I guess I didn't need help after all, my visit to the Library of Congress yesterday was much more productive than I expected, for the first visit to the East Florida Papers at that location.
I had done some homework beforehand. I arrived with a list of about 30 locations on the various microfilm reels, which I had gotten from the "online index cards" described in the previous post. Two or three of the index cards described some of the key information I needed.
This particular project involves documenting a pair of surviving Spanish bronze mortars believed to have served under six flags. At the end of my visit to the LOC, I had documented service of both mortars under either four or five flags. The mortars apparently served only in St. Augustine and Fernandina, FL, during the periods I've looked at. The only significant information I still need is whether these mortars remained at St. Augustine during the British occupation of that town and its famous fort, or "Castillo."
If anyone has information on the armament of the "Fort of St. Mark" during the British occupation of the late 18th. century, I'd certainly appreciate it. I suspect someone at the fort has that information, but I haven't had any luck in trying to contact anyone there by telephone and email.
The links here show photos of documents showing that the two mortars were mounted in the Castillo de San Marcos (later Fort Marion) from at least as early as 1790, through 1821. They apparently remained at Fort Marion during US use of the Fort until the Civil War.
One interesting thing about the artillery in the Castillo was that its status during the turnover of the fort from Spain to the US in 1821 became a point of contention. The Spanish thought they had a right to keep it under the treaty, and the US felt the opposite. The letter linked below, written by a U.S. Commissioner in July 1821, during final stages of the turnover, expresses this point. It seems that in the end, Spain would be permitted to take it if they paid for transportation of it to Havana, which, judging from the physical evidence, they apparently chose not to do.
The Confederate Army is known to have removed much, if not all of the fort's artillery for use in other locations. Both mortars were captured at Fernandina FL., not far from St. Augustine, in 1862 by Rear Admiral S.F. Dupont, as indicated by period inscriptions struck deeply into the muzzles of each mortar.
One mortar, of either 9 or 11 "pulgada" size, shown here, is on display at the Castillo de San Marcos. It was aquired by the NPS via exchange with the private owner ca. 1960.
The other mortar is of 6 or 7 pulgada size, and remains in a private collection.
The mortar's sizes are given in terms of "or" because the size given in various documents varies for what are certainly the same two weapons. Earlier records tend to list them as 9 and 6 pulgada mortars respectively (one of each), while later record mention 11 and 7 pulgada mortars (again one of each). I wonder if there was a change in Spain's standard of linear measurement sometime between about 1792 and 1821?
The mortar pictured is probably one of the most historic weapons in the U.S., yet, as I pointed out to NPS personnel, it lies in the fort with the crudest possible mounting, and no interpretive signage whatever.
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