1702 – Siege of San Agustín
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The siege took place from November to December 1702
At the time of the declaration of war in 1702, there were already tensions on the frontier between the Spanish establishments of Florida and the English Province of Carolina.
In 1700, the English had even claimed the recently founded (1698) settlement of Pensacola.
In 1701, English parties accompanied by their Creek allies had raided the Apalachee region where the Spaniards had 14 missions.
In May 1702, English and Creeks had burned the mission of Santa Fé de Toloca in Northern Florida.
On 20 August, the Carolina Commons rejected a proposal of Governor James Moore to design an attack against the Spanish settlements in Florida.
On 26 August, news of the declaration of war finally reached Charles Town (present-day Charleston).
In early September, the Carolina Commons authorised the expedition against San Agustín.
In October, the Spanish Governor of Florida had launched a punitive expedition against the Creek Indians which turned to disaster.
Emboldened by this recent success against the Spaniards, Moore organised an expedition against the fortress of Castillo de San Marcos at San Agustín in northeast Florida.
Moore assembled a force consisting of approx. 500 provincial militiamen, 350 Indians (Yamasee, Tallapoosa, and Alabama warriors, principally led by a Yamasee chief named Arratommakaw) and four light guns (6-pdrs and 10-pdrs).
Early in October, Moore's colonists embarked aboard 14 boats and sailed to Port Royal (present-day Beaufort/SC) where he awaited the Indian contingent who, under the command of Deputy Governor Colonel Robert Daniel, marched to the rendez-vous. Daniel's Indians embarked aboard the boats of Moore's flotilla.
On 16 October, Moore's flotilla sailed from Port Royal for Florida. On its way to San Agustín, Moore's forces destroyed all but two Spanish communities in the provinces of Guale and Timucua
On 27 October, Governor of Florida, José de Zúñiga y la Cerda, received intelligence about this expedition and decided to assemble inhabitants and provisions inside the Castillo de San Marcos. He required assistance from neighbouring French settlement at Mobile and from Spanish settlements at Pensacola. Locally, Zúñiga could count on only 174 regulars, 14 artillerymen, 44 militiamen, 123 poorly armed Indians and 57 black men (freemen, mulattoes and slaves). He also had 2 frigates: La Gloria and Nuestra Señora de la Piedad y el Niño Jesús.
On 3 November, Daniel's Indian force was landed on Isla Santa Maria (present-day Amelia Island), some 90 km north of San Agustín.
In the night of 3 to 4 November, Daniel's force attacked the northern end of Isla Santa Maria, making itself master of the village of San Pedro de Tupiqui. Daniel then advanced southward pushing back the inhabitants and the few soldiers posted on the island.
On 4 November, Daniel captured the settlements of San Felipe and San Marcos on Isla Santa Maria.
While Daniel spread panic on Isla Santa Maria, Moore had sailed southwards to Matanzas Bay and San Agustín. He sent 3 of his vessels forward to block the entrance to Matanzas Bay.
On 5 November, Zúñiga sent Captain Joseph de Horruytiner at the head of 20 men northward. Horruytiner was instructed to take position on the San Juan del Puerto River (present-day St. Johns River), some 30 km north of San Agustín.
On 6 November, Horruytiner, who had reached his assigned position at San Juan del Puerto River, captured 3 men. He then decided to return to San Agustín instead of making a stand along the river. Daniel was thus free to advance unopposed towards San Agustín.
On 7 November, Moore's 3 first vessels were spotted from Castillo de San Marcos.
On 8 November, Horruytiner arrived at San Agustín with his prisoners from whom Zúñiga learned that Moore had provisions for three months and was not well equipped in artillery (only 6-pdrs and 10-pdrs). The same day, Moore's flotilla appeared in front of San Agustín. Zúñiga immediately ordered his 2 frigates to anchor under the protection of the guns of the Castillo de San Marcos. However, the Nuestra Señora de la Piedad y el Niño Jesús was unable to pass the bar and had to be burned. The crew of this frigate provided 16 men to the garrison to handle guns.
On 9 November the Gloria, under Captain Luis Alonso managed to slip out of the Matanzas Inlet and to sail for Havana to request some assistance. In the afternoon, inhabitants poured into the Castillo de San Marcos which now contained 1,500 persons.
On 10 November, Daniel's force reached San Agustín and made itself master of the town without meeting any resistance. Furthermore, 8 of Moore's vessels passed the bar and landed troops. The Spaniards had enough time to bring 163 head of cattle into the dry moat of the Castillo de San Marcos. The fort was a traditional star-shaped stone fortification. Moore immediately undertook siege operations under the fire of the fort. A Spanish 16-pdr gun exploded, killing 3 men and wounding 5.
On 14 November, the English occupied the village of Nombre de Dios, 1 km north of San Agustín. For their part, the Spaniards sallied from the fortress and destroyed part of the town of San Agustín which was within range of the fort and could be used by the English to plant artillery.
Moore soon realised that he would be unable to capture the fortress with his 16 light guns (including guns taken from his boats).
Around 22 November, Moore sent Daniel to Jamaica to obtain heavier artillery.
On 24 November, the trenches were within musket range from the walls of the Castillo de San Marcos.
On 25 November, Moore gave orders to burn part of San Agustín, including the Franciscan monastery.
On 2 December, the Governor of Havana, Pedro Nicolás Benítez, held a council of war where it was decided to send a force to relieve San Agustín. In the following days, Captain López de Solloso at the head of 200 foot sailed from Havana aboard a squadron commanded by General Estevan de Berroa.
On December 14, Moore tried to make himself master of the Castillo de San Marcos with a stratagem. He sent a Yamasee couple, posing as refugees, to seek asylum in the fort. They were supposed to set fire to the powder magazine but a suspicious Zúñiga tortured them and they finally admitted the plot.
On 19 December, 58 Spaniards sallied from the fort to try to break encirclement but were driven back into the fort.
On 24 December, supply ships arrived from Charles Town for Moore's forces. The same day, a small Spanish relief force marched from San Luis de Apalachee. It was still on its way when news came that the English had lifted the siege.
On 28 December, Berroa's squadron (4 vessels including a 22-guns frigate and a 16-guns frigate) arrived outside of the harbour of San Agustín.
On 29 December, Zúñiga managed to establish communication with Berroa who landed 70 recruits under Solloso on Anastasia Island, some 4.8 km below the the Castillo de San Marcos. Berroa also sent some ships to block the southern inlet to Matanzas Bay, thus trapping 8 of Moore's vessels in the bay. Moore saw that he had no other choice than to to lift the siege and prepare a retreat. He gave orders to set fore to what remained of San Agustín.
On 30 December, Moore lifted the siege and burnt 8 of his vessels before retreating to Charles Town. His force marched northwards to the mouth of the San Juan del Puerto River where his militiamen re-embarked. Zúñiga was able to save 3 out of the 8 vessels that Moore had set afire.
The Spaniards immediately started work to fortify and strengthen San Agustín and the Castillo de San Marcos.
On his return to Charles Town, Moore was forced to resign his post as governor.
For his part, Zúñiga was appointed Governor of Cartagena.
Arnade, Charles W.: The Siege of St. Augustine in 1702], University of Florida, 1959
National Park Service – [http://www.nps.gov/casa/planyourvisit/upload/Siege%20of%201702.pdf The Siege of 1702 November 9 - 30 December, 1702]
Wikipedia – Siege of St. Augustine (1702)