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Title: Castillo de San Marcos - A Guide to Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, Florida
Author: Service, National Park
Language: English
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                              Handbook 149

                         Castillo de San Marcos

          A Guide to Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

                         National Park Service

                    U.S. Department of the Interior
                            Washington, D.C.

                         _Using this Handbook_

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is located in the longest
continuously inhabited community founded by Europeans in the United
States. This handbook tells the intercultural story of the long effort
to build the Castillo and the emergence of a new Nation. The Guide and
Adviser provides a brief guide to Saint Augustine and other related
National Park Service areas in Florida.

    [Illustration: From the air the rationale for the layout of Castillo
    de San Marcos is readily apparent: no wall or approach is

    [Illustration: This map, one of the earliest maps of a city that is
    now in the United States, depicts the June 1586 attack on St.
    Augustine by Sir Francis Drake. Note, in the middle, the English
    troops on Anastasia Island firing across the water on the Spanish

                        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

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
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

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 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.

    [Illustration: Sir Francis Drake’s attack on St. Augustine was part
    of the growing hostilities between Spain and England that culminated
    in the attack of the Spanish Armada on England two years later.
    Drake was also the first sea captain to take his own ship all the
    way around the world. Ferdinand Magellan’s ship had made the trip 57
    years earlier, but Magellan had been killed in the Philippines.]

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 in the Caribbean, 1717-1748

    [Illustration: Spain, England, and France vied for the land and
    wealth of the New World. This map, while not showing actual
    settlement and possession of the land shows what each nation thought
    was theirs. Spain’s dominions were more extensive than those of
    Britain or France, for the Spaniards were the first to explore and
    to begin to claim and settle the land.

The spice fleet from the Philippines sailed to Acapulco, on Mexico’s
west coast, the goods were hauled overland to Veracruz, and then carried
by ship to Havana.

Fleets of ships filled with silver, gold, spices, precious woods, and
other products of the New World left Havana for Spain each year.

The silver fleet from Perú brought the treasure to the isthmus of Panamá
where it was transshipped to Portobelo and then on to Havana via

Spanish St. Augustine served as the northernmost outpost of the
Caribbean, watching over the waters of the Gulf stream, Spain’s highway
to Europe.]

    [Illustration: Pedro Menéndez de Avilés (1519-74) was the founder of
    St. Augustine and first governor of Florida. He struggled throughout
    his life to put St. Augustine on a firm footing, fending off French
    efforts to destroy his settlement. The engraving is a copy of a
    portrait by Titian that was destroyed in a fire at the end of the
    last century.]

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, 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.

    [Illustration: Billions of sea creatures produced the coquina that
    provided the building blocks of the Castillo. Because of the high
    water table, the layers of rock were damp when quarried. Once
    trimmed and shaped, the rock dried and hardened. During the British
    bombardment of 1740, the walls absorbed the impact of the cannon
    balls and very little damage was done.]

                         Beginning the Castillo

To show her commitment to the proposed construction, the Queen Regent
appointed Sgt. Maj. Don Manuel de Cendoya, a veteran of 22 years
service, as successor to Governor Guerra.

In México City Cendoya followed Queen Mariana’s orders and delivered his
message to the Viceroy, the Marquis de Mancera. Florida’s defenses were
to be strengthened at once with a main castillo at St. Augustine, a
second fort to protect the harbor entrance, and a third to prevent troop
landings. Initial estimates were that the project would cost 30,000
pesos. At this point came the news of the English settlement at
Charleston, and Cendoya at once suggested a fourth fort at Santa

The viceroy’s finance council finally decided to allot 12,000 pesos to
begin work on one fort. If suitable progress were made, they would
consider sending 10,000 yearly until completion. The question of
additional forts would be referred to the crown. Cendoya had to be
satisfied with this arrangement and a levy of 17 soldiers. He left for
Florida, making a stop at Havana where he sought skilled workers. There
he also found an engineer, Ignacio Daza.

On August 8, 1671, a month after Cendoya’s arrival in St. Augustine, the
first worker began to draw pay. By the time the mosquitoes were sluggish
in the cooler fall weather, the quarrymen had opened coquina pits on
Anastasia Island, and the lime burners were building two big kilns just
north of the old fort. The carpenters put up a palm-thatched shelter at
the quarry, built a dozen rafts for ferrying stone, firewood, and oyster
shells for the limekilns across the water. They built boxes,
handbarrows, and carretas—the long, narrow, hauling wagons—as well. The
blacksmith hammered out axes, picks, stonecutters’ hatchets, crowbars,
shovels, spades, hoes, wedges, and nails for the carpenters. The
grindstone screeched as the cutting edge went on the tools.

Indians at the quarry chopped out the dense thickets of scrub oak and
palmetto, driving out the rattlesnakes and clearing the ground for the
shovelmen to uncover the top layer of coquina. Day after day Diego Díaz
Mejía, the overseer, kept the picks and axes going, cutting deep groves
into the soft yellow stone, while with wedge and bar the workers broke
loose and pried up the blocks—small pieces that a single man could
shoulder, and tremendously heavy cubes two feet thick and twice as long
that six strong men could hardly lift.

    [Illustration: Stone masons were the most skilled and highly paid
    laborers who worked on the Castillo.]

Díaz watched his workers heave the finest stone on the wagons. He sent
the oxen plodding to the wharf at the head of a marshy creek, where the
load of rough stone was carefully balanced on the rafts for ferrying to
the building site. And on the opposite shore of the bay, next to the old
fort, the cache of unhewn stone grew larger daily, and the stonecutters
shaped the soft coquina for the masons.

In the limekilns, oyster shells glowed white-hot and changed into fine
quality, quicksetting lime. By spring of 1672, there were 4,000
_fanegas_ (about 7,000 bushels) of lime in the two storehouses and great
quantities of hewn and rough stone.

Although the real construction had not even started, great obstacles had
already been overcome. Maintaining an adequate work force and skilled
workers was a continual problem. When there should have been 150 men to
keep the 15 artisans working at top speed—50 in the quarries and hauling
stone, 50 for gathering oyster shells and helping at the kilns, and
another 50 for digging foundation trenches, toting the excavation
baskets, and mixing mortar—it was hard to get as many as 100 laborers on
the job.

Indians from three nations, the Guale (coastal Georgia), Timucua
(Florida east of the Aucilla River), and Apalache (between the Aucilla
and the Apalachicola), were employed. True, they were paid labor, but
some had to travel more than 200 miles to reach the presidio, and many
served unwillingly. In theory each complement of Indian labor served
only a certain length of time; in practice it was not uncommon for the
men to be held long past their assigned time, either through necessity
or carelessness.

Indians were used as unskilled laborers and paid the lowest wages—one
_real_ (about 20 cents) per day plus corn rations. Most labored at the
monotonous, back-straining work in the quarries. A few were trained as
carpenters and received correspondingly greater wages but never the
equal of what the Europeans earned. One Indian was trained as a
stonecutter and worked on the Castillo for 16 years.

    [Illustration: Great numbers of local Indians carried out the many
    heavy-duty tasks that kept this labor-intensive project continually
    moving forward.]

Besides Indian labor, there were a few Spanish workers paid 4 _reales_
per day, and a number of convicts, either local or from Caribbean ports.
Beginning in 1679 there were seven blacks and mulattoes among the
convicts. Eighteen black slaves belonging to the crown joined the labor
gang in 1687. Convicts and slaves received rations but no wage. A
typical convict might have been a Spaniard caught smuggling English
goods into the colony, who was condemned to six years’ labor on the
fortifications. If he tried to escape, the term was doubled and he faced
the grim prospect of being sent to a fever-infested African presidio to

The military engineer, Ignacio Daza, was paid the top wage of 3 pesos
(about $4.75) per day. Daza died seven months after coming to Florida,
so the crown paid only the surprisingly small sum of 546 pesos (about
$862) for engineering services in starting the greatest of Spanish
Florida fortifications.

Of the artisans, there were Lorenzo Lajones, master of construction, and
two master masons, each of whom received the master workman’s wage of 20
_reales_ (about $4). Seven masons and eight stonecutters at 12 _reales_,
and 12 carpenters whose pay ranged from 6 to 12 _reales_, completed the
ranks of the skilled workers. Later, some of these wages were reduced:
Lajones’ successor as master of construction was paid only 17 _reales_,
the master mason 13, and the stonecutters from 3 to 11 _reales_, with
half of them at the 3- and 4-_real_ level.

These were few men for the job at hand, and to speed the work along
Governor Cendoya used any prisoner including neighboring Carolinians who
fell into Spanish hands. In 1670, a vessel bound for Charleston,
mistakenly put in at Santa Catalina Mission, the Spanish post near the
Savannah River, and William Carr and John Rivers were taken. A rescue
sloop sent from Charleston protested the Spaniards’ actions, with Joseph
Bailey and John Collins carrying the message from the English. For their
trouble, they were dispatched with Rivers and Carr to St. Augustine to
labor on the fort.

Three of the prisoners were masons, and their Spanish names—Bernardo
Patricio (for Bernard Fitzpatrick), and Juan Calens (for John Collins),
and Guillermo Car (for William Carr)—were duly written on the payrolls.
Some of these British subjects became permanent residents. Carr, for
instance, embraced first the Catholic faith and then Juana de Contreras,
by whom he fathered eight children. His father-in-law was a corporal, a
circumstance that may have helped Carr enlist as a gunner while also
working as a highly paid stonecutter.

    [Illustration: Spanish silver coins were used throughout the
    Caribbean and the British colonies. Often they were cut in two, or
    quartered, or even cut into eight pieces, giving rise to our
    expression, “two bits, four bits, six bits, a dollar,” bit meaning
    the number of pieces of one coin needed to make a dollar. The coins
    shown here are a 2-_real_, a 1-_real_, and another 2-_real_ piece.
    On the one 2-_real_ coin, note the Chinese characters indicating
    that the coin had been used in trade in the Orient. The profile is
    that of Charles III, who had died in 1788, though the inscription
    says that it is of Charles IV. The diemaker simply changed the date
    and added another “I” rather than using the more conventional “IV”
    roman numeral designation for 4.]

