Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

New kiosk at Bartram Park marks De Soto Trail through Pensacola

In the News:

New kiosk at Bartram Park marks De Soto Trail through Pensacola

New kiosk at Bartram Park marks De Soto Trail through Pensacola
Pensacola Business Journal
The kiosk, donated by the National Park Service, recounts Hernando de Soto's journey throughout Florida in 1539. By most historical accounts, ...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Announcements from St. Augustine

New 16th and 17th Century Demonstration Group Formed

Members of the Historic Florida Militia have formed a new military company named the Tercio Español de San Agustín to perform at parades, special events, and reenactments. Members will demonstrate pike and matchlock harquebus and musket maneuvers and tactics utilized by Spain during the 16th and 17th centuries as representatives of both the Men of Menéndez and the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, where the first permanent settlement in the United States of America was established by Pedro Menéndez de Avilés in 1565. For more information, contact Chris Clark at clark1833@bellsouth.net or Chad Light at cplight@floridadivesports.com. To receive email notices of meetings and practice sessions, contact John Powell at jtpcurator@hotmail.com.

Casting Call Photo Shoot Scheduled at Fountain of Youth

Destination Planning Corporation is holding a casting call photo shoot for living history reenactors at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park on Sunday, November 20, 2011. Men and women of the living history community portraying 16th, 17th, and/or 18th century military, civilian or Native American personas are encouraged to attend with one or more period garb and gear “kits” to be photographed and interviewed for casting movies, television presentations, promotional programs, and other venues in which living history portrayers will be utilized and for which those chosen will be paid as contractors for their services as professional reenactors. The company will act as an agent for those who wish to participate in such activities. For more information, contact Michelle Reyna at (904) 699-1485, (904) 249-3729, or by email at mreyna@destinationplanning.com.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

In the News: Re-enacting Menendez’s landing

I had to work yesterday, so I missed participating in this year's landing event in St. Augustine, but hear is the news story:


Re-enacting Menendez’s landing

Posted: September 11, 2011 - 12:01am
St. Augustine Record

Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, portrayed by Chad Light, leads a procession to mass after a re-enactment of his landing, 446 years ago, at the Mission of Nombre de Dios on Saturday morning. ...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Founder's Weekend in St. Augustine Coming Up

In the News:

1565 Founder's Weekend begins Sept. 9 and runs through Sept. 11
St. Augustine Record
A local re-enactor portrays Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles during at last year's Founder's Weekend at The Fountain of Youth and the Mission Nombre de Dios. ...

At the Mission of Nombre de Dios site:

Four hundred and forty-six years ago, in September 1565, Admiral Don Pedro Menéndez de Avilés stepped ashore at Matanzas Bay and founded St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest, continuously occupied, European city and port in the continental United States.

On Saturday, September 10, 2011, the annual, historical reenactment of Menéndez' landing and 446th anniversary commemorations will be held at Mission Nombre de Dios (www.missionandshrine.org) in St. Augustine, Florida.

Founding Day 2011 will also feature a lecture on the founding of St. Augustine by Dr. Michael Gannon, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Florida and Knight Commander of Spain's Order of Isabella the Catholic, following the Mass of Thanksgiving and procession; this lecture is funded by a grant from the Florida Humanities Council through the National Endowment for the Humanities.
  • WHEN: Saturday, September 10, 2011 / 10 a.m.to noon
  • WHERE: Mission Nombre de Dios and Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche / 27 Ocean Avenue, St. Augustine, FL
  • COST: Admission to this heritage Event is free

This heritage Event is sponsored by Mission Nombre de Dios and La Compañía de Santiago (The Company of St. James), a member unit of Florida Living History, Inc. Support is provided, in part, by the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council.

For more information on La Compañía de Santiago, please contact us at info@companiadesantiago.org or phone us, toll-free, at 1-877-FLA-HIST (1-877-352-4478).

