Friday, February 25, 2022

The Castillo de San Marcos, Part 3


By Jennifer Uhlarik


Hello, readers! We are just days away from my fourteenth published story being released. Love’s Fortress is coming March 1, 2022, and leading up to that, I’ve been telling you some of the interesting history of the Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine’s old Spanish fort which is the historical landmark where about half the story takes place. If you want to see past postings on the fort, you can find them at the following links:

The Castillo de San Marcos--Part 1

The Castillo de San Marcos--Part 2


So last month, we left off with the fort being returned by the British to Spain during the Treaty of Paris that ended the American Revolution. Britain traded control of Florida to Spain in exchange for the Bahamas. So in 1783, the treaty was signed and by mid-1874, Spanish troops re-entered La Florida


However, the second Spanish period was not all that Spain might have hoped it to be. When the Spanish regained control, those Spanish residents who had once lived here during the first Spanish period were largely gone—long ago returned to Spain or elsewhere. In their place lived many British subjects who saw no need to vacate the new Spanish holding. It would become a costly prospect to bring more Spanish subjects to Florida to set up residence and make a noticeable presence, in addition to the cost of soldiers to keep them safe from various threats.

Map of the Louisiana Purchase (in white) overlaid on the
Present Day United States. Note that the Panhandle of 
Florida was not included.


What were those threats? For one, the border of Spanish Florida and the United States was at the southern border of Georgia. With Spanish Florida surrounded by water on three sides, and American land immediately to its north, Florida was cut off from quick help across the land.  Add to that the American neighbors feeling crowded in the southern portions of the fledgling nation, and so wanting to cross the border and set up residence in Florida as well. When the Louisiana Purchase came about in 1803, Napoleonic France sold 828,000 square miles to the United States, and Americans flooded west. Uncaring of the details, some Americans claimed that the panhandle of Florida was part of the Louisiana Purchase. In honesty, it wasn’t, but Americans flooded into that portion of Spain’s holdings during the 1810-1813 time frame. During that same time, the War of 1812 broke out, leading General James Wilkinson to take Mobile, lending strength to the Americans’ position in annexing western Florida. Spain didn’t put up a fight for the area.

Florida once the Americans annexed 
Western Florida between 1810-1813


In addition to the Americans to their north, there were the Seminole Indians living throughout Florida. The Seminoles would often cross the border into American territory and raid American citizens. It was expected that Spain would stop them, since these Native populations lived in Spanish Florida, but with minimal amounts of troops, they struggled to subdue them.


Similarly, slaves from the American plantations crossed the border between American and Spanish territory and sought refuge in Florida, throwing themselves on the mercy of Spain to keep them safe from slave hunters and plantation owners who sought to recapture them. The lack of soldiers again left this growing population vulnerable in Spanish Florida.


The simple answer would’ve been to send more troops to Castillo de San Marcos and other Florida military outposts, but aside from the prohibitive cost, there were other worldwide issues at play. Political tensions were heating up around the world. From 1807 to 1814, Spain waged a seven-year war against Napoleon in Europe, which took manpower and attention away from Florida’s Spanish settlements. Starting in 1810 in Central and South America, people were fighting for independence from Spain as well, further dividing military forces.


Andrew Jackson
So by 1818 or so, all of these factors converged. Spain’s troop count were very low in Florida due to all the other international issues, and the Seminoles, runaway slaves, and outlaws banded together to wreak havoc in the southern portions of the United States. So the American general, Andrew Jackson, pursued the Seminoles (et al.) into Spanish Florida in what became known as the First Seminole War. Jackson’s incursion angered both Great Britain and Spain, so Spain’s leadership sought help from the British in negotiating the international incident. When Britain declined to do more than express their outrage, Spain once again realized it was on its own to negotiate the turbid waters of Spanish-American relations in Florida. It was time to get out.


Spain finally approached the United States with the offer of a treaty. Spain would give up Florida if the United States would, in turn, better define the borders of New Spain—an area that comprised much of Mexico, what we know today as the American Southwest, and California. The United States, long desiring to have Florida for its own, quickly agreed, and U.S. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams and Spanish Minister Luis de Onis hammered out the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819. Florida—and the languishing Castillo de San Marcos—were now the property of the United States of America.

Map showing Adams-Onis Treaty lands. Florida became 
a United States possession while the gray area was
firmly established as "New Spain".


Tune in next month for the interesting history of the fort since becoming an American possession.



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.





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?

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