Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Cubo Line - City Gates
Title: [Report re: Cubo Line with notes]
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 Material Information
Title: Report re: Cubo Line with notes
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Cubo Line - City Gates
Physical Description: Report
Language: English
Physical Location:
Box: 8
Divider: Cubo Line - City Gates
Folder: Cubo Line - City Gates
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
Cubo Line (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
City Gates (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine
Coordinates: 29.897892 x -81.313605
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00095515
Volume ID: VID00004
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text



In early 1702 the defenses of St. Augustine consisted of

Castillo de San Marcos and a string of coastal lookout towers located

to the north and south of the city. The fort, controlling the entrance

to Matanzas ay, was the anchor of this simple system of security.

But the destruction of St. Augustine late that year resulted in the

gradual construction of additional defenses intended to provide the

city itself with adequate protection. By 1763 there had developed a

defensive order whose basic pattern endured, despite subsequent modi-

fication. Some of its parts lasted well beyond the cession of Florida

in 1821.

In 1763 these additional defenses surrounded St. Augustine and

also defended in depth the only land approach to the city. They con-

sisted of -four entrenchment barriers, made primarily of earth and

wood. The earliest of these, the Cubo Zine, started at the covered

way of Castillo de San Marcos, and ran west in a straight line to the

San Sebastian iver, enclosing the north side of St. Augustine. A
forerunner of the Hornabeque (hornwork) Xine was next commenced, and

this defense was located approximately a half mile north of Cubo,

extending from Hospital /reek on the east to the San Sebastian. The
third entrenchment was the Rosario Zine. It started at the Cubo Xine,

went south along the western limit of St. Augustine, and then turned

t btqar^Aom fone sedoA4 fi c 'itAi' hore 9^tanas
\ a Iyfio.m i i U61 de ,aA taacs- t -,.oInt'6e0% of the
-..Paza. '

east to Matanzas ray, thus enclosing the west and south limits of the

city. The east side of the settlement was not enclosed ^ The town's

three-sided enclosure was often referred to as the line of circum-

vallation, and this term naturally included the eastern half of the
Cubo Xine. The barrier.constructed last was the Fort Mose Xine which,

situated approximately two miles north of Cubo, constituted the outer-

most defense. Extending from Macaris oreek on the east to the San

Sebastian /iver, it blocked the entry into the small peninsula where

St. Augustine is located. Unless outflanked on the water, these

defenses in depth afforded the city a chance to escape the fate which

had previously fallen upon it.

Ever since the founding of the city in 1565, a fort was the

bulwark of St. Augustine security. Nine wooden forts were built, one

after another, during the century after the beginning of the settle-

ment. The last one, called San Marcos, disappeared under the masonry

of a new Castillo de San Marcos (1672-1696). This permanent citadel

of stone was Spain's answer to the rivalry with England for the south-

eastern part of the present-day United States. It counteracted

England's challenges such as the Carolina grant addition (1667), which

claimed the very site of St. Augustine itself, the sack of the town

by Robert Searles (1668), and the settlement of Charleston (1670).

The fort bulwark alone, however, did not afford adequate pro-

tection to all of St. Augustine. Though a fort, successfully defended,

could guarantee Spanish sovereignty over Florida, it could not insure

the houses of the inhabitants against destruction by the enemy. Thus

Sir Francis Drake was able to burn the town in 1586. Searles' brigands

iAd. roam at will through the streets of St. Augustine in 1668. Still
later, in 1683 the approach of pirate Captain Br-a~ i-in- instilled

fears that the houses of the people would be destroyed. After the

repulse of the enemy on Anastasia Island, a clamor arose for measures

to protect the city. But a calamity as severe as that of 1586 had to

visit St. Augustine again before the need for additional defenses was

fully driven home.


The English siege of St. Augustinel1702 showed more forcefully

than ever that adequate protection to the city could not be obtained

solely from Castillo de San Marcos. On this occasion, the land con-

tingent of James Moore's Carolinian and Indian force ascended the

St. Johns iver, landed due west of St. Augustine, and approached the

town from that direction. The Carolinians crossed the San Sebastian

Waiver at one of the fords approximately two miles north of the settle-

ment, and following the river bank moved rapidly down the St.

Augustine peninsula. The Castillo guns could not prevent them from

entering the city, the inhabitants of which had already been ordered

into the fort. Concurrently, Moore's vessels blockaded the entrance

to Matanzas .ay, and via Anastasia Island linked up with the soldiers.

Failing to capture the Castillo in a fifty-day siege, and bottled up

in the inlet by a Spanish relief force, the English withdrew. At the

same time, they set fire to St. Augustine. 7

The siege of 1702 opened the colonial phase of the War of

Spanish Succession, and the conflict would last until 1714. The

English colonists were determined tQ keep Spanish forces at St.

Augustine from combining with the French, who were established farther

west on the Gulf of Mexico coast. Much earlier than the outbreak of

war, the Carolinians had shown their reliance on Indian allies for the

purpose of harassing Florida areas inhabited by Indians of Spanish

partisanship. With the war in the open, now the English and their

allies could be expected to exert continuous pressure on all parts

of Spanish Florida.

The catastrophic results of the siege and the prospect of

further English blows marked the beginning of additional defenses for

St. Augustine. On June 4, 1704, Governor Jose de Zuniga and the
((h? accQsUant and the treasurer) e)
royal officials of Florida met to discuss most disquiting rumors: the

English at Charleston were coming again to besiege and subdue St.

