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A Timeline of St. Augustine 1512–1886

St. Augustine Under Three Flags


Jump to year:
1512 1564 1565 1580 1586
1598 1599 1638 1512 1512
1656 1665 1680 1685 1690
1691 1693 1695 1702 1727
1737 1740 1742 1743 1762
1764 1784 1792 1812 1821
  1836 1875 1886  

In 1512 Juan Ponce De Leon, in search of gold and the fountain of youth, sailed from Porto Rico and on 27th March he landed in latitude 30° 8', slightly north of St. Augustine. The Indian name of the country was Cautio, but Ponce de Leon named it Florida, having discovered it on Easter Sunday. The Spaniards planted a cross, unfurled the royal banner, and took the oath of allegiance to Ferdinand, in whose name they took possession.

In 1564, on 22nd June, three French vessels, under the command of Rene De Laudonniere, anchored off the mouth of the Matanzas River. Laudonniere landed, was well received by the Indians and, before sailing for the River May (St. Johns), he named it the river of Dolphins.

In 1565 Pedro Menendez landed at the river of Dolphins; the day being the 28th of August, the festival of St. Augustine, he named the spot after that Saint. On the same day Jean Ribaut, the Huguenot leader, reached the mouth of the St. Johns River. Ribaut sailed to attack the Spaniards at St. Augustine, Menendez marched to attack the French at the St. Johns. The French vessels were wrecked by a storm on the island south of the Matanzas Inlet. Menendez captured the French fort on the St. Johns, and hung all the captives to the boughs of the live oaks. The wrecked Frenchmen were conveyed across the inlet in batches of tens and slain by Menendez, the total number of lives taken in this massacre being 350.

In 1580 Coquina was discovered on Anastasia Island by Pedro Menendez Marquez.

In 1586 Sir Francis Drake with twenty-one vessels arrived at St. Augustine; he sacked and burnt both the Fort San Juan de Pinos and the town. He robbed the treasury chest of two thousand pounds—St. Augustine at this period boasted of a hall of justice, a church, and a monastery.

Fort San Juan de Pinos was a rude structure built of logs and earth and without a ditch. The palisades were built of cabbage palmettos driven in the ground. The platforms were constructed by laying the bodies of pine trees horizontally on each other and filling intervening space with earth well rammed. Upon this platform were mounted fourteen brass cannon, of what caliber is not mentioned.

In 1598 the Castle was built of sand and timber.

Large quantity of stone cut for new castle, and lime-kiln built of brick to burn lime.

The Spaniards were very active in mission work among the Indians. One of the proslytes, the son of the chief of the island of Guale, relapsed into barbarism and attacked and slew Farther Corpa, who lived at the Indian village of Tolomato, situated where the present Catholic cemetery is, on Cordova Street.

Proceeding from Tolomato this band entered the house of Father Rodriguez at the village named Topiqui; here, at the father's request, they waited while he celebrated mass then killed him literally at the foot of the altar.

During the ensuing forty years mission work met with success and a catechism was printed in the Indian language, the first work ever published in that tongue.

In 1599, March 14th, Convent of St Francis at St. Augustine burned.

In 1638 the Spaniards had trouble with the Appalachian Indians; the captured tribesmen were forced to work on the fortifications and they and their descendants were kept at that employment for sixty years.

In 1655 the Parish Church was built of wood.

In 1656 the Governor writes, "I find this Castle in a tumbled-down condition on account of its being built of wood."

In 1665 John Davis, a Boucanier, burned St. Augustine, but "did not get much booty," as the old writer tells us, "for the people of this place are very poor."

In 1680 Governor Cebra accumulated large quantity of material consisting of stone, oyster shell, lime, cement, timber and iron for the prosecution of the work on the fort. His successors continued to collect supplies.

In 1685 size of stone cut from the quarries were 6 feet long, 4 to 5 feet wide and 2 to 5 feet deep. Each one was carried by cross bars from the barges by Indians, after which they were placed in position on the fort.

In 1690 the Governor wrote to the King of Spain: "The sea is making encroachments upon the city, which threatens to separate the fort entirely from the inhabitants."

In 1691 King Philip IV. Issued an order "that stone be obtained from the quarries and a sea wall be built the entire length of the City of San Augustine for its protection. That an appropriation be sent for that purpose of $2,000."

The old wall, which was begun soon after this time, was a slight structure and extended only to the basin in front of the Plaza.

In 1693–1701 the Governor kept constantly in operation two lime-kilns, also employed thirty stone cutters in getting out stone from the quarries, and eight yoke of oxen hauling the coquina to the landing on quarry creek.

In 1695 Jonathan Dickerson, the shipwrecked Philadelphia Quaker, came to St. Augustine. He found the fort, curtain, and bastion walls thirty feet high.

In 1702 the English colonists under Governor Moore, laid siege to the fort, then named "San Marco," and for three months the garrison and citizens were confined within its walls. There were sorties, feints and strategies, but the bombardment made no effect and Moore tired of the fruitless effort; he raised the siege, burnt the town and retired to his home. In this expedition Colonel Daniels, who commanded the land forces, arrived before the fleet and "immediately attacked and captured the town, driving the inhabitants into the fort."