The Spaniards were understandably cautious in relying on the loyalty of
foreigners, but actually the new subjects served well. John Collins
especially pleased the officials. He could burn more lime in a week than
others could in twice the time. And as a prisoner he had to be paid only
8 _reales_ instead of the 20 due a master workman. Like Carr, Collins
seemed to like St. Augustine. He rose steadily in the crown’s employ
from master of the kilns to quarrymaster, with dugouts, provisions, and
convicts all in his charge. When pirates landed on Anastasia in 1683 and
marched on the city, Carr made sure that all crown property in the
quarry was moved to safety. Royal recognition honored his loyalty and
years of service.

A few years later 11 Englishmen were captured several miles north of St.
Augustine. All were committed to the labor gang—except Andrew Ransom. He
was to be garroted. On the appointed day Ransom ascended the scaffold.
The executioner put the rope collar about his neck. The screw was turned
6 times—and the rope broke! Ransom breathed again.

While the onlookers marveled, the friars took the incident as an act of
God and led Ransom to sanctuary in the parish church. Word reached the
governor that this man was an ingenious fellow, an artillerist, a
carpenter, and what was most remarkable, a maker of “artificial
fires”—fire bombs. Ransom was offered his life if he would put his
talents to use at the Castillo. He agreed and, like Collins, was
exceedingly helpful. Twelve years later, church authorities finally
agreed that the sanctuary granted by the parish pastor was valid. At
last Ransom was free of the garrote.

All told, between 100 and 150 workers on the construction crew labored
in those first days of feverish preparations. They, along with some 500
others—including about 100 soldiers in the garrison, a few Franciscan
friars, a dozen mariners, and the townspeople—had to be fed. When
supplies from México did not come, getting food was even harder than
finding workers, especially since the coastal soil at St. Augustine
yielded poorly to 17th-century agricultural methods.

Of the crops grown at St. Augustine, Indian corn was the staple. Most of
the planting, cultivating, and harvesting of extensive fields near the
town was done by Indians. At times as many as 300 Indians, including
those working on the fortification, served the crown at the presidio. To
make the food, whether grown locally or shipped in from México, go as
far as possible, it was rationed: 3 pounds daily until 1679, then 2½
pounds until 1684, then 2 pounds until 1687, and finally 2½ again.
Convicts also got corn if flour was not on hand, and they also received
a meat ration. Fresh meat was rather scarce, but the waters teemed with
fish and shellfish. A paid fisherman kept the men supplied.

Garden vegetables were few. Squash grew well in the sandy soil, as did
beans and sweet potatoes, citron, pomegranates, figs, and oranges. And
of course there were onions and garlic. But St. Augustine was never
self-supporting. After a century of existence, it still depended for its
very life upon supplies from México.

As the long, hot days of the second summer shortened into fall, Governor
Cendoya saw that after a year of gathering men and materials, he was
ready to start building.

Daza and the governor decided to construct the Castillo on the west
shore of the bay just north of the old fort. It was a site that would
take advantage of every natural feature for the best possible defensive
position. The new fort, they decided, would be similar, though somewhat
larger. In line with the more recent ideas, Daza recommended a slight
lengthening of the bastions. All around the castillo they planned a
broad, deep moat and beyond the moat, a high palisade on the three land

It was a simple and unpretentious plan, but a good one. Daza, schooled
in the Italian-Spanish principles of fortification that grew out of the
16th-century designs of Franceso de Marchi, was clearly a practical man.
His plan called for a “regular” fort—that is, a symmetrical structure.
Basically it was a square with a bastion at each corner. Equally strong
on all sides, this design was ideal for Florida’s low, flat terrain.

    [Illustration: This document is the official report to government
    officials in Madrid that ground had been broken for the Castillo.
    “Today, Sunday, about four in the afternoon, the second of October
    1672 ... Don Manuel de Cendoya, Governor and Captain General of
    these provinces for Her Majesty ... with spade in hand ... began the
    foundation trenches for construction of the Castillo,” the document

About four o’clock Sunday afternoon, October 2, 1672, Governor Cendoya
walked to a likely looking spot between the strings marking out the
lines of the new fortification and thrust a spade into the earth, as
Juan Moreno y Segovia, reported the ground breaking ceremonies for Queen

Little more than a month later on Wednesday, November 9, Cendoya laid
the first stone of the foundation. The people of St. Augustine must have
wept for joy. All were glad and proud, the aged soldiers who had given a
lifetime of service to the crown, the four orphans whose father had died
in the pirate raid a few years earlier, the widows and their children,
the craftsmen, the workers, and the royal officials. But none could have
been more pleased or proud than Don Manuel de Cendoya. He of all the
Florida governors had the honor to begin the first permanent Florida

Laying the foundations was not easy, for the soil was sandy and low and
as winter came the Indians were struck by _El Contagio_—a smallpox
epidemic. The laboring force dwindled to nothing. The governor asked the
crown to have Havana send 30 slaves. Meanwhile, Cendoya himself and his
soldiers took to the shovels. As they dug a trench some 17 feet wide and
5 feet deep, the masons came in and laid two courses of heavy stones
directly on the hard-packed sand bottom for the foundation. The work was
slow, for high tide flooded the trenches.

About 1½ feet inside the toe of this broad 2-foot-high foundation, the
masons stretched a line marking the scarp or curtain, a wall that would
gradually taper upward from a 13-foot base to about 9 feet at its top,
20 feet above the foundation. In the 12 months that followed, the north,
south, and east walls rose steadily. By midsummer of 1673 the east side
was 12 feet high, and the presidio was jubilant over the news that the
Viceroy was sending even more money.

This good news was tempered by the viceroy’s assertion that he would
release no more money for the work without a direct order from the
crown. Cendoya had already asked the queen to raise the allowance to
16,000 pesos a year so the construction could be finished in four years.
For, as he put it, the English menace at Charleston brooked no delay.
The English were said to be outfitting ships for an invasion.

Gradually, however, construction slowed. In 1673 Cendoya and Daza died
within a few days of one another. The governor’s mantle fell upon Major
Ponce, in whom the local Spaniards had little confidence.

Trouble beset Ponce on every side. The viceroy was reluctant to part
with money for this project despite evidence that English strength and
influence was increasing daily, especially among the Indians. Shortly
after Ponce took control, a terrific storm hit the city. High tides
undermined houses, flooded fields and gardens, and polluted the wells.
Sickness took its toll. The old wooden fort was totally ruined. Waves
washed out a bastion, causing it to collapse under the weight of its
guns. The other seaward bastion and the palisade were also breached in
several places.

Then in the spring of 1675 when another provision ship was lost, Ponce
had to lead a group of workers on a long march into Timucua to fetch
provisions from the Indians. Only a few masons were left to carry on the
work at the Castillo.

Despite all these problems, Ponce made progress. The north curtain was
completed and the east and south were well underway. But looking west
the soldiers could see only open country.

On May 3, 1675, the long-awaited supply ship from México safely arrived.
Among its few passengers was a new governor for Florida, Sgt. Maj. Don
Pablo de Hita Salazar, a hard-bitten veteran of campaigns in Europe, and
most recently governor of Veracruz. Surely it was because of his
reputation as a soldier that he was assigned to Florida. Besides
continuing the work on the fort he was ordered to “dislocate” the
Charleston settlement. Led to believe the viceroy would help in the
difficult task ahead, Hita, in fact, found that official singularly

At St. Augustine, the work had been dragging, but Hita made some
positive points in writing the crown: “Although I have seen many
castillos of consequence and reputation in the form of its plan, this
one is not surpassed by any of those of greater character.” Furthermore,
he endorsed the statement of the royal officials, who were eager to
point out the brighter side of the picture: “If it had to be built in
another place than St. Augustine it would cost a double amount because
there will not be the advantage of having the laborers, at a _real_ of
wages each day, with such meagre sustenance as three pounds of maize,
nor will the overseers and artisans work in other places with such
little salaries ... nor will the stone, lime, and other materials be
found so close at hand and with the convenience there is in this

So much money—34,298 pesos—had been spent on the fort, and it was not
yet finished, so it was important to tell the authorities the positive
benefits of this project, for at this point the old stockade was a ruin
and the new one was unusable. Reports from English deserters told them
that Charleston, less than 215 miles to the north, was well defended by
a stockade and 20 cannon.

Using characteristic realism, energy, and enthusiasm that would have
done credit to a much younger man, Don Pablo set about making his own
fortification defensible. The bastion of San Carlos—at the northeast
corner of the Castillo—was the nearest to completion. Hita ordered it
finished so that cannon could be mounted on its rampart.

While the masons were busy at that work, he took his soldiers and razed
the old fort. The best of its wood went into a barrier across the open
west side of the Castillo. In 15 days they built a 12-foot-high
earthwork with two half-bastions, faced with a veneer of stone and
fronted by a moat 14 feet wide and 10 feet deep. At last the garrison
had four walls for protection.

Next the powder magazine in the gorge of San Carlos was completed and a
ramp laid over it to give access to the rampart above. The three
curtains rose to their full height of 20 feet. At the southeast corner
the workers dumped hundreds of baskets of sand and rubble into the void
formed by the walls of San Agustin bastion and filled it to the 20-foot

Both carpenters and masons worked on the temporary buildings and
finished a little powder magazine near the north curtain. A
timber-framed coquina structure, partitioned into guardhouse,
lieutenant’s quarters, armory, and provision magazine, took shape along
the west wall. Finally, a few of the guns from the old fort were mounted
in San Carlos and San Agustin bastions and along the west front. After
three years of work, the Castillo was a defense at last.

    [Illustration: Practically every phase of construction is shown
    here: ferrying the newly-quarried stones across from Anastasia
    Island, hauling them to the site, cutting and shaping the stones,
    mixing mortar, using oxen to hoist a load of stones to the work
    area, and setting the stones in place. Overseeing all this and
    reviewing the plans are the engineer and master mason.]

    [Illustration: Archeology, in one of its functions, provides us with
    glimpses into the life of days gone by. The three bone buttons were
    found in and around the Castillo. The light-colored, smooth button
    with one hole was found in a sentry box. Perhaps a coat caught on
    the entry way and the button tore off, never to be found by the
    owner? The brass button is from a 19th-century Spanish uniform.]

And now Governor Hita’s first admiration for its design vanished. The
Castillo, he said, was too massive. Surely no one would ever besiege it
formally. Rather, the danger lay in a blockade of the harbor or
occupation of Anastasia Island, actions that would cut the presidio’s
lifeline. The San Carlos bastion was too high for effective fire on the
inlet or to sweep Anastasia. He argued that the Castillo, including the
parapet, should be held to a total height of only 20 feet and
supplemented by a 6-gun redoubt directly facing the inlet.

