St. Louis History: Battle of Fort San Carlos

Here is another post giving some little-known information about the city of St. Louis. Did you know that St. Louis and the Battle of Fort San Carlos was a crucial moment of the Revolutionary War? I didn’t. Some historians think the country could have wound up a very different place if the colonists did not win this battle. Via KSDK.

When you think of the great battles of the Revolutionary War, you might not include the battle of St. Louis. To learn more, we turned to Dr. Robert Archibald, President and CEO of the Missouri Historical Society in St. Louis, and the National Parks Service.

“What most people don’t realize is that the battle in the American Revolution that took place the farthest west occurred there in May of 1780,” said Archibald.

According to the National Parks Service, St. Louis, in 1780, was a Spanish Colony and under the leadership of Spanish Lieutenant Governor, Fernando DeLeyba. As the American Revolution began heating up, particularly after the French became open allies of the Americans in 1778, the Spanish began to provide covert aid and supplies to the English colonists.

DeLeyba, fearing British reprisals, urged that four stone towers be built to protect St. Louis. At the top of the hill, near where the Old Courthouse exists today, the first of the towers, called Fort San Carlos was built in April, 1780 and a trench was dug around the town.

On May 26, 1780, between 1,300 and 2,000 British-led Sioux, Sac, Fox and Winnebago warriors suddenly fell upon the unsuspecting community of 900 people. The Indians killed several settlers and slaves who were tending their fields on the outskirts of town. The firing alerted St. Louis’s militia, who ran to the barely-completed entrenchments. The attackers were hit with a withering fire from militia musketry. But it was the cannon placed in the tower called Fort San Carlos that repelled the attack.

The battle lasted for two hours, with 21 villagers killed and 71 captured. George Rogers Clark and his Americans drove off a simultaneous British attack against Cahokia on the east side of the river.

“Historians say it may have been one of the seminal battles of the Revolutionary War, because if it had been lost, it’s possible all that land in North America might have been retained by Great Britain. we may have ended up a very different nation,” said Archibald.

Very interesting. You learn something new every day. Stay tuned for more little-known facts about St. Louis.