#1 TITLE SLIDE:
Buried beneath the city of Pensacola, Florida are the remains of an
extensive network of earthworks and archaeological deposits from a 1781
Revolutionary War battle known as the Siege of Pensacola. A non-invasive
approach to understanding this battlefield landscape is one way to
reconcile the modern landscape with an old and complex urban landscape.
Maps and documents provide additional information, along with an
extensive record from landowners and previous archaeological
investigations related to the event. Results from this study will reveal
conclusions about how this historic landscape that was once overlooked
or deemed unapproachable, can now be recognized as a setting worthy of
study and preservation.
#2 TREATY OF PARIS
`At the culmination of the Seven Years War in 1763, the outcome of the
Treaty of Paris re-designed much of the Colonial territory in North America.
The remaining region known as “La Florida” was ceded to England by
Spain in return for the Island of Cuba.
Along with the southern portions of Alabama, Mississippi, and a
fraction of southeastern Louisiana, West Florida was named as one of four
new colonies for Great Britain. Pensacola was selected as the capitol of the
Due to her alliance with France during the War, Spain was granted
the former French territory of Louisiana, including the bustling port city of
New Orleans. Not long after this territorial swap, trade disputes erupted
along the Mississippi River between Spain and England.
#3 Siege of Pensacola
In the Spring of 1781, with re-enforced troop support from Mobile,
Havana, and New Orleans, Spanish Governor General Don Bernardo de
Galvez prepared his forces for an assault against Pensacola’s British
stronghold Fort George and its surrounding redoubts, the Queens Redoubt
and the Prince of Wales Redoubt. Over the next few months, Galvez moved
his troops from Santa Rosa Island to the outskirts of the colonial town of
Pensacola. A combined force of French and Spanish troops dug trenches
and laid siege to the British redoubts surrounding Fort George. After
weathering weeks of guerrilla-style warfare from British and Indian forces,
the Spanish army gained the advantage when, on the 8th of May, a mortar
shell struck the door of the powder magazine in the Queen’s Redoubt,
which caused a large explosion, killing numerous British soldiers. Galvez’s
troops captured the Queen’s Redoubt and used it as a fortification to
bombard Fort George which was located only a few hundred meters away.
After several hours of bombardment, the British surrendered. On 10th of
May 1781, General John Campbell signed a formal surrender of Pensacola
and the Colony of West Florida to Spain.
#4 Landscape of Conflict
During the Siege of Pensacola, the elevated heights known as Gage
Hill was identified as an advantage point for a defensive position above the
colonial town. Elevated between 79-100 feet above sea level, this
commanding hilltop is part of a relict marine terrace that was formed over
40,000 years ago during a series of glacial episodes, in which sediments of
the Citronelle Formation shaped the modern day coastline of Florida. The
hill’s crest was well-defined by eroded streams on both east and west
edges which formed a “Y-shaped” deep valley floor.
CLICK Beginning in 1779 and lasting through the 1860s, this hilltop
location has seen extensive military modifications and occupations. CLICK
This elevated crest above Pensacola has served as a proving ground of
military engineering CLICK and conflict through the several colonial
occupations leading up to the Early American period, representing one of
the Gulf Coast’s primary sites of human conflict.
#5 Antebellum Pensacola
Antebellum Pensacola saw an economic boom associated with the
expansion of the railroad, shipping, fishing, and lumber Industries, which
brought new wealth and urban sprawl to the city’s undeveloped districts.
This 1886 postcard displays the new city in transition. The circled area is
believed to be the remains of earthworks located on the elevated hill.
# 6 HERRON HOUSE
One of the more photographed dwellings of the Victorian American Period,
is the Dr. J.S. Herron House, located at the corner of La Rua and Palafox
Streets in the turn-of-the-century development called the Belmont Tract.
This house was unique to Pensacolians not only for its architecture but
also for, how the landscaped yard concealed the former earthworks that
were locally identified as the ruins of the Fort George.
# 7 MORE HERRON HOUSE
As we view this more recent photograph of the Herron house, we not only
see urban growth and a more developed city, but we reveal how a cultural
shift eradicates the former fortifications and a portion of Pensacola’s
military heritage for sidewalks, streetlights and paved streets.
# 8 FORT GEORGE PARK
By the 1970s, the Herron house had been torn down and the front lot
abandoned. In order to preserve and commemorate the Siege of Pensacola,
the city acquired the undeveloped parcel for the purpose of building an
interpretive park as seen here. Prior to the parks construction, State
Archaeologists were employed to reveal the exact location of the original
British principal fortification for the purpose of constructing a true
representation of British Fort George.
#9 Archaeology of Fort George:
In 1974, excavations on a city owned empty lot were conducted by
the Florida Bureau of Historic Sites and Archaeological Research. This
report uncovered the exact location of the principal British fortification and
provides evidence towards discovering associated works: the Queen’s
Redoubt and the Prince of Wales Redoubt.
Senior Archaeologist, Henry Baker’s interpretation of the site’s
subterranean features revealed three structural elements of Fort George.
These include the fort’s moat and palisade wall, powder magazine
warehouse, and a vaulted 4-room brick enclosure.
In 2007, the Fort George collection was graciously loaned by the
Bureau for further study to the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN).
The main purpose of their interest in this collection was to provide an
archaeological teaching aid for a project funded by History Channel’s Save
Our History. The artifacts excavated from 8ES46 included a vast array of
deposited materials which supported Baker’s interpretations and
encompassed the fort’s extensive military history including
1. a brass uniform button with the insignia “Royal Marines” inscribed on
the front and “W & R Smith” on the back. This particular item of military
clothing dates to the period of 1810-1816. Soldiers serving with the British
Royal Marines during this time were separated into provisional battalions
that traveled throughout the Gulf Coast. Prior to the 1815 Battle of New
Orleans, a company sized detachment functioned independently out of
Pensacola (Nicolas, 1845).
