The Schooner Route, starting in Florida at St. Augustine, went around the peninsula and the Keys with possible supply stops at what is now Miami, Key West, Charlotte Harbor, and Tampa. Normally the schooner put in at Apalachi- cola before ending its voyage at Pensacola in West Florida. This schooner actu- ally began its journey in Charlestown, South Carolina and had stopped at least once at Savannah, Georgia before entering Florida waters. This schooner, or schooners, were not royal navy vessels but were rather civilian contract barks that carried the mail, a few replacements, military families in transit, etc. Appar- ently all large movements - and any number of troops over fifty was a large movement - were carried out by royal fleet units from the West Indies station.
In the somewhat strained days of 1781-4 when the key to British commu- nications in Florida was the evacuation of the Loyalists and their moveable properties, communications moved in the following ways. Loyalists fled over the St. Mary's River line, mostly by sea but a few on foot. Unfortunately source ma- terials are very unreliable in this area. Many Loyalists supposedly left Albany, Georgia and floated on rafts down the Flint River to West Florida. Also there is the problem that the Flint River rarely had more than four feet of water. Space limitations permit me only time to say', but especially to my Canadian Loyalist descendants friends, that the rush to escape the Floridas was not nearly so press- ing as it was in upstate New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, etc. Two standard works may illustrate this point. Wilbur H. S Bert in his Loyalists in East Florida, 1774 to 1785, Volume I. states three important points, 1. The exodus of refugees from Savannah to East Florida took place from May to August, 1782, 2. 1400 Loyalists fled to Georgia to St. Augustine which numbers included 500 women and children and most of the Carolina King's Rangers, and 3. By July 18, 1783 a total of only 2,998 refugees had been received at St. Augustine of which 1,956 were negro slaves.
The second and far more recent work of excellent historical scholarship by J. Barton Starr, Tories, Dons, and Rebels: The American Revolution in British West Florida is equally blunt as to the magnitude of the flight of the Loyalists. And remember that anyone running for Pensacola must be coming from the backcountry settlements of Carolina and Georgia. Starr tells us that, 1. Some 2000-2500 Loyalists fled to West Florida, 2. Unfortunately departure records by sea exist for only 67 families, and 3. Many, many Loyalists took up residence in Spanish territory simply by crossing the Perdido River.
I had expected to find that the very few existing lines of communication within the British Floridas were severely strained by the rush of those loyal to England in the days after Yorktown. There are indications of some housing and supply problems around St. Augustine in Fast Florida but certainly the refugees were not starving to death or dying of exposure from the elements, etc.