Monday, August 31, 2009

Menendez Fort and Camp

The City of St. Augustine's 444th birthday celebration takes place on Saturday, here's a little bit on the:

The Founding of St. Augustine, 1565

"On Saturday, the 8th, the general landed with many banners spread, to the sound of trumpets and salutes of artillery. As I had gone ashore the evening before, I took a cross and went to meet him, singing the hymn Te Deum laudamus. The general marched up to the cross, followed by all who accompanied him, and there they kneeled and embraced the cross. A large number of Indians watched these proceedings and imitated all they saw done. The same day the general took formal possession of the country in the name of his Majesty, and all the captains took the oath of allegiance to him, as their general and governor of the country. When this ceremony was ended, he offered to do everything in his power for them, especially for Captain Patino, who during the whole voyage had ardently served the cause of God and of the King, and, I think, will be rewarded for his assiduity and talents in constructing a fort in which to defend ourselves until the arrival of help from Santo Domingo and Havana."
-Francisco Lopez de Mendoza Grajales

“As soon as he reached there (the harbor of St. Augustine) he landed about 300 soldiers and sent two captains with them, who were to reconnoiter that daybreak the next morning the lay of the land and the places which seemed to them strongest (for defense), in order that they might dig a trench quickly while it was being seen where they could build a fort…” Gonzálo Solís de Méras

The trenches in the photos are, ironically enough, from the Florida Museum of Natural History's dig at the Fountain of Youth site, where Menendez's Fort and Camp were located in 1565. Arriving on site at a Drake's raid a few years ago, we discovered that the FLMNH's field school hadn't quite finished with their excavations that spring. Finding that the field hadn't been backfilled we couldn't help but to take the rare opportunity to practice fortification tacticals during the day.

On line St. Augustine exhibit

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