Royal officials strenuously opposed the governor’s attempts to change
Daza’s plan. They wrote the crown of Hita’s desire to tear finished
walls down to the level he thought proper.

In Hita’s view the west wall, though temporary, was adequate. Therefore
he would defer the permanent wall and start instead on the permanent
guardroom, quarters, ravelin, and moat. Royal officials insisted,
however, that since the west wall was nothing but a half-rotten fence
and a mound of earth faced with stone, all the walls must be completed
as soon as possible.

In the hope that the crown would agree to lower the walls, Hita let the
work lag on the two seaward bastions while he began the west wall and
bastions. Construction continued despite trouble with the Choctaws,
despite the worrisome impossibility of driving out the Carolina
settlers, despite the pirate raid on the port of Apalache in the west,
and the ever-present fear of invasion. Lorenzo Lajones, the master of
construction, died, but still the work went on. Even after the viceroy’s
10,000 pesos were spent, work continued with money diverted from the
troop payroll. As a last resort, people gave what they could out of
their own poverty. When these gifts were gone, the scrape of the trowel
ceased and the hammer and axe were laid aside. Construction stopped on
the last day of 1677.

At the same time, the supply vessel bringing desperately needed
provisions and clothing from México arrived, only to be lost on a sand
bar right in St. Augustine harbor. It was a heartbreaking loss. Hita
became disconsolate. The help he begged from Havana never came, and for
four years his reports to the viceroy were ignored. Old, discouraged,
and sick, Hita wrote the crown that he was “without human recourse” in
this remote province. Perhaps the final blow to his pride was a terse
order from the crown to stick strictly to Daza’s plan for the Castillo.

Yet the old warrior did not give up. Eventually the viceroy released
5,000 more pesos, and after 20 months of idleness construction resumed
on August 29, 1679. As soon as Hita left his sickbed he was back at the
fort, impatient with the snail’s pace of progress under a new master of
construction, Juan Márquez Molina from Havana, whose sharp-eyed
inspections found stones missing from their courses and some of the
walls too thin.

The royal officials, always on hand to make sure the governor followed
the crown’s directives to the letter, blamed the deficiencies on Hita,
“who has trod this fort down without knowledge of the art of
fortification.” With another 5,000 pesos plus the masons due to arrive
from Havana, said the old man in rebuttal, “I promise to leave the work
in very good condition.” Before he could make good on that promise, Sgt.
Maj. Don Juan Márquez Cabrera arrived at the end of November 1680 to
take over the reins of government.

So, half apologizing for his own little knowledge of “architecture and
geometry,” Hita left the trials and tribulations of this frontier
province to his more youthful successor.

Actually, Hita had done a great deal. Within six weeks after his arrival
he had made the Castillo defensible against any but an overwhelming
force. During the rest of his 5½-year term he brought the walls up to
where they were ready for the parapet builders, despite one obstacle
after another. In fact, the parapet on San Carlos bastion was almost
complete, with embrasures for the artillery and firing steps for the
musketeers. The only low part of the work was the San Pablo bastion,
where the level had been miscalculated. The sally port had its
drawbridge and iron-bound portal, and another heavy door closed the
postern in the north curtain. Permanent rooms that would go along the
curtain walls were still only plans, but in a temporary building
centered in the courtyard were a guardroom and storeroom, and a little
chapel stood near the postern in the shadow of the north curtain.

    [Illustration: These bottles, dating from the 19th-century American
    presence in St. Augustine, attest to the continuity of life. The
    shells on the stoneware flask indicate that it has been in saltwater
    for some time. The gold and tan bottle originally held ginger beer,
    a popular drink in the mid-1800s. The green bottle is stamped
    “Rumford Chemical Works” of Rumford, Rhode Island, on the shoulder.]

                            Saint Augustine

  Although Saint Augustine was primarily a military outpost intended to
  protect Spain’s dominion over Florida and the sea route of its
  treasure fleets, Saint Augustine also became a viable community as
  well, home to the settler-soldiers and their families. Except for the
  Castillo, which was finished in 1695, hardly any structure survives
  from Saint Augustine’s first 150 years. Archeological investigations
  show that almost all the earliest dwellings were small, crude
  structures made of local materials with thatched roofs and bare, dirt
  floors; coquina, the stone used in building the fort was not used for
  homes until 1690. The ordinary wear and tear of weather and time
  ensured that none of these early structures lasted.

  Archeology can tell us about the lives of the people who lived in
  these houses, for more than 1,000 objects and pieces and bits of
  pottery dating to the 16th century have been found. Most of them are
  from local Indian sources and corroborate written records that show
  that by 1600 almost 25 percent of the soldiers had taken Indian wives
  because few Spanish women initially came to Florida. Besides using
  their local ceramics, the Indian women introduced New World foods to
  their families and into the Spanish diet, creating something that was
  neither wholly Spanish nor wholly Indian.

    [Illustration: The Oldest House Museum]

    [Illustration: View in St. George Street]

The town itself was laid out according to ordinances dictated by the
Spanish government in 1563, resulting in a carefully planned community
with houses fronting directly on standard-width streets with gardens in
the rear or at the side. This showed clearly that Spain intended St.
Augustine to be a permanent settlement, not a mere outpost on the
fringes of empire. In the 18th century, indeed, it had become a vibrant
community that numbered almost 3,000 persons when the garrison and all
inhabitants withdrew after Florida became British in 1763.

The community and the people who lived in it were a mixture of
influences showing graphically how quickly Spaniards adapted to the New
World, using its materials, changing patterns that they had brought from
their homeland to meet new conditions, and creating a society that
simulated, but did not mirror, what they had left behind. Saint
Augustine was the beginning of a new world for those who came here in

    [Illustration: The map, based on the surveys of Juan de Solís, was
    drawn in 1764, a year after the British took control of Florida.
    English names have already been given to the town’s features.
    Somehow Fort St. Mark, a translation of Castillo de San Marcos, does
    not have the same ring.]

The new man, Major Juan Márquez Cabrera, formerly governor of Honduras,
checked the Castillo work carefully with the construction master. Those
long years without an engineer had left them a heritage of
mistakes—skimpy foundations, levels miscalculated—that had to be set
right. From Havana came a military engineer, Ensign Don Juan de Císcara.
During his brief stay he gave valuable guidance for continuing the work,
built the ramp to San Pablo bastion, and laid foundations for the
ravelin and its moat wall.

The 1680s were turbulent years. In 1682, the year the ravelin was
finished, a dozen or so pirate craft in the Straits of Florida seized
numerous Spanish prizes, including the Florida frigate on its way to
Veracruz. They raided Mosquito Inlet, only 60 miles south of St.
Augustine. In the west, pirates struck Fort San Marcos de Apalache and
even went up the San Martín (Suwanee) River to rob cattle ranches in

Work on the Castillo fell further and further behind schedule. Márquez
appealed to the curate for dispensation to work on Sundays and holy
days. Because of a history of bad relations with Márquez, the request
was refused. Márquez appealed to higher authorities. When approval came,
however, it was too late, for invasion came first.

On March 30, 1683, English corsairs landed a short way south of the
_Centinela de Matanzas_, the watchtower, at Matanzas Inlet near the
south end of Anastasia Island and about 14 miles from St. Augustine.
Under cover of darkness, a few of the raiders came up behind the tower
and surprised the sentries.

The march on St. Augustine began the next day. Fortunately a soldier
from St. Augustine happened by Matanzas and saw the motley band.
Posthaste he warned the governor, who sent Capt. Antonio de Argüelles
with 30 musketeers to meet them on Anastasia. A mile from the presidio
the pirates walked into the captain’s ambush. After exchanging a few
shots—one of which lodged in Argüelles’ leg—the Englishmen beat a hasty
retreat down the island to their boats. They sailed to St. Augustine and
anchored at the inlet in plain sight of the unfinished Castillo.

Márquez, his soldiers, and the townspeople worked day and night to
strengthen the Castillo. Missing parapets and a firing step were
improvised from dry stone. Expecting the worst, everybody crowded into
the fort. But the corsairs, looking at the stone fort and nursing their
wounds, decided to sail on.

After this scare, the Castillo crew worked with renewed zeal. By
mid-1683 they had completed the San Agustín and San Pablo bastions.
Governor Márquez sent the crown a wooden model to show what had been

This was progress made in the face of privation—hunger that made the
people demand of Márquez that he buy supplies from a stray Dutch trader
from New York. It was unlawful, but the people had to eat. Imagine the
joy in the presidio soon afterward when two subsidy payments came at one
time! Márquez gave the soldiers two years’ back pay and had enough
provisions on hand for 14 months. The 27 guns of the presidio, from the
iron 2-pounder to the 40-pounder bronze, all had their gunner’s ladle,
rammer, sponge, and wormer, along with plenty of powder and shot. There
was also an alarm bell in San Carlos bastion.

By August 1684 Governor Márquez started on the fort rooms and finished
them the next spring. Courtyard walls paralleled the four curtains, and
foot-square beams spanned the distance between them. Laid over these
great beams were 3-inch planks, supporting a slab roof of tabby masonry.
On the north were the powder magazine and two big storerooms. Quarters
were along the west curtain, guardroom and chapel on the south, and
rooms on the east included a latrine and prison. Altogether there were
more than 20 rooms.

The only major work yet to do was beyond the walls. The surrounding
moat, 40 feet wide, needed to be deepened, for only part of the moat
wall was up to its full 8-foot depth. In fact, of the outworks only the
ravelin was finished.

With the fortification this far along, Governor Márquez could give more
attention to other business, such as Lord Cardross’ Scottish colony at
Port Royal, South Carolina. This was, in the Spanish view, a new and
obnoxious settlement that encouraged heathen Indians to raid mission
Indians. Furthermore, it was in land recognized as Spanish even by the
English monarch.

So in September 1686, Márquez sent Captain Alejandro Tomás de Léon, with
orders to destroy the colony, which he did. He then sacked and burned
Governor Joseph Morton’s plantation on Edisto Island.

    [Illustration: This cannon tube is typical of most 18th-century guns
    and bears the cipher of Carlos III, showing it to be Spanish.]