And Happening Next Door at the Fountain of Youth:

Pedro Menendez 1565 Founder's Weekend Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park September 9-11th, 2011 /// The Founding of St. Augustine 446th Anniversary Saturday, September10, 2011 Mission Nombre de Dios

Yes it's not on Labor Day weekend this year the HFM application for TDC funding (not granted this year) did manage to move the event closer to the original date of September 8th. Confused? try some of the past titles including: St. Augustine 446 Birthday Celebration / Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles and the Founding of St. Augustine / The "Founding of St.Augustine" Anniversary / 446th Anniversary of the Founding of St. Augustine / The Landing of Menendez and our ongoing working title MENENDEZ LANDING

The Fountain of Youth and the 16th century companies of the Historic Florida Militia invite all 16th Century reenactors--- gentlemen, ladies, soldiers, sailors, colonists, women, children, clergy, and Indians---We need you all! We will assemble on the Fountain of Youth grounds Friday Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday the presentations of camp and military will be open to the public at the same time as the Landing program is occurring where we will need interpreters for the camp and military exhibits who will also be preparing for Menendez's arrival at the Fountain of Youth grounds the camp and the First Thanksgiving Program.

--Thursday Sept.8 "anniversary date" Camp set up available in afternoon Restricted use of vehicles during exhibit hours at the Fountain of Youth

--Friday Sept. 9 Camp set up all day, program in evening begins at 5:30pm with a memorial requium in 16th Century fashion processing down to the waterfront for a ceremony and cannon salute just after 6:00.

-7:00pm An Evening with Pedro Menendez portrayed by Chad Light, all are invited including the general public. The event would be enhanced by reenactors especially as greetors/doorguards, council members and as audience. The scenes depicted are Menendez's council meetings in1565.

--Saturday Sept. 10 8:00am Assembly at the Fountain of Youth encampment, we will have time to set up for the public who arrive as early as 9:00am, cannons and camp need setting up. Light breakfast will be available.

-9:30am from the encampment we will march a column of soldiers, colonists and Indians to the waterfront overlooking the landing site, we will join the artillery (several pieces this year) positioned on the original site. Here we will fire salutes, wave flags, sound horns, cheer(Viva), ending with the command for all to Present Arms when Menendez steps ashore. As Menendez and his escort march to the rugged alter we will trail arms and silently return to camp.---10:00am+ we have plenty of time to set up displays,camps, prepare the First Thanksgiving Feast, and interpret the 16th Century to our visitors.

---Mid-day First Thanksgiving and Menendez Escort to camp. Gentlemen and Ladies, Color Guard, admiring Colonists and Horse escort. This year we are planning to escort Don Pedro from the new Mission Museum by way of the City streets North on Magnolia into the Main entrance to the Fountain of Youth, to the sound of cannons and the cheers of all into the main camp where Menendez orders a Thanksgiving Feast for the new colony and his new Indian friends are invited to sit down to table.

---All afternoon Interpretive encampment all afternoon, cannon, musket, military drill as we wish while the museum is open.

---7:00pm Dinner and jollification catered by the Fountain of Youth for participating 16th century reenactors in period dress and yes we are still the show as invited dignitaries(FOY invited) may dine with us.

---Sunday 10;00-4:00pm event is scheduled as a Historic 16th Century Encampment and Faire while a Distinguished Speaker's series 11:00-3:00pm hourly will feature Dr. Kathy Deagan, a repeat of Chad Light's presentation, Ted Morris's Florida Paintings and Maritime St. Augustine with Sam Turner from the Lighthouse.The program will culminate with a Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Eugene Lyon at 3:00pm==Cannon Salute== Yes then we can break camp!

Please help by forwarding this invitation on to all who may be able to attend. Find your old comrades and of course let's invite new recruits.

Viva Espana! Viva San Agustin! Viva Menendez!

Thank you from your comrade in arms Brian Bowman

And enjoy your Labor Day weekend

Sunday, August 28, 2011

In the News: "Commemorating Those Lost Through Time"

A couple of people have forwarded an article in the New York Times National Section about obscure parts of the National Park Service. I realized that its been months since I posted anything, not that much has been happening either this summer, so now is probably as good a time to get into it.

  • Commemorating Those Lost Through Time

    22 hours ago ... The De Soto National Memorial in Bradenton, Fla., honors Hernando de Soto, a conquistador whose reputation has diminished in the years ...

In the article, my stomping grounds fairs fairly well:

Not every site offers a clearly heroic figure. The De Soto National Memorial in Bradenton, Fla., is named for a Spanish conquistador who is now regarded by some as a villain, blamed for destroying American-Indian civilizations throughout the Southeast.

"At the time the memorial was founded in 1948," Park Ranger Dan Stephens said, "de Soto was considered this romantic hero. He was looked at through rose-colored glasses. His reputation has taken a bit of tarnish since then."

