Group Title: Historic St. Augustine: Redoubt
Title: Archaeology of the Santo Domingo Redoubt
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 Material Information
Title: Archaeology of the Santo Domingo Redoubt
Series Title: Historic St. Augustine: Redoubt
Physical Description: Archaeological field report
Language: English
Creator: Halbrit, Carl D.
Publication Date: 1999
Physical Location:
Box: 8
Divider: Redoubt
Folder: Redoubt
Subject: Saint Augustine (Fla.)
Redoubt (Saint Augustine, Fla.)
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Saint Johns -- Saint Augustine
Coordinates: 29.897826 x -81.314976
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00095516
Volume ID: VID00002
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

Archaeology of the Santo Domingo Redoubt

Carl D. Halbirt
City Archaeologist

Planning and Building Department
St. Augustine, Florida

October 1, 1999

Throughout its tumultuous history, St. Augustine has been protected by a series of defensive

fortifications and lines. Initially, wooden forts and then the stone fort (Castillo de San Marcos) were

the city's only substantive structures. After Carolina Governor James Moore's devastating siege of

1702 (Arnade 1959), additional defenses were required at the Spanish capital. Commencing in 1704,

an elaborate defensive system was erected that made St. Augustine "one of the most formidable

Spanish military centers in the Western Hemisphere" during the 18th century (Chatelain 1941:75).

The system consisted of three parallel defensive lines (Cubo, Hornabeque, and Mose) with redoubts

and/or bastions that extended from North River west to the San Sebastian River; a fourth defensive

line (Rosario) with bastions that encircled the land side of the city; Forts Mose and Matazanas; casa

fuertes, or block houses; and sentry lookouts (Arana and Manucy 1977). This is the story of one

component of that system--a small fortification along the historic Cubo Line known as the Santo

Domingo Redoubt--and the efforts that are underway to reconstruct this historical feature.

Historical documents indicate that the Cubo Line underwent various episodes of remodeling

and repair during its 138-year existence, from 1704 to 1842 (Arana 1964; Halbirt 1993: Table 1).

By 1743, the Cubo Line had taken on its modem characteristics, which consist of a defensive earthen

wall, or parapet, that was connected to three redoubts referred to as Santo Domingo, Medio, and

Cubo. Redoubts were locations where cannon were mounted and which afforded the infantry the

ability to create a cross-fire (enfilade) along the entire line from Castillo de San Marcos to the San

Sebastian River. The redoubts were spaced equidistantly along the half-mile long parapet that was

revetted either partially or entirely, depending on the era of use, with pine or palm logs. A moat

fronted the parapet and redoubts.

Reconstruction of the defensive earthworks that define the boundaries of colonial St.

Augustine has been one of the principal aims of the Presidio Commission since its inception in 1993

(Fullam 1994). One of the commission's goals is to continue the reconstruction of the 1808 version

of the historic Cubo Line that was started by the National Park Service in the 1960s. The proposed

reconstruction would focus on the Santo Domingo Redoubt. As part of this effort, archaeological

investigations were undertaken, first by staff of the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board

(HSAPB) and later by the City of St. Augustine's Archaeology Program, with assistance provided by

members of the St. Augustine Archaeological Association. The results of these investigations provide

the information necessary to accurately reconstruct the redoubt and to evaluate the impacts that

reconstruction will have on the remaining archaeological deposits.

The aim of the archaeological investigations at the Santo Domingo Redoubt was to obtain

information about the size and shape of the 1808 structure. In total, 15 test areas at the intersection

of Orange Street and Cordova Street were investigated between 1994 and 1998 (Figure 1). These

areas were initially excavated by the HSAPB, using hand tools. Subsequent investigations by the

City utilized mechanical equipment to remove soil deposits that post-dated the historic Cubo Line;

this was followed by hand excavation. These efforts uncovered not only the 1808 Santo Domingo

Redoubt, but also earlier 18th-century vestiges of the redoubt and moat and later modifications to

the Cubo Line that were made during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842). The following is a

synopsis of three versions of the Santo Domingo Redoubt that are readily evident in the

archaeological record: 1738-1743, 1808, and 1835.

The earliest documentation of the Santo Domingo Redoubt occurs ca. 1738 to 1743 when

the Spanish remodeled the Cubo Line. This effort involved: 1) erecting a sod parapet with a palisade

of pine revetted to portions of the scarp; 2 ) connecting the parapet to three sod redoubts whose

walls were 8-1/4 ft thick, which was large enough to emplace six cannon (Arana 1964:12); and 3)

establishing a 15 ft wide by 5-1/2 ft deep moat that fronted the palisade and redoubts (Manucy 1989).