                              The Castillo

    [Illustration: This bird’s-eye view of Castillo de San Marcos shows
    how it is laid out and why. The fort was located at the north end of
    Saint Augustine and on the water for defensive reasons. The moat
    protected it on four sides, and the Matanzas River lent additional
    protection as well. The only entrance was at the point closest to
    the town, so the inhabitants could quickly go to the fort if danger
    threatened. The fort was designed, too, so that every wall could be
    seen from some vantage point inside the Castillo. No attacking force
    could sneak up to the very walls without the defenders seeing them.
    The original Castillo was simply the exterior walls. Parallel to
    them were the inner, or courtyard, walls, built also of stone. Beams
    spanned the space between exterior and inner walls and held up
    platforms upon which guns sat aimed at the surrounding countryside
    or out over the water. Such a structure offered scant bombproof
    defense against incoming projectiles. And the wooden beams were
    subject to rot in the humid, subtropical air.


Each corner of the fort is protected by a diamond-shaped bastion. From
the bastion the adjacent walls could be protected from an attacking
force, and in conjunction with the neighboring bastions a deadly
crossfire could be turned on any force that got so close.

Guard Rooms

St. Augustine was a garrison town and no one lived inside the Castillo.
When soldiers were on guard duty—usually a period of 24 hours—they slept
and prepared their meals in these rooms.

Storage Rooms

Most of the rooms around the central courtyard were used for storage.
They were stockpiled with gunpowder, ammunition, weapons, lumber, tools,
and food, such as beans, rice, flour, and corn, that could be used in
time of siege.]

    [Illustration: Work began on stone vaults in 1738 to solve these
    problems. First, carpenters built wooden forms that supported the
    stone until all pieces of the arch were in place. As the form was
    removed, other workers began dumping sand, rubble, earth—anything to
    build up the level—into the spaces above the arches. Over this a
    cement-like mixture of sand and coquina was placed and tamped down
    and built up in stages until the desired height was reached. The
    result was a wide gun platform on top that would support the
    heaviest guns and provide bombproof spaces beneath.]

Next they set course for Charleston but again, as had happened in 1670,
a storm blew them away from the hated English colony. Leon’s vessel, the
_Rosario_, was lost, and he along with it. Another ship was driven
aground, and the last of the little armada limped back to St. Augustine.

Actually the real contest for the southeast was in the backcountry where
English traders operated. Governor Márquez sent soldiers and
missionaries from St. Augustine to the Apalachecola nation in western
Georgia. For the Spaniards, however, it was a losing fight—an exciting,
exasperating struggle of diplomacy and intrigue, trade and cupidity, war
and religion, slavery and death.

Captain of cuirassiers Diego de Quiroga y Losada assumed the
governorship on August 21, 1687, after Márquez fled to Cuba in April.
That same day he stopped work on the Castillo because there was no way
to feed the workers. These troubles and the certainty of reprisals from
the Carolinians sent Capt. Juan de Ayala Escobar directly to Spain for
help. He came back with 80 soldiers, the money for maintaining them, and
even a Negro slave to help in the fields. The black man, one of a dozen
Ayala had hoped to deliver, was a much-needed addition to the colony,
and Captain Ayala was welcomed back to St. Augustine with rejoicing “for
his good diligence.”

Soon there was more black labor for both fields and fortifications. From
the Carolina plantations, an occasional slave would slip away and move
southward along the waterways. In 1687 a small boat loaded with nine
runaways made its way to St. Augustine. The men found work to do and the
governor took the two women into his household as servants. It was a
fairly happy arrangement: the slaves worked well and soon asked for
Catholic baptism.

A few months later, William Dunlop came from Charleston in search of
them. Governor Quiroga, reluctant to surrender converted slaves, offered
to buy them for the Spanish crown. Dunlop agreed to the sale, even
though the governor was as usual short of cash and had given him a
promissory note. To seal the bargain, Dunlop gave one of the slaves, a
baby girl, her freedom. Later the crown liberated the others.

This incident resulted in a knotty problem. First, commerce with
Carolina, as an English colony, was illegal. Secondly, the crown could
not buy freedom for every runaway that came to Florida, as more and more
Carolina blacks left their English masters, seeking refuge. The slave
issue made any hope of amicable relations between the Spanish and
English colonists impossible. Eventually the Spaniards decreed freedom
for all Carolina slaves coming to Florida, and the governor established
a fortified village—Gracia Real de Mose—for them hardly more than a
cannon shot from the Castillo.

Construction work on the Castillo resumed in the spring of 1688, after a
shipment of corn came from Apalache. In Havana Governor Quiroga bought
for 137 pesos a stone bearing the royal arms to be set into the wall
over the gate. At this time, too, the little town entered its “stone
age,” for as surplus materials from the crown quarries became available,
masonry buildings gradually took the place of the board-and-thatch
housing that had been traditional here since the founding.

Until the outworks could be finished, the Castillo was vulnerable to
siege guns and scaling ladders. Nevertheless it was impossible to push
the heavy work of quarrying, lumbering, and hauling at this crucial
time. There were too many other pressures. Belatedly trying to
counteract English gains and strengthen their own ties with the Indians,
the Spaniards built a fort in the Apalachecola country. Unfortunately
the soldiers had to be pulled back to St. Augustine when Spain declared
war on France in 1689.

This time Spain and England were allies. Yet Governor Quiroga wondered
at the presence of English vessels off both northern and southern
coasts. As a bit of insurance he wrote a letter telling of a strength
far beyond what he had, in the hope that if an English ship would
capture the letter they would not know of St. Augustine’s weakness. For
again the supply situation was critical, and swarms of French corsairs
infested the waters between Florida and Havana. Two provision vessels
were lost in the Keys and a third fell into French hands. Until food
eventually came in from Havana and Campeche, the soldiers had to live on
handouts from the townspeople.

    [Illustration: In the royal arms of Spain, the lions stand for the
    province of León and the castles for the province of Castile. The
    shield is surrounded by the chain of the Order of the Golden Fleece,
    a knightly order founded in 1430, of which the Spanish monarch was
    grand master. The story of the Golden Fleece recalls the courageous
    exploits in the ancient Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts.]

                             The Drawbridge

    [Illustration: The inner workings of the Castillo drawbridge.

Pulling up the drawbridge was like locking the door. Once it was pulled
up flush against the walls and the portcullis—the heavy grating made of
solid yellow pine—rolled shut, no one could get into the fort. To raise
the bridge, trapdoors were removed so that the counterweights could
descend into the pit. A windlass also lay beneath this trapdoor.
Soldiers inserted bars into holes bored into the windlass and rotated
it, causing the lifting drums to revolve. The chains, attached to the
far end of the bridge, pulled the bridge up as the chains turned on the
lifting drums. The counterweights helped neutralize the weight of the
bridge so that three soldiers were able to lift its great
weight—approximately 1,900 pounds. When the bridge was in the upright
position, the soldiers then rolled the portcullis shut behind them, and
secured it. This was done every night or in time of danger.]

To lessen the chances of famine in the future, Florida officials
resolved to plant great fields of corn nearby. And where was better than
the broad clearings around the fort? Acres of waving corn soon covered
the land almost up to the moat. When the crown heard of these plantings,
back to Florida came a royal order banning corn fields within a musket
shot of the Castillo. A whole army could hide in the tall corn without
being seen by the sentries!

    [Illustration: The Castillo drawbridge.]

A new governor, Don Laureano de Torres y Ayala, arrived in 1693. At the
outset he had to deal with hostilities between St. Augustine and
Charleston—hostilities that mocked the Spanish-English alliance in

More importantly, however, to Governor Torres belongs the credit for
completing Castillo de San Marcos. Torres saw the last stones go into
place for the water battery—bright yellow coquina that was in contrast
to weathered masonry almost a quarter of a century old. In August 1695
the workmen finally moved out of the Castillo to another job: a seawall
that would keep storm tides out of the city.

The pile of stone on which Cendoya had planned to spend some 70,000
pesos and which Hita had estimated would cost a good 80,000 if built
elsewhere, ended up costing at least 138,375 pesos, a tremendous sum
impossible to translate into today’s money. But more than the money, it
was the blood, sweat, and hardship of the Florida soldier that paid the
cost. For the funds came out of money never paid. Let the Castillo be
his monument!

And what did completion of this citadel mean? Only a year later,
soldiers gaunt with hunger slipped into the church and left an unsigned
warning for the governor: If the enemy came, they intended to surrender,
for they were starving.

    [Illustration: Weapons of the 17th and 18th centuries may seem crude
    and primitive to a late-20th-century observer, but they could rain
    death and destruction on any foe. See the feature on Ordnance, pages
    44-45, for more details.]

                          Defending San Marcos

The test of the Castillo’s strength was not long in coming. Relations
with France had become peaceful, but incursions by the English-led
Indians kept the backcountry inflamed. As tensions increased, Gov. José
de Zúñiga y Cerda looked at the St. Augustine defenses with an
experienced eye. Zúñiga knew, after a military career spanning 28 years,
that strong walls were not enough. The Castillo’s guns were ancient and
obsolete—many of them unserviceable. The powder from México so fouled
the gun barrels that after “four shots, the Ball would not go in the
Cannon.” Arquebuses, muskets, powder, and shot were in short supply.

Once again Captain Ayala sailed directly to Spain to ask for aid. It was
a race against time, for the War of the Spanish Succession with France
and Spain allied against England had broken out. Gov. James Moore of
Carolina lost no time moving against St. Augustine in 1702. If he could
capture the Castillo, he would clap an English lock on the Straits of
Florida and forestall a possible Spanish-French attack on Charleston.

On the way south, Moore’s forces destroyed the Franciscan missions in
the Guale country. At St. Augustine they avoided the Castillo and
occupied the town, whose inhabitants had fled to the fort. South and
west of its walls, where the town approached the fort, the Spaniards
burned many structures that could have hidden the enemy advance.

Moore’s 500 Englishmen and 300 Indians vastly outnumbered the 230
soldiers and 180 Indians and Negroes in the Castillo’s garrison, but
Moore was ill-equipped to besiege the Castillo. He settled down to await
the arrival of more artillery from Jamaica, and thus matters stood when
four Spanish men-of-war arrived and blocked the harbor entrance,
bottling up Moore’s fleet of eight small vessels. Moore burned his
ships, left most of his supplies, and retreated overland to the St.
Johns River. He left St. Augustine in ashes, but the Castillo and its
people survived.

The ease with which the English had taken and held the city for almost
two months made it clear that more defenses were needed. Moreover,
English and Indian obliteration of the missions in Apalache, Timucua,
and Guale had reduced Spanish control to the tiny area directly under
the Castillo guns.

