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|St. Augustine of Hippo
|Dr. Bronson's St. Augustine History
2nd Spanish Period
1803 - 1821
ab urbe condita - 238 to 256
"Oblectat me, Roma, twas spectare ruinas;
Ex cujus lapsu gloria prisca patet."
|Repairs on the Castillo
In 1804 the new Engineer Manuel de Hita reported on the leaking vaults and the floor
beams of the upper stories were rotted. A crack appeared on the keystone of a vault and
was repaired. In 1805 the sally-port floor was replaced and the old magazine was replaced.
The old powder room was converted into a lumber storehouse and another vault was
converted into an armory.
In 1807 a 8 inch thick tabby pavement was poured in each of the salients of the water
battery. Two embrasures were opened in the north salient, four in the middle and two in the
south. A pine wood scaffold 18 feet high and 8 inches square and painted was raised for
the bell which rang the time.
Joseph Bonaparte becomes King Jose I
In August 1808 Joseph Bonaparte was made King of Spain by his younger brother. King Jose would never be fully in
control of Spain and even after attempting to abdicate was forced by his brother to stay until 1810. During his reign
Venezuela declared independence. Joseph would later live in the United States residing first in New York and
Philadelphia and later New Jersey.
The 2nd Spanish period saw the building of the City Gate . The gate was built in 1808. This replaced the wooden
opening that had been placed there in 1739 called La Leche Gate. The engineer was Captain Manuel de Hita who
recommended a masonry replacement of the wood guard houses. The new gate was called the "Land Gate". . The two
four foot square coquina pillars frame an opening 12 feet wide. Each pillar is 14 feet high. The twin towers of white
masony were trimmed with red plaster and each roof was capped with a pomegranate the symbol of fertility.
Father Felix Varella
Father Felix Varella (picture of St. Augustine sculpture) spent his boyhood in St. Augustine at this time with his
grandfather, an officer in the Castillo. He went to Spain and participated in the creation of the 1812 Spanish
Constitution. He was buried in the Tolomato Cemetery but later removed to Cuba (perhaps).
Extract of a letter (New York Herald, March 10, 1802)
"I am sorry to inform you that our neighbours in East Florida are in a dreadful situation at present. That infamous fellow
Bowles, has at length brought the Indians and Spaniards to open hostility. Four months past, the Machasooky-Town
Indians, (where General Bowles makes his head-quarters) took from the plantation of F. P. Fatio, Esq. on the river St.
John's,49 of his negroes, which were conveyed to Bowles; Mr. Fatio's son followed a few weeks after to the Indian-town,
and saw Bowles, but could not recover one of his negroes, and not without great difficulty got back himself, being greatly
insulted, and having his horses taken from him. A gentleman from New-England named Hull, commonly called Judge Hull,
obtained from the Governor of Florida, leave to form an extensive settlement at the Mantanzas, about 60 miles to the
southward of St. Augustine; the same spot where Dr. Turnbull had his Greek settlement. Mr. Hull had brought from the
northward, a number of settlers, with whom he began to prepare for planting; But Bowles's Indians came, whipped some,
plundered the whole of them of every thing they had, and drove them out of the country. This took place about a month
or six weeks past. About three weeks ago, a party of the same Indians plundered Mr. Dupont, who lived about 30 miles
south of Augustine, of ten grown negroes, and the same day killed a young man named Bonnelly, carried off his mother
and three sisters. Four days past, a party of friendly Indians, who had been selling their deer-skins, horses &c. in this
town, and who were well known to belong to towns who never favoured Bowle's measures, were met by some of the
inhabitants of Florida, within three or four miles of this place, on the Spanish territory, when four of them were shot. This
ill-timed imprudent act, will in all probability, bring a general Creek war on the Floridas. The thinly scattered inhabitants
are flying in all directions for safety---some to Augustine, some to the Islands on the sea-coast, and several have come
to our side of the St. Mary's river. It is now evident, that all the settlements in Florida will be totally broken up, and of
course those restless Americans who have gone there, will wish themselves once more quietly settled under a
government which is both willing and able to protect the lives and property of its citizens. What renders the situation of
the planters in Florida more deplorable is, that the whole force of the province, militia included, is by no means equal to
meet a body of three hundred Indians in the woods. Add to this, that there is not a single military post on the frontier
towards the Indians. Poor encouragement this indeed, for emigrants to that country."
Capt. Marden (The Times and District of Columbia Daily Advertiser, March 23, 1802)
Capt. Marden, arrived yesterday from St. Johns, East Florida, informs, that in consequence of the predatory war now
waged by the Indians under the direction of Bowles, the residents on St. Johns river were removing their property as fast
as possible; and the settlements were nearly deserted. About three weeks since, thirty Chehaw Indians, (a town on the
American line) were killed near Ford's Bluff by a scouting party; and the day before Captain Marden sailed, a party of
Indians came down, and plundered one of the plantations:--- they were pursued by a detachment of Spanish troops from
Augustine, overtaken and fired upon. The troops succeeded in recovering the property; and it was supposed severely
wounded many of the Indians, the traces of much blood being visible --- three of the Spaniards were also wounded.
Bowles had declared to Mr. Fatio, who had gone in search of his negroes, that his principal object in declaring war, was
to obtain plunder, that he had directed the Indians to shed no blood, but to take as many prisoners as possible, with the
view of being well paid for their ransom.
Letters from Augustine (The Times and District of Columbia Daily Advertiser, April 10, 1802)
LePaine, an Indian chief, of Lachaway, distance of about 70 miles from St. Augustine, being desirous to be on the same
friendly footing with the Spanish government, as he and his tawny brethren formerly were, called a meeting of all the
Indian chiefs of the Creek nation, who duly attended, except the chief of the Masesoake, where the noted Bowles is
harbored. At the meeting it was unanimously agreed to deliver up Bowles to his excellency Henry White governor of St.
