On the morning of July 27, 1816 the crew aboard the gunboat fired a few cannon balls into the fort to find the range. After finding the range the ship’s sailing master, James Bassett, ordered the crew to heat a cannon ball to a red-hot hue. The cannon ball, called a “hot shot,” was fired and sailed through the open door of the fort’s powder magazine where tons of gun powder was stored. The subsequent explosion created a blast that was felt 100 miles away in Pensacola and instantly killed 270 men, women, and children holed-up inside the fort. Marcus C. Buck, a surgeon from the 4th Infantry who accompanied the expedition, described the scene: “You cannot conceive, nor I describe the horrors of the scene. In an instant, hundreds of lifeless bodies were stretched upon the plain, buried in sand and rubbish, or suspended from the tops of the surrounding pines. Here lay an innocent babe, there a helpless mother: on the one side a sturdy warrior, on the other a bleeding squaw. Piles of bodies, large heaps of sand, broken guns, accoutrements, etc. covered the site of the fort. The brave soldier was disarmed of his resentment, and checked his victorious career, to drop a tear on the distressing scene.”
With the destruction of the fort, the United States was given an open door to take Florida from the Spanish and make war on the Seminoles. In 1818 Jackson again marched into Pensacola and captured the city. As for the Indians in Florida- for years after that fateful cannon shot on July 27, 1816 the Americans waged a relentless campaign of war. These wars known as the Seminole Wars lasted from 1816 to 1858 at a cost of thousands of American lives and millions of dollars.