In the next two decades strong earthworks and palisades, buttressed at
strategic points with redoubts, made St. Augustine a walled town, secure
as long as there were enough soldiers to man the walls. But in those
dark days who could be sure of tomorrow? In 1712 came _La Gran
Hambre_—the Great Hunger—when starving people even ate the dogs and

At last the war ended in 1714. The threat to St. Augustine lessened, but
it was an uneasy kind of peace with many “incidents.” In 1728 Col.
William Palmer of Carolina marched against the presidio. The grim walls
of the fort, the readiness of the heavy guns, and the needle-sharp
points of the yucca plants lining the palisades were a powerful
deterrent. Palmer “refrained” from taking the town. For their part, the
Spaniards fired their guns, but made no sorties.

Palmer’s bold foray to the very gates of St. Augustine foreshadowed a
new move southward by the English, beginning with the settlement of
Savannah in 1732. With his eye on Florida, James Oglethorpe landed at
St. Simons Island in 1736, built Fort Frederica, and nurtured it into a
strong military post. From Frederica he pushed his Georgia boundary
southward all the way to the St. Johns River—a scant 35 miles from St

    [Illustration: Mortars have long held an important place in the
    family of field artillery because of their ability to throw a
    projectile over a barrier. The Spaniards were among the earliest to
    use mortars whose trajectory could be varied, thereby making the
    mortars even more effective.]

Meanwhile, Castillo de San Marcos began to show signs of being 50 years
old. The capable engineer and frontier diplomat Antonio de Arredondo
came from Havana to inspect Florida’s defenses and make recommendations.
Backed by Arredondo’s expertise, Gov. Manuel de Montiano wrote a frank
letter to the governor of Cuba, who was now responsible for Florida’s
security: “Your Excellency must know that this castle, the only defense
here, has no bombproofs for the protection of the garrison, that the
counterscarp is too low, that there is no covered way, that the curtains
are without demilunes, that there are no other exterior works to give
them time for a long defense; ... we are as bare outside as we are
without life inside, for there are no guns that could last 24 hours and
if there were, we have no artillery-men to serve them.”

                  Spanish-English Conflict, 1670-1748

    [Illustration: The Treaty of Madrid, 1670, aimed at stopping the
    Spanish-English contest along the South Atlantic coast by confirming
    Spanish claims as far north as 32°30′. The English agreed to this
    but within a few years continued their push southward. Savannah,
    settled in 1733 was well within Spanish territory.]

  Selected attacks                                Nationality

  Charleston 1670, 1706                           Spanish
     ″, 1706                                      French
  Edisto Island, 1706                             Spanish
  Port Royal, 1686                                Spanish
  Santa Catalina Island, 1680                     English
  Fort Frederica, 1742                            Spanish
  St. Simons Island, 1742                         Spanish
  Santa Maria Island, 1683                        English
  San Juan de Puerto, 1683                        English
  Fort San Diego, 1740                            English
  St. Augustine, 1683, 1702, 1728, 1740           English
  Matanzas Inlet, 1683, 1740, 1741, 1742, 1743    English
  Little Matanzas Inlet, 1686                     French
  Mosquito Inlet, 1682                            French
  Santa Fe, 1702                                  English
  Santa Catalina de Afuica, 1685                  English
  San Juan de Guacara, 1693                       English
  Ayubale, 1704                                   English
  San Pedro de Patale, 1704                       English
  Apalache Fort, 1677, 1682                       French
  San Carlos, 1693                                English

                              Defending the Fort

    [Illustration: The most serious attack on the Castillo took place
    when James Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia, arrived off Saint
    Augustine on June 13, 1740, with 7 warships and 1,400 troops.
    Oglethorpe’s arrival was not entirely unexpected. The English and
    Spaniards were rivals in Europe and continued their contest in the
    New World, with the Spaniards becoming increasingly restive as the
    English penetrated into the lands south of Charleston. By the time
    Oglethorpe arrived in Georgia, only about 150 miles north of the
    Castillo and on land the Spaniards considered their own, tensions
    were high. Oglethorpe wanted to guarantee that his new settlements
    would be secure from Spanish attack, so he decided to capture and
    occupy Spain’s base in Florida—before they decided to attack him.
    Oglethorpe had his work cut out for him, because the Castillo was
    superbly sited. Creeks and marshes protected it to the west and
    south. On the east the bay stretched to a shallow bar across the
    harbor entrance that kept heavy warships out of range. The only land
    approach was from the north. An English spy for Oglethorpe reported
    that the fort was well supplied and staffed. There were “22 pieces
    of Cannon well mounted on the Bastions from 6 pound’rs to 36....
    There is a guard of a Lieutenant, a Serjeant & 2 Corporals & 30
    Soldiers here who is relieved Every Day.... There is a Mote Round it
    of 30 foot wide & a draw Bridge of about 15 foot long, they draw
    every Night & Lett it down in the Morning.” With this kind of
    information Oglethorpe knew what he was up against and came
    prepared. Fortunately for the defenders, the attackers were divided.
    Some had landed on Vilano Point and on Anastasia Island, opposite
    the Castillo and were setting up batteries there. Some troops were
    on the mainland where they had seized vacant Fort Mose, a free black
    settlement just north of the Castillo. Though the total British
    force outnumbered the defenders, Gov. Manuel de Montiano reasoned
    that his forces could attack one segment before it could be
    reinforced by the other two. This is exactly what the Spaniards did,
    overwhelming the British force at Fort Mose. Undecided about further
    land attack, the British then began shelling the Castillo and the
    town from their siege batteries in a bombardment that lasted 27
    days. But the British mortars and siege guns were too far away to be
    totally effective and the damage they did was slight. Some of the
    newer stonework was damaged. Only two Spanish soldiers were killed
    during the attack and another had a leg shot away. Among the British
    there was no agreement regarding another course of action.
    Oglethorpe himself was down with a fever, and the troops had become
    unnecessarily tired by purposeless maneuvering. With the approach of
    the hurricane season, the naval commander refused to continue the
    blockade, and British forces left. The Castillo and its defenders
    had done what they were meant to do.]

    [Illustration: The construction of the bombproof vaults in 1738-40
    and 1751-56 provided a substantial room for the guard. Bedding was
    laid on the raised platform at left.]

Cuba’s governor was a resourceful administrator eager to meet his
responsibilities. He sent guns, soldiers, artisans, convicts,
provisions, and money. The walls would be raised five feet and masonry
vaults, to withstand English bombs, would replace the rotting beams of
old rooms in the Castillo. Stronger outworks would be built, too. To
supervise the project, Engineer Pedro Ruiz de Olano came from Venezuela.
The work began in April 1738 rather inauspiciously. The master of
construction, one Cantillo, was a syphilitic too sick to earn his
16-_real_ daily wage. Much of his work fell to his assistant, a
12-_real_ master mason. All six stonecutters were Negroes. One was an
invalid, and none of them as yet had much skill with coquina. For moving
stone, there was but one oxcart. The labor gang—52 convicts—was too
small. Nevertheless, quarry and kiln hummed with activity, and in the
Castillo the crash of demolition echoed as the convicts pulled down old
structures and began trenching for the new bombproofs. They started on
the east, because this side faced the inlet where enemy action was

As usual, misfortunes beset the work. Cantillo’s illness worsened and
Blas de Ortega came from Havana to replace him. Eight convicts working
at the limekiln deserted. Engineer Ruiz moved a crew of carpenters,
sawyers, and axemen from work on the Castillo to rebuild a blockhouse
where the trail to Apalache crossed the St. Johns River.

The oxcart driver broke his arm. Quarrying and stonecutting dragged. The
old quarry played out. Luckily, a new one was found and opened, even
though farther away. And Havana sent two more carts and more
stonecutters and convicts.

It was well into October before the carpenters began setting the forms
for the vaults. The masons followed close on their heels and finished
the first of the massive, round-arched bombproofs before the year ended.
Just a year later all eight vaults, side by side along the east curtain,
were done. Each one spanned a 17- by 34-foot area, and had its own door
to the courtyard. Windows above and beside the door let in light and


  Forts are often described with words like impregnable, unassailable,
  grim, invulnerable, and redoubtable. These descriptions often came
  about because of their armaments. A strategically positioned fort with
  a full complement of weaponry would be a problem for any invader,
  because the fortress, unlike naval ships, provided a stable platform
  upon which guns could be mounted and trained on the enemy. Anyone
  approaching within approximately 500 yards would be in great danger,
  even though the artillery in those times was not always accurate and
  aim was extremely difficult.

    Tools for Guns

The tools used to operate the ordnance had a variety of functions. The
wet sponge swabbed out the cannon to make sure all sparks were
extinguished. The ladle dumped the exact amount of powder needed into
the chamber. The scraper removed any powder residue. The worm removed
unfired bits of cartridge and wadding. The point was to make sure the
cannon was clean before it was loaded and fired.

    [Illustration: 1. Sponge]

    [Illustration: 2. Powder ladle]

    [Illustration: 3. Scraper]

    [Illustration: 4. Worm]

    [Illustration: 5. 24-pounder cannon]

    [Illustration: 6. 16-pounder cannon]

    [Illustration: 7. 12-pounder cannon]

    [Illustration: 8. Grape shot, side view]

    [Illustration: 9. Tongs for handling hot shot]

    [Illustration: 10. Garrison carriage, top view]

    [Illustration: 11. Garrison carriage, side view]

    These illustrations come from Tomás de Morla’s _A Treatise on

Basically all artillery falls into two categories: mortars and guns.
Mortars were designed to fire the largest and heaviest projectiles on a
curved trajectory. They could shoot over obstacles or fortifications,
landing on, and perhaps piercing, the deck of a ship, or hitting a pile
of powder kegs or other supplies behind fortified walls, or just
wreaking havoc and demoralizing the people. Guns fired their projectiles
in a flat trajectory, and their effectiveness in turn depended upon the
weight of the shot: the greater the weight of the shot, the greater the
muzzle velocity—the speed at which the shot exited the gun—and the
farther the shot would go and the deadlier it would be.

