|Apalachee Council House|
Mission San Luis
"Long before the arrival of Europeans, Native Americans developed sophisticated cultures in what is now Florida, producing complex and impressive sites like the Crystal River Mounds. By the time of the first European contact, a wide variety of tribal groupings occupied the area, including Apalachee, Timucuans, Calusa, and Tequesta.
|Commander K and Spanish Soldier|
Mission San Luis
It hadn’t been a great start from the Spanish point of view, and things wouldn’t improve much for them anytime soon.
|Pánfilo de Narváez|
|Hernando de Soto|
Another Spanish disaster occurred in 1539. Hernando de Soto arrived in Florida also looking for gold. After four years of wandering around, slaughtering, and stealing from the locals, he died somewhere near the Mississippi, still not having found any gold.
You’d think it could only get better for the Spanish, but you’d only be half right. Next came another disaster, but in some senses, not quite as comprehensive a one. In 1559, Tristán de Luna y Arellano arrived with settlers in Pensacola Bay. They weren’t, however, to remain settled for very long, as a combination of bad weather and logistical and personnel problems rapidly brought the venture to an end.
Then, when it seemed like things couldn’t get worse for the Spanish in Florida, suddenly they did. In 1562, Frenchman Jean Ribaullt turned up looking for a site for a French Huguenot colony; and in 1564, Frenchman René Goulaine de Laudonnière founded Fort Caroline, near what is now Jacksonville.
|Castillo de San Marcos|
St. Augustine, Florida
But the situation for the Spanish in Florida was finally about to take a turn for the better. And the situation for the French was about to take a turn, very much so, for the worse. In 1565, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés established San Augustine, a permanent settlement that, as St. Augustine is still permanent, is in fact the first permanent European settlement in the territory that became the United States. Not content with that, however, he then went on to turn Fort Caroline into San Mateo after slaughtering a bunch of French. e French returned the compliment two years later, when Dominique de Gourgue slaughtered a bunch of Spanish. But Spain had made its mark, and Spanish control would soon expand substantially. Catholic missionaries started getting active.
However, another European power was about to take a serious interest in Florida. Yes, it’s England. Already in 1586, Sir Francis Drake was dropping in on St. Augustine, not for a bit of sightseeing, but for a bit of burning and stealing. It was the first of a number of English attacks on the town. Gradually, the English colonists farther north expanded their area of control southward. Queen Anne’s War of 1702–1713 saw extensive fighting between the English forces in Carolina and Spanish forces in Florida, with assorted expeditions headed in both directions. In 1702, for instance, English forces under James Moore, governor of colonial Carolina, burned the town of St. Augustine but failed to take the fort.
The local Native American population had already been having a tough time. A number of rebellions against the Spanish had been crushed; and now with the arrival of extensive land warfare between two European powers, they were dragged into that as well, both as fighters and as victims. Since the late seventeenth century, the English had been trading with and arming some Native Americans, particularly the Creek, who used their weapons against Spanish missions. In 1704, Moore launched another raid, with his own and Creek forces targeting Spanish missions and killing or displacing a large number of Apalachees.
Meanwhile, approaching from the west was yet another European competitor for power, the French. For instance, in 1698 they tried to enter Pensacola, and Spanish ships had to prevent them. In 1719, though, they took the town and held it until 1722, when they abandoned it.
Between 1727 and 1729, Britain and Spain were at war again, and there was more fighting in the region.
Britain and Spain went to war yet again in 1739, in, yes, the War of Jenkins’ Ear. An unusual name for a war, and one that refers to a certain British merchant captain who claimed to have lost his ear in an encounter with a Spanish coast guard prior to the war.
This time it was the British governor of Georgia, James Oglethorpe, who marched on Florida. Again, St. Augustine was attacked. At Fort Mose, the northern defense of St. Augustine, the British came up against free African militiamen, many of them slaves who had escaped from Carolina, and were defeated at the Battle of Bloody Mose on June 26, 1740. Eventually, the British forces gave up and retreated. Spanish forces then invaded Georgia, but they were defeated.
Not long after, another round of hostilities took place between Britain and Spain, but this one ended more decisively. In the 1763 peace deal, Spain handed over Florida to Britain.