Augustine, together with all the white prisoners who were taken, and the negroes and property of every description. For
this purpose Paine sent in a flag of truce to the governor, who readily acceded to the terms proposed by the Indians,
adding that in future no Indians, would be permitted to come within the settlement with their guns, tomakawks, knives, or
any warlike instruments, but to leave the fame at the different frontier stations in Florida--- that on agreeing to those
terms he would conclude a peace with them, and as soon as the prisoners & property were returned, he would give up
the Indian prisoners now in the fort of St. Augustine. It is expected this treaty will be immediately ratified. Lieutenant
colonel John McQueen, of the horse, bearing a commission from the king, is now out with a party of his troop, at the
Muskettos, to prevent further depreations of the savages, till the treaty is ratified and promulgated.
Hispanic America begins the road to freedom from Spain
Columbia becomes independent of Spain on July 20, 1810. On September 16, 1810 Mexico gains its independence from
Spain. September 18, 1810 Chile becomes independent. Paraguay celebrated its independence on May 14, 1811.
Venezuela won its freedom on July 5, 1811. Argentina became independent on July 9, 1816. Most of the other Latin
American countries would become independent in 1821. The center of the Spanish Empire would remain Cuba until the
United States ended it's Latin American empire in 1898 (along with Puerto Rico).
Geronimo Alvarez and the 1812 Constitution Monument
The monument in the plaza was built in 1813 by the Constitutional City Council of St. Augustine with Geronimo Alvarez
(owner of the Oldest House) as mayor under the superintendence of Don Fernando de la Maza Arrendondo. In
response to the new constitution as were monuments over Latin America. The King was restored to the throne, the
constitution was disregarded, Father Varela fled to New York under sentence of death. The monument in the plaza
survived the transfer of Spanish Florida to America because of the refusal of Alvarez to allow it to be torn down and it
may be the only surviving monument in honor of the March 9, 1812 Constitution. Father Varela returns to St. Augustine
and lived in what is today the courtyard of the Cathedral not far from the Constitution monument.
King Ferdinand VII reestablished on the throne
The King reestablished an absolute monarchy and rejected the Constitution of 1812. King Ferdinand had reneges on
his promise to the Cortes to support the Constitution. He restores absolute rule and persecutes his liberal opponents.
His behaviour alienates many royalists in Latin America and thus hastens the liberation movements which are already
under way. Ferdinand proposes to send an army across the Atlantic to suppress the rebellious colonists, with
enthusiastic support promised by fellow rulers in the Holy Alliance, Spain revolts again with another successful liberal
revolution in January 1820.
Patriot Rebellion (See Defenses of St. Augustine)
Another threat to Spanish control occurred in the Patriot Rebellion that started on March 13, 1812. John Houston
McIntosh was the leader of this rebellion that was supported by the U.S. Government. Governor Juan de Estrada
stopped them at Fort Mose (almost the gates of St. Augustine). In June of 1812 the new governor, Sebastian Kindelan
worked with the Seminoles to enlist them in a fight against the invaders. After an ambush of Captain John Williams (U.S.M.
C.) by Seminoles and blacks the Americans pulled back to the St. Johns River. By May, 1813 the American troops were
gone. Prince Witten (Juan Bautista) the son-in-law of Biassou was the leader of the black militia that defeated Captain
Williams. Whitten was an excaped slave from Georgia in 1786. His family was baptized in 1792 and his marriage was
blessed by the Catholic church.
Letter (Savannah Evening Ledger, March 26, 1812)
A letter from St. Mary's dated the 21st inst. states, that "The Patriots took possession of Amelia-Island on the 17th inst.
and the next day gave it up to the U. States, under certain conditions, together with the Islands of Talbot and Fort
George, and all the country North of the river St. John's. A detachment of the U. States troops are now at Fernandino,
and the American Flag is flying there. No regular troops could have conducted themselves with more order and decorum
than the Patriots. Every respect was paid to the feelings and property of the inhabitants. The Patriots will cross the St.
John's, on their way to Augustine, this evening or tomorrow.
Revolution in Florida (Savannah Evening Ledger, April 2, 1812)
We are under obligations to several of our southern friends for communications respecting the revolution in Florida,
received by last mail. The information the contain has been mostly anticipated by passengers and arrivals. The volunteer
corps between this and Amelia, it will be seen by the orders of General Floyd, in this afternoon's paper, are ordered to
hold themselves in readiness to march at a moment's warning. Every thing is represented as wearing a hostile aspect at
the southward. Latest accounts mention that those opposed to the late government in Florida, had crossed the St.
John's, compelled a garrison in their way to surrender, and were on marching to St. Augustine. A detachment of United
States' troops, it was said, had received orders to proceed to the newly captured garrison and to occupy it until ordered
to the contrary.
Proclamation of Lud Ashly (Augusta Chronicle April 24, 1812)
The Charleston Mail has furnished us with the following intelligence from Florida; likewise with a bombastic and ?
proclamation of Lud Ashly, styling himself Colonel Commandant of the army of the Republic, and dated at Camp, on the
Plains before Augustine, 14th April 1812, and first year of the Republic.
It was the opinion of the officers at Amelia that the fortress of St. Augustine would be in possession of the U. S. troops
before Saturday last.
It was the opinion of the officers at Amelia that the fortress of St. Augustine would be in possession of the U. S. troops
before Saturday last.
There were two or three small English armed vessels in the harbor of St. Augustine, when our Gun-Boats were off that
place; and an American boat which was sent in to sound the bar, was fired upon by the Spaniards. On the 10th inst. a
smart firing of both great guns and small arms was heard by our vessels in the offing, from the Fort at St. Augustine; but
the cause was not ascertained.
While the brig Vixen was crusing off St. Augustine, she fell in with the British brig Colibri, and from the manosuvres of the
latter Capt. Gadsden was led to suppose that it was the intention or expectation of her commander that an engagement
would ensure between them, as he made every exertion to get the weather gage of the Vixen; both vessels had all hands
to quarters, matches lighted, &c. but after manoeuvering in this way for about half an hour, they parted without either
vessel hailing the other. ---The Cotibri is a much heavier vessel than the Vixen.
Proclamation (Savannah Evening Ledger April 23, 1812)
By the local and constituted authority of the territory, late province of East Florida now in convention at Head Quarters,
on the plains before St. Augustine.