Augustine. These officials agreed to fortify the area between

Castillo de San Marcos and the San Sebastian river, in order to bar

the land entry to the city. That was the avenue the enemy had used

to enter St. Augustine~l702, and the probable avenue of future


The proposed fortification would be a series of redoubts or

small forts (peductos o fortunes) set on a cleared field. These

redoubts were to extend from east to west within supporting distance

of one .another. They would be made of wood, have embrasures, and

be enclosed by log palisades. They would also be connected with one

another by palisades and a and the same features would be

placed between the westernmost fort and the river. The redoubts

were to be garrisoned with infantry, and two of them would mount
yl 0
cannon salvaged from the English vessels scuttled in 1702.

So additional defenses for St. Augustine became at last a

reality. Six redoubts, possibly equidistant from one another, were

built in accordance with the plan, and thus the first of the town

1737 do .we fTn thdAit he
defenses came into existence. Not until lateiT-hewever-y-d-i St.
Ih d L
Augustinians begin calling it the "Cubo /ine". By October 26,

1705, the redoubts had been finished, and were manned by contingents

from the few able-bodied troops then available in St. Augustine.

After taking possession on April 9, 1706, Governor Francisco

de Corcoles inspected the St. Augustine defenses, and found that the

six redoubts were already almost ruined due to the decay of the wood.

Another problem facing him was finding the farm land needed for the

refugee Indians from the Guale, Timucua, and Apalache provinces. The

villages and missions in these regions had been overrun by English-led

heathen Indians in 1704-1706. Many Christian Indians did not abjure

the Faith under the onslaught, and sought the protection of Spanish


Governor Corcoles solved the two problems at one shot. He

constructed a heavy log palisade a little north of the Cubo Line -

redoubts, thus originating the forerunner of the line later called
the Hornabeque. This "fir-st hornwork" was the second additional

defense for St. Augustine. The area between the two lines was given

to the Indians for planting. lhus, the focal point in the added pro-
tection was shifted from the Cubo Line to the "t-IrIt hornwork" farther

north. The principle of defense in depth had begun to emerge. Troop

distribution returns for ensuing years show the concentration of force

at the newly constructed palisade, and the Cubo Line completely


Again the ravage of time forced St. Augustine authorities to
i a p ed
adopt a plan of comprehensive fortification. By 1716, the "fie-t

hornwork" was already noticeably deteriorated. But its usefulness

had been proven during the late war: the presence of the palisade

caused many prospective raiders to desist from attempts to tackle St.

Augustine. In a meeting on March 6, Governor Corcoles and the royal

officials agreed to fortify the city from San Pablo Bastion pf vu

Castillo de San Marcos to Maria Sanchez Creek, enclosing St. Augustine

as far south as St. Francis Convent. They recommended further that

masonry be used for this line, which should be nearly seven feet high, -+'
in -F'Protg'f
with redoubts at intervals in order to control the area be6oe the
curtains and the open field beyond. As this construction would take

some time, the governor and the royal officials decided that for the

present, the -4iaadnorth of the Cubo Line should be repaired with

wood more resistant to decay.

The proposal to surround St. Augustine with defense lines

actually meant pa ay e~lie line and the construction of an

additional one. The reference to land between the northwest bastion

and Maria Sanchez Creek is the very terrain where the ruined eastern

half of the Cubo Line existed. The mention of the /reek, the head-

waters of which were due west of Castillo de San Marcos at the time,

indicates the point where the encircling wall turned south toward St.

Francis Convent. This southerly line represented the beginning of the

third additional defense of St. Augustine; in time it would be called
the Rosario /ine.

The construction dates of the works contemplated in the 1716

plan are uncertain. Work probably began after August 3, 1718, when

Antonio de Benavides came to the governorship, for on June 10, 1720,

he pointed out that the life of t:p "line f' /iricumvallation" which he

had built mignt be short, since it was an earthwork. Accordingly he

askcd for permission to rebuild it in masonry. ;3ost likely, construction

of the Rosario Line had begun in the winter of 1713 and ended in the
spring of 1719.1

The construction of the line of circumvallation, of which the

eastern half ofCubo Line was the north side, changed the original look

of the latter and restored to it t.-e importance it had had in 1704. In

1737, Engineer Antonio de Arredondo recorded the design of the works

finished in 1719, which possibly had not been radically altered since.

The Cubo Line consisted of a palisade approximately feet2 long, be-

ginning at the west counterscarp of Castillo de San Iarcos, and ending

at the junction with Rosario Line. Beyond t.:is point to the San Sebas-

tian River in the west, the line consisted of earthworks and yucca for

an extension of about r1-,3-feet. There were three strong points: the

Santo Domingo Redoubt (a 2 3/4if$et high lunette,) at the junction with

Rosario; the TMedio Cubo Redoubt (another lunette, 6 1/2 feet high) mid-

way between Santo Domingo and the river; and the Cubo Redoubt (a 7 1/35,

foot high qac e) on the riveras-shore. Though Arredondo did not indi-

cate the presence of a ditch in front ol Cubo Line/ b a con:cnionaal--

--i-g--o---i- the- t Ie: cnd there must have been one, considering that such

feature was part of the predecessor built in 170,1 The only opening
-"7 3 5 -- .-.-. / /0 -' .-
in the 2-20-fboot line was a 5 1/2-foot-wide gate located Si.G2-/g2-

~e.- from h --orgs-f the Castillo counterscarp.2 By 1737, the Cubo

Line was the only defense on tae north side of St. Augustine, because

the "r-i-st hornworki had disappeared entirely, and the new works of

1718-1719 had aged into uselessness.

