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tv   Castillo de San Marcos  CSPAN  August 25, 2016 12:13pm-12:29pm EDT

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castillo dos marcos. the fortress behind you is the fourth fortification to bear this maim but it is the first one to be made out of stone at st. augustine and it was built for a particular reason. spain decided they had to build a stone fortification in st. augustine to ensure their foothold on the florida terth. they were concerned about england encroaching and pushing them out of the area and they saw florida as very important in helping to defend their hold on the caribbean and central and south america. they start construction in 16 72, complete it in 1695. you got 23 years worth of construction. the biggest reason for all that time only about 175 people working on the project at any one time. all the stone had to be quarried from over on the island across the bay, barged across. no mechanical stuff, no metal banks. it db barges. it is all man-made stuff. bruce force and ignorance as my
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dad used to say as they move it around. they're building with very simple machines, ramps, pulleys, ramps. all the way back to the late 16th century -- 1580s or so they were talking about a way to defend all their caribbean holdings because piracy was a big problem. the treasure fleets were being preyed on and the king of spain sent over one of his best engineers, one of his best generals to figure out a way to defend against the piracy. they came up with an idea. fortifying ten of spain's ports. the plan was, puerto rico, havana, all these were going to be fortified. number ten at the very bottom of the list, st. augustine. ignacio daas is the original plan, how they'll use the land in the area. literally we're a one-fifth scale model of what was
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considered a frontier fortification of spain, meaning defending the frontier from the two nations. 16th, 17th, early 18th century, they'll have fortifications all around a city they are laying siege to. you'll see 15 or 16 of these in some places that they built up to conduct a three or four-year siege of a city. it was a really common design. but he took that design and scaled it down to fit the land area he had to work with here which is one of the reasons why the inside where the doors and windows are laid out is a little bit odd ball. windows or doorways will be slammed into a corner that seems out of balance. but the rest of all the architectural details balance everything out. original design of the fort is what is called trace italian. it has a couple of innovations in it that come from different people. right off the bat there is one we stole -- i should say they stole exactly from leonardo divinci. the way the walls are tows out
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at the base, distributes its grouped pressure over a much greater surface area so we don't sink into the marshy ground. once the castillo's built, over time they see that they have to go ahead and modify the way they are going to defend this area because we are on a finger of land surrounded on three sides by water. there is only one approach down from the north to go ahead and get to the city by land. you want to be able to defend the whole thing. the best way to do is that is encompass it with a fortification. but this took so much effort to build, the amount of effort would take to build a stone fortification around the whole city, st. augustine really wasn't worth it. so they built wooden fortifications. small outlying fortifications and also ultimately walls around the city itself. 14-foot walls with gun
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placements around the three sides of the city. right where we are now is pretty much where about the last five fortifications were built. from here, even with a little six -- even a little four-pound gun like the one in the middle up there, little four-pound gun can fire a four-pound iron ball about a mile. so most of that big one horseshoe horse coming in to the harbor is under the small guns, let alone the big guns. what we've got here is one of the swedish iron cannons that were arming the castillo in 1702. 1702 is one of the major sieges that took place here in st. augustine. prior to this fortress being built, the city had been burned to the ground by prinvader, pirates, whatever you want to call them. several times.
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spain decided to invest in a stone fortification that not only was it going to be a gun platform to defend the city and the harbor, it was also going to be a safe haven, a citadel for the entire community. plan was with castillo once this fortress was built if the city came under attack, everybody in town could i a band abandon the valuables and live here. problem was that with a havana, cuba. they were be in here waiting for help then for up to three mon s months. the fort was geared toward that. one side was for food, the other for storage. in 1702 the fall of that year, the english come down from charleston, carolina and attack st. augustine. by the second day of that attack the spanish have decided to abandoned city. guns up stairs are providing covering fire from the bastions so the people of the town can make their way up to this fortress and this is one of the
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guns that's doing that. but this barrel was of note because during the second day of the siege, this gun exploded. through the front end of the gun, off the top of the fort, and buried it with enough force that it wasn't found until 1960s when they were putting a new water main. so it gives you an example of how much force there is involved in these cannons firing. but this 18-pounder had served the fort for a number of years before. but they forgot to keep track of how many shots had been fired. see, they had to keep track of how many shots the iron guns fired because iron guns at this time period only had a life span of about 1,200 or 1,300 shots. beyond that too much damage had been done to the interior of the gun so it would shatter. this gun for me is important because in the 1702 siege, there are four spanish soldiers killed in the entirety of this 51-day
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siege. this gun here counts for three of them. 1702 is also of note because it's pretty much how we get the city we have today because the english, upon realizing the siege was over, help got here from havana, cuba, they didn't want to face that so they went ahead and set fire to the city, burned it to the ground and marched out. spanish go into town the next day, smoldering ruins, see the english are gone and declare victory. they hold st. augustine, what's left, they still hold the fortress, they've won but they have to rebuild the city. that's how we get the city we have today. there are 30 buildings in town today that can trace their core to the building to those deck raids right after 1702. this is one of the rooms that's associated with the artillery complex. for a while this was living quarters for the artillery men
