Title: Menendez challenges the French fleet at the mouth of the St. Johns River.
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00067343/00001
 Material Information
Title: Menendez challenges the French fleet at the mouth of the St. Johns River.
Series Title: Spanish Colonial St. Augustine.
Physical Description: Book
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)   ( lcsh )
Florida   ( lcsh )
Colonies -- Spain -- America
Temporal Coverage: Spanish Colonial Period ( 1594 - 1920 )
Colonial Period ( 1594 - 1920 )
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns County -- Saint Augustine -- Historic city
North America -- United States of America -- Florida
Funding: Funded by a grant from the Florida Humanities Council
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00067343
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: Board of Trustees of the University of Florida on behalf of authors and contributors. All rights reserved.


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Menendez challenges the French fleet
at the mouth of the St. Johns River

Thus I found myself with eight hundred people: five hundred soldiers that I
would be able to put ashore, and two hundred sailors, and another hundred less
useful people, married men, wives, children, and officials, so that the best thing
to be managed would be to come across the [French] harbor, to capture their
island, and fortify it ...
.. and we sailed along the coast searching for this harbor up to the twenty
ninth degree, for that was the information that we had, that the French were
between the twenty eighth and twenty ninth latitude, and finding nothing, we ran
up as far as the twenty ninth and a half. And having seen fires on land, along the
coast of the sea, on the second of September I sent a captain ashore with twenty
soldiers to seek a conference with the Indians, in order that we could get news of
the harbor, and the captain went, and met with them, and talked, and by signs
they told him that the harbor of the French was further on to the north and we
left there, and searched until the fourth of September, when we found them, at
two o'clock in the afternoon, four ships anchored, flying the pennants of the
flagship and the admiral's galleon.
And being sure that reinforcements were on their way, and that by surprising
these four galleons, we could take them, I resolved to attack them. The wind
died away and then at ten o'clock at night it began to blow again. Since it
seemed to me that by dawn the ships would leave their harbor, and would be
better able to defend themselves, I made my decision. I brought my own vessel
in between that of the [French] flagship and the French admiral's galleon and
asked what they were doing there, and who their captain was.
They responded that they were under the command of Jean Ribault and that
they came to this place by order of the King of France. And what ships were we,
and who commanded us? I replied that I was Pedro Menendez, that I was on
this coast and in this land by order of Your Majesty, to burn out and hang all the
French Lutherans that I found, and that in the morning I was going to board their
ships, to discover if they were these people, because if they were, I would not
leave until I had executed justice upon them, as Your Majesty commanded.
They replied that this was madness, but if so, why not try it without waiting until
And thinking this was too good an opportunity to lose, even though it was
night, having the stern of my ship across their prow, I gave an order to pay out
our anchor cable, to bring us up alongside of them. And they cut their own
cables, hoisted sail, and made to get underway and flee, all four ships. We tried
making use of our five large guns against the admiral's galleon, and we thought
that we had sent it to the bottom, for many people abandoned it, getting into a

large skiff, like a pinnace with twenty oars, and going across to the others,
whereupon they boarded another ship and left the skiff.

I followed three of the ships all that night, but as I had a galleon dismasted by
the storm, they out-sailed us, and at daybreak, being some five or six leagues
distant, I put about for the harbor in order to disembark five hundred soldiers at
the island [where the French were]. And being a half a league from the island,
three ships with many pennants and flags came forth together from the
anchorage, and two flew the battle colors of their country. So it seemed to me
that I should not waste time there, and since the flagship I had could not enter,
and the smallest ships were in great danger, I decided to put about once again
towards the Bahama Channel, to find a harbor where I could put everyone

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