Pirates Attack St. Augustine

Friday, February 20, 2009

One of the bloodiest days in the 443-year history of St. Augustine will be vividly re-created on Saturday, March 7 when Robert Searle’s marauding pirates storm through the Nation’s oldest city. The “Sack of St. Augustine: Captain Robert Searle’s Raid of 1668” will provide spectators with a close-up look at the horrors inflicted on the city’s residents by the real Pirates of the Caribbean.

In 1668, Searle and his band of murderers sailed from Jamaica to loot the silver ingots stored in the Royal Treasury in St. Augustine . Under cover of darkness, the pirates descended on the sleeping city and proceeded to sack the town. By morning, sixty of St. Augustine ’s men, women and children were dead in the streets. When their looting was complete, the pirates selected every St. Augustinian they considered to not be of “pure Spanish blood” and sailed away with them as captives to be sold into slavery. As a result of this horrible raid, Queen Mariana of Spain authorized funding to build the Castillo de San Marcos – a fortress that not only discouraged future pirate attacks, but also serves today as a reminder of St. Augustine’s long role as an important outpost of the Spanish Empire.

From 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 7, the pirate encampment at the De Mesa Yard at 43 St. George Street will be open to the public and authentic 17th century weapons, equipment and food will be on display. At 5 p.m., the pirates will begin their attack on the city by assaulting Spanish defenders at the Plaza de la Constitucion. The re-enactment is free of charge and spectators can join the retreating soldiers and townspeople as they flee for their lives up historic St. George Street to the Santa Domingo Redoubt on Orange Street .

For more information on Searle’s Raid, go to www.searlesbuccaneers.org. The event is funded in part by a grant from the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council. For more information on events and special accommodation packages in St. Augustine , Ponte Vedra and the Beaches, go to the Visitors and Convention Bureau’s website www.Getaway4Florida.com or call 1.800.418.7529.

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