THi ".0 1i :' I CUS O LIEhS, 1733-1797

The condition of St. Augustine's defenses became a cause for

concern in the face of aggressive English expansion into Georgia during

the decade that began in 1.-3tJ In 1736 the additional fortifications

were described as bad earthworks, useful only for resisting Indians.26
Engineer Arredondo's own observations in 1737 were very pessimistic.2

Colonel Manuel de Montiano, the new governor of Florida, also was aware

of the necessity of completing the Cubo Line palisade all the way from

the Santo Domingo Redoubt to the San Sebastian River in order to close
v*T i eter0khorkahW abdque 28
the gap-i-thi~est te-n half of the line.
7 ,-..
b The construction period that followed transformed the Cubo Line

into a "modern" field fortification. The beginning date of the work is

uncertain, but it was probably soon after the arrival of Engineer Pedro

Ruiz in April, 1738.29 However, the task had been halted by October 24,
1739, and General Oglethorpe's operations against St. Augustine in

iKay and June of 174031 prevented its resumption for the time being. In

that interval, nevertheless, the Cubo Line became an unelaborated earth-

work for its full length. The palisade on the eastern half was eliminated,

although the three redoubts were retained as in the old barrier. A moat

was dug in front of the line, and yucca was planted along the scarp.

But as the work had not been resumed, the parapet was too thin, the moat

shallow and too narrow, and the redoubts too small and too distant from

one another.3 It must have been during thit inter jal that the opening

in the line next to the Castillo countersccar was shifted farther west

to the head of St. Ueor.e Stre.t, a location it has had ever since.

During the British attack in 1740, the Spaniards abandoned Fort

Mose, and the unfinished Cubo Line was the only defense to protect

St. Augustine on its north side. 3ritish and Spanish movements in that

quarter leave no doubt of this. Enem reconnaissance toward the city

on June 13 was stopped by cannon and small-arms fire from the Castillo.

On July 9, Olethorpe again advanced some distance toward St. Augustine,

and camped in the middle of a marsh by: the San Sebastian River. On

the 16th, he pushed a party very close to Castillo, and the sally of

Spanish infantry and cavalry which opposed it had to retreat into the
Castillo. It was Castillo fire that forced the party to withdraw.

Obviously, the Sn ,lish could not have operated so close to the

fort if there had been a defense at the site of the "first hornwork".

Such an obstacle would have to oc subdued first, and there is no evidence

that such action took place. besides, the fact that Castillo artillery

was used for repulsing these reconnaissances implies that no Spanish

position existed between the guns and the target. Finally, if there had

been a strong point north of Cubo, the Spaniards migh not have retreated

into Castillo. They would not make a stand at Cubo because it was not


The "modern" Cubo Line was hurried to completion as soon as

Oglethorpe abandoned the attempt to capture St. Augustine. By 17h3, the

barrier extending irom th covered .ay of Castillo de San Barcos to the

San Sebastian River had been effectively improved. The sod parapet was


2 3/h feet thick,3 and a solid palisade revetted the scarp. The line
redoubts, ,. p-"
had three sod hxtismax whose walls were 8 1/4 feet thick, each large "'

enough to emplace six cannon. The stockade had a moat in front, approx- ;<

imately--, 200~feet long, 11 feet wide, and 5 1/2 deep.7 Thus finished)

the Cubo Line was again beaten down under the impact of wear, tear, and
t-Oldm 1,. ti t
the weather. 3y 17h9, Governor Navarrete'complainedthat St. Augustine

did not have walls anywhere. su, i:est3i that the additional defenses,
including Cubo, were not in good condition.

The delivery of Castillo de San irarcos (July 21, 1763) signaled

the transfer of St. Augustine to the British, pursuant to the Treaty of

Paris. At the time, the circumvallation line was a very deteriorated

enclosure of earth and yucca. The Cubo Line showed the Santo Domingo,

Medio Cubo, and Cubo Lpdoubts, the moat paralleling the entire line, and

at the head of St. George Street, the opening called La Leche gate. 39

Cutting off the land approach to the city, the ruined Cubo Line extended

some 2,200 feet. The 3-p-je~b-r sen-tation of-detaile-of--he--ine- -

shows a moat -te a-rrow-in-compa~isr-it.r-That- described in 17h3, the

tep-e-a parapet $ 1/2 feet thick, and/4 a i-it-r-aoe-of a firing step,

which-could-have-beeH about 2 1/2 feet wide.4

The British too recorded the *t e_-extant-workks of Cubo Line o-n

1764. From Castillo de San ,larcos to the San Sebastian River, Engineer

James i;oncrief showed parapet to be approximately &79-9-'feet'

long, with three redoubts--Santo Domingo, Iedio Cubo, and Cubo, as the

Spaniards had called them--and the western end extending 129f'feet beyond

Cubo redoubt. The easternmost two redoubts were lunette-shaped while
I f, . f .
'Cubo was square. The city ;gate pierced the parapet'

th-oveyred-w:ay- of Castillo. A--ma-t.-paral ed-the-''- .re-Cubo-Lthe'--


i B between Castillo and the gaie, it was approxi.m-ately 7 1/2 feet wide,

.m,';,d and from the gate to the San Sebastian River, it varied from 15 feet to
2--l L4 P
Ait, G~a i22-1-/ feet. A Spanish map contemporary to .;oncrief's fails to show
ScU f,', q ",-/- i.- A ^ .. l c ;^ " I- ^
the moat, but a4epresents- the city ; ate openi-n as, -act-e..e-angle-w-i.h-