A rendering by Albert Manucy (1989) shows what the Cubo Line may have looked like in profile at

this time (Figure 2). Historical maps of the era show that the Santo Domingo Redoubt was lunette

in shape. Archaeologically, this episode is shown in soil deposits as a drop in the culturally sterile

sands that was created by digging the moat (Figure 3). Of the 15 test areas excavated, four showed

the boundary between the 18th-century redoubt and moat. The lunette-shaped redoubt measured

approximately 60 ft in diameter, or 2,500 sq ft in size (Figure 1). The organically rich moat deposit

was comprised of a series of sandy beds, or strata, that associate with different repairs to the line

made between 1743 and 1808 (Figure 3). At more than 25 feet wide, the moat is much larger than

previously thought. A few fragments of the pine logs used to revet the scarp during this time also

were found within water-logged soil deposits. These fragments were 2 in. to 5 in. in diameter and

had tapered ends created by an adze.

In response to a possible British attack on St. Augustine, the Cubo Line underwent a major

remodeling between 1808 and 1811. At this point the Spanish strengthened and straightened the line

by increasing the height of the parapet using palm logs and widening the moat to 41 feet. The moat

was kept approximately 5 feet deep (Halbirt 1993). Archaeologically, the 1808 Santo Domingo

Redoubt is represented by an alignment of upright palm logs that fronted the moat. These logs were

kept in place by a horizontal base log, also of palm, and cedar stakes and pins that tied the system

together (Figures 4 and 5). The 1808 redoubt was found in six test areas and consisted of a large

rectangle (Figure 1) measuring 56.4 ft (north-south) by 73.8 ft (east-west). The 1808 structure was

centered over the earlier 18th-century lunette redoubt, which required that the upright palm logs and

base log were placed within the moat of the earlier Cubo Line. Excavations conducted elsewhere

along the Cubo Line have revealed that the moat, at this time, varied from 45 ft to 70 ft wide (Halbirt


One aspect of the wall construction of the 1808 redoubt is of particular interest for

reconstruction plans. Archaeological work along the east flanking wall revealed that it consisted of

vertical palm logs with no evidence of them being revetted to an embankment (Figure 2). (It is

assumed that the west flanking wall of the redoubt mimics the east wall in terms of construction style.

Unfortunately, archaeological evcavations along the west wall by the HSAPB did not extend deep

enough to determine the angle of the palm logs; only the top of the logs was exposed.) This

contrasts with the north wall of the redoubt, in which the palm logs were angled and revetted to an

earthen embankment (Figure 3), similar to the modem reconstructions found adjacent to the City

Gate. That the 1808 Cubo Line is not a continuous palm log revetment along an earthen berm is an

unexpected finding and has ramifications for our understanding of Spanish military architecture.

Within a few years the Cubo Line again was deteriorating and a series of intermittent repairs

was initiated. In 1820, Royal Engineer Ramon de la Cruz stated that the Cubo Line was a continuous

sod parapet with a log revetment 8-1/4 ft high and a moat 39 ft wide by 5-1/2 ft deep (Arana 1964).

The flanks of the Santo Domingo Redoubt were at right angles to the moat and had four cannon

embrasures along the walls: one on each flank and two in its face (Arana 1964).

It was not until the Second Seminole War (1835-1842) that the Cubo Line was again

remodeled. By this time the line was in complete disrepair. In a petition dated March 10, 1836, and

submitted to the U. S. Congress, the city's inhabitants requested $850 for costs incurred for repair

that "involved constructing a 5-foot high parapet; increasing the depth of the moat; restoring the

redoubts...and establishing a picket line along the length of the line" (Halbirt 1993:110). In addition,

a new avenue was created that eventually became Orange Street.

The archaeological record reflects a variety of techniques that were used to remodel the Cubo

Line during the Second Seminole War. At the Cubo Redoubt, which is the westernmost redoubt

along the line, a series of squared, pine stakes (8 in. per side) was placed in front of the palm logs,

creating a solid wall (Figure 6). This pine wall extended an unknown distance east along the Cubo

Line, where the solid alignment of pine stakes gave way to square pine stakes that were intermittently

spaced (Halbirt 1993). At the Santo Domingo Redoubt the construction method involved

demolishing the upper portion of the palm log revetment and using the fragments to form the base

to the new earthern parapet (Figure 7). The width of this base varied from 18 inches along the east

wall to 24 inches along the north wall. The earthen berm was supported by at least the lower two

feet of the remaining palm log revetment along the inside of the wall (Figure 3). The outside of the

earthen berm was supported by a new wall. This wall is shown in the archaeological record by a

series of equidistant post holes, some of which contained the remains of square pine stakes. Most

likely, these pine stakes were the main supports to some type of temporary walled structure that could

be erected quickly (such as a series of fascines, or bundles of sticks). To the east of the Santo

Domingo Redoubt a similar construction pattern was noted along the Cubo Line. The only difference

was that instead of removing the upper portion of the palm log revetment and using the rest as a

support, the revetment was pushed over to form a platform onto which the earthen berm was placed

(Figure 8). Thus, the palm log revetment was in a position other than its original orientation.

Although, the Cubo Line was no longer needed for defensive purposes after 1842, it was still

under military control. The line and all its components became the focus of other activities. It was

used for drainage purposes, the vegetation became fodder for livestock, and the moat depression

became an ad hoc city dump that included the disposal of articulated remains from domesticated

animals (Figure 9). In the early 20th century, the remaining moat depression was filled and the land

given by the U.S. War Department to the St. Johns County School Board.

