The early nineteenth century was a turbulent period in the history of the southeastern United States. The century began with the purchase of the vast Louisiana Territory from the French in 1803. The Florida Territory, however, remained under the control of the Spanish. In 1810, the United States declared that the West Florida Territory had been included in the Louisiana Purchase and was under American jurisdiction. When war with Great Britain broke out in 1812, Americans briefly attempted to occupy East Florida to secure it from the British. In 1814, British troops landed in West Florida and hostilities began that continued even after a peace agreement was reached. The American forces were under the control of Major-General Andrew Jackson. In the years after the War of 1812, hostilities continued between the Americans and the Seminole Indians of Florida. Jackson, believing that the Indians were incited by the Spanish, waged a campaign against the Seminoles in 1817-1818. In 1819, the Spanish formally ceded the Florida Teritory to the United States and an American government was established in 1822.
Abraham L. Sands served in the United States Army in the South east during 1812 to 1823. According to George W. Cullum'sBiographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, Abraham L. Sands was born in Connecticut in 1781. He was appointed to the Military Academy in June of 1808 and graduated in February of 1809. Sands was then made a Second Lieutenant in the Regiment of Artillerists. Cullum lists Sands' military record as follows:
Served: in garrison at Atlantic Posts, 1809-1812; in the War of 1812-1815 with Great Britain, on Recruiting service, 1812-1813, - in garrison at Ft. Charlotte, Mobile harbor, Ala., 1813-1814.
FIRST LIEUT., REG. OF ARTILLERISTS, FEB.10, 1813 in the Defense of Ft. Bowyer, Ala., Sep. 15, 1814.
TRANSFERRED TO CORPS OF ARTILLERY, MAY 12, 1814 as Aide-de-Camp to the commanding officer, - Attack and Capture of Pensacola, Fla., Nov. 7, 1814, acting as Aide-de-Camp to Major-General Jackson, - and Capture of Ft. Bowyer, Sep. 10, 1815; on the Florida Frontier, 1815-1819, participating as Battalion Adjutant of Artillery in Major-General Jackson's Campaign of 1817-1818 against the Seminole Indians.
CAPTAIN, CORPS OF ARTILLERY, SEP. 17, 1818 and his seizure of Pensacola, Fla., May 24, 1818, being engaged in the Bombardment and Capture of Ft. San Carlos de Barrancas, Fla., May 26-27, 1818; in garrison at Mobile, 1819, as Acting Adjutant-General of 8th Military Department, 1820-1821.
CAPTAIN, 4TH ARTILLERY, IN RE-ORGANIZATION OF ARMY, JUNE 1, 1821 and in garrison at Petite Coquille, La., 1821, - and at St. Marks, Fla., 1821-1822.
Sands resigned from the Army in November, 1823. He died in New York City on December 25, 1840 at the age of 58.
The Abraham L. Sands Papers will be useful to researchers interested in the history of Florida and the southeastern United States in the early nineteenth century. The Papers are not a very rich source of information on the military campaigns and objectives of the period. The Papers do, however, furnish many details on routine aspects of the Army's activities. The Papers also contain a small amount of biographical material on Sands and his family.
The Papers have been divided into two series: LETTERS, ORDERS, AND LEGAL PAPERS and INVENTORIES, INVOICES, AND REQUISITIONS. Both series are arranged chronologically. In both series the bulk of the material is from the years 1818 to 1823.
The first series contains material relating to both Sands' personal life and to his military career. This includes correspondence and papers dealing with his movements from post to post in Alabama, Louisiana, and Florida. This series also contains correspondence and papers relating to Sands' efforts to recover some money stolen by three army deserters in 1818. There are also correspondence and legal papers relating to Sands' inheritance from an aunt who was a member of the wealthy Beekman family. Much of the correspondence and orders, however, deal with the routine of army life—obtaining provisions, shelter, and so on.
The second series, INVENTORIES, INVOICES, AND REQUISITIONS, contains more material concerned with this routine. This series includes inventories of supplies, records of the distribution and return of equipment and uniforms, requisitions for provisions, and bills for various goods and services.
There are several correspondents of note in the first series of the Sands Papers. There are two items signed by John Caldwell Calhoun (1818 Oct 2 and 1821 Jul 28). There are also items from Richard Keith Call (1825 Feb 26), Henry Dearborn (1808 Jun 15), and James Wilkinson (1812 Sep 6).