Whereas, the inhabitants within the late province aforesaid, from the most interesting considerations to themselves and
their posterity, did on the thirteenth day of March last declare themselves a free and independent people and no longer
subjects to the tyranny and oppression of the Spanish government---that as a free people they assume the government
in their hands, liberty and property or the same. And whereas it is represented that certain evil disposed persons, are
inciting disaffection to the cause in which the great mass of the people are engaged, and are now holding
correspondence with, abetting and exciting to resistance and opposition, many persons residing within the town of St.
Augustine, a place now actually invested and summoned to surrender, and are at the same time, stipulating by vile and
infamous devies, certain ****************************** And whereas, persons of this discription have on every principle of
political justice and humanity, forfeited their claim to that protection which prisoners of war would be entitled to claim, and
have subjected themselves to the pains and penalties attached to treason.
Be therefore known, to all whom it doth or may concern, that from and after the twelfth day of April inst. if any person or
persons within the said territory, late province, of East Florida shall have to resistance, abet, or in any manner whatever,
correspond with the governor or inhabitance of S. Augustine, encourageing resistance or opposition to the local or
constituted authority of said territory, all and every such person shall be declared guilty of high treason, and shall, on
convicton thereof, suffer death; that all person or persons who shall abet, encourage or incite
And where it has been represented to the authority aforesaid, that many persons have from other causes than those of
disaffection to the cause in which the patriots are engaged, and a tender of their personal services withheld, who now
conceive themselves debarred the privilege; those of this description are now invited to come forward and join us in the
common cause---and free persons of color, who this authority is willing to believe, have been deluded by designing and
insidious persons, to whom the same privileges will be secured that they may enjoy, and protected, provided that each
and every person and persons of the description aforesaid, render him or themselves at head-quarters, in ten days from
the date thereof, in default of which their estate, real and personal, is, and they are hereby declared confiscated to and
for the benefit of the patriots.
Given under our hands at head-quarters, on the plains before St. Augustine, this 4th day of April, A. D. 1812, and of the
1st year of the Republic.
[Two sentences in the above proclamation, are omitted for local reasons.]
Supply from British (Augusta Chronicle May 1, 1812)
A gentleman direct from Cumberland Island, states that the garrison of St. Augustine have lately received a large supply
of provisions by two British vessels, and have collected upwards of 300 head of cattle in the country, which they brought
to town in defiance of the patriot force; who have not approached nearer than four miles of the fort, and that our ships of
war, on that station have received orders to interrupt no vessels bound in or out of that place.
Exceeding Instructions (Savannah Evening Ledger, May 8, 1812)
A gentleman who dined with Mr. Lewis, the ? of Amedia, on Sunday last, and who left St. Mary's last Monday, states, that
Mr. ? hearing the rumor of gen. Mathews having exceeded his instructions, and of the arrival of governor Mitchell at St.
Mary's, to supercede him in command, waited on the governor to know what course he should pursue, and was directed
to continue the exercise of his forces at the custom-house as heretofore. Our command had heard of no battle between
the patriots and the garrison of St. Augustine, as was reported yesterday (See letter to editor May 14, 1812)
St. Augustine will soon fall (New Hampshire Patriot, May 12, 1812)
St. Augustine, by the last accounts, was in possession of the Spaniards. All the young soldiers had deserted from the
garrison, leaving about 60 or 70 old men, who it was expected could not long hold out, as they were in possession of but
little provision. The U. S. brig Vixen had lately arrived at Amelia Island from before St. Augustine. While our gunboats
were at St. Augustine, there were in the harbor two or three small English armed vessels. While cruising off that place the
Vixen fell in with the British brig Colibri, of more than equal force, with who it was expect she might have a brush.
Everything was prepared on board both vessels for an engagement. The finally passed each other without hailing.
Added Bounties (Savannah Evening Ledger, May 21, 1812)
Mr. Evans will oblige a number of subscribers by inserting the foregoing proclamation in his paper; also, the following
extracts from the minutes: ---
At a meeting of the constituted authorities of East-Florida, May 10, major J. Crighton, chairman.
Having taken into consideration the brave and soldier-like conduct of sergeant John Garnett and the late William Dill, in
the affair of the 8th instant, at San Pablo, where they gallantly defended themselves against the attack of fourteen
Spaniards, and, after killing one and wounding four others, finally repulsed them:
Therefore resolved, That 500 acres of land be added to their respective bounties, and that making one thousand acres
of land each. Such present support may be given to the widow of the latter, as on enquiry may be deemed necessary.
Resolved, That this resolution be read, and the thanks of the meeting returned to serjeant Garnett, on parade, at 10
o'clock am.m, as a mark of their public approbation.
Signed by Order,
D. S. H. Milder, Secretary
Deserted. (Savannah Evening Ledger, Jun. 16, 1812)
On the 27th May, from the encampment before St. Augustine,
Josiah Earp, a private of capt. Haynes' troop of light dragoons, aged 30 years; five feet seven inches high, fair
complexion, sandy hair and blue eyes; born in Virginia, and by occupation a farmer.
Also Caleb Holder, of the same troop; 24 years old, six feet high; fair complexion, but much freckled and brown hair. He is
stout made, and knock-kneed; born in South-Carolina; by occupation a farmer.
Thirty dollars, with all reasonable expenses will be paid to any person who will apprehend the said deserters, and deliver
them to an officer of the United States army, or lodge them in gaol, giving information thereof; or Ten Dollars for either of
* * *
T. A. Smith,
Lieut. Col. Commanding,
Camp, before St. Augustine. 10th June, 1812.
By June 18th another deserter was added: Francas Day, a private of the same troop of 26 years; five feet nine inches
high; sallow complexion, brown hair, and dark eyes, born in South-Carolina; by occupation a farmer.
Sebastian Kindelan y Oregon (O'Regan)
Brigidier Sebastian de Kindelan y Oregon was Governor of East Florida from June 11, 1812 to June 3, 1815. He was the
son of Vicente Kindelan Luttrell and Irishman who settled in Spain
Savannah Evening Ledger July 30, 1812
We are informed, that general Matthews, major Long and col. Isaaccs, are expected in town this evening, direct from St.
Augustine, where their services can be no longer useful to their country---the senate of the United States have refused
to sanction offensive measures against that garrison. --- Augusta Chronicle, July 24.