The first artillery pieces were made of forged iron. The greatest
concern was in producing a weapon that could contain the explosive force
of the gunpowder, hurl the projectile at the enemy, and not blow up in
the faces of the gun crew. Once guns could be cast in a single piece in
either brass or bronze, great strides were made in the effectiveness of
the artillery pieces. By the 18th century bronze seems to have been the
metal of choice. The guns and mortars were highly decorated. All bore
the coat of arms of the sovereign. Usually the maker was identified in
some way; the name might be part of the base ring or shown in a cipher
below the sovereign’s arms. Garlands of flowers, animals, and mythical
creatures sometimes decorated the piece. All Spanish guns were
named—_Vindicator_, _Invincible_, _Destroyer_ are a few examples—and the
authorities made sure that each gun’s whereabouts was always known. This
has been invaluable for present-day historians investigating what guns
were used where and when. Guns were classified by the weight of the
projectile: a 12-pounder gun shot a 12-pound ball. The kinds of
projectiles varied greatly: solid shot, canister shot (a container full
of bullets), grape shot (cloth container full of bullets), and bombs or
grenades (hollow shot filled with gunpowder) fired from a mortar.
Sometimes solid shot was heated until it was red hot. If it landed on a
ship, hot shot could set a wooden ship afire. Ordnance enabled a
fortification to meet the potential the military engineers had hoped for
when they sited and built it.

The tops of the ponderous vaults were leveled off with a fill of coquina
chips and sand. Tabby mortar was poured onto the surface, and tampers
beat the mixture smooth. After the first layer set, others were added
until the pavement was six inches thick. The whole roof was thus made
into a gun deck, and cannon were no longer restricted to the bastions
alone. For unlike the old raftered roof, the new terreplein was
buttressed by construction that could take tremendous weight and
terrific shock; and masonry four feet thick protected the rooms
underneath from bombardment. In San Carlos bastion, by mid-January of
1740, they had finished the tall watchtower and the new parapet.

It was the English settlement of Georgia that had spurred all this
activity. In fact, Spain’s plan for recovery of Georgia and other
Spanish-claimed land was well past the first stages. Troops were
assembling in Havana and reinforcements of 400 had already come to
Florida. The situation came to a head when Spanish officials boarded
Capt. Robert Jenkins’ ship _Rebecca_, believing the English mariners to
be illegally carrying goods to Spanish settlements, an enterprise
forbidden by Spanish law. In the ensuing scuffle, Jenkins’ ear was
sliced off. Jenkins, back in London, reported to Parliament that the
Spanish officer who handed him back his ear said: “Carry it to your King
and tell his majesty that if he were present I would serve him in the
same manner.”

Alexander Pope, the couplet maker, smiled and said: “The Spaniards did a
waggish thing/Who cropped our ears and sent them to the King.” But
others were not amused, and England and Spain declared war in 1739. It
was called, of course, the War of Jenkins’ Ear.

England’s main target was the Caribbean, with Havana at center with
Portobelo, Cartagena, and St. Augustine on the perimeter. Admiral Edward
Vernon quickly won fame with his capture of Portobelo in 1739.
Oglethorpe tried to imitate him in Florida. Already he had probed the
St. Johns River approaches; St. Augustine would be next.

Governor Montiano, however, was fully aware of weaknesses. “Considering
that 21 months have been spent on a bastion and eight arches,” he
pointed out, “we need at least eight years for rehabilitation of the

                     How a Siege Works, Circa 1700

    [Illustration: The Mechanics of a Siege

Military engineers built forts for several reasons: to protect cities,
to protect strong points from falling into enemy hands, to be a visible
symbol of governmental authority. If a fort could not be taken by
surprise, an attacking party had to take the fort by force. The process
of surrounding an enemy’s strong point and slowly cutting off all
contact with the outside world is known as a siege. Sieges go back to
Biblical times, but the principles were formulated by Sébastien le
Prestre de Vauban (1633-1707), a French military engineer who served in
the armies of Louis XIV. He created a very formal, disciplined science,
and his plan was maddeningly simple. First a trench parallel to the fort
was dug out of gun range so the attackers could move in supplies and
troops. Sappers—crews of trench diggers—then dug zigzag trenches toward
the fort; the zigzag pattern made it more difficult for defenders to hit
the trenches. Next the sappers dug a second parallel that included some
batteries for shelling the fort. Additional zigzag trenches and
parallels would be dug until the attackers were in a position to
concentrate their fire at one point on the fortification to breach its
walls. The fortress would then have no alternative but to surrender or
be stormed. Conducting a textbook perfect siege did not always result in
success, for the fort’s defenders would not have been idle. They would
fire cannon at the sappers. Often they dug counter trenches out from the
fortress and planted mines to blow up the work of the attackers. And
they would send out nighttime raiding parties, too.

1st Parallel

Military engineers, called sappers, construct trenches and raise
earthworks to protect the attacking forces.

_Line of attack_

Mortar fire destroys cannon and drives defenders to cover; siege lines
prevent supplies from reaching the fort.

2nd Parallel

Siege guns destroy cannon and weaken fort walls.

3rd Parallel

Siege guns breach the walls, enabling attacking forces to enter the

    [Illustration: A Fort’s Defenses]

    Covered Way

    [Illustration: The Cubo Line originally stretched from the Castillo
    to the San Sebastian River. It was strengthened and rebuilt
    repeatedly by both the Spaniards and the British. The city gate, a
    part of the line, was built in 1808, only a few years before the
    United States took control of Florida.]

His concerns were genuine, for work on the vaults had to stop as the war
dried up construction funds. The fort was left in a strangely irregular
shape. The east side, including San Carlos bastion, was at the new
height, but all others were several feet lower. The old rooms still
lined three sides of the courtyard.

On June 13, 1740, seven British warships dropped anchor outside the
inlet. The long-expected siege of St. Augustine had begun. Montiano
hastily sent the news to Havana and with it a plea for help. He had 750
soldiers and the 120 or more sailors who manned the galliots. Rations
would last only until the end of June.

The attackers numbered almost 1,400, including sailors and Indian
allies. While the warships blockaded the harbor on the east, William
Palmer came in from the north with a company of Highlanders and occupied
the deserted outpost called Fort Mose. Oglethorpe landed his men and
guns on each side of the inlet and began building batteries across the
bay from the Castillo.

Montiano saw at once that all the English positions were separated from
each other by water and could not speedily reinforce one another. Fort
Mose, at the village of the black runaways a couple of miles north of
the Castillo, was the weakest. At dawn on June 26 a sortie from St.
Augustine hit Fort Mose, and in the bloodiest action of the siege
scattered the Highlanders and burned the palisaded fortification.
Colonel Palmer, veteran of Florida campaigns, was among the dead.

As if in revenge, the siege guns at the inlet opened fire. Round shot
whistled low over the bay and crashed into fort and town. Bombs from the
mortars soared high—deadly dots against the bright summer sky—and fell
swiftly to burst with terrific concussion. The townspeople fled, 2,000
of them, some to the woods, others to the covered way where Castillo
walls screened them from the shelling.

For 27 nerve-shattering days the British batteries thundered. At the
Castillo, newly laid stones in the east parapet scattered under the
hits, but the weathered old walls held strong. As one Englishman
observed, the native rock “will not splinter but will give way to cannon
ball as though you would stick a knife into cheese.” One of the balls
shot away a gunner’s leg, but only two men in the Castillo were killed
during the bombardment.

The heavy guns of San Marcos and the long 9-pounders of the fast little
galliots in the harbor kept the British back. Despite the bluster of the
cannonades, the siege had stalemated. Astride the inlet, Oglethorpe and
his men battled insects and shifting sand on barren, sun-baked shores,
while Spanish soldiers in San Marcos, down to half rations themselves,
saw their families and friends starving. On July 6 Montiano wrote, “My
greatest anxiety is provisions. If these do not come, there is no doubt
that we shall die in the hands of hunger.”

The very next day came news that supplies had reached a harbor down the
coast south of Matanzas. Shallow-draft Spanish vessels went down the
waterway behind Anastasia Island, fought their way out through Matanzas
Inlet and, hugging the coast, went to fetch the provisions. Coming back
into Matanzas that same night, they found the British blockade gone;
they reached St. Augustine unopposed.

Oglethorpe made ready to assault the Castillo despite the low morale of
his men. His naval commander, however, was nervous over the approach of
the hurricane season and refused to cooperate. Without support from the
warships, Oglethorpe had to withdraw. Daybreak on July 20—38 days since
the British had arrived at St. Augustine—revealed that the redcoats were

    [Illustration: This 1763 engraving shows the finished Castillo after
    all the bombproof vaults and a new ravelin had been built.]

    [Illustration: Beyond the military aspects, which were so vital to
    the decision to establish St. Augustine, the city had become a
    vibrant community of soldiers, their families, government officials,
    and shopkeepers. Religion and the church played an important part in
    the life of the community. This page from a Roman Catholic missal.
    printed in 1690, is open to the service for Easter The right-hand
    column recounts the story of how the Marys went to the tomb and
    found it empty.]

                           The End of an Era

This was why the Castillo had been built—to resist aggression, to stand
firm through the darkest hour. Years of dogged labor and privations had
brought the Castillo to the point where it could easily withstand a
siege. Yet it remained unfinished, while in 1742 Spanish forces from
Havana and St. Augustine tried unsuccessfully to take Oglethorpe’s
settlement at Fort Frederica. The next year Oglethorpe moved
unsuccessfully against St. Augustine.

Work still needed to be done on the vaults, but other projects were even
more urgent. First, came repair of the bombardment damage. After that,
the defenses around fort and town were strengthened and a strong new
earth wall called the hornwork was thrown up across the land approach,
half a mile north of town. And for a year or more a sizable crew was
busy at Matanzas building a permanent tower and battery, since the
events of 1740 had again shown the vital defensive importance of this
inlet a few miles south of St. Augustine.

Several years slipped by with nothing being done to Castillo itself, the
heart of the defense system. Termites and rot were in the old rafters,
and in 1749 part of the roof collapsed.

The governor’s appeal to the crown eventually brought action. Engineer
Pedro de Brozas y Garay came from Ceuta in Africa to replace Ruiz, who
was returning to Spain. Having overseen the construction of the last
fort rooms, it was Brozas who, with Governor Alonso Fernández de
Heredia, stood under the royal coat of arms at the sally port, as the
masons set in the inscription giving credit to the governor and himself
for completion of the Castillo in 1756. The ceremony was a politic
gesture, carried out on the name day of King Fernando VI; but in truth
there was still a great deal to do.