In 1727 Colonel Palmer, of South Carolina, with a force of three hundred men, laid waste the whole country and pushed forward up to "the gates of St. Augustine." This is the first mention we have of the gates and they proved too strong for Palmer who could not force and entrŽe into the place.

In 1737 (from Governor's report) "The fort has no casemates for the shelter of the men, no necessary elevation of the counter scarp, nor covert ways, nor ravelins to the curtains, nor other exterior works that could give time for a long defense, and no cannon that could be fired continuously for twenty-four hours. Large appropriations of money were sent, also a number of new cannon assigned to the fort. From this time great energy and skill was applied till the completion of the fort in 1756.

In 1740 governor Oglethorpe, of Georgia, with three vessels and a considerable land force, invested St. Augustine and again the citizens took refuge behind the coquina walls of the fort. Colonists captured Fort Moosa and Colonel Palmer, with a small command, was placed in charge. The Spaniards made a night attack and, though a stout resistance was made, they re-captured the fort and took some prisoners. Here the gallant Palmer fell, fighting to the last in the moat or ditch. Oglethorpe erected batteries on Anastasia Island and on North Beach, the remains of the Poza battery, opposite the fort, on the island, are still existent. Oglethorpe, like Palmer in 1727, found the city defense too strong to be captured by assault and he sat down to regularly invest the place. From the 24th May till 9th July the bombardment of the fort was carried on, but it produced no result, and the garrison obtaining supplies from Cuba via Mosquito inlet, the siege was raised and Georgians returned to their homes.

In 1742 the Spaniards from St. Augustine marched against Georgia, but were repulsed with loss.

In 1743 Oglethorpe made a sudden descent upon Florida and marched "to the gates of St. Augustine" when his Indian allies captured and slew forty Spaniards under the very walls of the fort.

In 1762 a treaty ceding Florida to Great Britain in exchange for Cuba which had fallen into the hands of the latter, was ratified. The twenty years of British occupation was a period of peace and commerce. Public works were pushed forward, sugar and indigo plantations were established and St. Augustine flourished. During the year 1770, fifty schooners and several square-rigged vessels entered the port. Florida indigo brought the highest price of any sold in the London market; forty thousand pounds were exported in 1772. During the revolutionary war St. Augustine remained loyal to Great Britain and the old fort received many prisoners.

In 1764 the English barracks were south of present barracks. The lower story was built of pressed brick, the superstructure was of wood.

In 1767 Dr. Turnbull imported fourteen hundred people from the island of Minorca and located them at New Smyrna. For nine years these people worked on the plantations there and then revolted, obtained their freedom, and, the remnants of the colonists, some six hundred in number, settled in St. Augustine, where their descendants are a large and thriving portion of the citizens at the present time.

In 1784 Florida was re-ceded to Spain in exchange for the Bahama Islands, and all the British population left in the country.

In 1792 the English barracks were burnt. The soldiers took refuge in St. Francis Convent, which has been occupied for military purposes ever since. The walls of this convent are without doubt the oldest in the city of St. Augustine.

In 1812 a number of frontiersmen, Americans, banded themselves under the leadership on general John H. McIntosh, under the title of patriots, and attacked the Spaniards in Florida. They captured, with the aid of nine American gunboats, Fernandina and attacked St. Augustine, captured and occupied Fort Moosa, but were shelled out of it by a schooner; they failed to damage the town, the defenses of which were altogether too strong for them.

In 1821, on the 12th July, the flag of Spain gave place to the Stars and Stripes on the old fort which was renamed "Fort Marion."

In 1836 Osceola, the patriot Seminole Chief was captured. He was invited to a conference with General Hernandez at Moultrie to which he came, under a flag of truce, accompanied by eighty warriors, all unarmed. During the conference the mounted troops closed in and Osceola and his companions were captured without a struggle. Osceola was confined in Fort Marion together with the two Chiefs Coacoochee and Hadjo; the two latter effected their escape by squeezing through the iron bars and dropping into the moat. Osceola was sent to Charleston, where he died in captivity.

In 1836–1842 the present sea wall was built by the United States Government, east of the old wall.

In 1875 a number of Western Indians were confined in Fort Marion.

In 1886 seventy-seven Apache Indian prisoners were sent to St. Augustine and confined in the fort.

The massive, iron-bound mahogany treasury chest brought from Spain, A. D. 1565, by Pedro Menendez, was destroyed during the civil war. It contained three locks which could only be opened by separate keys. It stood in the casemate on the left hand side of the Castle San Marco. Was used for silver coin which was brought in bags from Cuba. The men, while unloading the vessel, were not permitted to wear shoes or stockings, and were guarded on each side by soldiers with drawn swords.

Pay day the Governor was seated on the right of the table, the Captain General on the left, while at the end, between the other two, sat the Treasurer. The Spanish troops were paid from this money; also other government officials.

Distinguished as Priest and Patriot, Father Varela's memory is perpetuated by the erection of the chapel in the cemetery on Cordova Street in 1853 by his beloved pupils in Cuba.

Excerpt from Wylie, H. S. "St. Augustine Under Three Flags" St. Augustine Under Three Flags, Record Press, St. Augustine, 1898, pp. 5–26.


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