Searle’s Sack, the annual event that re-creates the famous bloody pirate raid on St. Augustine in 1668, took place on Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3, 2018. This deadly raid was led by Robert Searle when he and his crew laid siege upon the city and its inhabitants.
This living history event, presented by Searle’s Buccaneers and the Men of Menéndez (both members of Historic Florida Militia), is made up of three parts: a historic procession of participants on St. George Street on Friday evening, a historic encampment on Saturday at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, followed by the reenactment of the battle at 4:30 p.m. in the city’s historic district.
The reenactment of the battle between the freebooters and the city’s Spanish defenders took place in St. Augustine’s historic district at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 3, beginning at the Plaza de la Constitución and ending at the Old City Gate. The English brigade headed up St. George Street from the Plaza toward the city gates, and the battle started when the English try to invade the Spanish defenders who were stationed at the Santo Domingo Redoubt off Orange Street across from Potter’s Wax Museum. Living history got real when the period re-enactors demonstrated how the Spanish settlers had to fight off Searle and his pirates.
Background on Searle’s Raid – In 1668, Captain Robert Searle and his privateers sailed from Jamaica to loot the silver ingots (metals that can be shaped into various things) held in the royal coffers (small chests) at St. Augustine. Under the cover of night, they slipped into the harbor and attacked the sleeping town, killing sixty people and pillaging government buildings, churches and homes. The devastation wrought by these pirates prompted Spain’s Council of the Indies to issue money to build a massive stone fortress on Matanzas Bay to protect the city. The Castillo de San Marcos still stands as an enduring reminder of Florida’s gripping heritage.