Skip to main content

Bowles's Filibustering Expeditions


BOWLES'S FILIBUSTERING EXPEDITIONS. In the early 1780s William Augustus Bowles traveled to the Bahamas, where he became the agent of the trading house of Miller, Bonnamy, and Company, reinforced with the benevolent and probable financial interest of Lord Dunmore, governor of the islands. In this capacity, Bowles sought to secure the trade of the Creek Indians in Florida, which another English firm, Panton, Leslie, and Company, held rather securely.

Bowles appeared in western Florida in 1788 with a cargo of goods, which he liberally distributed among the Indians without arousing suspicion. Bowles probably intended to attack the Spaniards through Indian allies, but he left after some of his men deserted. In 1791, the year after the Creek chief Alexander McGillivray made the Treaty of New York with the United States, Bowles returned to Florida with the idea of supplanting McGillivray in Creek leadership, being aided by the unpopularity of that agreement. He plundered the Panton, Leslie storehouse at Saint Marks, but after being tricked by the Spanish spent the next few years as a prisoner in Havana, Madrid, Cádiz, and the Philippines. He escaped and returned to Nassau in 1799, and soon embarked for Florida on his third and last filibustering expedition. In 1800 he seized the Spanish fort at Saint Marks and held it for a few months before being forced out. At the suggestion of the United States, the Spaniards offered a reward of $4,500 for his capture and in May 1803 he was seized on American soil. He died two years later in Morro Castle, Havana.


Saunt, Claudio. A New Order of Things: Property, Power, and the Transformation of the Creek Indians, 1733–1816. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

E.Merton Coulter


See alsoCreeks ; Indian Treaties ; Spain, Relations with .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Bowles's Filibustering Expeditions." Dictionary of American History. . 15 Mar. 2019 <>.

"Bowles's Filibustering Expeditions." Dictionary of American History. . (March 15, 2019).

"Bowles's Filibustering Expeditions." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved March 15, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.