Despite the memorial park's inconspicuous location at the end of a residential road in the small town south of Tampa Bay, it is one of the system's success stories, drawing almost 300,000 a year; kayak tours are booked months in advance.

Stunning views

Visitors enjoy stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico, a sprawling gumbo-limbo tree, and an annual re-creation of de Soto's landing on the park's shores (though historians believe the actual landing site is about 10 miles away).

In 1993, the Florida chapter of the American Indian Movement protested high schoolers playing the role of natives. As a result, the park has taken over the event and uses it to tell both sides of de Soto's impact. The Park Service now officially states that the memorial's mission is to preserve the "controversial story."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Drake's Raid Latest info

Here's the latest information that I've got on the annual Drake's Raid event in St. Augustine, which is but a week away.

Greetings from the Officers and crew of Drakes Men.
This years 25th annv. of Drakes. Being so plans are in the works to make this years event truly special!
Arrival for set up in camping will begin at 12 noon June 2nd at the Fountain of Youth. Your tent and gear must be time period correct. We ask you remove your vehicle from the grounds once you have unpacked , please do this before you set up. No vehicles will be allowed after 8am sat the 4th- until Sunday morning the 5th.
This year we will have a parade to announce the siting of El Draco(Drake) this will happen the 3rd. We will muster at 5:30 on the corner of St George and Cathedral downtown. We will be honoring Robert Hall the father of reenacting in St Augastine. To end the parade we will be firing muskets and drilling at the redoudt. Diner and jollification to follow at FOY
The taking and burning of the town will be Sat. June 4th.
Muster in the parking lot of FOY at 6:15 pm (TROLLY TO LEAVE AT 6:30pm)
Battle to begin at 7 pm at the redoubt
Diner and jollification to follow at FOY
Brian Bowman: Overall Field Commander
Chris Clark & Chad Light: Spanish Commanders
William Kunze & Jeff Johnson: English Commanders
Melissa Johnson: Distaff

...And the older information:

Join us on June 4th, 2011 in the 25th reenactment of Sir Francis Drake’s Raid on old San Agustín.. During the day (June 4th) a 16th century-style military encampment will be open to the public at the Fountain of Youth Park and will play host to drills, demonstrations and living history interpretation from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The reenactment of the sacking and burning of the town will commence Saturday evening at 7:00 PM in the old city, beginning at the Old City Gates and ending in the Plaza. This military display is intended to symbolically commemorate the temporary abandonment of the city of St. Augustine by Spanish colonial forces. After the town was looted and burned by Drake’s men, the Spanish returned to rebuild upon the same streets you walk on today!

Drake's Raid is hosted by Companies of the Historic Florida Militia: The Men of Menendez, Heritage of the Ancient Ones (HOTAO), & Drake's Men.

Supported in part by the St. John’s County Tourist Development Council


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In the news; Pedro Menendez & Peter Martyr

Mystery of Menendez
St. Augustine Record
Documents, location, artifacts and the settlement history led her to identify it as where Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the founder of St. Augustine, ...

490 year old Spanish documents describe an Irish province in South Carolina
In 1519 Hernán Cortéshad led a band of 550 conquistadors and sailors into the heart of the Aztec Empire, in violation of orders from the Governor of Cuba, Diego Veláquez, In January 1521 he began a siege of the three Aztec capital cities of Texcoco, ...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cabrillo's Ship Under Construction

I haven't been out to the west coast in well over decade (Cabrillo Landing 1999 ) but the San Diego Maritime Museum has a new project that is giving me the urge to travel out that way again. They are building a replica of the the San Salvador Cabrillo's flagship used the explore the west coast in the 1540's. Starting in June the project is going to be open to public to watch it being built.


Monday, May 2, 2011

De Soto Trail kiosk in Plant City

Another of the new De Soto Trail kiosks makes an online appearance in Plant City.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Somebody Noticed!

I came across this op-ed which mentions The Company of Juan Ponce de León, and the event we held in St. Augustine at the beginning of April.


Sure, there are some good events in Florida. On April 2-3, at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park in St. Augustine, the living history group La Compañía de Juan Ponce de León, a group created to portray “The Company of Juan Ponce de León,” presented a re-enactment of a 16th-century Spanish encampment, and there were lectures by distinguished scholars and special activities for the children.