Savannah Evening Ledger, August 4, 1812
The remainder of the detachment from this place to East-Florida, consisting of part of the Republican Blues, returned
yesterday morning, as good health and spirits as their comrades who had preceded them. They are all in good order,
and wince as little at the rigor of "the tented field," as the best disciplined regulars. The honor and independence of our
country can never suffer whilst hands of such gallant soldiers are determined to maintain its rights.
Died in St. Augustine (Savannah Evening Ledger, August 13, 1812)
Charles Armstrong, a native of South-Carolina, overseer of Don Bartelo de Castero, on St. John's river, aged 26 years.
1813-1814: The Red Stick War, Colonel Andrew Jackson became a national hero after his victory over the Creek Red
Sticks at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. After his victory, Jackson forced the Treaty of Fort Jackson on the Creek,
resulting in the loss of much Creek territory in southern Georgia and central and southern Alabama. The Creek Civil
War, known as the Red Stick War results in the migration of between 2,000 and 2,5000 Muskogee-speaking refugees
End (Augusta Chronicle, October 9, 1812)
A Spanish schooner which had left Augustine about the 19th ult put into Tybee on the 1st inst--The Capt of which
reported, that two days before he sailed the United States troops under the command of Col. Smith had broken up their
encampment before Augustine, and fallen back to St. John's River. The gates of Augustine had been opened and the
Governor's Proclamation issued offering a free pardon to all those inhabitants who had been compelled to join the
Patroits. The Spaniards had taken about ten of the Patriots, who had been active in the rebellion; they had been tried
and condemned to be shot and the execution condemned to be shot, and the execution was to take place in a few days.
They are in daily expectation of a reinforcement of one thousand men from Havanna, and also of strong reinforcements
from the Indians.
Ten Dollars Reward (Savannah Evening Ledger, October 31, 1812)
Will be paid, for securing in any goal, in the seaboard counties, my wench Fanny, who absconded on the 7th of this
month; it is expected she will make for St. Augustine, where she was lately from. Fanny, i a likely, stout, tall, black, well
made wench, a large round visage, a little pock-marked, with remarkable long hair, which she keeps plaited in front. She
carried off a variety of clothing, so that her dress cannot be well described; she speaks the Spanish language, and may
attempt to pass as free.
Masters, of vessels an others are cautioned against taking her out of the state.
John C. Bowler,
Riceboro, Liberty co.
A Challenge. (Savannah Evening Ledger, December 17, 1812)
The commandant at St. Augustine, Don Manuel Solana, has written and published a challenge to John H. McIntosh, esq.
of Georgia, (a distinguished character among the revolutionists of East-Florida) daring McIntosh to meet him, the said
Manuel Solana, "any where on this side of St. John's river on foot or on horseback, by night or by day, and with any ares
[he} may appoint."---Louisville, (Geo.) Standard.
On January 1814 the Constitucion Monument was placed in the Plaza de la Constitucion. While the Spanish constitution
was overturned the monument and its tablets remained.
Negro Fort- In 1814, during the War of 1812, the British Royal Marines established what was known as the Negro Fort
on Prospect Bluff along the Spanish side of the Apalachicola River. At the conclusion of the war the British left the fort
with the Seminoles and free blacks. The Seminoles left for their villages leaving the free blacks in charge of the fort. By
1816 over 800 freedmen and women had settled around the fort, there were also friendly natives in the area. In July
1816, a supply fleet for Fort Scott reached the Apalachicola River. Colonel Duncan Lamont Clinch (April 6, 1787 –
October 28, 1849) took a force of more than 100 American soldiers and about 150 Lower Creek warriors, including the
chief Tustunnugee Hutkee (White Warrior), to protect their passage. The forces' two gunboats took positions across the
river from the fort. As the American expedition drew near the fort on July 27, 1816, black militiamen had already been
deployed and began skirmishing with the column before regrouping back at their base. At the same time the gunboats
under Master Loomis moved upriver to a position for a siege bombardment. Negro Fort was occupied by about 330
people during the time of battle. At least 200 were freedmen, armed with ten cannons and dozens of muskets. The
blacks in the fort fired their cannon at the U.S. soldiers and the Creeks. The Americans fired back. The gunboats' ninth
shot, a "hot shot" (a cannonball heated to a red glow), landed in the fort's powder magazine. The explosion leveled the
fort and was heard more than 100 miles (160 km) away in Pensacola. Of the 320 people known to be in the fort,
including women and children, more than 250 died instantly, and many more died from their injuries soon after. The
survivors were taken prisoner and placed into slavery under the claim that Georgia slave owners had owned the
ancestors of the prisoners. Once the US Army destroyed the fort, it withdrew from Spanish Florida.
Neamathla, issued a warning to General Gaines that if any of his forces crossed the Flint River, they would be attacked
and defeated. The general to send 250 men to arrest the chief in November 1817 but a battle arose and it became the
official opening engagement of the First Seminole War.
Death of General Buckner Harris
With the death of General Buckner Harris, on May 5 1814 at the St. Mary's River, the Patriot movement collapsed.
Buckner was a Private in the army of General Nathaniel Greene in the Revolutionary War but was a General in the War
of 1812. The newspapers reported his death as killed in battle but he was actually slain by an assassin for the reward
money offered by the Spanish Governor of Florida. His family had resided in St. Augustine, East Florida. His widow
moved with her younger children to Jackson, Miss.
Jose Maria Coppinger
Coppinger served as governor between January 6, 1816 through July 10, 1821. He served as Captain of the Regiment
of Hibernia. His later career would include fighting to reestablish Spanish control of Mexico.
A new governor, Jose Coppinger arrived in St. Augustine in 1815.
Green Flag Republic
In 1817 at Fernandina, Gregor McGregor would proclaim the Green Flag Republic. When this failed Luis Aury raised the
flag of Mexico over Fernandina and declared himself the head. Finally the U.S. sent troops and they would remain in
Fernandina until the end of the 2nd Spanish period.
In 1817 the church had Father Crosby from Wexford, Ireland and a Franciscan priest for the garrison.