The new bombproof vaults had raised the Castillo’s walls by five feet.
Where once they had measured about 25 feet from foundation to crown of
parapet, now they were more than 30. The little ravelin of 1682 could no
longer shield the main gate, and as yet the covered way screened only
the base of the high new walls. The glacis existed only on the plans.

    [Illustration: This British musket dates from 1777-90 and is of the
    type that would have been used by the British forces stationed at
    the Castillo from 1763 to 1784. It is 4 feet, 8 inches long.]

So, having finished the vaults, the builders moved outside and worked
until money ran out in the spring of 1758. The break lasted until 1762,
by which time Britain and Spain were again at war. Spain, as an ally of
France, got into the fracas just at the time when Britain had eliminated
France as a factor in the control of North America and was quite ready
to take on Spain. And this time the British would capture the pearl of
the Antilles—Havana itself.

Havana was well fortified, and the general officers sitting there were
perhaps more worried about St. Augustine than Havana. They released
10,000 pesos for strengthening the Florida fortifications and sent
Engineer Pablo Castelló, who had been teaching mathematics at the
military college in Havana, to assist the ailing Pedro Brozas.

St. Augustine had only 25 convicts for labor, but when work began on
July 27, 1762, many soldiers and townspeople sensed the urgency, for
Havana was already besieged, and volunteered to help. Since much of the
project was a simple but strenuous task of digging and moving a mountain
of sand from borrow pit to earthwork, all able-bodied people were
welcome. The volunteers did, in fact, contribute labor worth more than
12,000 pesos. The only paid workers were the teamsters driving the 50
horses that hauled the fill. Each dray dumped 40 cubic feet of earth,
and the hauling kept on until the covered way had been raised five more
feet to its new height.

The masons soon finished a stone parapet, six feet high, for the new
covered way. With this wall in place, the teamsters moved outside the
covered way and began dumping fill for the glacis. This simple but
important structure was a carefully designed slope from the field up to
the parapet of the covered way. Not only would it screen the main walls
and covered way, but its upward slope would lift attackers right into
the sights of the fort cannon.

Meanwhile, to replace the 1682 ravelin, Castelló began a new one with
room for five cannon and a powder magazine. He realigned the moat wall
to accommodate the larger work and pushed the job along so that as
December of 1762 ended, the masons laid the final stone of the cordon
for the ravelin. They never started its parapet, for the close of the
year brought the devastating news that Spain would give Florida to Great

So Spain’s work on the fort ended. And although ravelin and glacis were
not finished, Castillo de San Marcos was a handsome structure. The main
walls were finished with a hard, waterproofing, lime plaster, shining
white in the sunlight with the brilliance of Spain’s olden glory. In the
haste of building, engineers had not forgotten such niceties as classic
molded cornices, pendants, and pilasters to cast relieving shadows on
stark smooth walls. At the point of each bastion was color—the tile-red
plaster of the sentry boxes. White and red. These were Spain’s symbolic
colors, revealed again in the banner floating above the ramparts.

With walls high over the blue waters of the bay, its towers thrusting
toward the clouds, and guns of bright bronze or iron pointed over turf
and sweep of marsh toward the gloom of the forest or the distant surf
breaking on the bar, San Marcos was properly the background for
Florida’s capital. In the narrow streets that led to the citadel,
military men and sailors mingled with tradesman and townsfolk. Indians,
their nakedness smeared with beargrease against the bugs, were a strange
contrast to the silken opulence of the governor’s lady. But this was St.
Augustine—a town of contrasts, with a long past and an uncertain future.

The day of the transfer to British rule was July 21, 1763. At Castillo
de San Marcos, Gov. Melchor de Feliú delivered the keys to Maj. John
Hedges, at the moment the ranking representative of George III. The
Spanish troops departed Florida, and with them went the entire Spanish
population. The English were left with an empty city.

The defenses they found at St. Augustine were far stronger than the ones
that had stopped Oglethorpe in 1740. The renovated Castillo, which the
new owners called Fort St. Mark, was the citadel of a defense-in-depth
system that began with fortified towers at St. Augustine and Matanzas
inlets and blockhouses at the St. Johns River crossings. Since St.
Augustine was on a small peninsula with Matanzas Bay on one side and the
San Sebastián River on the other, there was only one way to reach the
city by land; and Fort Mose, rebuilt and enlarged after 1740, guarded
this lone access. In 1762 Mose also became the anchor for a mile-long
defense line across the peninsula to a strong redoubt on the San
Sebastián. This earthwork, planted at its base with prickly pear,
protected the farmlands behind it. Just north of the Castillo, the
hornwork spanned the narrowest part of the peninsula. A third line
stretched from the Castillo to the San Sebastián, and this one was
intersected by a fourth line that enclosed the town on west and south.
Along the eastern shore was the stone seawall. One by one, these
defenses had evolved in the years after 1702.

Such defensive precautions seemed outmoded, now that all eastern North
America was under one sovereignty. Obviously the old enmities between
Florida and the English colonies had departed with the Spaniards;
Britain saw no need for concern about the fortifications. No need, that
is, until the Thirteen Colonies showed disquieting signs of rebellion.
And as rebellion flamed into revolution, St. Augustine entered a new
role as capital of George III’s loyal province of East Florida.

In the summer of 1775, after Lexington and Concord, British concerns
about the Castillo’s state of repair could be seen. The gate was
repaired and the well in the courtyard, which had become brackish, was
re-dug. In several of the high-arched bombproofs, the carpenters doubled
the capacity by building a second floor, for St. Augustine was
regimental headquarters and many redcoated troops were quartered in Fort
St. Mark.

By October 1776 the British had renovated two of the three lines
constructed north of the city by the Spaniards. In place of the old
earthwork that hemmed in the town on the south and west, however, they
depended on a pair of detached redoubts at the San Sebastián, one at the
ford and the other at the ferry. Later they added five other redoubts in
the same quadrant. Many improvements were made to the outer works as

Behind the thick walls of the fort were stored weapons and equipment
that went to arm British forces for repeated use against the rebellious
colonials to the north. The damp prison also held a number of these

                           Links to the Past

  It is impossible to fully retrieve the past, to know what it was
  actually like to live in another time, to understand the cadences of
  another life. Some disciplines work at peeling back the layers of time
  and attempt to explain those bygone days. Archeology is one of these
  sciences. By retrieving the remains of the material culture, by seeing
  a plate that held food, a bottle that held oil, a dish in which herbs
  were ground to make medicine, the connection with those long gone
  personages begins to be made. The objects on the next page are among
  more than 1,000 items that have been retrieved from digs in and around
  the Castillo and St. Augustine.

    [Illustration: Bottle body]

    [Illustration: Dish fragment, majolica]

    [Illustration: Spanish olive jar]

    [Illustration: China accordion player]

    [Illustration: Plate fragment, majolica]

    [Illustration: Dish with caduceus (medical symbol)]

    [Illustration: Platter base fragment, slipware]

    [Illustration: Bowl fragment, pearlware-mochaware]

Even as the British were working to secure the Castillo against a
possible attack, international events brought Spain back into the
picture. In 1779 Spain declared war on Britain after France promised
help in retrieving Florida, if the powers allied against Britain were
victorious. One Spanish plan even had the Spaniards launching a surprise
attack on the Castillo: Troops would sail upriver from Matanzas, land
south of town, sweep north through St. Augustine, and take the Castillo
by storm. If this failed they would settle in for a siege. At the last
minute, practically, the authorities decided to attack Pensacola, on
Florida’s Gulf Coast, instead. A Spanish attack on the British inside a
fortress designed and built by Spanish engineers would have been full of

In the settlement after the Revolution, the Spaniards did indeed recover
Florida, and on July 12, 1784, the transfer took place.

The Spaniards returned to an impossible situation. The border problems
of earlier times had multiplied as runaway slaves from Georgia found
welcome among the Seminole Indians, and ruffians from both land and sea
made Florida their habitat.

Bedeviled by these perversities and distracted by revolutionary unrest
in Latin America, Spain nevertheless did what had to be done at the
Castillo—repairs to the bridges, a new pine stairway for San Carlos
tower, a bench for the criminals in the prison. In 1785 Mariano de la
Rocque designed an attractive entrance in the neoclassic style for the
chapel doorway. It was built, only to crumble slowly away like the
Spanish hold on Florida.

Defense strategies had changed too, over the years. The British had
built a few redoubts to cover vulnerable approaches on the west and
south. The Spaniards on their return adapted the British works but also
greatly strengthened the long wall from the Castillo to the San
Sebastián River. They widened its moat to 40 feet, lined the entire
length of the 9-foot-high earthwork with palm logs, and planted it with
prickly pear. The three redoubts were armed with light cannon, and a new
city gate was completed in 1808. Its twin towers of white masonry were
trimmed with red plaster, and each roof was capped with a pomegranate, a
symbol of fertility.

Even though San Marcos remained a bulwark against American advances,
Florida had lost its former importance to Spain as independence
movements sprang up in one South American Spanish colony after another.
Constant pressure from the expanding United States finally resulted in
Spain’s ceding Florida to the United States. Perhaps Spanish officials
signed the papers with a sigh of relief, glad to be rid of a province so
burdensome and unprofitable for 300 years. On July 10, 1821, the ensign
of Spain fluttered down to the thunderous salute of Castillo cannon, and
the 23-star flag of the United States of America was hauled aloft.

In this new era, the aging fort was already a relic. Fortunately for its
preservation, the US. strategy for coastal defense did not require much
alteration of the Castillo. U.S. Army engineers added only a water
battery in the east moat, mounted a few new guns on the bastions, and
improved the glacis during the 1840s.

The fort’s name was also changed, for the Americans chose to honor Gen.
Francis Marion, Revolutionary leader and son of the very colony against
whose possible aggression San Marcos had been built. Congress restored
the original name in 1942, almost 20 years after the fort had been
designated a national monument.

Heavy doors and iron bars that once protected precious stores of food
and ammunition made the old fort a good prison, and the prison days soon
obscured the olden times when Spain’s hold upon Florida depended upon
the strength of these walls and the brave hearts that served here.

Now the echo of the Spanish tongue has faded and the scarred walls are
silent. The records tell of the people who built and defended the
Castillo—and those who attacked it, too. In the archives are countless
instances of unselfish zeal and loyalty, the cases of Ransom, Collins,
and Carr, the crown’s patriarchal protection of its Indian vassals, the
unflagging work of the friars. The structure itself tells its own story.
As William Cullen Bryant, 19th-century poet wrote: “The old fort of St.
Mark is a noble work, frowning over the Matanzas, and it is worth making
a long journey to see.”

