Saturday, December 13, 2014

Invading Florida

The Sunshine State
Not long after the American Revolution concluded, the Conde de Aranda, a Spanish minister prophesied about the United States that "the day will come when it will grow into a giant, even a fearsome colossus in the hemisphere.  The it will forget the assistance it received from (us) and will think only of its own exaltation.  The first step of this power...will be to seize upon the Floridas, in order to dominate the Gulf of Mexico."  (Source: The Other War of 1812, James Cusick,

Castello di San Marcos
St. Augustine, FL
Spain had provided substantial support to the Patriot cause during the American revolution.  In addition to financial support, Spanish forces conducted the longest siege of the American Revolution in Pensacola, Florida which lasted from March 9 to May 9, 1781.  A Spanish commander, Bernardo de Galvez, won a victory over English forces commanded by Major General John Campbell.  The city of Galveston in Texas is named in honor of Galvez.  Source: The Longest Siege of the American Revolution: Pensacola, Wesley S. Odom, 2009.

In March of 1812, just prior to the start of a war with Britain, General George Matthews seized a border town in Florida embarrassing the Madison administration.  President Madison, however, opted to leave American forces in Florida and reinforce them with militia from Georgia.  Spain at this time was allied to Britain with the Duke of Wellington fighting against the French on the Iberian peninsula.

In our book, America Invades (, we mention in our chapter devoted to Spain what happened next...

In 1818, Andrew Jackson led a successful invasion of Florida during the First Seminole War, and the Spanish ceded Florida to the United States in 1821, which is how Jacksonville, Florida, got its name.

CK and Jeff Dody
Jacksonville, FL
CK in Jacksonville

Naturally we had to pay a visit to Jacksonville, Florida.  Here we were entertained by my good friend Jeff Dody and his family who kindly hosted a book party at their home.  Jeff and I knew each other from our days in London where we each enjoyed many a hike along the Thames.  Thank you for the hospitality, Dody family!

Florida National Guard
St. Augustine, FL
We visited historic St. Augustine the oldest city in America.  It was founded by the Spanish in 1565.  It remains the home of the Florida National Guard to this day.  We paid a visit to the remarkable Castillo de San Marco, a Spanish fortress which was besieged many times yet never surrendered

We spent one night in Orlando which is the home to Disneyworld and Universal Studios.  It is also the home to my friends at The Daily Buzz -- a morning television program.  Special thanks to Michelle Yarn and Troy McGuire.

CK and Lori
My Favorite Books, Talahassee, FL
On the way from Orlando to Pensacola we stopped in Talahassee and made friends with the fine folks at My Favorite Books (  Yes, they have signed copies of America Invades!

National Naval Air Museum
Pensacola, FL
In Pensacola we stopped to visit the amazing National Naval Air Museum ( which is on the grounds of the active duty Naval Air Station Pensacola. It was Andrew Jackson who first proposed Pensacola as the site for a naval installation.  The Confederates operated Pensacola as a naval yard during the US Civil war.  In 1911 the Pensacola Navy Yard was shut down, but in 1914 it had a new lease on life as naval secretary Josephus Daniels chose to make it the home of US Naval aviation.  His assistant secretary, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, toured Pensacola in 1913.

Grumman TBM Avenger
NNAM, Pensacola
At the NNAM you will find the type of plane that Lieutenant George H. W. Bush parachuted out of on September 2, 1944.  His two fellow crewmen were killed after their plane was hit by Japanese anti-aircraft fire.  The fortunate lieutenant was picked up by a USN submarine (USS Finback) after spending four hours in raft of the coast of Chichijima.  Less fortunate American aviators that were captured by the Japanese were executed and eaten by their captors.

WW2 Naval Pilot
Pensacola is also the home of the famous Blue Angels that perform regularly in Florida and around the country.

Blue Angel
NNAM, Pensacola, FL

Thanks to all my friends in Florida, new and old.  Thanks for your service Florida!

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