Tampa Chapter

Sons of the American Revolution

May 2017



          Meeting announcements

          Revolution History note

          Color Guard Opportunities

          Battle of Thomas Creek

          Program Schedule

          Other Dates of Interest

          Misc. reminders and information


The May meeting of the Tampa Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution, will held on Saturday, May 20 at the Lewis Hill, III Boy Scouts of America Service Center 13228 North Central Avenue, Tampa, FL  33612 from 11:30-1:30.  The speaker will be long time friend of the chapter, Rodney Kite-Powell of the Tampa Bay History Center discussing the history of Tampa’s waterfront.  Rodney has recently published a book on the history of Tampa Bay and will, no doubt, have copies for sale if anyone is interested.

The April meeting was our annual JROTC recognition meeting.  Four of the high schools where the SAR Bronze JROTC medal was presented were represented at this meeting.  Three of them are shown below receiving congratulations from President Charles Klug.  (A fourth cadet was too late for the picture.)  We also recognized Cadet Michael McCarthy of Wharton High School as the Tampa Chapter Enhanced JROTC Award winner for 2017.  Cadet McCarthy was presented a cash award from the Chapter.  He read his JROTC Essay, written as part of the competition, to the Chapter.  His information has been sent to the Florida Society JROTC Committee for entry in the state-wide competition.  The state winner has not yet been announced. 



Compatriot Doan extends his thanks to everyone that made presentations of the JROTC medals and certificates to the high school

cadets in Hillsborough County.



          In April, we also recognized Compatriot Benjamin Bryant, a Compatriot of our Chapter and son of Compatriot David Bryant for placing (a close) second in the Florida Society Eagle Scout Competition.  Ben was presented a certificate of recognition and an award check from the Florida Society and the Ladies Auxiliary of the Florida Society and an award check from the Tampa Chapter.  Ben can participate in the Eagle Scout competition one more year, if he wants.  Pictured below is Florida Society Treasurer and Tampa Chapter Compatriot Dick Young making the presentations to Ben.


Revolution History Note: 

Controversy at the surrender of Pensacola

Over the past few years we have had two very interesting and informative talks on the involvement of Spain in the American War for Independence, one by the Hon. E J Salcines, and the other by former SAR President General Judge Edward Butler.  Since May 10 is the 236th anniversary of the capture of Pensacola by Spanish forces under the command of Bernardo de Galvez, it is time to revisit that topic. I’m not going to re-hash the x’s and o’s of Galvez’ conquest of the Gulf Coast, but rather, concentrate on the one controversy that arose from the surrender of Pensacola.

Galvez, the Spanish governor of Louisiana had been covertly supplying the Americans with arms and supplies for several years before Spain officially declared war on England in 1779.  Following the declaration, Galvez immediately began putting into action his plans to wrest West Florida (the Gulf coast from Louisiana to Pensacola) from the British.

In the autumn of 1779 he forced the British out of the lower Mississippi and in March 1780, took Mobile.  All that remained was the main British base at Pensacola.

He began the operation by landing men and supplies on Santa Rosa Island, the barrier island just off the coast from Pensacola.  By March 1781 he had landed his men on the mainland and began siege operations against the British.  Good fortune fell on the Spanish on May 8th when a shell landed at the door of a powder magazine of one of the British forts and it blew up.


Painting of Gálvez at the Siege of Pensacola

by Augusto Ferrer-Dalmau


 The British commander, John Campbell realized that he could not hope to win and asked Galvez for terms.  On May 10, 1781, the British handed over Pensacola and with it West Florida to the Spanish.


General John Campbell

4th Earl of Loundoun


To understand the controversy surrounding the surrender terms, it must be remembered that Spain was not an ally of the Americans.  Spain had declared war on England to get back territory and islands lost in the settlement following the French and Indian War but did not sign a treaty with the fledging United States.  In the surrender terms presented by the British commander and agreed to by Galvez, it was stated that the British would surrender the post, be transported to the nearest British island and then to New York and they would not take up arms against Spain or its allies for the remainder of the war. 

