LAND AND SEA COMMUNICATIONS IN BRITISH FLORIDA DURING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION by Claude C. Sturgill
There are just so many ways in and out of a swamp that is bounded on three sides by water when the fourth side is also a swamp. Try to imagine a semi-tropical climate in which there are not any roads running through the popu- lated areas, only two towns of no more than 1,000 population; All meandering through enough territory to be Ecuador, Poland, or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This will be difficult for the many of you who have never been to Florida and seen the gradual change in climate from the pine for- ests that still line the St. Mary's River at the southern end of the great Oke- fenokee Swamp to the utter marshlands and deep waterways of the tropical Ev- erglades some 400 miles to the south. Therefore it is for identification and orien- tation that the following large map is presented to you which I think displays the land and sea communications in British Florida during the American Revolution.
This map is based on an original drawn by Gerald D. Brahms, the Royal Surveyor in the 1760's. I have altered this map to a large extent in order to pro- vide the names of some present day reference points for all of my colleagues here today. The topographical features are all intact but I have located on the map every post road blockhouse, farm, safe harbor, etc. that I have been able to discover in the course of my research.
In normal times, say in the late 1760's, communications moved in the fol- lowing ways, a. The overland St. Augustine to Palatka to Apalachicola to Pensa- cola route was rarely used. This road was little more than a trace, or a route marked by chopping on a tree here and there. Of course, had the British re- mained in Florida after the American Revolution, I have no doubt that this route would have become a king's highway, b. The overland St. Augustine to Palatka to Tampa Bay route was also rarely used. In both of the overland roads commu- nications were far slower than by sea and what few indications I have found in my research seem to indicate that a lieutenant, three or four soldiers, some sort of a backwoods guide, and possibly an indian runner would make these trips once or twice a year. I have not located any references that relate the movements of even company size military units, or even one three pound cannon and train, or even one army supply wagon. In fact there is little indication of movement by wagon beyond the St. John's River in East Florida or outside of the 50 mile limit of settlement at Pensacola in West Florida.