Florida 500: Anniversary of the Lifting of the Siege of St Augustine

We don’t officially begin our Florida 500 series until January 1st, but since today is the 310th anniversary of the end of the British Siege of St Augustine, we decided to give a brief narrative of the event.

The War of Spanish Succession had a North American theater which in time has been distinguished from the European hostilities by using the name Queen Anne’s War. Governor James Moore of the Province of Carolina (a British American colony; was split in to North and South Carolina in 1729) had determined to attack Spanish St Augustine irrespective of European hostilities. In mid October, Moore with about 1,200 men (this number has been disputed) and 14 ships set sail from Charles Town (now Charleston, SC).

The British colonists initially landed at Amelia Island in late October and then made way to St Augustine to begin a siege on November 10th. In preparation for the siege, Spanish Florida Governor Joseph de Zúñiga y Zérda ordered all of the residents of St Augustine (about 1,500 at the time) into the Castillo de San Marcos and acquired food provisions for three months. The British failed to penetrate the fort although around Christmas time they had the entire rest of St Augustine burned. On December 30th, 1702 the British ships sailed back to Charles Town and Moore was ousted as Governor for failing to acquire Florida.

St Augustine was gradually rebuilt and Zúñiga y Zérda set on revenge especially after the British continued to raid Florida attacked Charles Town in 1706 but was unsuccessful. The British ruled St Augustine from 1763 to 1783 before it reverted to the Spanish after the American Revolution. That will be the subject of a future Florida 500 article.

Our Florida 500 series begins on Tuesday and will in general give greater detail about these events, but we figured that we wouldn’t want this momentous anniversary to pass without mention.  Please keep the Political Hurricane bookmarked throughout 2013 as we celebrate the 500th anniversary of Juan Ponce de León’s landing in our state.

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