      Since the US and Spain were not allies, this meant that these troops could be used against Washington’s army at a later date.  When word of the terms reached Washington’s headquarters the Spanish representative there quickly assured Washington that for Galvez to have agreed to such terms there must have been extenuating circumstances.  Indeed there were. To accomplish his conquest of the Gulf Coast, Galvez not only had to deal with the British defenses, but with internal bickering among the Spanish officials in Cuba and with the naval officers and forces sent to assist him.  To have continued the siege until more favorable terms could be agreed to might have put the whole operation in jeopardy.  The Spanish naval officers on the spot may have withdrawn their ships; the officials in Cuba might have stopped all supplies.  Given these circumstances, Galvez adopted the old adage “a bird in the hand is wroth two in the bush.”

In Paris, where the preliminaries for negotiations to end the war were underway, the British tried to use this to drive a wedge between the Spanish and Americans in the hopes of negotiating separate deals with Spain and France and then, continuing the war against the Americans.  This ploy failed.

One of the historical sources that mentioned this controversy is the book Colonial Florida written by Richard Campbell and published in 1892 .  He was the son of a British naval officer who returned to Pensacola following his service there during the war of 1812.  Campbell was born and raised in Pensacola and wrote the book to counter what he perceived to be the bias in Florida history towards east Florida and St. Augustine and give Pensacola and West Florida their due.  While Richard and his father John were not related to the Gen. Campbell who surrendered Pensacola in 1781, his book paints a very positive picture of Pensacola under British rule and he clearly puts the best possible spin on Gen. Campbell’s surrender.  In essence he states that while Gen Campbell may have had no choice but to surrender, he put one over on Galvez by having him accept the terms presented by Campbell and having to accept the return of the British garrison to New York.  And, as you might suspect, pro-British historians have likewise used Richard Campbell’s interpretation to make the British look better and to damage Galvez.

However, given his record of aid to the Americans and his ability to overcome the bureaucratic problems he encountered with his superiors in mounting his operations, criticizing Galvez for giving the British generous terms amounts to nit picking of the highest order.

Color Guard Opportunities

       We have two color guard opportunities coming up.

May 29 – Memorial Day Ceremony at American Legion Post #5 USS Tampa.  Ceremony starts at 11:00 AM with lunch following afterwards.

June 6 – Honor Flight return at the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Airport.  Their plane usually lands in the 8:30 – 9:00 PM range. 


Both events are open to the public and everyone is invited and encouraged to attend. 

Battle of Thomas Creek

The commemoration of the 240th anniversary of the Battle of Thomas Creek, scheduled for Saturday, May 13 was postponed to a date to be determined later in 2017.  There are brush fires in the park in the area of the marker as well as bad weather in the forecast for the weekend. 

Future Program Schedule

May 20        Rodney Kite-Powell: History of the Tampa Bay Area

                      Boy Scout Annex 

Sept. 16       Prof. J. Michael Francis: Colonial Florida, place TBD

Oct. 21        Dr. Robert Smith:  Colonial Florida, place TBD

Nov. 18        Law enforcement/Fire Fighter Recognition, place TBD

Dec. 16        Officer installation, place TBD


Other Dates of Interest

May 19-21 - Florida Society BOM and Annual Meeting – Kissimmee

May 29 – Memorial Day Ceremony at American Legion Post #5 (Tampa)

June 6- Honor Flight - St Petersburg/Clearwater Airport

July 7-13 - National Society Annual Congress - Knoxville, TN

          Information available at www.sar.org/sar-annual-congress

          Registration form IS NOW available

August 20 - tentative FLSSAR Regional Meeting

            (times and site-somewhere in Tampa-to be determined)

October 25-30 - tentative Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall

                             Hillsborough County Veterans Memorial Park

November 3-4 - Florida Society BOM Meeting – Kissimmee

December 16 - Wreaths Across America


Misc. Notes and reminders:

          Chapter Website—remember you can find information about the chapter and programs on the chapter website.      http://www.tampasar.org/

          One of the duties of the Chapter Chaplain is to send cards to our members that are sick. Another is to send a sympathy card to the family of a member who has passed away. If you know of anyone that should be the recipient of these cards please mention it to Chaplain Sessums or one of the other officers at our next meeting.

          Chapter officers and committee chairmen are encouraged to send any pertinent information they wish included in the newsletter to President Charles Klug, Editor Bob Yarnell or Assistant Editor Dick Young.