Moore’s Letter on the Destruction of Apalachee (April 16, 1704)

Between 1702 and 1709, English colonists from Carolina and their Creek Indian allies destroyed numerous Spanish and Native American settlements in La Florida.

Excerpt from “Carte de la Floride et de la Georgie,” by P.F. Tardieu (ca. 1785)

Excerpt from “Carte de la Floride et de la Georgie,” by P.F. Tardieu (1780)

In early 1704, Colonel James Moore led raids deep into the heart of the Apalachee province. A letter from Moore to the Lord Proprietors, dated April 16, 1704, described the outcome:

“…I raised 50 whites, all the Government thought fit to spare out of the settlement at that time; with them 1000 Indians, which by my own interest I raised to follow me, I went to Apalatchee. The first place I came to was the strongest Fort in Apalatchee, which after nine hours I took…In this expedition I brought away 300 men, and 1000 women and children, have killed, and taken as slaves 325 men, and have taken slaves 4000 women and children…All which I have done with the loss of 4 whites and 15 Indians, and without one penny charge to the publick.”

Transcription of the original by Dr. Mark F. Boyd; a copy of Dr. Boyd’s transcription and associated documents are available at the State Archives of Florida in M86-40, Papers of Mark Frederick Boyd, 1912-1968, box 3, folder “San Luis.”

Ethnohistorian John Hann analyzed several inconsistencies in the remaining versions of Moore’s account and concluded that we cannot be certain about which settlements were razed, the number captives taken, or the causalities suffered by the Apalachee. Regardless of the exact facts and figures, historians agree that Moore’s raids had disastrous consequences for the Apalachee. As a result of the English and Creek expeditions, the vast majority of the Apalachee were expelled from their homeland. Many were sold into slavery, or absorbed by the Creeks. Some refugees fled to Louisiana, where their descendants remain today. A small number reached St. Augustine and accompanied the Spanish to Cuba in 1763, never to return to Florida again.

For further reading, see Mark F. Boyd and Hale G. Smith, Here They Once Stood: The Tragic End of the Apalachee Missions (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1951); Allan Gallay, The Indian Slave Trade: The Rise of the English Empire in the American South (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003); John H. Hann, Apalachee: The Land between the Rivers (Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1988).