.the- vertex-away--4e

The war between Great Britain and her American settlements

meant that St. Augustine rmiiht become a hostile objective, and forced

the British to consider the very bad condition of the line of circum-

vallation.4 Governor Patrick Tonyn agreed with Spanish judgment re-

garding the location and tactical role of the outward lines (Cubo,

Hornabeque, and Fort .lose). He categorically said that they were the

principal bulwark and strength of the defens-s of St. Augustine, and

succeeded in preventing troop commanders from levelling and totally

destroying them. The dates of repairs to specific defenses are in-

definite, out it appears that the Cubo Line was the first to be repaired

some time previous to April, 1776. Tonyn described the Cubo Line as

"the North Curtain of this Town, it is the inner line that runs from the

Fort west to St. Sebastian creek."l The nature of the repairs performed

consisted apparently in revetting the earthwork with pine logs, and
6J 6ixf o T^ir c 4- -tIxt ci "4 v.,-e 4- 6
constructing a palisades ti e-s- in-the San Sebastian River A, rz1

ed the Cubo Redoubt,a-~ea-.1T

Most of the defenses existing in St. Augustine were recorded by

SSurveyor J. Purcell in 1777. The Intrenchment, as the Cubo Line was then

'" known, extended from Fort St. Marks to St. Sebastian Creek for a distance

Sof 2-y.7-0G.f-eet. The parapet was not a perfectly straight line, but
the portion between the old nto Domino doubt an the Fort was bent
'i the portion between the old Santo Domingo ls.^oubt and the Fort was bent

slightly to the north. The parapet had three semicircular redoubts, and
77 ': ,.
extended sea23 1 sfeet beyond the westerrnmost redoubt into the St. Sebas-

tian marsh. The scarp seemed to have a revetment, and there was an

indication of a firing step in rear of the parapet. A moat fronted the

entire Intrenchment, Wi:4 -. i n*-r- j '.-t ...e i -.i.
/ /
-+- 0, QJ-^ j .:,r.. ,,, **'^ ^. 4 --- _j -I .... .

+*ht :clob _an-1 ....t x' A s measured on the mrp, it appeared that

the moat, parapet, and firing step were all 33 feet wide. While this

could have been true for the moat, it would not have applied to the

parapet and the firing step. The city gate was located (eppx.imal~:t -
P .. p . .. .. ........ ..
3 fe6- from the 4-i J..-covered way, and was represented as two-aefu-te

; P-4 i A. ) *.

The time table of subsequent repair work on the additional

fortifications of St. Augustine showSthat the British were determined

to make defenses much more effective. _,y late 1779, nothing had been

done to the barrier lines (old Cubo, Hornabeque, and I:Iose) for more than

three years, and the lines of the town (old Posario) were in very bad

condition.5 Four months later, Governor Tonyn was complaining that

ithe St. Augustine fortifications were in ruins. 5 But the decision to

repair the defenses had been made, and in archn 1781/ Engineer Captain

Durnford was erecting a chain of redoubts farther out from the usual

!locations, 'nl I .r.n-- ,,,. July, Tonyn reported that

the fortifications had been greatly enlarged and strengthened, and in

the year, however, the governor admitted that although several small

redoubts had been erected, th: work was far from bein;: finished.

In February 1782J construction was still under way, and: it: is :-ot 1

known if the whole scheme of improvements had been completed by the IwAlk'

time the British evacuated Florida in 1783. u,

The scope and result of the defense 'work begun by the British

in 1781 had ,nothing to do with Cube or the other old lines of fortifica-

tion. I-had- to- -w th- the creation of a new line of circumvallation,

to replace the -aler, xti old Rosario Line. The task performed had

been the erection of a line of small redoubts, unconnected with one

another by parapets. The new works had been constructed generally along
^;^7LIl: vVLnWD f-V Sv'^ j- tItc
the edi:e of the St. Sebastian Creek marsh, farther ou_ e the tra

eialj location &f-oidTosario.L

Portions of the work performed during the British period on the

St. Augustine defenses had begun to decay when Spain recovered Florida.

The delivery of Castillo de San ,arcos to Governor Vicente Manuel de

Cespedes by Governor Tonyn (July 12, 178l) marked the resumption of

Spanish sovereignty. The report on the state of the fortifications

made by Engineer Mariano de la Rocque in July1l789)showed that the

Cubo Line was already in unserviceable condition. He recommended that

the inner line, which originated at the western covered way of the

Castillo and ran to the Cuoo Kdoubt, should be rebuilt. The recons-

truction of tn'e i'n i13 -ilt, -,i palisade in the San Sebastian aaah
S, z . *.i ; i '' "^- ' - -- "
,at the Cubo doubtt area, would prevent the use of the ord there at

low tide 76Q

De la Rocque's recomLrendations, sli-htly modified and enlarged,

were accepted as its owan by a council of war on December 31, 1790. C

H~.- UWJ~i

)) .S~~i~

/ y

Later decisions, however, curtailed the proposed improvements. Another

council held on January 13, 1791, resolved to suspend preparation for
b r h
the proposed works, and allowed only the clearing of the underetrowt h-.

that had taken hold pf the defense lines.6 An empty treasury was pro-

bably the cause for this re rersal. Accordingly, clearing the lines and

redoubts and patching earthworks were the tasks performed during the rest

of that year. The condition of the additional defenses sank progress-

ively to such a low/ that in early 1797 Engineer Pedro Diaz Berrlo eLAO
V-o curtains i^- S
_ge3_ d-faa the redoubts and i Luhich_-srounded the city, and-z~t~ s

tsoe-e the Jiorna eque and .iose Lines, were completely non-existent.6V

-Sve- since their return, the Spaniards had spent their meager resources

in the upkeep of Castillo de San Marcos and other royal buildings in

St. Augustine, but not on Drajor repairs to the lines of defense.'



