Castillo de San Marcos A Guide to Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, Florida

- By National Park Service
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Coordinates: .mw-parser-output .geo-default,.mw-parser-output .geo-dms,.mw-parser-output .geo-dec{display:inline}.mw-parser-output .geo-nondefault,.mw-parser-output .geo-multi-punct{display:none}.mw-parser-output .longitude,.mw-parser-output .latitude{white-space:nowrap}38°53′40″N 77°02′33″W / 38.8944°N 77.0426°W / 38.8944; -77.0426 The National Park Service (NPS) is an agency of the federal government of the United States that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations.[1] The United States Congress created the agency on August 25, 1916 through the National Park Service Organic Act.[2]
Florida and the Pirates
On May 28, 1668, a ship anchored off St. Augustine harbor. It was a vessel from Veracruz, bringing flour from México. In the town, the drum sounded the alert for the garrison of 120 men. A launch went out to identify the newcomer and put the harbor pilot aboard. As it neared the ship, the crew on the launch hailed the Spaniards lining her gunwale. To the routine questions came the usual answers: Friends from México-come aboard! Two shots from the launch told the town the ship had been identified as friendly, and the seamen warped the launch alongside the ship. In St. Augustine, the people heard the signal shots and rejoiced. The soldiers returned their arms to the main guardhouse on the town plaza. Tomorrow the supplies would come ashore.
Unknown to the townspeople, when the launch pilot stepped aboard the supply ship, an alien crew of pirates swarmed out of hiding and leveled their guns at him and the others. He could do nothing but surrender. Some time after midnight, a corporal was out on the bay fishing when he heard the sound of many oars pulling across the water. Something was not right. Desperately he paddled his little craft toward shore. The pirates, four boatloads of them, were right behind. Twice their shots found their mark, but he got to the fort where his shouts aroused the guards.
At the main guardhouse, a quarter mile from the fort, the sentries heard the shouting and the gunfire, but before they could respond, the pirates were upon them, a hundred strong. Out-numbered, the guards ran for the fort. Gov. Francisco de la Guerra rushed out of his house and, with the pirates pounding at his heels, joined the race for the fort. Somehow the garrison was able to beat back several assaults. In the confusion of darkness, however, the pirates seemed to be everywhere. They destroyed the weapons they found in the guardhouse and went on to the government 6 house. Shouting and cursing, they scattered through the narrow streets, seizing or shooting the frightened, bewildered inhabitants.
Sgt. Maj. Nicolás Ponce de Léon, the officer responsible for defending the town, was at home, a sick man, covered with a greasy mercury salve and weak from the "sweatings" prescribed for his illness. On hearing the din, he roused himself and rushed to the guardhouse, only to find the pirates had been there first. He turned to the urgent task of shepherding his 70 unarmed soldiers and the others-men, women, and children-into the woods, leaving the pirates in complete possession of the town.
By daybreak the little force at the fort had lost five men, but they believed they had killed 11 pirates and wounded 19 others. Ponce came from the woods and reinforced the fort with his weaponless men. With daylight, two other vessels joined the ship from Veracruz. One was St. Augustine's own frigate, taken by the raiders near Havana, in which the pirates had been able to move in Spanish waters without detection. The other was the pirates' own craft. All three sailed into the bay, passed the cannon fire of the fort, anchored just out of range, and landed their remaining forces. Systematically they began to sack the town; no structure was neglected.
That afternoon, the governor sent out a sortie from the fort, but the leaders were wounded and the party retired. After 20 hours ashore, however, the pirates were ready to leave anyway, taking their booty, which probably amounted to only a few thousand pesos, and about 70 prisoners whom they had seized during the previous night's rampage. Just before leaving they ransomed most of their prisoners for meat, water, and firewood. The local Indians, however, they kept, claiming that the governor of Jamaica had told them to keep all Indians, blacks, and mulattoes as slaves, even if they were Spanish freemen. Finally on June 5 the raiders headed out to sea, amused as once again they passed the thunder of the useless guns in the old wooden fort as the small community grieved over its 60 dead and gave thanks for the ransomed prisoners.
The released prisoners identified the invaders as English and told how the enemy had carefully sounded the inlet, taken its latitude, and noted the landmarks. They intended to come back and seize the fort and 7 make it a base for future operations against Spanish shipping. To the Spaniards the attack on St. Augustine was far more than a pirate raid. St. Augustine, though isolated and small, was the keystone in the defense of Florida, a way station on Spain's great commercial route. Each year, galleons bearing the proud Iberian banners sailed past the coral keys and surf-pounded beaches of Florida, following the Gulf Stream on the way to Cádiz. Each galleon carried a treasure of gold and silver from the mines of Perú and México-and all Europe knew it.
A shipload of treasure, dispatched from México by Hernán Cortés in 1522, never reached the Spanish court. A French corsair attacked the Spanish ship and the treasure ended up in Paris, not Madrid. Soon, daring adventurers of all nationalities sailed for the West Indies and Spanish treasure. Florida's position on the lifeline connecting Spain with her colonies gave this sandy peninsula strategic importance. Spain knew that Florida must be defended to prevent enemies from using the harbors for preying upon Spanish commerce and to give safe haven to shipwrecked Spanish mariners.
