A collection of blogs and musings from the people that work at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum - Florida's Finest Lightstation.

April 2010 Archives

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April 30, 2010

April 30, 1686: Pirate Raid on the Oldest Port!

Posted by: Chuck Meide in LAMPosts

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Fort Matanzas was constructed by the Spanish in 1742 to guard the inlet located 14 miles south of the oldest port. Its need was recognized after serious "back door" attacks on St. Augustine like Brigaut's April 30, 1686 incursion.

When we think of pirate raids on the nation's oldest port (and by that I don't mean the Johnny Depp-Hollywood caricature pirates who have descended on St. Augustine only in the last decade or so), we usually think of English privateers, such as Searles or Drake. Other English invaders from the sea included Governors Moore and Oglethorpe of South Carolina and Georgia.

Today is the anniversary of a brutal French attempt to sack the oldest port. Its a bloody story involving shipwreck, torture, and a ultimately a victory over the invaders.

Again I'll turn the story over to one of my favorite guest-bloggers, Davis Walker of Florida Living History, to tell the tale:

April 30, 1686: Brigaut’s Raid – The notorious French buccaneer, Michel, “Chevalier” de Grammont, commanding his 52-gun ship, the Hardi (French: “Audacious”), with a galliot under Nicolas Brigaut, and a sloop, threatens the Spanish presidio of San Agustín (present-day St. Augustine, FL). On April 30, Brigaut’s galliot, flying Spanish colors, anchors at Matanzas Inlet, south of the presidio, to gather intelligence, while Grammont remains concealed further south. Deceived by Brigaut’s ruse, captives are taken and tortured for information. However, Spanish troops soon appear on the beach. The following morning, the foes engage in a firefight, but worsening weather grounds the galliot on a sandbar. The next day, Brigaut’s men, “carrying their arms in their mouths, waded ashore, and dug holes in the beach from which they poured a heavy fire into the Spanish troops.”

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April 26, 2010

Underwater Archaeology at Mt. Vernon

Posted by: Chuck Meide in LAMPosts

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LAMP is partnering with Mt. Vernon's Archaeology Department to learn more about the maritime heritage of George Washington's home. Washington's estate and business operations were located on the Potomac River, and this is the first underwater archaeology search in the home waters of our nation's Founding Father. Learn more about the project on George Washington's official blog, George Washington Wired . . .

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April 21, 2010

Film Crew at Lighthouse for Jeff Davis Documentary

Posted by: Chuck Meide in LAMPosts

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Peter Pepe of Pepe Productions interviewing LAMP Director Chuck Meide for the upcoming documentary "Search for the Jefferson Davis."

You may have noticed that our LAMPosts blog updates have been somewhat rare of late. All of us at LAMP have been very busy lately, working round the clock to finish the writing of the First Coast Maritime Archaeology Project Final Report. Yesterday we took a brief break to work with the film crew from Pepe Productions, who last visited us in June 2009 to film our diving and research activities during the summer field school. They have been working on a documentary focusing on our ongoing search for the Confederate privateer and ex-slaver Jefferson Davis, wrecked in St. Augustine in 1861. I thought I'd give a quick update on the blog.

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April 4, 2010

Easter Discoveries

Posted by: Chuck Meide in LAMPosts

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As many of us are celebrating Easter with our families this weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to recall one of the great maritime discoveries made during the Easter holiday, the official discovery and naming of Florida back in 1513. Ponce de Leon made first landfall on Florida sands somewhere in the vicinity of Ponte Vedra right here on our First Coast. Florida got its name because the discovery was made during Eastertide or the Easter Season, exemplified by the Spanish Catholic Pascua Florida ("flowery festival" or "feast of flowers").

Our friend Davis Walker of Florida Living History, Inc., sends out fantastic Florida history posts on a regular basis. I thought I'd share his most recent, a brief overview of the expedition that formally discovered Florida. He writes:

April 3, 1513: Don Juan Ponce de León (1474-July 1521), the “First Conquistador,” veteran of the Reconquista, companion of Christopher Columbus, conqueror and governor of Borinquén (now Puerto Rico), knight of the Order of Calatrava, is commissioned by his King, Ferdinand of Spain, to discover and explore “Terra Bimini,” unknown land to the northwest of Borinquén. His small squadron of three ships – the Santiago (caravel), the Santa María de la Consolación (nao), and the San Cristóbal (bergantín) – sails from Aguada, Puerto Rico on March 3rd. The “First Fleet” is piloted by Anton de Alaminos, perhaps the greatest Caribbean navigator of his day. On board are about 65 companions – white mariners and soldiers (including one white slave, Juan de León), two Native American slaves (Perico and Fernando), two free black Africans (both named Jorge), and one woman (Juana Jiménez). These last will become the first blacks and the first European woman known to set foot in the continental U.S.

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