Reinforcements (American Daily Advertiser, July 13, 1818)
Capt. Bateson, of the sloop Frolic, who arrived here yesterday morning (Charleston), left St. Augustine on Thursday. He
informs us, that a Spanish corvette of 26 guns, a brig of 20 guns and an hermahrodite brig of 18 guns, arrived off that
place on Sunday last in a short passage from Havana, having under convoy the schooners Barbarita and Santo Rosa,
loaded with munitions of war, clothing, provisions, and about 20,000 dollars in doubloons, for the use and pay of the
soldiers at that post.
Carnival (Fairbanks, The Spaniards in Florida)
Masks, dominoes, harlequins, punchinellos, and a great variety of grotesque disguises, on horseback, in cars, gigs, and
on foot, paraded the streets with guitars, violins, and other instruments; and in the evenings, the houses were open to
receive masks, and balls were given in every direction. I was told that in their better days, when their pay was regularly
remitted from the Havana, these amusements were admirably conducted, and the rich dresses exhibited on these
occasions, were not eclipsed by their more fashionable friends in Cuba; but poverty had lessened their spirit for
enjoyment, as well as the means for procuring it; enough, however, remained to amuse an idle spectator.
A Posey Dance (A Brief Account of St Augustine and its environs, John Whitney 1873)
The females of the family erect in a room of their house a neat little arbor, dressed with pots and garlands of flowers, and
lit up brightly with candles. This is understood by the gentlemen as an invitation to drop in and admire the beauty of their
decorations. In the meantime, the lady who has prepared it, selects a partner from among her visitors, and in token of
her preference, honors him with a bouquet of flowers. The gentleman who receives the bouquet becomes then, for the
once, king of the ball, and leads out the fair donor as queen of the dance; the others take partners, and the ball is thus
inaugurated, and may continue several successive evenings. Should the lady's choice fall upon an unwilling swain, which
seldom happened, he could be excused by assuming the expenses of the entertainment. These assemblies were always
informal, and frequented by all classes, all meeting on a level; but were conducted with the utmost politeness and
decorum, for which the Spanish character is so distinguished.
Another tradition was on Good Friday a man representing St. Peter dressed in rags delighted groups of boys lying in wait
around town by throwing his mullet net to capture them.
Houses built during 2nd Spanish period that are still part of St. Augustine today: Canova - de Medicis House, Ximenez-
Fatio House , Segui-Smith House, Gaspar Papy , Pedro Fornells, Manuel Solana House and the Huertas-Canova House
(Prince Morat House).
Important (Savannah Republican, April 3, 1817)
A gentleman of veracity, who arrived on Saturday last, in the southern stage, and who left St. Augustine on the 12
instant, states, that a new Governor was daily expected there from Havana, who had authority from the Spanish
Government, to SELL the Province of EAST-FLORIDA to the Americans, if they were inclined to become purchasers. The
reason given for this extraordinary measure, was the continual state of alarm in which the province was kept by the
patriots. Charleston City Gazette, 31st ult. ---[STUFF!]
From the South (Savannah Republican, July 17, 1817)
By the passengers in the sloop Hermit, arrived yesterday from St. John's, via St. Mary's, we gain intelligence that a small
military post on the St. John's River, called Fort Nicholai, was evacuated on the 4th instant, by the Spaniards, who made
their escape in two gun-boats, after having burnt the houses, spiked the guns, and destroyed a few small arms and
military stores, which they could not conveniently carry with them. This measure was adopted through absolute dread of
general MacGregor's forces, whose name spreads terror through the country.
An advance party had been stationed at a position about eight or ten miles from Amelia, called the Narrows, to command
St. Augustine will next command MacGreggor's attention. It will be attacked as soon as reinforcements arrive, from the
north, which are hourly expected. The governor, Mr. Coppinger, is represneted to be a spirited officer, and will make a
stout resistance, if his troops can be induced to fight.
A frigate of 28 guns, and upwards of 300 men, was hourly expected at Amelia, from New-York, when our informant sailed.
A Portuguese schooner (formerly the Roger, privateer, of Norfolk) and a large Spanish schooner were at Amelia at the
time of its capture; the former was condemned, and the latter having but a few package of goods, and a number of
A pilot-boat schooner, formerly the Rebecca, of this port, had received a commission, and sailed on her first cruize,
being the only vessel of war fitted out since the establishment of the new government.
MacGregor has established a post-office department, and a court of admiralty, of which John D. Heath, esq. formerly an
eminent lawyer, of this city, has been appointed judge. We also learn that a newspaper, printed in English is shortly to
Latest from the Spanish Patriots. (Savannah Republican, August 9, 1817)
We have been favored with an extract of a letter from an officer now with general MacGregor. the writer is a gentleman of
high minded feelings, a man of honor.
Fernandina, July 11.
Will none of the young Virginians come to our standard? They are the men for this business. Their high sentiments of
honor, their detestation of every thing mean, their love of liberty and their desire to promote the happiness of mankind,
eminently qualify them for important services in this patriotic undertaking. Our attack upon this place was daring in the
extreme, and but for the pusillanimity of our enemy, the consequences to us might have been disastrous. We have
possession of all the country as far as St. Augustine, where the enemy has collected all his forces, and where they will
probably wait for our attack. The lieutenant colonel is now in advance with a body of infantry and cavalry. Others will
move on soon, and I hope ere long, we shall show ourselves before Augustine. ---Enquirer.
Spanish Cruelty (Savannah Republican, August 16, 1817)
A person who arrived in this place yesderday from Amelia states that, an expedition sent by MacGregor on the St. John's
river were attack by a party of Spaniards and negroes, on the 22d ult. --- 15 of the patriots were killed, their ears cut off,
and carried to St. Augustine, for which the Spanish government gave fifty dollars a pair!! How the optics of the royal
agents must have been regaled at the sight? Oh! most impious! most barbarous conduct!!
Dash at St. Augustine (Savannah Republican, August 23, 1817)
The accounts from Amelia are so contradictatory, that we scarcely know to what we are to give credence. The last arrival
from St. Mary's furnishes intelligences of the situation and prospects of general MacGregor, immediately the reverse of
that we published in our paper of Saturday. It is now stated that a gentleman who came passenger in the Humming Bird,
from the above place, and who left Amelia on thursday last, brings the information, that the general had not been
deserted by many of his men, as reported---that his force, which had at one time sunk to twenty, and even ten men---was
about one hundred---that by the arrival of the Buenos Ayrean armed brig Patriots, of 16 guns, a reinforcement had been
received of 300 men, whilst 400 more were expected from New-York, in the brig Morgiana --- that it was the intention of
the general, shortly to make a dash at St. Augustine, and that the spirits of the men were good, and no disposition
evinced to evacuate Amelia --- Charleston Southern Patriot.