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so there is an alarm upstairs. they could pour out of here, go up on the ladderway, get up to the gun deck. the command of the view to the harbor and city itself for the most part. later on though this actually became part of the governor's complex. the city was under siege. the governor would actually be living inside this room over here, and this was the room that he went ahead and met all of his officers and they made all their plans, figured out things. and one of the things that helps us with that is, this is also one of the rooms that's got the most original decorations because you can see here on the walls, we've got the stripes that go along, then there is the little round scallop work at the top. even smaller scallops at the bottom going along there. they were all colored. now this room here is one of the lead-in rooms to the old powder magazine. the old powder magazine, that
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doorway only three foot high, three foot wide, is probably the oldest part of the fort other than the foundation. it is one of the original structural parts of the fort. the walls, six, eight feet thick, solid coqina block. but that room was also abandoned. only after three years of this fort being used because there is no ventilation and it is florida with really humid and humidity is the enemy of black powder. it likes to suck the air dry. basically taking all the moisture it can out of the air. v no way for ventilation to get in there so it was just sitting
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unused. when the 1702 siege hits. 1,500 people come up inside this fortress. one of the first things they do with figure out where we want to put the garbage. don't want it laying out because garbage starts to rot and you'll get disease. you don't know how long you will have the entire city in here. they had to establish a garbage pit right off the bat. that became the garbage pit, that old gun powder magazine. interesting part of this, remember that gun i told you that blew up? killed three crew members but not only that, it wounded another one, plus six more guys. when the whole thing is all said and done, the doctors ended up taking the leg off one man and an arm off another. well, leg and arm in those days, basically garbage. so they got tossed in there as well. well, when the siege is over, the city's been burned to the ground. it is more important to rebuild the city than it is to dig all that garbage out so they sealed off the doorway and forgot about
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it. . intervening years, time goes by, the next room in, ladderway, about as wide as my arm span, they decide we don't need it anymore. they seal up the top and seal the doorway and forget about it. so very a long period of time the only rooms anybody knows about are this one and the one we were in before. governor's day room and this would have been the governor's living quarters in the period of time when we had the vaulted arches put in. well, we've just got these two rooms. time goes on, time goes on, time goes on. americans come in this 1882 and build bigger gun decks. what happens? they start hearing cracking from the ground below. the gun. craw ba crew backs away and the cannon calls down below. they get down here into this room, there's no hole in the ceiling. where did the gun go? for them, this is a solid stone
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wall. but then they start thinking, old spanish fort, of all the gold and silver that went by here on the gulfstream in old spanish fort? secret rooms? early retirement! so the post got gold fever and the lieutenant commander of the post took it on himself to lower down into the who el to find that gun. he got down there and found that doorway roughly sealed in. that's when he got gold fever. he literally kicked his way through the ceiling of the old doorway. and he felt that this huge black mound that he saw by lantern light was just all the treasure chest and bags rotted away. he was going to dig into it and find his gold. ultimately when the army breaks through this doorway and they dig that room out, they find the head of -- find the bones of over 100 head of longhorn cattle, god only knows how many goats, pigs and chickens, and the bones of that human hand and arm, human leg and foot that were taken by the doctors back
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in 1702 and tossed in there. well, believe it or not, those human bones and all those other bones are the little seed of truth that all the legends about people being sealed up in the walls in the fort, there being a dungeon inside the fort, there being torture chamber inside of foi fort, it all comes from that history back in 1702. there is a lot more to this fort being a military fortification because this fort was built to protect the community. later on as you go through the history of the city, this fortification is a primary target of henry flagler. he really would like it gone because this is prime real estate here. great place to build a hotel. but the city keeps this fortification. it becomes an entrenched part of the city's fabric of history. the grounds around this fort are where people had their picnics. easter celebrations were here. all sorts of other things. you've got the two have been
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tied together for so long, it is really hard to pull the two apart. president woodrow wilson signed legislation creating the national park service on august 25th, 1916. to mark the centennial, american history tv is featuring national park selves sites throughout ot country. we continue now with another stop on the c-span cities tour. today we're in the palace of the governors. palace of the governors is the oldest continuously occupied public building in the united states. we're in the building that was the far northern frontier of spanish government in north america established in 1609. it's interesting that we call this the palace of the governors and actually it was a building
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that was much maligned during its history. one of the first governors to call it a palace is one of my favorite governors because of the controversy surrounding his administration, and that's governor bernardo lopez mentesabo and his wife arrived here at the palace of the governors in the summer of 1659, took one look around and said, what a dump. this is where we're going to live? and he is the one who began a very major renovation of the building, an expansion of the building. he added something like 18 rooms, an orchard. very likely the governor is also the person who added the central courtyard that we think of as a beautiful architectural feature of the building. so the governor was one of the first to use


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