IT JUST DOESN’T’ GET BETTER THAN THIS…
This past weekend was the 27th re-enactment of Sir Francis Drake’s 1586 raid on the Spanish outpost of San Agustin. It was done with all the enthusiasm and attention to historical detail that is so common in current day St. Augustine, and included a weekend encampment at the Fountain of Youth representing the city as it was in the 16th century. A bonus for visitors to our city.
I volunteer on Saturdays at the new Colonial Quarter which tells three centuries of history from the earliest beginnings through the colonial period. The raid re-enactment wasn’t scheduled until 7:00pm and I finished at 5:00 so I decided visit the Taberna del Caballo, which is part of the Quarter but open to anyone who cares to come in off St George Street for a drink or a bite to eat, or both. Like stepping back in time to the 18th century, this candle-lit tavern is typical of the 40 or more taverns that existed in this Spanish Garrison town.
I hiked myself onto a stool and ordered a beer and found myself chatting with a couple who were visitors to the area. He was a sailor stationed up in Jacksonville and so far this day, he’d had a fantastic time exploring St Augustine and many of the attractions it had to offer. I asked him if he was staying for Drake’s Raid.
“What raid?” he asked. So, I told him:
427 years ago on June 6th, 1586 twenty-three ships approached the harbor of the Spanish colonial city of St. Augustine with 2000 Englishmen under the command of Sir Francis Drake. 1000 of these men, led by Captain Christopher Carlile came ashore on Anastasia Island and mounted cannons across the harbor from the Spanish wooden fort and begin to duel with the Spanish forces there. The Spanish were forced to abandon the fort during the night and with daylight approaching on the morning on the 8th the English crossed Matanzas Bay, taking the fortification and proceeding to drive the Spanish from the city of St. Augustine, after which, Drake’s men burned the city to the ground.
And tonight, I went on, they will re-enact that raid. Skirmishing from the city gate to the plaza with pikes and swordfights and the firing of canon and muskets.
“You’ve got to be kidding?” the young man replied turning to his girl. “This day has been fantastic and now this. It just doesn’t get any better!”
VIVA SAN AGUSTIN!