What had been St. Augustine's first line of defense in the 18th century is now being slowly

consumed by 20th- and 21st-century urban growth and development. The restoration of the Santo

Domingo Redoubt and portions of the adjacent parapet will help to preserve the legacy of this

significant cultural feature. Care should be taken to select the location of the reconstructed redoubt,


Three sites are now being considered by the Presidio Commission: directly over the original

1808 redoubt; east of the intersection of Orange and Cordova Streets; and west of the intersection

on School Board property. Although it may seem ideal to reconstruct the redoubt over its original

site, this activity would have a profound and adverse impact on the remaining archaeological deposits.

Already the redoubt has been severely compromised by construction and archaeological projects over

the past few decades, and additional construction activities would further destroy what remains of

this historical feature. The second option, building the redoubt east of the intersection, also is

impractical given that an authentic replica of the Santo Domingo Redoubt would encroach upon the

historic Hugnenot Cemetery and construction also would destroy what remains of the redoubt east

of the intersection. To lessen the problem of encroachment, the redoubt would have to be scaled

down; thereby giving a false impression of its actual size. The only viable option would be to

reconstruct the redoubt on School Board property over the historical moat. The moat is a half-mile

long and a small portion could be set aside for reconstruction purposes without compromising this

component of the Cubo Line. It is essential to document the characteristics of the moat deposits

prior to disturbance.

In conclusion, archaeological research at the Santo Domingo Redoubt has not only confirmed

the historical documents, but also has provided information that was heretofore unknown. The

resulting data provide the necessary foundation so that the redoubt can be accurately reconstructed.

The location of the reconstructed redoubt also is predicated upon archaeological criteria. Although

some options may be appealing, it is the preservation of the extant archaeological remains that must

be considered in the selection process.


Bastion a projecting part of a fortification.

Lunette a fortification consisting of two faces forming a salient angle and two parallel flanks.

Palisade a barricade of pole timbers set vertically into the ground and closely spaced.

Parapet a wall raised above the main body of a fortification.

Redoubt a small fortification that is completely enclosed by a parapet.

Revetment a facing of wood, stone, or any other material used to substain an embankment when
it receives a slope steeper than the natural slope

Scarp the slope of the protecting ditch or moat which touches the revetment or parapet

References Cited

Arana, Luis R.
1964 The Cubo Line, 1704-1909. MS on file, Castillo de San Marcos National Monument,
St. Augustine.

Arana, Luis R., and Albert Manucy
1977 The Building of the Castillo de San Marcos. Eastern National Park and Monument
Association for the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, St. Augustine.

Arnade, Charles
1959 The Siege of St. Augustine in 1702. University of Florida Press, Gainesville.

Castell6, Pablo
1764 Plan del Presidio de Sn. Agustin... In The Defenses of Spanish Florida 1565 to
1763, by Verne E. Chatelain, 1941, Map 13. Carnegie Institution of Washington,
Publication 511, Washington, D.C.

Chatelain, Verne
1941 The Defenses of Spanish Florida 1565 to 1763. Carnegie Institution of Washington,
Publication 511, Washington, D.C.

Fullam, Ross
1994 The Presidio Commission. St. Augustine Association Newsletter 9(1): 1.

Halbirt, Carl D.
1993 The Archaeology of the Cubo Line: St. Augustine's First Line of Defense. The
Florida Anthropologist 46(2): 105-127.

Manucy, Albert
1989 The Fort Mose (moh-say) Picture, Memo to Kathleen A. Deagan. MS on file, St.
Augustine Historical Society Research Library.


X i lt* -

1808 -

- I

Orange Test Areas
Street HSAPB

IZ City

Figure 1. Boundary of Santo Domingo Redoubt Through Time







Figure 2. Albert Manucy's Postulated Profile of the 18th-century
Cubo Line Based on the Pablo Castello Map (1764).


2m BD -

7_ _r i
1 W Proposed elevation of 1808 wall

/ I I
-.^ -- ^ --- ^ __^ _ ^1 ^ / A ^ i- I_, J __ _

--2m BD

Scale: metric

7 8 meters


I P Proposed elevation of 1808 wall

- 2m BD

2m BD _
2m BD --- ] |

Figure 3. Stratigraphic Profiles of the East and North Walls
of the Historic Santo Domingo Redoubt. Note: shaded areas are
18th-century moat deposits.

Scale: meters




Figure 4. Plan View of Southeast Corner of
Santo Domingo Redoubt.

Scale: centimeters/inches


v* 'notch pin

i pl -- 30/11.81



Figure 5. Cross-section of Support System used in
Securing 1808 Palm Log Revetment.

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Figure 6. 1937 Excavations within the Cubo Redoubt, from Chatelain (1941: Map 19)
Illustrated is the 1808 palm log structure and the 1835 pine stake structure.

____. ______ __

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