Eric Beerman


An Irish lieutenant colonel in the Hibernia Regiment— Arturo O’Neill— gazed through the late afternoon haze that ninth day of March in 1781 and received his first look at Sigüenza Point on the western end of Santa Rosa Island at the entrance of Pensacola Bay. As the Spanish invasion fleet moved closer, Arturo O’Neill saw the hill behind Pensacola with British Fort George dominating the surrounding terrain. He no doubt felt a certain trepidation as the Spaniards would be making a nighttime assault on Sigüenza. However, this was not his baptism of fire and with veteran Hibernia troops around him, O’Neill’s worries diminished. Little did this Irish lieutenant colonel realize with a tough battle ahead that Pensacola would be home for the next twelve years. At the battle’s conclusion, O’Neill became governor of West Florida and served until 1793, proving to be an effective diplomat, an able administrator, in addition to being an old soldier. His brilliant career continued as captain general of Yucatán, lieutenant general, minister of the king’s Supreme War Council, Marquis del Norte, Viscount de O’Neill, and finally hero in the war against Napoleon.