Saturday, August 21, 2010

Jenkins' Ear and The Mose Forts

The War of Jenkins' Ear (1739-1748) pitted the British Empire (and allies) against the Spanish Empire (and allies). On the North American mainland, the Anglo-Americans operating out of Georgia wanted to take out Spanish Florida and vice versa. A Spanish raid on the Georgia coast was repelled and the British incursion into Florida was likewise turned back.

When the Anglo-Americans approached in 1740, Francisco Menendez, the freedman commander of Spanish Fort Mose, withdrew his charges into the immediate defenses of Saint Augustine, which was then put under siege with the aid of British ships of war descending via the Atlantic. Menendez subsequently led a surprise assault to take back Fort Mose, and succeeded, though the fort was set on fire during the fighting. The Anglo-American force of about 170 men at Fort Mose was decimated, the British ships withdrew and the main Anglo-American land forces returned to Georgia, abandoning their siege guns.

A second Fort Mose was completed in 1752 not far from the first, though slightly larger and on higher ground.* It was later abandoned by the Spanish as a result of the 1763 Treaty of Paris, which ended the French and Indian (Seven Years') War and ceded Florida to the British in exchange for retention of Cuba.

The Spanish government relocated the Saint Augustine and Fort Mose population mostly to Cuba; freedman and mestizos developed San Agustín de la Nueve Florida (Ceiba Mocha, Matanzas). For more on that, see the remarkably detailed essay by J[ane] Landers, "An Eighteenth-Century Community in Exile : The 'Floridanos' in Cuba," in: New West Indian Guide/ Nieuwe West-Indische Gids 70 (1996), no: 1/2, Leiden, 39-58.

*From what I understand, remains of the first Fort Mose are now preserved under water, while remains of the second are on dry land.

Today's Rune: Protection.  


the walking man said...

Slightly odd how the arrogance of the Europeans who started slavery in the first place is little changed in the past 300 years.

Sidney said...

Thanks for another interesting slice of history I'd heard/read little about.

Charles Gramlich said...

What a great name for a war!

jodi said...

Erik, did you post that because you knew I was in Florida? KIDDING! Now that I have re-learned some history, I will probably forget it even faster than the first time. There are still so many Indians in Florida with the Caloosa being in the Keys.

nunya said...

Excellent post. Again :)