A405 - A survey of the Coast of West Florida from Pensacola to Cape Blaise
This beautiful survey of the Coast of West Florida was described by Gauld George himself in February 1767 as 'the only one I have been able to finish to my own satisfaction'. Gauld spent several hard months preparing the data for the compilation of this magnificent survey and he was, justifiably, proud of his efforts when he dispatched it to the Admiralty on the 8th February 1767.
- George Gauld
- h31.5" x w69"
After completing his original survey of Pensacola Harbor in late 1764, Gauld had spent several months expanding his survey area to the entire bay around the coast of Pensacola and the unexpected arrival in Pensacola in May 1765 of the Commander in Chief of the Jamaica Station, Admiral Sir William Burnaby gave rise to the opportunity for the newly acclaimed surveyor to spread his work further afield.
Burnaby commissioned Gauld to start a survey of Espiritu Santos, or Tampa Bay, on the west coast on the Florida Peninsular with immediate effect. It was to be just one of many trips Gauld would make along the crescent shaped coast of West Florida between Pensacola and Tampa.
Gauld spent the winter of 1775 back in Pensacola, sheltered from the winter storms which would, annually, interrupt the survey work but when he could compile his surveys from the previous summer 'season'. With the spring of 1776 Gauld, free from the dictates of the Commander in Chief, had set his sights on surveying properly the section of coast between Pensacola and Cape San Blas.
He set off on the 15th June 1766 aboard the schooner Charlotta along with the cutter from the Ferret, which had been recently refitted. His first action was to survey the waters off the mainland, taking soundings and the characteristics of the sea bed the whole way along the coast. He then marked the shoals and the bars which covered the entrances to the three major bays or inlets along that coast: Rose or 'Choctawhatchee', St. Andrew's and St. Joseph's. That done, the bays themselves were investigated and recorded.
Many of these records are included as notations on the finished survey, something which was to become a 'style' common throughout Gauld's work. Such 'notations' bring a great deal of life to the survey allowing the viewer to take-in the information without having to lift their eyes of the chart. Many of Gauld's remarks contain a real sense of humanity and are written as he saw things in a very pleasing narrative. 'The Coussates, a small adopted Tribe of the Albama Indians are settled lately on this part of St. Rosa Bay having left their own Country, on account of the present War between the Chactarus and the Upper Creeks being unwilling to take part with either. They consist of about 200 Souls, including men, women and children.'
An interesting footnote to the story of this, and any other survey of the time, is the hardships faced by the seamen and surveyors who would be ashore, perhaps for weeks at a time, recording the lay of the land. At this time survey Captain Murray of the Ferret which had remained at anchor in Pensacola reported apprehending a sailor, one Samuel Roan, from Gauld's land-survey team who had absconded from the party and had walked back to Pensacola. It does raise the question of how bad had it been for him to do such a thing, knowing the likely punishment? There are certainly accounts from survey teams working under Charles Blaskowitz and other surveyors when they were working up in Maine a few years earlier which state that desertions were quite common. Punishment was severe.
Gauld also includes on his finished survey a separate body of 'Remarks' in which he gives details of the waters in the bays including tides and depths, also dangers and directions. He also provides a set of 10 views or 'Prospects several remarkable parts of the Coast, as they appear from the sea. In mid August with the survey of St. Joseph's Bay and only 30 miles of coastline to be examined, Gauld's work was interrupted by the need for the survey ship Charlotta to return to Pensacola for repairs as she was leaking so badly.
It was the beginning of September before the party was able to resume work but the party finally returned to Pensacola for the last time on the 28th September. The survey had taken only four months but the result has more than stood the test of time.
- A survey of the Coast of West Florida from Pensacola to Cape Blaise