Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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BOWLES, William Augustus, adventurer, born in Frederick County, Maryland, in 1763; died in Havana, Cuba, 23 December, 1805. He was the son of an English schoolmaster, and when thirteen years of age ran away from home, and, joining the British army at Philadelphia, soon obtained a commission, but at Pensacola was, for some neglect, dismissed from the service. Afterward he entered the service of the Creek Indians, and married an Indian woman. He instigated many of their excesses, for which the British rewarded him. On 9 May, 1781, when Pensacola surrendered to the Spaniards, Bowles commanded the Indians, whom he had brought there to assist the English, and for this service he was reinstated in the British army. After the war he joined a company of players in New York, and performed in the Bahamas, where he also painted portraits. Governor Dunmore appointed him trading-agent for the Creeks, and he established a house on the Chattahoochie, but was driven away by McGillivray. He then went to England. On his return, his influence with the Indians, who had chosen him commander-in-chief, was so disastrous to the Spaniards that they offered $6,000 for his apprehension. Bowles assumed to act among the Indians under authority of the British government; but, on inquiry by the president, the ministry promptly and explicitly denied that they had afforded him countenance, assistance, or protection. For a long time he did all in his power to annoy Georgia and prevent the settlement of her difficulties with the Indians. He was entrapped in February, 1792, sent a prisoner to Madrid, and thence to Manila, in 1795. Obtaining leave to go to Europe, he returned to the Creeks and renewed his depredations, but, being again betrayed into the hands of the Spaniards in 1804, he was confined in the More Castle, Havana, where he died. A memoir of him was published in London in 1791, in which he is called "Ambassador of the United Nations of Creeks and Cherokees."
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