The threat of war overcame financial penury and prompted a new

construction of the Cubo Line and other defensive works. In 1795 news

had been received that an expedition against Florida was being prepared
at Charleston. Though the event did not materialize, the possibility

of an invasion persisted. Consequently, between April and June 1797,

Engineer Diaz hastily repaired the line which ran from the covered way

of Castillo de San Marcos to join the Cubo Redoubt. The gun platforms

of its three redoubts were reconstructed to mount artillery, and the

moat was cleared of the soil that had slid into it.

The Cubo Line earthwork seems not to have held together any longer

4)ads than on previous occasions. The soil of St. Augustine had not

been a satisfactory material for building temporary fortifications.

The sandy sod used, held together only by turf roots, went to pieces when

it became too dry. The only way to keep earthworks intact was to repair

them constantly, as it was being done in December, 1802.6 Such

maintenance, kept up faithfully, produced some results, because in

February 180, Engineer Manuel de Hita remarked that the Cubo Line was

not in bad condition at all. He warned,,:however, that the earthwork

material was inadequate, and that the line could give way unexpectedly,

perhaps during an emergency situation. Hita therefore thought that the

Cubo Line walls should be made of stone, considering that the earthwork

was one of the important barriers enclosing the town.6

A period of construction began in 1805, prompted by the outbreak

of war between Spain and A:gland (December 180). Foodstuffs on

hand were sufficient to feed both convicts and free labor. As Engineer
Hita requisitioned the materials needed, a. council of war on April 13

assigned priority to Maria Sanchez Redoubt and Solana Battery on the

south and west sides of the city respectively. The work performed

on these two points, finished in 1806 and 1807 respectively, was the

best example of contemporary local technique for building earthworks.

The interior face parapet consisted of a frame of horizontal palm logs,

filled with earth and clay, with a firing step along its length. The

scarp and counterscarp were revetted with vertically placed palm logs

with their bottom ends held in place by a line of horizontally buried

palm logs. At the top of the counterscarp, trenails held a p4am log

cordon in place. A palisade, made of 8- by 8-inch hewn pine stakes,

stood in the middle of the moat. A floor of palm logs covered the

glacis slope for the purpose of keeping the counterscarp logs at the

correct angle. The glacis was topped with a layer of clay, probably

the bluish marsh muck found near the redoubt sites.79

This construction phase was halted in early November 1807, -ee-aasep

'he men were not receiving their wages on time, or even their rations

in lieu of money, and did not want to work. Hita laconically pointed

out that the Cubo Line had yet to be rebuilt, and asked for guards to

c~Viof e the stockpiles of pine lumber and palm logs on hand for the

unfinished project. 7-

The receipt in January 1808 of money and news that a hostile

t' 18

expedition might head for Florida should have at once prompted the

renewal of work. But almost half of the money first went toward satis-

fying the arrears in troop pay, and the scarcity of food made it desi-

rable to keep the balance in reserve to pay for such provisions as couldI

be purchased on opportune occasions. Therefore, the council of war of

February h, though recognizing the need to repair the Cubo Line as well

as other defensive works, resolved that such tasks could not be carried

out. Engineer Hita, who had participated in the council, doubted the

wisdom of postponing the work, and suggested that half the pay for labor

could be in cash, and half in certificates of credit. Thus, with only

a small portion of the balance in the treasury he could execute this

most important task of rebuilding Cubo Line. On February 25, another

council of war agreed to allow construction of the projects outlined

in the previous meeting. 1

Building he principal objective in the.a ,g-

construction period.oea Y gg-S i t oic 'cz

pr Qi n t ,pi g 15- By mid-June, Hita had straightened the

entrenched line which closed the north limit of the city, enabling a

better enfilade of the whole line from Castillo de San Marcos.

(SStraightened" probably meant elimination of the differences in width

of the moat that Moncrief had recorded in 176h.) Hita had completed the

earth parapet between the gate and the San Sebastian River, heightening

it for better control over the northern approach to the city, and

enlarging the firing step. He was currently building the gate in mason-

ry, after which he would go on with the remainder of the parapet to the

Castillo. Nevertheless, he was already building the palm log revetments

for the parapet along the eastern half of the line. To save money, he

would use convict labor to make the firing step and the moat. Three

weeks later, the completion of the firing step suggests that the eastern

half of the Cubo Line had been completed. However, work still had to

be performed on the moat.76 The date of the completion of all the fea-

tures of the Cubo Line has not been found.

The absence of an engineer was now added to impermanence of mate-

rials, lack of money, and scarcity of food as the usual factors bearing

on construction of defenses. Engineer Hita was transferred to Santo

Domingo, leaving St. Augustine in August 1811../ Because no replacement

had arrived, there was no resident engineer in St. Augustine for the

first time since 178h. The responsibility for defense construction

during the next five years fell directly upon the governor.7e

+It wns -;agn time whon the additional defenses of wood and earth

were, eteriorating due to the usual causes. A council of war resolved

on December 16, 1811, that the line of circumvallation and other works

be repaired as effectively as possible with the least cost. But still

there was no money to pay wages, and the council appealed to public

patriotism for volunteers to work on the defenses. Volunteers would

be paid their wages as soon as funds arrived.S/ The turnout must have

been disappointing despite the fact that rebels shortly thereafter

seized Amelia Island and planned to move on St. Augustine. Another

council on March 21, 1812, recognized that no defense construction had

so far been done, and resolved that nothing could be done until the

arrival of requested reinforcements alleviated the acute shortage of

personnel. o3The Cubo Line, also the north leg of the line of circum-

TOQ'ata~la~axdxuamrxa oafflctQ^rreP~b~

valuation, was apparently the only effective temporary defense during

the period, regardless of its bad condition.

