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By August 1684 Governor Marquez was ready to start on the fort rooms, and they were finished in the spring of 1685. Courtyard walls paralleled the four curtains, and foot-square beams spanned the distance between them. Laid over these great beams were 3-inch planks, which supported a slab roof of tabby masonry. On the north were the powder magazine and two big storerooms. Quarters were along the west curtain, guardroom and chapel on the south, and rooms on the east included a latrine and prison. Altogether there were more than 20 rooms.

The only major work yet to do was beyond the walls. The surrounding moat, 40 feet wide, needed a couple of feet in depth. Only part of the moat wall was up to its full 8-foot height. In fact, of the outworks only the ravelin was finished.

But with the fortification thus far along, Governor Marquez could give more attention to other business, such as Lord Cardross' Scottish colony at Port Royal (S.C.). This was, in the Spanish view, a new and obnoxious settlement that encouraged heathen Indians to raid the mission Indians. Furthermore, it was in land recognized as Spanish even by the English monarch.

So out from St. Augustine in the stormy month of September 1686, Marquez sent Captain Alejandro Tomas de Leon, a corsair form Habana, with three galliots. Leon destroyed the Cardross colony and then sacked and burned Governor Morton's plantation on Edisto Island.

Next the Spaniards set a course for Charleston but again, as had happened in 1670, a storm blew them away from the hated English colony. Leon's vessel, the Rosario, was lost and he along with it. Another of the trio was beached, and the last of the little armada limped slowly back to St. Augustine.

Actually the real contest for the southeast had already begun, and the action was in the hinterlands far from the coast. English traders led the advance from Charleston; and to bolster the Indians against them, Governor Marquez sent soldiers and missionaries from St. Augustine to the Apalachecola nation in western Georgia. For the Spanish, it was a losing fight-an exciting, exasperating struggle of diplomacy and intrigue, trade and cupidity, war and religion, slavery and death. Marquez personally was also losing another battle-his bid to reduce the power of the clergy in Florida affairs. The end came in April 1687 when the padres denied him confession. Marquez left his post and fled to Habana.

Captain of cuirassiers Diego de Quiraoga y Losada took possession of the office on August 21, 1687. That same day he stopped work on the Castillo because there was no way to feed the workmen. These troubles and the certainty of reprisals from the Carolinians sent Captain Juan de Ayala Escobar directly to Spain for help. He came back with 80 soldiers, the money for maintaining them, and even a Negro slave to help in the fields. The black man, one of a dozen Ayala had hoped to deliver, was a much-needed addition to the colony, and Captain Ayala was welcomed back to St. Augustine with rejoicing "for his good diligence."

Defenses of Castillo de San Marcos.
The defense structure for the Castillo de San Marcos was elaborate and fool-proof.

Soon there was more black labor for both fields and fortifications. From the Carolina plantations, an occasional slave would slip away, searching his way southward along the waterways. In 1687 a small boat loaded with eight runaways and a baby girl made its way to St. Augustine. The men found work to do and the governor took the two women into his household for servants. It was a fairly happy arrangement: the slaves worked well and soon asked for Catholic baptism.

A few months later, William Dunlop came from Charleston in search of them. Governor Quiroga, reluctant to surrender converted slaves, offered to buy them for the Spanish crown. Dunlop agreed to the sale, even though the governor was as usual short of cash and had to pay by promise. To seal the bargain, Dunlop gave the baby her freedom. Later the crown liberated the others.

Since in the first place commerce with Carolina was illegal, and in the second place the crown could not buy freedom for every stray that came to Florida, that year of 1687 had introduced a knotty problem. More and more Carolina blacks left their English master. Few could ever be reclaimed. Growing more serious with each year, the slave trouble cancelled any hope of amicable relations between the Spanish and English colonists. Eventually the Spanish decreed freedom for all Carolina slaves coming to Florida, and the governor established a fortified village for them hardly more than a cannon shot from the Castillo.

Construction work resumed in the spring of 1688, after a shipment of corn came from Apalache. In Habana for 137 pesos Governor Quiroga bought a stone bearing the royal arms to be set into the wall over the gate. At this time, too the little town entered its "stone age," for as surplus materials from the crown quarries became available, masonry buildings gradually took the place of the board-and-thatch housing that had been traditional here since the founding.

Until the outworks could be finished, the Castillo was vulnerable to siege guns and scaling ladders. Nevertheless it was impossible to push the heavy work of quarrying, lumbering, and hauling at this crucial time. There were too many other pressures. Belatedly trying to counteract English gains and strengthen their own ties with the Indians, the Spanish built a field fort in the Apalachecola country. Unfortunately the soldiers had to be pulled back to St. Augustine as Spain declared war on France in 1689.

This time Spain and England were on the same side of the fence against France. Yet Governor Quiroga wondered at the presence of English vessels off both northern and southern coasts. He also wrote a false letter telling of a strength far beyond what he had, against the chance that enemies might capture the packet carrying the true news of St. Augustine's weakness. For again the supply situation was critical, and swarms of French corsairs infested the waters between Florida and Habana. Two provision vessels were lost on the Keys and a third fell into French hands. Until food eventually came in from Habana and Campeche, the soldiers had to live on handouts from the townspeople.

To lessen the chances of famine in the future, the Florida officials resolved to plant great fields of maize nearby. And where was better than the broad, fallow clearings around the fort? Acres of waving corn soon covered the land almost up to the moat. When the crown heard of these plantings, back to Florida came a royal order banning maize fields within a musket shot of the Castillo. A whole army could hide in the tall corn without being seen by the sentries!

A new governor, Don Laureano de Torres y Ayala, arrived in 1693. At the outset he had to deal with hostilities between St. Augustine and Charleston-hostilities which mocked the Spanish-English alliance in Europe. Already the Indian village of San Juan de Guacara (on the Suwanee River) had been burned and some of its people abducted by English-led Uchees and Yamassees. Now, encouraged by the English, Apalachecola Indians raided San Carlos in Apalache, robbing the church and carrying 42 Christian Indians away into slavery. A Spanish troop retaliated by burning a few Apalachecola villages. What more could be done?

To Governor Torres belongs the credit for completing Castillo de San Marcos. Torres saw the last stones go into place for the water defenses-bright yellow coquina that was in strange contrast to weathered masonry almost a quarter of a century old. In August 1695 the workmen finally moved out of the Castillo. (Another job was waiting: a seawall that would keep storm tides out of the city.)

The pile of stone on which Cendoya planned to spend some 70,000 pesos and which Hita estimated would cost a good 80,000 if built elsewhere, now totaled at least 138,375 pesos, or about $220,000. And rather than the King's silver, it was the blood and sweat and hardship of the Florida soldier that paid the cost. For the money came out of his back pay, due but never collected by him of his heirs. Let the Castillo be his monument!

And what did completion of this citadel mean? Only a year later, soldiers gaunt with hunger slipped into the church and left an unsigned warning for the governor: If the enemy came, they intended to surrender, for they were starving.


 
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