Friday, April 22, 2011


On the Commemoration front, it looks like the commissioners for the City of St. Augustine's 450th Anniversary has been named.


And the French want in too!

France had big contribution to St. Augustine's history

In the meantime progress of sorts is noticeable on the Ponce de Leon 500th front.

Strategic meeting for the V Centenary

It looks like Brevard County has rather ambitious plans for PdL commemoration 2013, though lacking in a lot of specifics.

Viva Florida - Events Search
Gala Celebration of the Landing of Don Juan Ponce de Leon in Melbourne Beach ... Unveiling of the Statue of Juan Ponce de Leon to Commemorate the Landing at ...

All 2013 dates - details evidently TBA


An Exhibition of Tall Ships to Celebrate the Landing of Juan Ponce de Leon at Melbourne Beach

Unveiling of the Statue of Juan Ponce de Leon to Commemorate the Landing at Melbourne Beach

Re-enactment of the Landing of Juan Ponce de Leon at Melbourne Beac

U.S. Airforce Fly Over at the Landing of Juan Ponce de Leon at Melbourne Beach

Religious Service to Celebrate the Landing of Juan Ponce de Leon at Melbourne Beach


And most recently a proposal:

Naming Barrier Island for Ponce De Leon Would Honor State Find


Though looking at the comments section attached to the news story its not looking too promising.

De Soto's Trail Kiosk

It's been a very busy past few weeks and I'm trying to get caught up with the blog. First up is a news report on the latest installation of a kiosk on the new version of the De Soto Trail project.

New Kiosk on Campus Marks De Soto's Trail
Santa Fe College
As part of the De Soto National Memorial project, Florida De Soto Trail, Santa Fe College was asked to host a kiosk commemorating part of Spanish conquistador Hernando de Soto and his army's journey as they traveled northward though Florida. ...

I had noticed that when I was at De Soto National Memorial for the timeline event in March that what I believe the last of the the original De Soto Trail waysides erected in the 1980's to commemorate the 450th Anniversary of the Soto entrada had been removed. The new kiosk had been installed by the landing event last weekend. I believe that as of this writing that the end point at the Martin Site in Tallahassee, and a couple of others as well in Hillsborough county are up as well. per the news story, " All 34 kiosks can be viewed on the website floridadesototrail.com when it's launched later this year" Right now its a place holder.

When I traveled to Arkansas 11 years ago for the De Soto 2000 event I drove along Florida's De Soto Trail adding hours to that trip) and stopped at the waysides that were still left. Even at point a scant 15 years after installation many of them had been vandalized and several were simply missing, apparently taken out by road widening projects and never reset. I even did a website on it, since vanished when I switched ISP's. But below are some photos culled from it:

A typical example of one of the 1980's waysides. The new ones are to be located within existing parks and other government facilitates in the hope that they new kiosks will have a longer lifespan.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

De Soto Landing Reenactment

2nd post today. Can you tell schools out today and I'm at home with my daughter?

De Soto National Memorial held its annual Landing Reenactment and last day day of the Park's Living History Camp last Saturday. The event has grown quite a bit since Calderon's Company began doing the landing 10 years ago. At the time Bill Burger had acquired at wooded boat being used as a yard decoration. With extensive repairs it became serviceable, enough that we rowed across the Manatee River from De Soto NM to Snead's Island about 1/2 mile in 2002.

Last year a new boat that De Soto National Memorial had commissioned joined the fleet. This year the Park added a small swivel gun to their boat, so we had two boats ans two cannon.
Elizabeth Neily has been kind enough to post some video of the 2011 landing reenactment on you tube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8jv4wc8HDU

Four members of FLH's Company of Ponce de Leon traveled across the State to join us.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Real or Reenactment?

Parade Magazine in this morning's paper, shilling for Robert Redford's latest film, has an online quiz for identifying photos as Real or Reenactment?


Though both my wife and I have been around the reenactment community for years, neither of us has ever done American Civil War. Still we managed to get 19 out of 20 correct. It's certainly a sobering when you realize that what appear to be very good very good impressions of the Civil War can be distinguished in a few seconds by amateurs. God only knows what our 16th C. Spanish counterparts would think of how we look.