MacGregor's Expedition (Savannah Republican, September 6, 1817)
Some of our republican journals, (says the New-York Columbian) as they are called censure general MacGregor for
disturbing the harmony and quiet of East Florida.---Had the general succeed in taking St. Augustine, the same
sycophants would have extolled him. We hope he will yet do it, and contribute ultimately to the emancipation of Mexico,
&c. when those who dispise principle, will have an orrportunity of adoring fortune!
That the Floridas must finally be annexed to this union is certain: but if those territories serve the purpose of opening a
communication between the United States and the patriots of the south, we ought to rejoice at the reduction of St.
Augustine and the capture of Pensacola---as the possessions of the latter would give a commanding station on the Gulf
of Mexico. If a cause be just, let us not decry it, because its advocates may be few or week. Perservance will crown
MacGregor with success. We believe he acts by the authorization of the independent governments of South America. We
cannot therefore re-echo the notes of a writer in the National Intelligencer, merely because a few slave holders feel
groundless alarm, or because their speculations in Florida may be thwarted.
Violations of law we shall never palliate. We are convinced that MacGregor is the friend of order. Certain it is, that some
unprincipled adventures quitted his service on perceiving that lawless plunder would not be suffered, and that strict
subordination must be observed. A gentleman arrived in the Commodore Porter, informed us of these facts; and from his
character, we place entire confidence in his assertion.
We are persuaded, that the letter in the Intelligencer is a gross misrepresentation, in part.
We are persuaded, that MacGregor's plans are popular in Florida, and that the people lamented his delay.
We are assured, that the inhabitants of Amelia Island are delighted with the security and civil liberty they now
enjoy for the first time.
We are assured, that some mercenary Americans are enraged because their infernal trade of smuggling slaves hitherto
uninterrupted, is now baffled. As these wretches were in collusion with certain Spaniards, they naturally united with each
other to asperse MacGregor.
It is a fact, that the cargo of slaves shipped from Havana to Amelia Island, to be bought into the United States, were
found on trial to belong to a merchant in Wilmington, (N.C.)
MacGregor is doing what our government ought to be ashamed of omitting to do. He is prohibiting smuggling and
checking the slave trade. He has a printing office now under way, and our informant declares, that the acverest penalties
are denounced against smmuggling in the orders, &c. now publishing---Yes! whilst our Colonizing Societies and other
societies were meeting and mouthing, thousands of slaves were pouring into the Southern states by the St. Mary's &c.
And now the negro traffickers, the men-stealers, are in tears. Hence the fabricated published against MacGregor.
Why the United States was worried about Florida
To James Madison from Edmond Kelly, [ca. 30] October 1817
I do not like to dwell on the weakness of the country but a little attention to east Florida by a majority of Congress (not
like Marrt of this District orangemen) would be desirable & a purchase of it at double the value preferable to any
aggression on Spain Direct or indirect—one Gibtr is sufft for England for unless all the republic from Savanna to
Pittsburgh is abandoned you Cannot permitt her to occupy east florida—as to what I recommend respecting the Estabt of
Manufactures of Cotton Woollen cloths Delf & Hardware it is unnecessary for me [to] argue to a Statesman that self
preservation require them—british monopoly is the sword which murders freedom & what freeman would not break it—it
is a good Example which others may follow—as my ruin is Identified with the success of british Intrigues I hope you will
excuse this obtrusion of my sentiments I seek no confidence or Emolument & anxious only to defend myself no traitors
Censures can affect your obt st
However another version would be the safe haven it gave escaped slaves. The First Seminole War was basically a war
against escaped slaves. British Florida would have been well defended by the British Empire. Spanish Florida was a
By 1817 new repairs were needed as the terreplein surface was falling apart so that the guns could neither be aimed
properly or repositioned quickly. In 1819 work began again by Engineer Nicolas de Fano. Fano replaced the terreplein
pavement in two of the bastions and three curtains. The covered way was rebuilt
1817-1818: American soldiers invade Spanish Florida, burning Seminole towns and capturing escaped slaves, in
what comes to be known as the First Seminole War.
Letter from Adams to Onis
The pressure had been on Spain since 1805 to turn Florida over to the United States. See copy of letter from Adams to
Onis over the state of affairs of East Florida and especially Fernandina.
1819 Description of St. Augustine from New England Palladium & Commercial Advertiser
Boston, MA July 6, 1819
A letter from a gentleman in the South, to his friend in Washington City , gives the following description of the town and
fortress of St. Augustine :
As I have just returned from St. Augustine , (on a jaunt of curiosity,) I presume a description of the place will not be
uninteresting to you
St. Augustine is situated on the Main , about two miles within the bar, immediately opposite the inlet ; it is not passable for
vessel drawing over fifteen feet of water. The Island of Matanzies runs nearly parallel with the ocean, and forms a point
of the south end of St. Augustine inlet. This is principally solid rock, composed of the concretion of shells, and is what is
generally made use of for building in the city, and is hewn out in large blocks. It is better calculated for the construction of
fortification than any other material I am acquainted with and with proper cement, forms a solid mass of rock.
Fort St. Marks is built of this rock, and presents a most formidable appearance upon entering the harbour. It is situated
on the northern extremity of the City of St. Augustine , commanding the entrance of the harbor, and is sufficiently
elevated to secure the city from attacks from that quarter. In the rear of the city in an impenetrable marsh, nearly
encircling it ; on the margin of which are erected six redoubts. The fort is twenty feet high and the walls twelve feet thick;
it mounts 36 guns ; it is four square, with a bastion at each corner, each mounting eight 24 pounders with a glacis
encircling the work.
The city contains about 500 houses, built of the kind of stone before described ; has a population of 5,000 souls,
principally Minorcans and natives of the province. There are the remains of a convent and government house the latter
occupied by black troops. The Catholic Church resembles an old Gothic building. The city exhibits the remains of ancient
splendor, but is now evidently going to decay.
