John Paul Nuno


In the waning days of March 1815, Vicente Sebastian Pintado's ship was anchored in tempestuous waters near the mouth of the Apalachicola River at a place the Spanish called Loma de Buenavista, known to the British as Prospect Bluff. As the surveyor general of the Spanish West Florida colony, he headed a delegation to a recently constructed fortification built by the British and their indigenous and Afro-Floridian allies. Pintado's correspondence with Captain Robert Spencer, the ranking British officer present, echoed the unsettled nature of his mission. The Prospect Bluff Fort, located in Spanish territory, was transitioning from a strategic British outpost during the War of 1812 to a bastion of black self-governance and resistance. Pintado's delegation hoped to reclaim a significant number of runaway slaves from Spanish Florida, particularly from Pensacola, living in the vicinity.1 Beyond possibly constituting a majority of the fort's population, escaped slaves from the Florida provinces occupied positions of leadership and demonstrated a steadfast resolve against returning to their Spanish masters.2 A previous envoy had already failed to secure the slaves because the British refused to physically apprehend them. Dreading a pending British evacuation from Prospect Bluff, Pintado warned that the fort would become an independent black settlement free of white authority and destined to be a "republic of bandits," which would destabilize the Gulf Coast.3