Battles of St. Augustine - St. Augustine, Florida
Battles of St. Augustine - St. Augustine, Florida
Cannon of Fort Matanzas
A single shot from a cannon
at Fort Matanzas drove off a
British fleet of 12 ships in
Massacre at Matanzas Inlet
More than 200 French
prisoners were massacred
here by Spanish forces in
Battles of St. Augustine - St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine's Unconquered Fortress
The Castillo de San Marcos withstood multiple
attacks, but never fell to an enemy force in battle
during its three centuries of history.
A History of Attack and Siege
St. Augustine, Florida may well be the most
military contested city in the United States.
From the time of its founding in 1565, the city
was a focus of warfare and military activity
until the end of the Civil War three hundred
years later.

The city, in fact, owes its existence to a
military expedition sent to root out French
interlopers in the Spanish colony of La
Florida. A large military force commanded by
Pedro Menendez de Aviles established St.
Augustine in 1565 and then immediately
marched overland to the site of present-day
Jacksonville where they captured a French
settlement at
Fort Caroline.

Fort Caroline was easily taken because most
of the French soldiers had sailed south
hoping to launch a preemptive strike on the
Spanish, but a severe storm wrecked their
ships and marooned the survivors. Over the
weeks following the establishment of St.
Augustine, the survivors of the French fleet
were found struggling up the coast at
Matanzas Inlet. More than 200 surrendered to
the Spanish and most were slaughtered due
to their Protestant faith.

St. Augustine itself was first attacked in 1586.
English "privateers" commanded by Sir
Francis Drake sacked the city and drove off
its defenders following a brief engagement.

The old city was again attacked and
destroyed by British pirates in 1668, an
action that led to the construction of the
massive fortress
Castillo de San Marcos.

The third Battle of St. Augustine took place in
1702 during the War of the Spanish
Succession. British forces led by Gov. James
Moore of South Carolina attacked the city and
attempted to bombard the Castillo into
submission. The residents of the city fled into
the fortress and for 52 days the two sides
battled. Unable to conquer the huge fort,
Moore and his forces ultimately withdrew,
burning the town to the ground as they

Following the 1702 battle, the Spanish rebuilt
the city and surrounded it with strong walls
and redoubts. It never fell to an enemy force

War again erupted between England and
Spain in 1739 and British Gen. James
Oglethorpe led an army south from
Frederica in Georgia to attack St. Augustine.
View of Matanzas Bay
Gunners at the Castillo de
San Marcos battled with
English gunners across the
Bay on Anastasia Island for
27 days in 1740.
The fourth Battle of St. Augustine began in
May of 1740 when Oglethorpe attacked the
city. The English erected batteries on
Anastasia Island and bombarded the
Castillo de San Marcos for 27 days, but both
the fort and city held.

On June 26, the Spanish counterattacked
against a portion of Oglethorpe's troops that
was occupying
Fort Mose, an earthwork just
north of the city. Of the 137 British soldiers in
the fort, 68 were killed and 34 captured in an
attack carried out by Spanish forces that
included the city's free African American

Oglethorpe finally gave up and retreated, but
returned in 1742 and approached the
recently completed
Fort Matanzas with 12
ships. He was driven away by a single
cannon shot from the fort.

St. Augustine was attacked by American
interlopers during the early 1800s in what
became known as the "Patriot War," but
again held. A final skirmish took place in the
vicinity during the Second Seminole War
(1835-1842), but the city walls never fell.
Defenses of St. Augustine
The Cubo Line or northern
wall of St. Augustine is scene
here leading away to Castillo
de San Marcos. The city never
fell after the wall was
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Last Update: November 14, 2013