Engineer Francisco de Cortazar came to the job on December 27,

1816,8' and found that the Cubo Line indeed was the only extant additional

defense of St. Augustine. His report of January 25, 1817, stressed that

a continuous earthwork along the north side of the city, and parts of

Castillo de San Marcos, were the sole defense for this most important-

and only-approach to St. Augustine. The earth work was nearly

917 yards long, with flanks at the Castillo and on the San Sebastian

River. It had three redoubts, one on the left, and the other,two spaced

between the- and the Castillo. The redoubts measured h6 3/4 feet

in front and 55 in the flanks, with no gun platforms for emplacing cannon,

and no interior revetment. The line could offer only light opposition

to the enemy because it was merely a field work, the moat h1 feet

3 inches wide and 4 feet 7 inches deep, and the palisade at the foot of

the scarp completely destroyed. The parapet was made of sandy sod,

rising 6 feet above the ground, and measuring 2 3/h feet thick at the

top. That was the maximum elevation of the line over its approaches.

Behind the parapet, the firing step was 22 inches high. The bridge

at the gate in the line was- unserviceable.8A-

Cortazar then made recommendations for improving the St. Augustine

fortifications. For the Cubo Line, he would make the parapet 19 1/hfeet

thick, and revet it was fascines. He would reconstruct the palisade,

but place it at the foot of the counterscarp. The moat he would deepen

to at least 11 feet, and line the scarp and counterscarp with masonry.

Such a scarp would reach to the foot of the parapet. Masonry likewise

would prevent the erosion of the counterscarp and glacis, eliminating

the accidental filling of the moat with sand. The redoubts would be

revetted inside and a gun platform built for artillery. The bridge at

the gate in the line would be converted into a drawbridge. Finally,

Cortazar recommended a dike for the western end of the moat, fitted

with a flood gate in order to keep the moat filled at low tide. It

would also prevent the tide from depositing sand in the moat, and

perhaps it could superqsde the river palisade."

The specific dates and nature of ensuing construction on the

fortifications are imprecise. On May 7, 1817, the captain general at

Habana authorized the restoration of the line, gun platforms in the

redoubts, and,bridges.1 The order may have reached St. Augustine

late that month, and perhaps work began in June. At any rate, construc-

tion was already under way on July 1 on the "said fortifications," gun
platforms of the redoubts, and on the bridges of Castillo de San Marcos.

It is not known when each specific project was completed, but on March 1,

1818, work was stopped. Once more the treasury had run out of money

for wages, and the commissary no longer had enough provisions to issue

full rations.8 However, Engineer Cortazar continued work on the gate

at the Cubo Redoubt, which he finished on March 9.7 Otherwise, the

Cubo Line moat and stockade were still in the condition reported in

January 1817. The work performed on the line during the period must

have concentrated primarily on the redoubts and on upkeep of the parapet


The resumption of work on the fortifications was intended in part

to undertake the a major repairs to Cubo Line. On June 27, 1818,

xif tonuXcx

funds were received in St. Augustine, and some was allotted to the de-

enses ginger Cortazar wanted to clear the Cubo Line moat, restore

/ r repair Castillo de San Marcos. Construction began

S at sunrise, July 20, with Castillo as the first object of attention.

By November 28, however, the exhaustion of funds had compelled the dis-

charge of wage laborers; but work on the Cubo Line was to continue with

convicts and military prisoners.,'

The outcome of Cubo Line work is uncertain. Cortazar returned to

Havana probably in early April 1819. His successor, Lieutenant Nicolas

de Fano, Regiment of Habana, had apparently been in St. Augustine for

some time.9/70n February 17, 1820, Fano reported that the line and the

platforms were not in their previous complete deterioration, and were /

being constantly repaired by small parties of convicts. The

~it_ _e_ had yet to be put in, but it could be dispensed with if, as

Cortazar had said, the moat was revetted with masonry, deepened, and

fitted with a dike and flood gate at its western end. It was the land

gate and bridge which now were desperately in need of repair. The gate

was being patched at every turn due to its age and infirmity, and the

bridge was practically impassable.L

Ramon de la Cruz became the resident engineer on April 20, 1820,

and reporting on the state of the fortifications, showed that maintenance

of Cubo Line sod was ineffective. Submitted on October 20, the report

revealed the Cubo Redoubt as a square enclosed by a good parapet on its

west and north sides, both revetted with thick, well-preserved timbers.

This redoubt swept the San Sebastian River to the west, and the field

fronting the line to the north. There were two other redoubts or

or platforms, equidistant from each other and from the Cubo and the


A continuous and straight line of earth extended nearly 917 yards,

resting its left and right wings on the Cubo Redoubt and the covered way

of Castillo de San Marcos respectively. Fire from the west front of

the Castillo controlled both the north and south sides of the earthwork.

A continuous moat, 4O 1/3 feet wide and L feet 7 inches deep, ran from

the San Sebastian to the Castillo, paralleling the line and the redoubts.

Its counterscarp was completely ruined because the sandy soil would not

hold unless revetted. The scarp was nothing but a ridge of sand, the

parapet made shapeless by water erosion. The parapet itself was only

2 feet 9 inches thick in places, and had been revetted continuously with

sod, but only on the interior face.