The situation of the country contiguous is very low, but exceeding well adapted to the cultivation of vegetables of every
description in the southern country. The atmosphere is perhaps less humid than any country I have been in, and is, I
conceive, better calculated for northern constitutions than any southern station I have visited.
Fish in great abundance is to be caught in the harbor, but, owing to the indolence of the inhabitants, the market is badly
supplied. Oranges are indigenous in this section of the country, also many other delicious fruits.
The lands on the river St. Johns are considered the most fertile, and most advantageously situated for planters ; after
passing twenty miles up, it changes its direction, and runs parallel with the ocean for 150 miles. I am under the
impressions that the port of St. Johns will be particularly well calculated for commercial men, and men of enterprise, as
the bar is much better, and after passing the bar, vessels may go one hundred and fifty miles without the least
Riot at St. Augustine (Daily American Beacon, June 20, 1820)
A letter from St. Augustine, dated 12th inst. gives the following particulars of the late disturbance there: -- "We have
experienced some unpleasant business lately; and as it will probably be much exaggerated, I will furnish you with the
particulars. One of the non-commissioned officers attached to the company of Catalonians, gave a private in that
company a severe dressing; which was resented by all his companions, and about 10 o'clock the same night, the town
was alarmed by the revolt of the two companies of Catalonians and Malagans --- they marched from their barracks, (the
Nunnery,) and commenced firing their guns, and making as much noise as possible. --- The inhabitants alarmed, and
without arms, shut themselves up in their houses; but I believe they had no intention of injuring any of us; for although
upwards of fifty guns were discharged, no one was injured. The proceeded to the house of the Governor, but he had
retired to the Fort. -- They then proceeded to the gates of the town, fired their guns over the heads of the centinels, and
demanded the keys; but he had retired to the Fort. --- They then proceeded to the gates of the town, fired their guns
over the heads of the centinels, and demanded the keys; but not obtaining them part of them jumped over the picquets.
--- Sixteen of them deserted; the remainder returned to the barracks, firing through the streets as before. the next day
on of them at Church took possession of the Governor's chair. Twenty-six of them are now confined in the Fort; their
punishment is not yet determined upon. We are all under arms, and perform duty day and night --- sixty of the militia are
put into actual service, and we now feel secure. It is expected that the ringleaders will be shot.
The final Spanish Engineer Ramon de la Cruz rebuilt the city gate bridge by September 1820.
The fort still had massive problems but in January 1821 the City learned of the signing of the
treaty with the United States all work stopped on the Castillo.
Florida (Vermont Gazette, July 4, 1820)
From St. Augustine, we learn that an officer of the regiment of Malaga recently struck a soldier of the regiment of
Catalonia, on which the latter turned out en masse to avenge their comrade. A great disturbance took place, but no lives
were lost; yet 25 men of the Catalonia regiment marched off with their arms, &c. for Savannah.
Letter to Andrew Jackson from Secretary of State John Quincy Adams (American Territorial Papers)
This letter sets procedures for the exchange and gives General Jackson latitude in carrying out his instructions. (See
East Florida (Richmond Enquirer, April 17, 1821)
Extract of a letter to a gentleman in this City from his friend in St. Augustine dated April 5, 1821
"I wrote to you a few days before I left Charleston, and intended to have written to you again on my arrival at this place---
but I have postponed it until I could either see or I am more of the country f Florida. This town has been built a great
many years and bears evidence marks of it, as it is completely in ruins. It is the seat of government, and consequently
the residence of the Governor, Mr. Coppinger; who is a plain, civil, and apparently very friendly man....He seems to be
very anxious to leave this place and return to Cuba, his native place, and the residence of his wife and family, from whom
he has been separated several years; bet he and most of the Spaniards here seem very much mortified at the thoughts
of giving up a country which possesses a great deal of fine land, but from which they receive little or no benefit---for
there are not half a dozen Spanish settlements on this side the Cape.
"The town of St. Augustine can never be a place of any consequence, either for commerce or as a deposit for the
productions of the country; for there is a most difficult and dangerous bar at the mouth of the river, which has not more
than nine feet water at high tide, and the bar is said to shift with the winds--so that it can never be a port of entry for
large vessels; and the poverty of the surrounding country for 20 miles, is such as to prevent any kind of produce being
brought here. The lands on the St. Johns are said to be very fine; these are about 35 miles to the northward of this
place, and flows in a semicircular form, being equidistant from here for many sides. On this river are some settlements,
and it is probable that the principal port of entry on this side the Cape will be near the mouth of this river, as it has more
water than any other stream. The Musquit and Indian rivers, the one 60 and the other 90 miles to the South of this, are
siad likewise to have on them very fine lands well adapted to sugar, and many persons think for coffee. But the indolence
of the Spaniards is such that they have made no experiment of it. But the finest part of the country lays to the west of
this, and is called Alochua; it is said to be as rich as land can possibly be. It is, however, in possession of the Indians,
who will not willingly give it up. They are much excited against the Spaniards, for having, (as they say and very justly,)
sold them and their country; so that is is safer for an American to travel into the interior of the country than for a
Spaniard---though it is by no means safe for either without an Indian guide, many of whom are constantly coming to this
place. There are a vast number of large grants for land embracing a great portion of the best land in the country; but
most of them are forfeited from non-compliance with the conditions of the original grant; which generally required that
they should be settled within a limited time. This will open the door for disputes to all the large grants....As soon as it is
safe to travel in the country, I mean to take a tour through it.