In other news: it looks like the federal government won't be shut down and the De Soto Landing reenactment can go on as scheduled.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Photos from last Saturday's Ponce de Leon event

A couple of quick items on Ponce de Leon re-enactment. First some more photos from last Saturday's Ponce de Leon event at St. Augustine's Fountain of Youth.

Re-enactment Juan Ponce de Leon Landing St. Augustine, Florida ...
Visit spotted.staugustine.com where you can view photos taken by staff from The St. Augustine Record and share your own photos.
Second, I just came across some planning for Ponce commemoration in 2013. It's greatly lacking in details, with much TBA but it is nice to see somebody planning ahead.
Viva Florida - Events Search
Gala Celebration of the Landing of Don Juan Ponce de Leon in Melbourne Beach ... Unveiling of the Statue of Juan Ponce de Leon to Commemorate the Landing at ...

Monday, April 4, 2011

De Soto Landing

De Soto Landing
Dates: 04/16/2011
Times: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Location: De Soto National Memorial
Summary: The 62nd annual re-enactment of De Soto's Landing in Tampa Bay.
Fees: Free

Conquistador Landed in Tampa Bay May 30th 1539 to begin a four year journey that took him and an army of over 700 through the American Southeast. Annually since 1948 Re-enactments of De Soto's landing have been held at De Soto National Memorial. Join us as Park staff come ashore in historic dress and our De Soto claims La Florida for Spain. Then join us for a day full of activities and demonstrations about the Spanish and the Native American people who's lives would be forever altered by this expedition.

Contact: De Soto National Memorial
Email: daniel_stephens@nps.gov
Phone: 941-792-0458

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Re-Enacting Juan Ponce De Leon's Discovery

Okay this is shameless, but hey I'm somebody:

Re-Enacting Juan Ponce De Leon's Discovery
St. Augustine Record
By DARON DEAN, daron.dean@staugustine.com La Compania de Juan Ponce de Leon re-enactor Timothy Burke demonstrates chainmail armor for Steve Marteeny and his ...

Sunday, March 13, 2011

WTF: De Soto and Columbus

Every once and a while I come across a conquistador related news story that just cries out, WTF!

Sunday Favorites: Being Hernando de Soto is a Privilege and an Honor
The Bradenton Times

by Merab-Michal Favorite BRADENTON --

-- Curt Mahoney doesn’t like to talk about himself, but get him started on Hernando de Soto and he will talk your ear off. He knows about de Soto’s birthplace, he’ll tell you why de Soto left an impoverished town of Barcarrota, Spain. He’ll tell you how de Soto and Columbus were friends and roommates in Honduras and how Columbus tried double cross him and steal his gold. He’ll even tell you about the treacherous path de Soto’s army was subjected to while exploring Florida. Ironically, Mahoney is de Soto.

The folks at the Hernando de Soto Historical Society are a nice enough bunch. They do there thing and I do mine. But some of the facts I hear just make me shake my head inside my helmet. I'm not all that worried about nuances as to Soto's birthplace, which most scholars consider to be Jerez de los Caballeros rather than Barcarrota. But this Columbus claim defies all logic. Christopher Columbus died in 1506, Soto was born around 1500 (his DOB much his birthplace simply isn't recorded) and didn't leave for the New World until 1513. Although Columbus did visit Honduras on his last voyage and his bones did kept getting moved such that there's some dispute as to his final resting place, I don't believe that Soto and he ever crossed paths much less became roommates.

Nor, do I think its a case of any involvement with any of Columbus' descendants whose direct involvement in the New World had ceased by the the time Soto had gained any prominence. Rather I suspect that the kernal of truth behind this tale is based on Soto's involvement in a partnership with one Ponce de Leon, but it's not the Ponce de León famed for his discovery of Florida and the Fountain of Youth legend. Soto and this Ponce had a partnership dating from their time together as captains in the conquest of Central America. Lawsuits related to this partnership include an amazing amount of detail about the Florida entrada that would otherwise be lost to history. Soto, as then Governor of Cuba, had confiscated a Peruvian tent of cotton and llama wool from Ponce. It is reported in the testimony that Soto brought this tent to La Florida and that within a month it had begun to mildew and rot.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Timeline at FOY photos

Some photos of the timeline held at the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine last weekend have just been posted.


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Finding 'The First Lost Colony'

A brief article and a lecture announcement about the Berry Site thought to be the Joara of the Soto & Pardo expeditions.