De la Cruz doubted the defense capability of the Cubo Line redoubts.

The faces and flanks of all three were parallel to each other, making

it difficult to direct defensive fire in support of each other. Since

the flanks were face to face, their fire could not sweep the curve of

the counterscarp in front of the next redoubt. He concluded that the

defense for the north side of St. Augustine was the most important, but

also the weakest. Other fortified points around the city afforded more

protection than the Cubo Line. This barrier, therefore, should be

repaired immediately in preference to other works. Delay would result

in higher costs, a need for more laborers, and more extensive retrieving

of the earth which continually washed down to form crossovers and fill

the moat.

De la Cruz proposed two essential improvements for Cubo Line:

(1) revet the moat counterscarp at least with fascines because the

sandy sod would never bond completely to form a stable slope; (2) face

the parapet with fascines to give a reasonable slope to the whole earth-

work, and increase its thickness to 19 1/4 feet. Otherwise, the

inadequacy of the sod, the length of the line, and the shortage of

convict labor precluded ever getting ahead of this most taxing and

manifestly endless task.9'

His two recommendations may have been carried out in part. This

is suggested by the inventory of royal property made for the delivery

of East Florida to the United States. Compiled by De la Cruz himself

on June h, 1821, the inventory described the Cubo Line as a line of

earth nearly 917 yards long. The line began at the covered way of the

Castillo de San Marcos and extended to the San Sebastian River. The

continuous parapet was 2 3/4 to 3 3/h feet thick on top, nearly

19 1/h feet thick at the base, and formed a sloping scarp,without a

berm, to the bottom of the moat. The log revetment was in good order,

8 1/h feet highland 5 3/8 by 7 inches thick with proper girders, aadq;

ran the whole length of the line. The moat paralleled the earthwork,

and was 39 feet 5 inches wide and approximately 5 1/2 feet deep.

There were three redoubts in Cubo Line. On the left stood

square-shaped Cubo, with parapets facing to the east, to the San Sebas-

tian, and to the field north of the line. It had two gun platforms.

There was a wooden guardhouse in the rediubt. Forming a traverse

parallel to the line, and to the south of the redoubt, was a thick

palisade with girders, which also covered its west flank. Middle

Redoubt and Tolomato Redoubt were east of Cubo. Their flanks were at

right anglesto the gorge. Tolomato had an embrasure in each flank and

two in its face. Tolomato had a wooden guardhouse while the Middle Re-

doubt had a thatched hut. Each of the latter two had a gun platform.

Middle Redoubt had two gun platforms.

The land gate pierced the Cubo Line a little east of Tolomato

Redoubt. It was the only exit to the road leading north, and there was

a wooden guardhouse there. In good condition, the gate consisted of

2 leaves hung on 2 strong masonry pillars. To cross the moat, there

was a new bridge 62 1/3 feet long and 15 feet 2 inches wide, resting

on h piers.9V

The contrast between the Cubo Line in 1820 and 1821 stands out

clearly. The parapet's base thickness contrasts sharply with the previous

description of the scarp as a shapeless, uneven ridge of sand. The

well-ordered log revetment and sloping scarp seem to be a realization

of De la Cruz's desire to stabilize the faces of the earthwork with

fascines. Archeology has shown that the "fascines", at least on the

scarp, were upright palm logs, laid against the slope at an angle of

60 degrees. No height is stated for the parapet, but that of the

stockade was 9 feet, which suggests that the parapet and the "log revet-

ment" were one and the same. These differences account for construction

performed between 1820 and 1821.

The De la Cruz inventory had recorded for posterity the condition

of the Cubo Line at the time of delivery of St. Augustine to the United

States on July 10, 1821.


The United States was now the owner of the land and works com-

prised by the Cubo Line. After 1821, however, these works were

obsolete and no longer needed. Disuse and neglect progressively

deteriorated the old Spanish defense and eventually it disappeared


The municipal Corporation of St. Augustine apparently

stuck the first blow for the obliteration of the Cubo Line. In

early June 1827, Mayor Waters Smith awarded a bid to replace the

wooden bridge at the city gate with a stone causeway, and fill the

moat east of the gate. In carrying out the work, the contractor

apparently exceeded its scope, and by the 26th had begun tearing

down the gate's stone walls too. As this was a violation of the

property rights of the United States, Lieutenant Harvey Brown,

Assistant Quartermaster of the post of St. Augustine, succeeded on

July 3 in having U. S. District Attorney Thomas Douglas halt the

project and repair the damage to the gateway. The causeway

was completed later presumably with other stone,9 but nothing

seems to have been done about filling the moat. Indeed, in 1837

the banks of the old moat were still extending from Castillo de

San Marcos to the San Sebastian River.

On July 21, 1833, twelve years after acquisition by the

United States, Engineer Lieutenant Stephen Tuttle compared the

state of that defense with its condition in 1821, and found the

parapet was in ruins, the guardhouse and the palisade south and

west of Cubo redoubt gone, and the redoubt at Tolomato destroyed.

At the land gate too, the leaves of the gate had been removed and

part of the masonry wall destroyed. The bridge was gone, replaced

by a stone causeway paid for by the City of St. Augustine.D

In another ten years, the distinguishing features of the

eastern half of the Cubo Line had disappeared completely. In

April 1842, Engineer H. W. Benham carefully recorded the topography

of the terrain of Castillo de San Marcos lying between the

covered way and the city gate. The elevation of the floor of the

depression which had once been the moat was between zero and one

foot.10 The width of the moat at the 2-foot contour was about 50

feet. The field on both sides of the depression rose 3 to 4 feet

from the bottom, and on the north and south banks there were

large mounds of earth 6 feet above the floor of the depression.

