By Jennifer Uhlarik
On October 25, 2021, I began telling you about the history of the Castillo de San Marcos, or the large masonry fort in St. Augustine, Florida. During its existence, the Castillo has existed under six different flags, the first being the Spanish flag. I told you of the building of this impressive structure by the Spanish in my earlier post if you would like to read or refresh your memory.
We’ll pick up where we left off—the end of the French and Indian War in 1763. In the Treaty of Paris that ended this conflict, several Caribbean Islands went to the French, Spain got Havana and Manilla, and England had Canada and the newly acquired Florida. With that outcome, all North American land east of the Mississippi River belonged to the Brits. When this happened, the Spanish settlers in Florida made a mass exodus to Cuba. But the tropical paradise wouldn’t stay empty for long.
British colonists flooded the new area, taking over the one-story Spanish-style homes their predecessors had left and, in many cases, building second or third stories onto them. They also built new homes and business buildings in St. Augustine and surrounding areas. With water on three sides of the state, Florida made for an excellent shipping locale, and its rich, fertile soil made for excellent farmland and grazing land for cattle. The British colonists prospered here.
However, not all was so rosy in the British colonies. Other colonists in more northern locales were beginning to rebel against the Crown, so Florida—and Fort St. Mark, as the Castillo de San Marcos was now called—became the staging area for British soldiers brought in to put down the rebellion in the Southern colonies. The fort was used as a supply base, and more interestingly, as a prisoner of war camp. During this time of British control, three signers of the Declaration of Independence were captured and held at Fort St. Mark: Thomas Heyward Jr., Arthur Middleton, and Edward Rutledge. Also held at the fort was the lieutenant governor of South Carolina, Christopher Gadsden—held for 42 weeks in solitary confinement.
|Thomas Heyward, Jr.
As the Revolutionary War actually broke out, Florida didn’t see any great action. It all took place in the more northern colonies we are familiar with. But Spain took plenty of shots at Britain while their attention was focused on the war with their unruly colonies. The Spanish came in to take Baton Rouge, Mobile, Natchez, and even Pensacola. When it became obvious to Britain that they were not going to be able to hold onto their American colonies, they granted America its freedom in the Treaty of Paris in September 1783. And with little use for the British outpost of Florida, they also made a separate treaty with Spain, giving control of Florida and Fort St. Mark, back to its original owner. So the British control of St. Augustine and Fort St. Marks lasted only twenty years, and resulted in Spain’s return. What did that second Spanish period look like? We’ll explore it in next month’s post, so stay tuned!
It’s Your Turn: Were you aware that St. Augustine and the Castillo de San Marcos wasn’t always under one country’s rule? What, if anything, did you find most interesting about the British period of the Castillo’s history? Leave your thoughts with your email address to be entered in a giveaway for a print copy of Love’s Fortress.
Award-winning, best-selling novelist Jennifer Uhlarik has loved the western genre since she read her first Louis L’Amour novel. She penned her first western while earning a writing degree from University of Tampa. Jennifer lives near Tampa with her husband, son, and furbabies. www.jenniferuhlarik.com
COMING MARCH 1, 2022
Love’s Fortress by Jennifer Uhlarik
A Friendship From the Past Brings Closure to Dani’s Fractured Family
When Dani Sango’s art forger father passes away, Dani inherits his home. There, she finds a book of Native American drawings, which leads her to seek museum curator Brad Osgood’s help to decipher the ledger art. Why would her father have this book? Is it another forgery?
Brad Osgood longs to provide his four-year-old niece, Brynn, the safe home she desperately deserves. The last thing he needs is more drama, especially from a forger’s daughter. But when the two meet “accidentally” at St. Augustine’s 350-year-old Spanish fort, he can’t refuse the intriguing woman.
Broken Bow is among seventy-three Plains Indians transported to Florida in 1875 for incarceration at ancient Fort Marion. Sally Jo Harris and Luke Worthing dream of serving on a foreign mission field, but when the Indians reach St. Augustine, God changes their plans. However, when Sally Jo’s friendship with Broken Bow leads to false accusations, it could cost them their lives.
Can Dani discover how Broken Bow and Sally Jo’s story ends and how it impacted her father’s life?