"I shall remain here until the exchange of flags takes place. I did expect there would have been a great many negroes
imported here before it was given up, but not one has arrived here except a few brought from the United States. Money
appears to be scarce here, as in Virginia. Notwithstanding the ruinous condition of the houses here, they ask the most
extravagant prices for them, and they rent proportionately high. There are a number of adventurers coming on here from
Charleston and Savannah, but no men of capital except one from Charleston, who has purchased a house in town and
lands on the Mosquito....The healthiness of this may induce many persons from S. Carolina and Georgia to retire here in
the sickly season. The inhabitants appear much mortified, that this long settled place is not to be continued the seat of
government. They are indeed deeply interested, as their town property will be worth very little. I wait with great
impatience to see the American flag supplant the Spanish. I think it will be necessary to send a pretty strong force here
at first, as well as to Pensacola; --- for the Indians are by no means reconciled to the exchange, and many of them are
under the impression that the Americans intend to make slaves of them....There are a vast number of runaway negroes
among them, who probably from motives of policy inculeate their opinions. The appointment of Gen. Jackson as
Governor of Florida has mortified the Spaniards, and struck terror in the Indians, who appear to be panic struck at the
bare mention of his name. I think it would be unsafe to purchase lands here, until they are sold by the authority of the
Appointment (The New-York Columbian, May 8, 1821)
John Goodman, Esq. of this city, has been appointed by the President, Collector of the port of St. Augustine.
American Troops (City Gazette and Daily Advertiser, Charleston, May 25, 1821)
A passenger in last evening's Sunday Stage, from St. Augustine informs us, that the American troops destined for that
quarter, had arrived, but would not be received by the Spanish Government. No Newspaper had as yet been published,
and would not, until the Americans had taken complete possession.
The end of the 2nd Spanish period came with the Onis-Adams Treaty on February 22, 1819. The cost would be 5 million
dollars which was the same amount that the United States claimed that Spain owed because of the capturing of American
ships in the quasi war with France in the 1790s. James Monroe was President of the United States and John Quincy
Adams was his Secretary of State. The treaty was ratified and the flags were exchanged on July 10, 1821.
Notification of Robert Butler to the Secretary of State (John Quincy Adams)
St. Augustine June 20th 1821
Sir, I have the honor to report to you that the understanding which at present exists between the Governor who is the
Commissioner on the part o Spain, and myself; that the exchange of flags will be effected on or about the 1st of July: and
in a manner which I trust will be deemed satisfactory by my government---
I shall avail myself of the earliest opportunity after that event to give you in detail the whole of the proceedings on that
I was induced to believe from information recd some time since, that the provisions destined to subsist the Spanish
forces to the Havana had arrived at Amelia Island, and therefore gave an order for their delivery to the Officer Com the
detachment destined to occupy the Fortress at this place---A partial supply only was delivered and that out of the supply
for the troops at that place--I have therefore dispatched a transport to Amelia to procure the supplynecessary, and if not
in store to purchase such as may be wanting--I am without any advices from the Commissary Gen Department on this
I have the honor to be, Very respectfully, Yr Mo Ob St
Robert Butler U.S. Commissioner.
The Hon J. Q. Adams Secy of State of the U. States.
Problems with the Transfer
The transfer would run into several problems including who owned the artillery and ammunition. (See General Jackson to
Col. Robert Butler) (See Butler to Governor Coppinger, July 18 1821) (See Butler to Governor Coppinger on
transportation) (See Butler to Coppinger on archives)
Transfer of the Floridas (Camden Gazette, Camden, South Carolina July 26, 1821)
Charleston, July 17. Capt. Chester, of the sloop Wasp, arrived last evening from St. Augustine, informs that the above
territory was transferred to the American Government, through Col. Butler, the Commissioner legally authorised to
receive the same, on the 10th inst. --- At 8 o'clock, P.M. on the above day, the American troops took possession of the
Fort, and at 4 the Spanish troops departed, and their flag was lowered from the Fort under a salute of 21 guns, which
was returned by the U. S. Schooners Tartar and Revenge.
Governor Coppinger in his proclamation to the Inhabitants of East Florida, after notifying them of the change of
government about to take place, expresses himself in the following manner, "I have already stated to you the stipulation
made by our government to secure to you the free exercise of the Catholic Religion --- the possession of your property
--- and all the enjoyments that the Treaty guarantees. I have also informed you of the privileges and protection offered
by our government to all those who may wish to emigrate to any of the Spanish dominions and particularly to the Island
At 5:00 A.M. the Spanish flag was raised over the Castillo de San Marcos for the last time. 3:00 p.m. The Tartar crossed
the inlet. After the governor signed the official document transferring East Florida to the US the Spanish flag was lowered
and the American warships Tartar and Revenge gave a 21 gun salute. 338 Spanish soldiers with 67 wives and children
set sail for Cuba along with 173 government employees with their wives and children. 68 free blacks and 94 slaves, 205
residents and 17 military prisoners also left. (See Act of Transfer)
Spanish and some Timucuan vocabulary help
Go to American Territorial,
|John Quincy Adams
Secretary of States
|President James Monroe
|George Clarke Letter for Observations on the Floridas
St. Augustine, 25th July, 1821
Capt. John R. Bell, Commanding the province of East Florida.
The following is intended to comply with your desire of information on the
northern division of this province; and in order to your comprehending the true
state of that section, and the character of its inhabitants, to whom, as the
officer that presided over them for the last five years, I feel grateful for their
confidence, their devotion, and their support, permit me to recapitulate a part
of its history; and first to premise; that it is bounded on the north by Camden
county, Georgia, the southernmost part of the Atlantic states; the river St.
Mary, the line of demarcation, and a very narrow one, has long been the
"jumping place" of a large portion of the bad characters who gradually sift
through the whole southwardly; war climates are congenial to bad habits.
Second, that, unfortunately for Florida, the laws of both governments had the
effect of making each country the asylum of the bad men of the other;
consequently, Florida must have received, we will suppose, twenty of those
for one it returned to Georgia. this must be the result, on taking only a
numerical view of the population of the two countries. And thirdly, that by the
orders of the Spanish court, prohibiting citizens of the United States from
being received as settlers in Florida, the only part from whence it was ever to
expect a population sufficiently large to make it respectable, the good were
prevented from coming in, while the bad must come. The result of an
observation, perhaps inadvertent; made in congress long since, Florida must
ultimately be ours, if only from emigration, and loudly commented on by the
Spanish minister. (continued)
|French Associate of McGregor
|General Duncan Lamont Clinch
Fort Clinch (and Fort Clinch State Park) on Amelia
Island, Florida is named for Clinch
|Constitution Monument and Government House
St. Augustine, Florida. Monument
Creator(s): Cooley, Sam A. (Samuel A.), photographer
Date Created/Published: [between 1861 and 1869]
King Jose I
(1808 - 1813)
Later a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania