonies with alarm. Aster burning and destroying the works and houses on the south end of St. Simon's island, the Spaniards sailed out of the river with their whole feet, a part of which, containing the Havana troops, put to sea, and the remainder returned to St. Augustine. An army consisting of more than three thousand disciplined soldiers (some say nearly five thousand), supported by a strong naval armament, had been repulsed and driven off, in less than two weeks' time, by a handful of brave men scarcely equal to one fifth of their number, and without any maritime succours. Neither the armed ships from Charleston, nor any of the British men-of-war stationed on the coast, arrived in the river till after the Spaniards had embarked. No one pretended to question the wisdom or military skill of the commander in this defence. The clamors of his enemies ceased, and they were compelled to join the general voice in assigning to him the chief merit of saving the southern provinces from the ravages of war, if not from defeat and conquest.
In the early part of the next year another invasion was threatened. Oglethorpe determined to anticipate the movements of the enemy, and, with a party of grenadiers, rangers, and Highlanders, he crossed the St. John's and marched into Florida. A sharp action ensued at Fort Diego, in which forty Spaniards were killed, and the rest of the garrison fled to St. Augustine. He pursued them almost to the walls of the town, hoping to draw the enemy out, having prepared an ambuscade at a place where he intended to bring on a battle. The stratagem was discovered by the Spaniards, who did not choose to bazard a conflict. He then retreated slowly to the St. John's, whence he returned to Frederica. The designs of the enemy for the present season were abandoned.
The province being now in a state of tranquillity, and there being no immediate danger of further hostilities, Oglethorpe set sail for England, where his affairs required his attention. He arrived in London on the 25th of September, 1743. Here he found that Colonel Cook, who had been an officer of engineers in the Georgia service, had lodged a series of charges against bim in the war office, tending to impeach his character, and to reflect on bis honor and fidelity in regard to his conduct as governor of the colony. Oglethorpe insisted, that the charges should be examined by a court-martial. Under pretence that some of the most important witnesses were in America, whose testimony must be procured, Cook contrived to delay the investigation for nearly a year. After a strict scrunity of all the charges, which were nineteen in number, the board of officers decided, that "the whole, and every article thereof, was groundless, false, and malicious.” This report was approved by the king, and Cook was dismissed from the army.
Oylethorpe returned no more to Georgia. Early in the year 1745 he was promoted to the rank of Major General. He commanded four companies of cavalry, which, as a compliment to their leader, were called the “Georgia Rangers." He served in the northern campaign against the rebels under Marshal Wade. From this time he continued for several years to sit in Parliament, but he chiefly sought his employments and his pleasures in private life, spending the summers on bis estate at Godalming, and the winters in London. Possessing a lively imagination, a refined taste, and a fondness for letters, he was the companion of Johnson, Goldsmith, Burke, Reynolds, and the rest of that illustrious circle, whose genius adorned the British metropolis, and whose writings are the boast of the age in which they lived. We have a pleasing reminiscence of him in Hannah More's letters. Speaking of an interview with him when he had passed the age of ninety, she says, “He perfectly realizes all my ideas of Nestor ; bis literature is great; bis knowledge of the world extensive; and his faculties as bright as ever.” On another occasion she says; “ Burke talked a great deal of politics with General Oglethorpe; he told him, with great iruth, that he looked upon him as a more extraordinary person than any he bad ever read of, for he had founded the province of Georgia, had absolutely called it into existence, and bad lived to see it severed from the empire which created it, and become an independent State.”
His heart and his bands were always open to the calls of suffering humanity ; bis days were filled up with benevolent actions; and if it may be said of any man, that his life was a benefit to his
be justly said of Oglethorpe. He died on the 30th of June, 1785, at the advanced age of ninety-six, retaining the vigor and elasticity of his mind to the last.
We are unwilling to close our remarks without one word more in commendation of Dr. Harris's work. In going carefully through it, we have been struck with the extent of his