Oglethorpe’s celebration of victory over the Spaniards was surely intended for publication. He had it read, on July 25, to the citizens of Frederica, and later to those of Savannah and Ebenezer;1 and he apparently dispatched it north for publication. It appeared on November 29, in the Boston Evening-Post, which serves as my text, and on December 21, in Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette.2
The thanksgiving represents doubtless both a genuine expression of gratitude for what seemed to Oglethorpe a miraculous deliverance from the Spaniards and at the same time a vindication of his generalship, which since 1740 had been impugned by the South Carolina legislature.3
“ALmighty GOD hath in all Ages shewn his Power and Mercy in the miraculous and gracious Deliverance of his Church, and in the Protection of righteous and religious Kings and States professing his holy and eternal Truths, from the open Invasions, wicked Conspiracies and malicious Practices of all the Enemies thereof. He hath by the manifestation of his Providence, delivered us from the Hands of the Spaniards, They with 14 sail of small Gallies and other Craft, came into Cumberland Sound, but Terror and Fear from the Lord came upon them, and they fled. The Spaniards also with another mighty Fleet of 36 Ships and Vessels came into Jekyl Sound, and after a sharp Fight became Masters thereof, we having only four Vessels to oppose their whole Strength, and God was the Shield of our People, since in so unequal a Fight, which was stoutly maintain’d for the Space of four Hours, not one of ours was kill’d, tho’ many of theirs perish’d, and five were kill’d by one Shot only. They landed 4500 Men upon this Island, according to the Accounts of the Prisoners, and even of Englishmen who escaped from them.4 The first Party march’d up thro’ the Woods to this Town, and was within Sight thereof, when God deliver’d them into the Hands of a few of ours, they fought and were dispersed and fled. Another Party which supported them also fought, but were soon dispersed. We may with Truth say, that the Hand of the Lord fought for us, for in the two Fights more than 500 fled before 50, and yet they for a Time fought with Courage, and the Grenadiers particularly charg’d with great Resolution, but their Shot did not take Place, insomuch that none of ours were then kill’d, but the Enemy were broken and pursued with great Slaughter, so that by the Reports of the Prisoners since taken, upwards of 200 never return’d to their Camp. They also came up with their half Gallies towards this Town, and retir’d without so much as firing one Shot, and then Fear came upon them and they fled, leaving behind them some Cannon, and many Things they had taken. Twenty eight sail attack’d Fort William, in which were only fifty Men, and after three Hours fight went away and left the Province, they having been pursued as far as St. John’s; so that by this whole Expedition and great Armament, no more than two of ours were taken and three kill’d. Therefore with Truth we may say, the Lord hath done great Things for us, who hath delivered us out of the Hands of our numerous Enemies, who had already swallowed us up in their Thoughts, and boasted that they would torture and burn us; but the Lord was our Shield, and we of a Truth may say, that it was not our Strength nor Might that deliver’d us, but that it was the Lord; therefore it is meet and fitting that we should return Thanks to GOD, our Deliverer.
“Having taken the Premises into Consideration, I do hereby Order, that Sunday the 25th Instant be observed as a Day of publick Thanksgiving to Almighty GOD, for his great Deliverance in having put an End to the Spanish Invasion, and that all Persons do solemnize the same in a Christian and Religious Manner, and abstain from Drunkenness and any other wicked and dissolute Testimonies of Joy. Given under my Hand and Seal this 24th Day of July, at Frederica, in Georgia, Annoque Domini, 1742. JAMES OGLETHORPE.”