The existence of these shapeless mounds on both banks indicated the

advanced deterioration of parapet and glacis.10

Complete obliteration of the eastern part of the line

occurred 153 years after its first construction. By 1857, the

ground between the ruined parapet and the house of Bartolo Oliveros

was so low that it flooded with rain water. A municipal committee

found that the land could be drained because there was a 5-inch

fall into the old 45-foot-wide moat. The committee, therefore,

recommended on August 21 that the earth on each bank of the ditch be

sloped toward the middle for a distance of 15 feet. This would

create a 15-foot-wide drainage channel astride the center axis of

the old moat. The fill along each bank would be one foot deep and

run for 100 feet, beginning at the glacis of Castillo de San Marcos.

The banks along the remaining 200 feet to the city gate would be

partially filled. A pipe culvert would be set under a pathway

located east of the gate. These changes, the committee felt,

would cause the water to flow west, and the low ground could be

effectively drained.10

Thus the eastern portion of the Cubo Line became a mere

drainage ditch, and remained so for many years. Apparently it was

not affected by the construction of earthworks around Castillo de

San Marcos during the Civil War.10I In the years before 1870, the

erstwhile moat west of the city gate was still clearly marked and

even partially filled at high tide. 0 But the eastern area was so

devoid of works with military characteristics that Captain J. C.

Post did not record any during his survey of the reservation in


On December 1, 1877, Captain Post had been directed to fix

accurately the boundaries of the United States reservation in St.

Augustine and he prepared himself thoroughly for the task. From

De la Cruz's inventory of 1821, Post knew that "the lines," as he

referred to the Cubo Line, had been a parapet measuring nearly 19 1/2

feet at the base, with a moat nearly 39 1/2 feet wide, and a palm log

stockade at the foot of the scarp.

Captain Post began the survey by first ascertaining the

location of Cubo Line, and then attempting to reconstruct on paper

its general outline. He realized that the destruction of nearly all

the parapet, the loss of the moat outline, and the irregularity

and short length (72 1/2 feet) of the masonry wall at the city gate

prevented him from locating the direction of axis of "the lines."

However, he searched for the remains of the palm logs in the ground,

and found their line to be 11 feet 4 inches in front of the face of

the pillars. Assuming correctly that the line of logs had been

parallel to the pillars, he extended the line of the face of the

pillars and adjoining walls all the way from the covered way wall

of Castillo de San Marcos to the San Sebastian River, calling it

the line of berm (top edge of the scarp) and front of gate. The

distance between the city gate wall and the covered way wall was

426 feet 9 1/2 inches. Post marked permanently the eastern end of

the line of berm by getting an 8-inch-square marble monument into

the ground, 24 feet 2 1/2 inches west of the covered way wall.

Unlike the eastern half, remains of the western half of the

Cubo Line had survived up to this time. Captain Post's survey

revealed this western portion of "the lines" to be 2081 feet 4 inches

long between the city gate and the western wall of the Cubo redoubt.

Post recorded the width of the area where the parapet, the firing

step, and the slope in rear of the firing step had been, as 46

feet from the berm line. The ditch and its slopes were marked as

75 feet wide. These measurements gave the Cubo Line an overall width

of 121 feet. From the city gate to the San Sebastian, projecting

from the line of berm into the ditch area, were the earth mounts of

the erstwhile Tolomato, Centro, and Cubo Redoubts, respectively.10

It has been seen that most of the western Cubo Line had

already disappeared. The remaining outline of the moat and traces

of the redoubts were bound to go slowly but inexorably. After

1880, the ditch began to fill gradually, and by 1906 the bottom

was above the normal tides. In rainy weather, it was wet and

unsightly, constituting a menace to public health.0

The United States had kept unemcumbered ownership over the

75-foot-wide erstwhile moat. Now, on January 13, 1890, the

Secretary of War granted license to the Jacksonville, St. Augustine

and Halifax River Railway Co. (later absorbed by the Florida East

Coast Railway Co.) to construct, maintain, and use one or more

tracks and sidings across the prolongation (west end) of the moat

between the track already there and the San Sebastian River. la

The license was converted into a right-of-way, 100 feet wide, by an

Act of Congress approved by the President- on July 11.110

Following this concession for improvement, similar

concessions likewise affected the area of the "lines" south of

the berm line. The 146-foot-wide strip of land had long been used

as a street,which by February 1886 had become known as Orange Street. l*

A congressional act, granted the St. Augustine Street Railway Co. a

right-of-way along Orange Street and the western and southern sides

of Castillo de San Marcos grounds, was approvedby the President on

September 26, 1890. A street railway was to be built within a year,

and on Orange Street the track was to be laid on the southside as

close to the sidewalk as practicable.'11 The north curb of the

street coincided with a line along the back of the city gate pillars

and wall.1l Then, on May 23, 1891, the Secretary of War granted

the permission requested by the St. Augustine City Council for

paving Orange Street.

Another act of Congress authorized the conveyance of the

strip of land known in St. Augustine as "the moat" to the St. Johns

County board of public instruction for the building of a school

thereon. The piece of ground was 2,394 feet long and 75 feet wide,

extending from the city gate westward to the northern prolongation

of the east line of Malaga Street. In exchange the board would

provide a suitable drain at the city gate to empty either in the

Matanzas or San Sebastian Rivers. The United States reserved the

right to recover the use of the land whenever it ceased being

used for school purposes. The President approved the act on
February 22, 1907.

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