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The Mystery of Florida’s Cannonball-Eating Spanish Fort

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In 1702, when the Spanish still ruled Florida, an English fleet from colonial Carolina approached Castillo de San Marcos, a Spanish stronghold on the Atlantic shore.

The fort guarded the Spanish empire’s trade routes as well as the surrounding city of St. Augustine, and the English wanted to run this politically and economically important outpost for themselves. Led by Carolina’s governor James Moore, the English boats dropped their anchors and laid siege.

But even after nearly two months of being shelled with cannonballs and gunfire, the fort’s walls wouldn’t give. In fact, they appeared to be “swallowing” the British cannonballs, which then became embedded within the stone. Precisely how the walls did this remained a mystery for the next three centuries.

Normally, a cannonball creates long, deep cracks in stone that radiate out from the impact’s center, causing catastrophic damage to a structure. This was clearly not the case for the walls surrounding Castillo de San Marcos. Built from coquina—sedimentary rock formed from compressed shells of dead marine organisms—the walls suffered little damage from the British onslaught. As one Englishman described it, the rock “will not splinter but will give way to cannonball as though you would stick a knife into cheese.”

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Castillo_de_San_Marcos.jpg

Castillo de San Marcos from above. Photo from the National Parks Service / Public Domain.

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Click the link below for the article:

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/the-mystery-of-florida-s-cannonball-eating-spanish-fort

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Mohenjo
    Feb 21, 2021 @ 15:11:34

    Reblogged this on James' World.

    Like

    Reply

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