I just finished a great book by James W. Raab called, Spain, Britian and the American Revolution in Florida, 1763-1783. It is a really fabulous volumne that sets the “Spanish, British, and back again, transition in the nation’s oldest port city in context of the American Revolution. A period of tremendous interest if St. Augustine can claim it’s rightful place as part of the true, American story. The book brings to life the facts and texture of the period.
Here is an excerpt from a section on the contruction of the “Kings Hwy” which was being built during the winter of 1774-75…..the road extended from Cowford down along the St. Johns River to the River called St. Mary’s.
“It measured 16 feet across with ditches and pine logs laide cross wise in the wet portions forming causeways through the swamps, and crypress bridges across the numerous creeks and streams. The traveler on foot, on horseback or with a wagon could traverse British East Florida from the vincinty of the Beacon at Mosquito Inlet (Ponce Inlet lighthouse), New Symrna to the capital, St. Augustine, and continuing northward to the ferry house at Cowford, across the St. Johns River…..The Rev. John Forbes praised the road, naming it the “King’s Hightway.” The colony was no longer dependent on the Atlantic Ocean for it’s existence, provisions and egress..” (Raab, 2008, pp 58-59)
According the Raab, the Paton, Leslie Company established trading posts on plantations and in other areas outside the walled colony during this period of intense groth. They exported ” naval stores, lumber, pelts, and imported cloths, coarse linens from (See other LAMP Blogs about the maritime culture in Ireland) sugar, salt and other commodities.” (2008, p. 59).
IThe book really does include maritime history, sea battles and other items, such as the migrations into the Carolina’s down the Pennsylvania Wagon Road, as it sets our local history in context.
Another excerpt. “In 1775 Moses Kirland, a British informer from South Carolina, sailed to Boston to report on conditions in the Carolinas. He was captured not far from his destination by a Continental schooner. Because he was carrying charts of Charleston and its harbor, he landed in a Philadelphia prison – but not for long. Escaping jail in the spring of 1776, he returned to East Florida, where he was appointed a deputy in the district of the Seminole and Creek Indians. In March 1778, the determined Kirkland set sail from St. Augustine for Philadelphia to submit a plan for the invasion of Georgia and South Carolina……this time Kirkland…completed his assignment…In November, two detachments were sent from St. Augustine by General Prevost…” (p. 113).
This is all part of the true picture of life in this area during the American Revolution. The book is available from Amazon and is published by McFarland. It may be available as well in local museum stores. I’d check locally first!! We don’t yet have it at the Lighthouse.
Great read!