In the News:
Finding 'The First Lost Colony'
Charlotte Observer


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Five centuries of military service at FOY

Five centuries of military service

A Patriotic Military Salute will be presented at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with living history reenactors portraying the military from Ponce de Leon's landing party through today's military, with demonstrations of the clothing, weapons, and accessories of soldiers, sailors and militia in our region's history. Brian Bowman 540.6625 has details for participating or spectating.

Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park
11 Magnolia Ave., St. Augustine, FL 32084
Email | Website

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fort Ortiz

This post is only peripherally related to 16th C. living history and conquistador reenactment, but if you bear with me I think I can pull if off.

I've been curious for years about a lone Spanish style sentry post or garita , located near Sarasota's Municipal Auditorium, similar to those on the walls of the Castillo de San Marcos in St, Augustine or El Morro in San Juan. Why is there one in Sarasota? The only fort that I know of associated with the area was the Seminole War era Fort Armistead. Was it the remnant of the entry to a failed subdivision or perhaps a garden "folly"? Maybe something related to one of Sarasota's many sister cities? There must be some story behind it. Below is a link to the Google Street View of it.


I'd taken these pictures of it a decade ago and while going through my digital photo collection for another project I came across them and decided to see if I could track down the history of this structure. The result was far cooler than I could have imagined. Terms like "sentry post' or "garita" failed but I did find a Sarasota History site www.sarasotahistoryalive.com.

They kindly and promptly responded to my query about the structure in question and even had a web page about it.

Spanish Fort Once Stood Behind Municipal Auditorium


and also in Google Books: Sarasota: A History

It seems that c. 1948 Karl Bickel, had a Weapons Park/Museum of Arms constructed adjacent to the Auditorium. As part of the complex "Fort Juan Ortiz" [named after Hernando de Soto's translator- no less!] with a breastwork and cannon facing out into the bay. The breastwork and cannon have long since been removed. I would imagine that was done in the 1970's when the Auditorium was remodeled leaving only the Sentential as a lone reminder of its bygone days when as my corespondent with Sarasota History Alive mentioned, "My friends and I used to play there as kids, and enjoyed our imaginary war games."

When I moved to Sarasota this Park and fort were long since gone. I suspect that it was removed when the Auditorium was renovated in the 1970's. But as a kid was was raised near Syracuse, NY and often had the "French Fort" (properly - Fort Ste. Marie de Gannentaha [hence "French fort in the local vernacular.]) as a playground.

The fort was a WPA project from the 1930's and as near as I can tell built more in the style of a US Army frontier post of the 19th century rather than one in the French 17th C. My brothers and I loved that place. The French Fort no longer stands, it was replaced and renamed with a much more authentic structure and living history program in the early 1990's Sainte Marie Among the Iroquois. I think I last visited the French Fort in the mid-1970's have yet to check out the new version. Although as a researching, authenticity striving reenactor I do appreciate the new emphasis; the kid in my will always miss the "French Fort" anachronistic and not remotely ADA compliant that it may have been. As the father of a now eight year old I do regret that the closest thing to a faux fort we have in these parts is the palisade wall at the living history camp at DNM, which is really meant as more of a a backdrop and safety barrier then the kind of place were you could climb ladders, shoot imaginary guns through loopholes, and fire the cannon without powder.

That's me, second from the right, with my Mom and brothers c.1965.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Santa Elena, South Carolina: Fort San Marcos (1577)

Santa Elena, South Carolina: Fort San Marcos (1577)
How do you convert a 434 year old sketch by a Spanish engineer into a 21st century computer model?

One of the real treasures, dating from the earliest colonization of North America, is a sketch of a prefabricated fort on what is now Parris Island, SC by Spanish Army Engineering Officer, Captain Alvaro Flores de Valdés. The scaled drawing made possible a reasonably accurate three dimensional computer model of Fort San Marcos and an adjacent church. It is a glimpse into the world of over four centuries ago.

Continue reading on Examiner.com:


Also, links to similar articles and recreations below:

The French :
Charlesfort (1562 AD) - Parris Island, South Carolina
Fort Caroline: Jacksonville, Florida (1564)

Fort Raleigh: Roanoke Island, North Carolina


Mission Santa Catalina de Guale - Part One

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Question of Daily Rations

I remember that one day seven horsemen left the camp to ranchear (that is, to look for food) and to kill some little dog, for in that land all of us were accustomed to eating these animals and held the day fortunate when a portion of one fell to our lot.

