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James Moore’s Raid on Amelia Island

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James Moore’s Raid on Amelia IslandBy Joshua Whitfield

In 1702 James Moore, the governor of Carolina, organized an assault on Amelia Island and the east coast of Spanish Florida. He embarked from Port Royal in November, striking at mission towns along the coast en route to Saint Augustine. On November 4, 1702, he burned Amelia Island’s missions to the ground and scattered the Indians living on the island. 

In order to get a sense of the events leading up to James Moore’s raid, we need to take a quick look at what was happening along the Georgia coast. By the turn of the eighteenth century, Amelia Island was the rearguard of a fifty-year Spanish retreat from the Georgia coast and was home to three mission towns, which were made up of the remnants of Spanish-allied Indian villages that once occupied the land between the Savannah River and Saint Mary’s River. 

Spanish mission towns served multiple purposes: they converted Indians to the Catholic Church; helped organize the Spanish labor dra…

A Civil War Orphanage

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By Joshua Whitfield Somewhere between 11th and 12th streets in the woods behind the Nassau School Board, there once stood a beautiful three-story mansion surrounded by a grove of citrus trees. The house was built in the 1850s for an Irish immigrant named Joseph Finegan, who had made a name for himself in Jacksonville as a lumber mill operator, a lawyer, and as one of David Yulee’s partners in the Florida Railroad. By the time his mansion was completed, Finegan had established himself as a significant property owner and slaveholder in Fernandina

However, Finegan would not be able to enjoy his home. In 1861 he and a number of delegates to the Florida Secession Convention voted to secede from the United States, which made Florida the third state to secede following South Carolina and Mississippi. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Finegan joined the Confederate army and eventually attained the rank of Brigadier General.


When the United States reclaimed Fort Clinch in 1862, Amelia Islan…