The French, ironically, brought the situation to a head in 1564 when they established Fort Caroline, a colony named for their teenage king, Charles IX, near the mouth of Florida's St. Johns River. A year later Spanish Admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés came to Florida, established the St. Augustine colony, and forthwith removed the Frenchmen, suspected of piracy. This small fortified settlement on Florida's northeast coast and Havana in Cuba anchored opposite ends of the passage through the Straits of Florida enabling Spanish ships to pass safely from the Gulf of Mexico out into the Atlantic.A typical early fort was San Juan de Pinos, burned by English sailor Francis Drake in 1586. Drake took the fort's bronze artillery and a considerable amount of money. San Juan consisted of a pine stockade around small buildings for gunpowder storage and quarters. Cannon were mounted atop a broad platform, or cavalier, so they could fire over the stockade. Such forts could be built quickly, but they could also be destroyed easily. If Indian fire arrows, enemy attack, or mutinies failed, then hurricanes, time, and termites were certain to do the job. During the first 100 years of Spanish settlement, nine wooden forts one after another were built at St. Augustine.
Spain did not yet see the need for an impregnable fort here. After the English failures at Roanoke Island in North Carolina in 1586-87, the weak settlement of Jamestown, Virginia, a few years later did not impress the powerful Council of the Indies in Madrid as a threat to Spanish interests. Moreover, the Franciscans, by extending the mission frontier deep into Indian lands, put the Spanish stamp of occupation upon a vast territory. The fallacy in this thinking lay in underestimating the colonizing ability of the English and believing that an Indian friendly to Spain would never become a friend of England.
The defeat of the powerful Spanish Armada in 1588 was a dramatic harbinger of things to come; the way was clear for England to extend its control of the seas. Its great trading companies were active on the coasts of four continents, and powerful English nobles strove for possessions beyond the seas. Jamestown, despite its inauspicious beginning, was soon followed by the settlements in New England and elsewhere. Between the James River and Spanish Florida stretched a vast, rich territory too tempting to ignore, and in 1665 Charles II of England granted a patent for its occupation. The boundaries of the new colony of Carolina brazenly included some hundred miles or more of Spanish-occupied land-even St. Augustine itself!
The signs were clear: The fight for Florida was inevitable. In the middle 1600s at St. Augustine, just south of where the Castillo now stands, there was a wooden fort. It was almost as large as the Castillo, but it was a fort only in name. Most of the timbers were rotten. Smallpox had killed so many Indians that there were not enough laborers to carry in replacement logs.
Money to maintain the outposts came from New Spain, for, the government in Madrid reasoned, the Florida forts protected the commercial routes from México to Spain. Consequently, officials in México City had to find the silver to pay the troops and buy the food, clothing, and other supplies that Florida so desperately needed. Despite the orders from Madrid, payments from México City were always behind, 11 as Floridians knew from bitter experience.
Yet, if ever there was a time to protect Spanish interests in Florida, it was now. The English had attacked Santo Domingo and captured Jamaica. The Dutch had been seen in Apalache Bay on Florida's west coast. As the corsairs grew bolder, one governor made this appraisal: "In spite of the great valor with which we would resist, successful defense would be doubtful" without stronger defenses. Proposals for a permanent, stone fort dated back to 1586 after the discovery of the native shellstone, coquina. For years officials in Spain, México, and Florida argued about what needed to be done. By 1668 payments and sufficient supplies of food were eight years behind. The townspeople and the soldiers lived in poverty and the old wooden fort was on the verge of falling into the sea.
The sack of St. Augustine was a blessing in disguise, for it shocked Spanish officials into action. The governor of Havana lent 1,200 pesos for masting and rigging St. Augustine's frigate, thus ensuring the presidio's communication with its supply bases. The Viceroy released the 1669 payroll plus money for general repairs, weapons, gunpowder, and lead for bullets. He also promised 75 men to bring the troop levels to authorized strength. And St. Augustine was allowed to keep an 18-pounder bronze cannon that had been salvaged from a shipwreck. This aid-12 months of life for the colony-totaled at least 110,000 pesos. Included was the hire of mules for the 75 recruits to ride from México City to Veracruz. Hiring the animals was easier than finding men, however. Fifty-one of them arrived at last in 1670; the rest had deserted or died. Officials in St. Augustine, however, were not sure that the new troops were particularly loyal to Spanish interests.
It was Mariana, Queen Regent of Spain, who gave permanent aid to St. Augustine in three decrees addressed to the viceroy. On March 11, 1669, she ordered him to pay the Florida funds on time and add a proper amount for building the fortification proposed by the governor. Next, on April 10, she commanded him to support a full 300-man garrison in Florida instead of the customary 257 soldiers and 43 missionaries. Finally, on October 30, she enjoined him to consult with the governor about an adequate fortification and provide for its construction.

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Word Lists:

Inauspicious : not conducive to success; unpromising

Appraisal : an act of assessing something or someone

Harbinger : a person or thing that announces or signals the approach of another

Garrison : the troops stationed in a fortress or town to defend it

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Words: 1872

Unique Words : 765

Sentences : 117

Reading Time : 8:19

Noun : 692

Conjunction : 155

Adverb : 89

Interjection : 1

Adjective : 112

Pronoun : 71

Verb : 296

Preposition : 255

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Sentiment : Positive / Positive / Positive

Tone : Formal

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