- Garcilaso de la Vega

On Thursday the chief of Coste came out to receive them in peace, and took the Christians to sleep in a village of his; and he was offended because some soldiers provisioned [ranchearon] themselves from, or, rather, robbed [saquearon] him of, some barbacoas of corn against his will.

Rodrigo Ranjel

I recently got an interesting question regarding any sources for the specific ration of a 16th c. Spanish soldier and in particular for those accompanying Ponce de Leon's explorations. " I have found lots of references to types of food, but nothing concrete on the specific daily ration." Alas, I too found most of my sources largely silent as to a daily ration for soldiers. This is probably because soldiers were expected to supplement their rations with forage. Noted above in passages from accounts of the De Soto expedition.

A typical example is found in Charles Hudson's The Juan Pardo Expeditions. Although the appendices (Accounts of the supplies and equipment distributed and used up during Pardo's foray's into northern la Florida [the modern day Carolinas & Tennessee c.1566-1568].) are quite detailed as to the overall quantities and types of rations its is annoying short of a per person breakdown, unlike for example shoes and sandals distributed to the soldiers by name!

"In regards to the bread, wine and cheese [it was used up] in giving it and dividing it to the soldiers of his company, as it was given and divided at times of greatest need when the journey was being made, as is certain and notorious." p.341

But I have found a couple of examples which can give us an idea as a basic marching ration.

Narváez/Cabeza de Vaca C. 1528 in La Florida
Leaving the Port of La Cruz for the interior:
.The Governor ordered two pounds of biscuit and half a pound of bacon rationed each man who was going with him.4

We traveled [northward] for fifteen days on our rations without finding anything edible but palmettos... 5

32/15 =roughly 2oz of biscuit /day 8/15 =roughly 0.5 oz of protein/day
...the best selling Conquistador Diet!

One of the mounted men...drowned with [his] horse...This death hit us hard, for until now not a man had been lost. The horse meanwhile, furnished a supper for many that night.6

Covey, Cyclone Trans.& Annot. Cabeza de Vaca’s Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America (University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque: 1993) p.31.
4 Covey. p.35.
5 Covey. p.36.
6 Covey. p.37.

More to the point, for Ponce de Leon reenactment which was a sea based expedition can be found in Pablo E. Perez-Mallaina's Spain's Men of the Sea:

"As an example, although there were others that were practically identical, I am going to discuss the daily rations per person for crews on the armada captained by Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1568.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and Saturdays: a pound and a half of biscuit, one liter of water, one liter of wine, half a peck of a mixture of horse beans and chickpeas for each twelve persons (150 grams or 5.3oz per person )and one pound of salted fish for each three persons (153.3 grams or 5.4oz per person).

Tuesdays: a pound and a half of biscuit, one liter of water, one liter of wine, one pound of mixed rice and oil for each ten persons (46 grams or 1.6oz [I assume this the is uncooked weight] per person. and half a pound of salt pork.

Sundays and Thursdays a pound and a half of biscuit, one liter of water, one liter of wine, one pound of salted meat, two ounces of cheese.

Friday, February 4, 2011

School of the 16th C.

More photos of the Men of Menendez's School of the 16th C., which was held last weekend, have been posted on line:


Sunday, January 30, 2011

School of the 16th C.

This morning, I came across this blog showing some kids having fun at HFM's Men of Menendez School of the 16th C. that was held yesterday. I wasn't there myself. and haven't heard back from anyone who was as yet.

School...on Saturday??


Saturday, January 29, 2011

"Archers " or Adventures in Research

I got a recent query regarding the the use of native and clothing by members of the Soto entrada. The clothing aspect was easy as I had scoured and complied, (and most importantly saved the document file through 3 or 4 computer changes) the chronicles for that information a decade ago for the De Soto 2000 event in Parkin, Arkansas. A typical example:

And so you know, reader, what life these Spaniards led, Rodrigo Rangel, as an eyewitness, says that among many other needs of men that were experienced in this enterprise, he saw a nobleman named Don Antonio Osorio, brother of the Lord Marquis of Astorga, with a doublet of blankets of that land, torn on the sides, his flesh exposed, without a hat, bare-headed, bare-footed, without hose or shoes, a shield at his back, a sword without a scabbard, the snows and cold very great;...1

As they passed all the nights formed in squadrons and had such little clothing to wear—for the best equipped among them had only breeches and jackets of deerskin, and almost all were barefooted, without shoes or sandals...2

Clayton, Lawrence A., Vernon James Knight Jr. and Edward C. More. De Soto Chronicles Vol. I &II (The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa: 1993.)

