From Fugitive to Besieger
Conditions in late 1799 and early 1800 were in turmoil in the Southeast and increased Spanish difficulties in safeguarding the Gulf Coast. The Spanish naval expedition to capture Bowles entered the Apalachicola River and almost succeeded. Natives at Fort San Marcos, however, seemed disinclined to assist the Spaniards. Bowles staged a remarkable recovery and obtained sizable help from the Seminoles and Lower Creeks. The Spaniards, meanwhile, stationed gunboats on the coast to intercept aid to him. Joseph Hunter of Nassau tried to send arms but failed as the Hawk was captured. The Spanish squadron, however, failed to protect Fort San Marcos. Bowles declared war on April 15, after he encircled the fort and besieged it. In time, conditions at the fort deteriorated and Portell surrendered with terms that permitted the garrison to depart. With leaky vessels and food shortages, the squadron returned to Pensacola to refit before recovering the fort.
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