Searle's Sack, the annual event that re-creates the famous bloody pirate raid on St. Augustine in 1668, takes place on Saturday, March 4, 2023. This deadly raid was led by Robert Searle when he and his crew laid siege upon the city and its inhabitants.
This living history event, presented by Searle's Buccaneers and the Men of Menéndez (both members of Historic Florida Militia), is made up of three parts: a historic procession of participants on St. George Street on Friday evening, a historic encampment on Friday and Saturday at the Oldest House Museum Complex, followed by the reenactment of the battle on Saturday, March 4, 2023 at 4:00 p.m. in the city's historic district.
The procession that commemorates the arrival of the raiding pirates and introduces this annual event will begin at the Cathedral Basilica at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 3, and will proceed north on St. George Street to the Santo Domingo Redoubt on Orange Street.
The Searle's Sack encampment will take place on Friday and Saturday, March 3 and 4, 2023, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the grounds of the Oldest House Museum. Visitors can witness what daily life was like in colonial St. Augustine at this living-history camp, where there will be period demonstrations with weapons, clothing, and equipment, as well as reenactments of camp life and social activities.
The reenactment of the battle between the freebooters and the city's Spanish defenders will take place in St. Augustine's historic district at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 4, beginning at the Plaza de la Constitución and ending at the Old City Gate. The English brigade will head up St. George Street from the Plaza toward the city gates, and the battle will commence when the English try to invade the Spanish defenders who will be stationed at the Santo Domingo Redoubt off Orange Street across from Potter's Wax Museum. Living history gets real when the period re-enactors demonstrate how the Spanish settlers had to fight off Searle and his pirates.
Background on Searle's Raid - In 1668, Captain Robert Searle and his privateers sailed from Jamaica to loot the silver ingots (metals that can be shaped into various things) held in the royal coffers (small chests) at St. Augustine. Under the cover of night, they slipped into the harbor and attacked the sleeping town, killing sixty people and pillaging government buildings, churches and homes. The devastation wrought by these pirates prompted Spain's Council of the Indies to issue money to build a massive stone fortress on Matanzas Bay to protect the city. The Castillo de San Marcos still stands as an enduring reminder of Florida's gripping heritage.
Admission: Events in the historic district are free. The encampment at the Oldest House is free with regular admission.
When: The event begins with a downtown procession at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 3, 2023. The encampment at the Fountain of Youth is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 4, 2023. On Saturday at 4:00 p.m. the reenactment of the battle takes place in the historic district.
Where: The procession on Friday event and the battle reenactment on Saturday begin around the Plaza de la Constitución in the center of St. Augustine's historic district and proceed north on St. George Street, ending at the Santo Domingo Redoubt on Orange Ave., just across from Potter's Wax Museum. The encampment during the day on Saturday is at the the Oldest House Complex, which is located at St. George Street in St. Augustine FL 32084.