Though, to be fair, decisively might be too strong a word, since yet another war was coming. When Spain handed over Florida, it largely evacuated its people from there, and the new settlers who came in under British rule stayed mainly loyal to the British Crown. During the American Revolution, American forces made a number of attempts to invade Florida, but without much success. A 1777 attempt ended with an ambush and disaster for the American forces at the Battle of Thomas Creek; and the 1778 attempt led to the Battle of Alligator Bridge, which wasn’t exactly a success for the American forces either.
|Bernardo de Gálvez|
In 1784, as part of the peace deal that ended the War of Independence, the Spanish got Florida back—although they did have to hand over some territory elsewhere in exchange, and they did have to sort out a border dispute with the new United States.
The Count of Aranda, a Spanish minister, declared soon after the peace was signed that “the day will come when it [the United States] will grow into a giant, even a fearsome colossus in the hemisphere. then it will forget the assistance it received from [us] and will think only of its own exaltation. The first step of this power ... will be to seize upon the Floridas, in order to dominate the Gulf of Mexico."
The count’s prediction would come true, but the initial conflict would be with the Native Americans. In the last decades of the eighteenth century, a new tribe developed, formed by Creek Native Americans who had moved south into Florida and other groups. They became known as Seminoles.
The British, by now, had a long tradition of working with the Creek, and with the start of the War of 1812, they saw an opportunity to use their Creek and Seminole contacts against the United States. They even sent troops back into Florida to help develop this mission and a fort that was known, reasonably enough, as the British Post on the Apalachicola River at Prospect Bluff. Here they recruited Native Americans and escaped slaves to fight the United States. The war ended before the British mission could achieve very much. What it did, however, was point to a coming conflict between the United States and forces in Florida that were beyond the control of the Spanish authorities who were, in theory, supposed to be in charge. And the disappearance, largely, of the British from the equation did not end the tensions in the region.
The war cost the Unites States more than $20 million and killed 1,500 American troops. In the end, the United States was reduced to desperate measures to try to win, including seizing and imprisoning Seminole leader Osceola when he turned up for negotiations under a flag of truce. The war dragged on until 1842, but ultimately the Seminoles could not resist the sheer military might of the United States. By the end of the war, most Seminoles were either dead or deported.
In 1855, yet more fighting broke out. By the end of it, the Seminoles had been virtually wiped out in Florida.
|Florida joined the Confederacy in 1861|
During the American Civil War, Florida was part of the Confederacy. Union troops, though, remained at locations within its borders throughout the war. It was generally regarded as a strategic backwater; and as the war progressed, many Confederate troops stationed there were redeployed to more critical locations. Despite this, a significant number of clashes and raids did take place in Florida.
|Natural Bridge Monument|
A rare Confederate Victory in 1865
Early in the war, fighting took place around Santa Rosa Island at Pensacola, which held the Union-controlled Fort Pickens. In September 1864, Union cavalry launched a devastating raid from Fort Barrancas near Pensacola that culminated in something of a Union victory at the Battle of Marianna.
Florida History Museum
|U-Boats off Florida Coast|
Florida History Museum
And later that year, in June 1942, U-584 landed four German saboteurs near Ponte Vedra Beach. They cached explosives and kits in the sand and then headed for New York and Chicago. All were caught and executed.
1928 - 1967
On June 12, 2016, the most deadly terrorist attack since 9/11 took place at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Forty-nine people were killed by Omar Mateen, an American citizen of Afghan descent."
Source: Florida chapter of America Invaded...www.americainvaded.com
|Commander K at|
Truman Little White House
Key West, Florida
Tourist Notes: Florida is a splendid state to visit with many tourist attractions for all ages. Some of my personal favorite historic sites in Florida are...
Fort San Marcos in St. Augustine...https://www.nps.gov/casa/index.htme
Harry S. Truman Little White House, Key West...https://www.trumanlittlewhitehouse.com/
Ernest Hemingway Home and Musuem, Key West...https://www.hemingwayhome.com/
Mission San Luis, Talahassee...http://www.missionsanluis.org/
Florida History Museum, Talahassee..,https://www.museumoffloridahistory.com/
National Naval Air Museum, Pensacola...https://www.navalaviationmuseum.org/
You can find signed copies of our books at
these web sites...
Or regular copies on Amazon...
Or on Kindle...
Listen to my interview with Bob Cudmore...http://bobcudmore.com/thehistorians/tracks/ChristopherKelly(August2017)(29)(mp3).mp3
And my interview...www.thebook-club.com/blog/bookshelf-interview-with-christopher-kelly
And my most recent interview...http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2018/08/17/america-invaded-christopher-kelly