December 30,This day during the Queen Anne’s War (1702–1713)

December 30, 1702 – Siege of St. Augustine 1702 was an action in Queen Anne’s War during November and December 1702. It was conducted by English provincial forces from the Province of Carolina and their native allies, under the command of Carolina’s governor James Moore, against the Spanish colonial fortress of Castillo de San Marcos at St. Augustine, in Spanish Florida. After destroying coastal Spanish communities north of St. Augustine, Moore’s forces arrived at St. Augustine on 10 November, and immediately began siege operations. The Spanish governor, Joseph de Zúñiga y Zérda, had had enough advance warning of their arrival to withdraw civilians and food supplies into the fortress, and to send messengers to nearby Spanish and French communities for relief. The English guns did little damage to the fortress walls, prompting Governor Moore to send an appeal to Jamaica for larger guns. The Spanish calls for relief were successful; a fleet sent from Havana, Cuba landed troops nearby on 29 December. Moore lifted the siege the next day, and was forced to burn many of his boats before retreating back to Charles Town in disgrace. English and Spanish colonization efforts in southeastern North America began coming into conflict as early as the middle of the 17th century. The founding in 1670 by the English of Charles Town (present-day Charleston, South Carolina) in the recently-established (1663) Province of Carolina heightened tensions. Traders, raiders, and slavers from the new province penetrated into Spanish Florida, leading to raiding and reprisal expeditions on both sides. In 1700, Carolina’s governor, Joseph Blake, threatened the Spanish that English claims to Pensacola, established by the Spanish in 1698, would be enforced. Blake’s death later that year interrupted these plans, and he was replaced in 1702 by James Moore. Even before news of the war declarations opening the War of the Spanish Succession arrived in the colonies, Moore proposed an expedition against Spanish Florida’s capital, St. Augustine. News of the war’s formal opening arrived in 1702, and Moore convinced the provincial assembly in September 1702 to fund an expedition against St. Augustine. Moore raised a force of colonists and Indians, the latter a combination of Yamasee, Tallapoosa, and Alabama warriors, principally led by a Yamasee chief named Arratommakaw. The exact size of these forces varies by source; accounts provide numbers ranging from 800 to 1,200 in strength; most sources say that about 500 colonists and 300–400 Indians took part.[2] Some of this force, primarily the Indians, went overland to Port Royal under the command of Deputy Governor Robert Daniell, while Moore embarked the rest of the force on 14 boats. These forces joined at Port Royal, and Daniell’s force was landed on what is now known as Amelia Island (it was called Isla Santa Maria by the Spanish, and was part of Florida’s Guale Province), while Moore sailed on to Matanzas Bay. The Castillo de San Marcos at St. Augustine was built in the later years of the 17th century, in part because previous English raids demonstrated the inadequacy of wooden fortifications, and to address the threat posed by the founding of Charles Town. The fortress, a fairly conventional star fort, was constructed from soft coquina limestone. Governor Joseph de Zúñiga y Zérda assumed command of the post in 1700. Natives friendly to the Spanish heard of the recruitment, and word of the expedition reached Zúñiga on October 27. He ordered the town’s inhabitants into the fort, commandeered all food stores in anticipation of an extended siege, and dispatched messengers to Pensacola, Havana, and the French at Mobile with calls for assistance. Refugees swelled the civilian population to about 1,500, of which only a small number were deemed capable of military action. Zúñiga estimated the food provisions brought in to be sufficient for a siege of three months’ duration Some of Zúñiga’s men wanted to do battle with the English; the governor identified, in addition to 174 regulars and 14 artillerymen, 44 Europeans from the population that were fit for action, 123 Indians (most armed with poor-quality or useless weapons), and 57 Negroes (freemen, mulattoes, and slaves) of which only 20 had any experience with weapons. Zúñiga did not consider either the Indians or the Negroes to be trustworthy, and estimated that only about 70 men of this entire force were actually prepared for a battle. He consequently prepared for a siege. His principal concern was the training of the artillerymen, of whom he wrote that they “had no service record, lacked discipline, and have only a slight knowledge of the … guns which are mounted.” Daniell’s forces landed on Amelia Island, and began attacks on the northern end of the island at midnight on 3 November, killing two Spanish soldiers and overrunning the village of San Pedro de Tupiqui. They advanced south, driving southward a flood of refugees and the few Spanish troops on the island. The main settlements at San Felipe and San Marcos were overrun the next day, as the Spanish were in the process of evacuating them. Zúñiga learned of the advance on 5 November, and sent 20 men under Captain Joseph de Horruytiner north, with instructions to make a stand at San Juan del Puerto, seven leagues from St. Augustine, which Zúñiga saw as the “key to the province of Guale”. The news also prompted Zúñiga to mobilize all able-bodied men over 14, and order all available food into the fort. Horruytiner never made it beyond the St. Johns River; he did capture three enemy soldiers (two Englishmen and a Chiluque Indian) on 6 November, and returned with them to St. Augustine two days later. Zúñiga learned from these captives that the English had brought three months’ provisions, and that they had only brought smaller cannons (6 to 10 pounders). In the meantime, Moore sailed south with the fleet. Three ships were sent ahead of the main fleet to blockade the entrance to Matanzas Bay, south of St. Augustine. These were spotted from the fort on 7 November. The next day the main body of the fleet began arriving at the bar outside the St. Augustine inlet. This prompted Zúñiga to order his two frigates, La Gloria and Nuestra Señora de la Piedad y el Niño Jesús, to anchor under the fort’s guns. The Nuestra, which was outside the bar, was unable to cross, and was eventually burned. Sixteen of her men joined the fort’s garrison, providing valuable gunnery skills. Daniell’s force, after being landed, made good progress. The small Spanish force on Amelia Island was unable to check the English advance at San Juan del Puerto, and was dispersed; some of them took days to reach St. Augustine. Daniels continued to advance, and entered the town of St. Augustine without resistance on 10 November. Eight of the English ships crossed the bar and began landing men that day. As the English began to close the circle around the fortress, a Spanish foraging expedition successfully drove 163 head of cattle through the English lines and into the fort’s (dry) moat. The Spanish guns opened fire on the English as they began siege preparations on November 10. One of the older Spanish cannons exploded that day, killing three and wounding five. A few days later, Zúñiga ordered a sally to destroy portions of the town within firing range of the fort; according to later accounting, this action destroyed more than 15,000 pesos worth of property. Moore had brought four small cannon, but these made little impression on the coquina walls of the fortress, and the Spanish guns had longer range, keeping most of his forces at bay. Around November 22, Moore dispatched Deputy Governor Daniell to Jamaica for larger cannons and ammunition. The English continued digging siege trenches, and began firing on the fortress from musket range on November 24. This cannonfire continued to have little effect, and Moore ordered more of the town torched the next day, including the Franciscan monastery. Since his cannons were not effective against the fort’s walls, Moore attempted a deception to gain entry to the fort. On December 14, a Yamasee couple managed to gain entry to the fort posing as refugees, apparently with the goal of detonating the fort’s powder magazine. However, Zúñiga was suspicious of their behavior and, according to his account of the siege, they were tortured into admitting the plot By December 19 the English trenches had closed on the fort to the point that they threatened nearby fields from which the Spanish had been collecting forage. As a result, Zúñiga ordered a sally. There was a skirmish, and Spanish casualties were light: one killed and several wounded.
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2 Responses to December 30,This day during the Queen Anne’s War (1702–1713)

  1. gpcox says:

    Have you stopped blogging or can we expect more of your excellent research?

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