Castillo de San Marcos - Second British Siege

Second British Siege

Spain and Britain were rivals in Europe. Because the two countries had initiated empires in the New World, their heated rivalry continued. In 1733 a British vessel, the Rebecca, commanded by Captain Robert Jenkins, was seized in the Caribbean by the Spanish coast guard. Suspecting that the British had been trading illegally with Spanish colonies (which was forbidden by both Spain and Britain), the Spanish searched the ship. A fight broke out between the Spanish and British sailors. In the skirmish, Jenkins had his ear cut off by a Spanish officer, who picked it up and said "Take this to your king and tell him that if he were here I would serve him in the same manner!" When Jenkins reported the incident to British authorities, they used it as a catalyst to declare war on Spain in 1739. The war was called the War of Jenkins Ear.

After British Admiral Edward Vernon scored a huge victory at Portobelo, General James Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia, was quick to imitate him in North America. In June 1740, Oglethorpe and an English fleet of seven ships appeared off St. Augustine. As in the 1702 siege, three hundred soldiers and 1,300 residents found refuge within the Castillo's walls. For 27 days the British bombarded the Castillo and St. Augustine. Realizing his cannon were not affecting the Castillo's walls, Oglethorpe decided to starve the people of St. Augustine by blockading the inlet at the Matanzas River and all roads into St. Augustine. No supplies could reach the city. With morale and supplies low for his own forces, Oglethorpe had to retreat. To protect the fort from future blockades and siege Fort Matanzas was built.

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