1 Clayton. Vol. I. p.296.

2 Clayton. Vol. II. p.375

I also recalled that two members of the expedition had used Indian bows, one an Englishman, the other a Spaniard raised in England. It was noted that the Native bows were too heavily strung for a regular Castilian to draw. By way of explanation, the English who had used the longbow to such devastating effect during the Hundred Years War had kept the longbow and the years of training required to use it, in their arsenal well into the sixteenth century. In fact the greatest trove of English bows and arrows comes form the Mary Rose which sank in 1545 just after the Soto expedition had ended. Garcilaso describes the Indian weapons:

The Indians make use of all sorts of arms except the crossbow and the musket. They believe that the bow and arrow give them a particular grace, and for that reason they always carry them to the chase and to the war. But as they have a very convenient height, their bows are very long and large in proportion. They are of oak ordinarily, or of some other wood of this sort; it is for this reason that they are difficult to bend, and there is no Spaniard who can draw the cord to his face, whereas the Indians draw it even behind the ear, and make astonishing allots. The cord of their bow is of the skin of the stag, and this is how they make it: from the skin of the stag they cut from the tail to the head a thong two fingers in breadth. Then they take the hair from this thong, soak it, twist it, and attach one end of it to the branch of a tree, and the other to a weight of one hundred or one hundred and twenty pounds, and leave this skin until it becomes in the form of a large catgut. Finally, in order not to wound the left arm with the cord when it is discharged, they make use of a half armlet of large feathers, which covers it from the wrist to the elbow. and which is secured with a leather strap, with which they make several turns around the arm, and thus they discharge the cord with a force altogether remarkable.11.


I was pretty sure that, like most of the good stuff, I had likewise found the story of the two conquistadors using bows in Garcilaso's Florida of the Inca. But I'm a footnote kind of guy when it comes to passing along information. The oral tradition is great but sometimes I think gets relied on too often in reenactment. One rarely gets challenged when talking to the public but I really like being able to tell where some tidbit of information comes from. So I did term search (bow, longbow, Englishmen, England) on the electronic version of Garcilaso referenced above. No luck, which wasn't too surprising since that e-version of
Florida of the Inca has numerous OCR scan faults and is abridged too. I checked the indices of both my hardbound copies of the Garcilaso translations, the above mentioned Vol.II of The De Soto Chronicles and the Varner and Varner edition. Again I couldn't find it. I term searched the other three Soto narratives that I've got in html format and still nothing, likewise the index to Vol.I of the Chronicles was a dead end.

Though beginning to wonder if I was falling prey to the above mentioned errors of the oral tradition it was time for, in the terminology of Itunes, "deeper cuts". Recalling that the 1939 Final Report of the United States De Soto Expedition Commission by John R. Swanton had a breakdown of the members of the expedition by origin. There on p.83 confirmation that I had remembered the story correctly.

Garcilaso tells of one Englishman who insisted on keeping his longbow instead of adopting a crossbow, in which he was accompanied by a Spaniard who had lived in England until he was twenty.

The footnote attached to this sentence referenced a long out of print edition of Florida of the Inca, but just the kind of public domain obscurity that Google Books is meant for. Of course I couldn't find it either. But they had scanned Varner & Varner. "Englishman" turned up one result on page 596. "Archer" was the term I should have looked for! So here it is;
in context this incident is during the final days of the entrada as the survivors make their way down the Mississippi river in barges.

One archer was a Spaniard who from childhood to the age of twenty had been reared in England, another was an Englishman by birth; therefore as men experienced in the arms of England and skillful with the bow and arrow, they would use no weapons but those throughout the whole expedition, and for this reason were carrying them at present.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The King Site Sword

One of few large relics of the conquistadors found in the US is the King Site Sword, thought to have come from the De Soto expedition.

A Spanish Sword from the King Site