    [Illustration: The Spanish government constructed replicas of
    Christopher Columbus’ three ships to commemorate the 500th
    anniversary of his voyage to America. The ships followed Columbus’
    route across the Atlantic and made calls at ports throughout the
    Americas. Here the _Santa Maria_, in the foreground, _Pinta_, and
    _Niña_ visit St. Augustine in 1992.]

    [Illustration: Soldiers crossing the moat]

                           Guide and Advisor

    [Illustration: NPS Ranger]

St. Augustine is the oldest, continuously inhabited city founded by
Europeans in the present-day United States. It represents the beginnings
of contact between Spanish settlers and the native inhabitants, the
emergence of the Hispanic American, the struggle between Spanish,
French, and English settlers for control of the southeastern Atlantic
coast, and ultimately the birth of the United States.

                         Visiting St. Augustine

As well as being an old city, with many historic houses on quiet, narrow
streets, St. Augustine is a bustling modern city with a range of
facilities and accommodations to meet all expectations and travel

Begin your visit to the city at the Visitor Information Center on San
Marco Avenue, opposite the Castillo. Here you can get free information,
maps, and answers to your questions from the staff. The center is open
daily from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Limited parking is available for patrons.
You may write: Visitor Information Center, P.O. Drawer 210, St.
Augustine, FL 32085; or call 904-825-1000. Additional information is
available from the St. Augustine and St. Johns County Chamber of
Commerce, 1 Ribera Street, St. Augustine, FL 320841 or call

St. Augustine is a wonderful city to walk in, for it is compact and easy
to find your way around. Take time to leave the main streets and walk
through residential areas to get a feel for the city and the way it was
laid out. St. Augustine has its own personality and charm that
distinguish it from such other colonial communities as Williamsburg,
Charleston, and Santa Fe. Today’s St. Augustine bears the imprint of
Henry Flagler (1830-1913), a close partner of John D. Rockefeller in the
development of the Standard Oil Company and a railroad tycoon in
Florida. Flagler bought several small railroads in Florida, consolidated
them, and laid track that eventually ran from Jacksonville to Key West.
Along with his railroad he built luxury hotels in Daytona, Palm Beach,
Miami, and St. Augustine and helped to create the tourist industry that
has played such an important role in Florida’s economy in the 20th
century. Flagler’s legacy lives on in St. Augustine where Flagler
College occupies the former Hotel Ponce de Leon at Cordova and King
streets and in the Lightner Museum housed in the old Alcazar Hotel
across the street from the college. The St. Johns County Courthouse and
the St. Augustine City Hall also occupy Flagler buildings. Flagler is
buried on the grounds of the Flagler Memorial Presbyterian Church.

St. George Street, a pedestrian walkway between Castillo Drive and
Cathedral Place, is lined with shops and restaurants of every type and
description. The Spanish Quarter, a restored 18th-century portion of the
city, is a living history museum operated by the state of Florida on the
north end of St. George Street. Along this street a number of residences
dating back more than two centuries have either been reconstructed or
restored by the St. Augustine Restoration and Preservation Commission.
Some of them may be open to the public. But do not assume that they are.
Inquire at the Visitor Information Center for specific information about
opening and closing times.

The Oldest House, located at the corner of St. Francis and Charlotte
streets, is administered by the St. Augustine Historical Society. Guides
give house tours, for which there is a charge. The adjacent museum tells
the story of St. Augustine and of the people who lived here through the
four centuries of the city’s history. In Government House, at the corner
of St. George and King streets, the Historic St. Augustine Preservation
Board, an agency of the state of Florida, also runs a museum that tells
a more inclusive story of Spanish Florida, including Fort Mose, the
oldest free black settlement in the United States.

                         Visiting the Castillo

The Castillo de San Marcos is one of the oldest structures in North
America built by Europeans. It is one of the few links on this continent
to early modern Europe and a way of warfare that has become obsolete.
Park interpreters give frequent programs at the fort telling its history
and explaining its construction. They can answer questions you have
about the history of the area and about related National Park System
sites. You may wish to walk around the Castillo at your own pace; a free
park folder available at the entrance station will help you find your

A sales outlet to the left of the guard rooms as you enter the Castillo
offers books and pamphlets on the history of Florida and Spanish
colonization. Some souvenirs and postcards are also available.

Parking is limited at the Castillo and in St. Augustine. Because of the
limited parking, therefore, you may wish to take one of the sightseeing
tours around the city. Information is available at the Visitor
Information Center. For further information about the Castillo de San
Marcos and Fort Matanzas, write: Superintendent, Castillo de San Marcos
National Monument, 1 Castillo Drive East, St. Augustine, FL 32084.


Florida A1A north or south takes you to some of the most beautiful
beaches on the east coast. A fee buys a permit from county authorities
to drive on county beaches during the summer months. There is also a
charge for parking at Anastasia State Recreation Area.


St. Augustine has a variety of accommodations: national chains, locally
owned hotels and motels, bed and breakfast inns, and vacation cottages
and condominiums for rent by the day, week, or longer.

                 Other Areas Related to Spanish Florida

Besides Castillo de San Marcos, several other National Park System sites
in Florida preserve and interpret aspects of Spanish colonial history.
They are located on the map and described below.

    [Illustration: Map]

  Gulf Islands NS
  De Soto N MEM
  Fort Carolina N MEM
  Castillo de San Marcos NM
  Ft. Matanzas NM

  De Soto National Memorial
  _P.O. Box 16390_
  _Bradenton, FL 34280-5390._

No one knows exactly where Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto landed on
Florida’s west coast in 1539. This park at the entrance to Tampa Bay
memorializes that landing and de Soto’s subsequent journeys of
exploration throughout the southeastern United States.

  Fort Caroline National Memorial
  _12713 Fort Caroline Road_
  _Jacksonville, FL 32225._

The establishment of a French colony here in 1564 directly challenged
the Spaniards, who responded by establishing Saint Augustine the next
year. After securing a firm base of operations, the Spaniards led by
Pedro Menéndez marched to the French settlement and captured it, ending
French interest in the area.

  Fort Matanzas National Monument
  _c/o Castillo de San Marcos National Monument_
  _1 Castillo Drive_
  _Saint Augustine, FL 32084._

On this site Spanish troops killed French soldiers who were part of the
ill-fated attempt to establish a French settlement in Florida. In 1740,
after the failed English attack on Saint Augustine, the Spaniards built
a masonry fortification—Fort Matanzas—on Rattlesnake Island overlooking
Matanzas Inlet to control the inlet permanently.

  Gulf Islands National Seashore
  _1801 Gulf Breeze Parkway_
  _Gulf Breeze, FL 32561._

The ravelin of Fort Barrancas, located on the grounds of the Pensacola
Naval Air Station, is another Spanish masonry fortification in Florida
besides the Castillo and Fort Matanzas. It is called Battery San Antonio
and dates from 1797. It was planned as part of a larger fortification
never built by the Spaniards. Fort Barrancas, built by the U.S., dates
from the early 19th century.

Besides these parks in Florida there is one in Georgia (not shown on the
map) that bears importantly on the story of St. Augustine.

  Fort Frederica National Monument
  _Route 9, Box 286-C_
  _Savannah, GA 31410._

It was at Fort Frederica that James Edward Oglethorpe established a
settlement in 1736 only a few days march north of St. Augustine in
territory that the Spaniards clearly believed to be their own.

    [Illustration: Fort Matanzas National Monument]

    [Illustration: Fort Caroline National Memorial]

★ GPO: 1993—342-396 80002

                         National Park Service

National Park Handbooks are published to support the National Park
Service’s management programs and to promote understanding and enjoyment
of the more than 360 National Park System sites that represent important
examples of our country’s natural and cultural inheritance. Each
handbook is intended to be informative reading and a useful guide
before, during, and after a park visit. More than 100 titles are in
print. They are sold at parks and can be purchased by mail from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, DC 20402-9325.

The National Park Service expresses its appreciation to all those
persons who made the preparation and production of this handbook
possible. The original text for this handbook was written by Albert
Manucy and Luis Arana and appeared as _The Building of the Castillo de
San Marcos_. The vault construction, drawbridge, and siege illustrations
on pages 33, 34, and 47 are based on artwork originally developed by
Albert Manucy. The National Park Service also expresses its appreciation
to Eastern National Park and Monument Association for its cooperation in
this project. All photos and artwork not credited below come from the
files of the Castillo de San Marcos or of the National Park Service.

  Archivo General de Indias, Seville 18, 49
  Michael Hampshire 31 (detail), 34
  Karen Kasmauski 2-3
  Ken Laffal cover, 12, 16, 24, 25, 26 (photographs), 29, 35, 36, 38,
          42, 48, 50, 52, 55, 57, 58-59, 60
  Library of Congress 4, 10, 26-27 (map), 49
  National Geographic Society 14, 15, 22-23
  Ken Townsend 30-31, 40-41

                    U.S. Department of the Interior

As the Nation’s principal conservation agency, the Department of the
Interior has responsibility for most of our nationally-owned public
lands and natural resources. This includes fostering sound use of our
land and water resources; protecting our fish, wildlife, and biological
diversity; preserving the environmental and cultural values of our
national parks and historical places; and providing for the enjoyment of
life through outdoor recreation. The Department assesses our energy and
mineral resources and works to ensure that their development is in the
best interest of all our people by encouraging stewardship and citizen
participation in their care. The Department also has a major
responsibility for American Indian reservation communities and for
people who live in island territories under U.S. administration.

          _Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data_

Castillo de San Marcos: a Guide to the Castillo de San Marcos National
Monument, Florida/produced by the Division of Publications, National
Park Service. p. cm.—(National Park Handbook; 149)

  1. Castillo de San Marcos National Monument (Saint Augustine,
  2. Saint Augustine (Fla.)—Guidebooks.
  3. Saint Augustine (Fla.)—History.
  I. United States. National Park Service. Division of Publications.
  II. Series: Handbook (United States, National Park Service, Division
          of Publications); 149. F319.S2C37 1993. 917.59’ 18—dc20.
          92-40413 CIP.

                          Transcriber’s Notes

—Retained publication information from the printed edition: this eBook
  is public-domain in the country of publication.

—Relocated all image captions to be immediately under the corresponding
  images, removing redundant references like ”preceding page”.

—Silently corrected a few palpable typos.

—In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by

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