CLICK: In addition, bullets called “minie balls” were noticed in several
proveniences within the collection. Dating from the 19th-century, these
minie balls include various calibers such as .30, .56, and .45.
Smaller arms bullets were also found, including several .44 inch
caliber bullets from an 1860 Colt revolver model distributed to Union
cavalrymen during the American Civil War. These 19th century bullets
showed no particular concentration in any one area of the site.
#10 Historical Record
In 1974, Archaeologists utilized these maps in order to facilitate the
exact location of the Fort’s interior structures. Based upon its 1780 square
design with demi-bastions at each corner, dry moat and extended
Hornwork, Archaeologist were able to delineate the size and general
dimensions of the fort’s composition.
#12 8ES1367 Fort San Bernardo
Site 8ES1367 is located on the southeast and northeast corners of
Brainerd and Barcelona Streets in the North Hill District of Pensacola.
Preserved in a mound-like state, the site is currently situated underneath
the Holsberry house built in the 1950s.
#13 Historical Record
The fort’s history includes two very distinct occupations which
reveal several changes and expansions throughout time. Initially built as a
supportive redoubt or advanced position, the British fort was expanded
with extended parapets forming a crescent-shaped redan to mitigate the
progress of the Spanish trenches.
During the 2nd Spanish occupation the Fort was christened “Fort San
Bernardo” in honor of the victorious general and was expanded to include
barracks, several warehouses and a dry moat which enclosed the
#14 Dr Bense Excavation
Seven test units and one auger test were excavated during the 1987
Pensacola Archaeological Survey by the University of West Florida. Field
work objectives were to investigate the nature of the fortifications deposits
and surrounding area.
Although no intact colonial midden was recovered, artifacts
unearthed included a creamware sherd recovered mixed with Victorian and
modern debris. This collage of mixed period artifacts was determined to be
associated with the street and house construction and so it was believed
that a large amount of disturbance had occurred at this location.
In the 1920s, construction of a neighboring house by Dr. W.C.
Payne, unearthed an assortment of military items directly related to both
occupations of the fort. Donated to the local historical society, the Payne
Collection consists of 55 hand collected artifacts, including CLICK artillery
fragments, and CLICK an officer’s saber.
Recently conserved by graduate students working in the UWF
Archaeology lab, the sword was identified by graduate student Kad
Henderson as a Pattern Light Cavalry British Officer Sword with a
manufacture date of 1796. This possibly confirms the presence of the
British military in more than one Gage Hill fortification during the 1814
British occupation of Pensacola.
#15 Topo Map of Bernardo
The fort’s remains measure over 5 meters high and over 11 meters
wide at its base. The area occupies the highest point of the upland marine
terrace. The earthen mound is located on the Southern descending slope of
the eroded knoll.
In 2008, a new topographic study was conducted by graduate
students from the University of West Florida. These maps, created by UWF
graduate student Roc Jarvis, reveal that the identity of the mound is still in
a condition of debate. Although historically identified as the remains of the
old fort, no conclusive evidence has been revealed at this site refuting the
mound was not the result of backfill from nearby house construction or
from grading of the streets.
#18: Contemporary Sites
Over the past several decades, numerous contemporary sites have
been recorded throughout downtown Pensacola.
This intact artillery mortar bomb was recovered from the North
Baylen Street survey, site number 8ES1373, only 100 meters from site
8ES1367. When unearthed, the bomb’s fuse was exposed revealing the
presence of intact gunpowder. Seen as a possible threat, local Police
requested the military’s bomb squad to diffuse the shell. Once safely
disarmed, the bomb became a unique display piece at the T.T. Wentworth
Museum in downtown Pensacola.
This event had a lasting impression on residence awareness, resulting in a
movement to alter local ordinances that addressed archaeological deposits
on right-of-ways in historic districts. Since then, cannonball fragments and
iron shot have been reported by local residents in nearby gardens
surrounding the North Hill District.
#19 Public Survey of North Hill
The purpose of my research was to develop and evaluate a model for
approaching archaeological sites in urban environments. Based upon
these historic maps and archaeological descriptions, the North Hill District
of the City of Pensacola encompasses the highest area of probability for
containing cultural evidence from the battlefield. My methodology included
a public survey reconnaissance of North Hill as well as the surrounding
outlying streets which may yield positive results.
125 Residential homes were selected based upon their location within the
targeted North Hill area, as well as their proximity to known contemporary
cultural landmarks. The research included a resident questionnaire which
was presented to the homeowner which asked three explicit questions:
1. Do you know that a part of the American Revolution took part in
2. Have you changed the landscape of your property?
3. Have you ever found any historic relics on your property?
Preliminary Results include:
For Question number 1 > 92 out of 125 > had prior knowledge of the
events of the Siege of Pensacola.
For Question number 2 > 47 out of 125 > had altered their landscape
by the construction of a pool, driveway, porch or home addition.
For Question number 3 > 36 out of 125 > had unearthed an artifact
while gardening or some form of landscaping.
CLICK > in over 20 of these 36 positive results, military-type artifacts
For the purpose of this study, I created this map which exhibits the
relation between the military-related artifacts and the actual location of
known Archaeological sites contemporary with the Siege of Pensacola.
The majority of the artifacts documented still in the possession of
the homeowners included cast iron hollow shell fragments and various
caliber round shot which are believed to be related to the Spanish laying
Siege to the British fortifications.
This information provides new insight about understanding the
previously defined boundaries of this battlefield and may shed further
information on how it is studied.
In the future, this non-invasive approach may provide archaeologist
with an alternative opportunity to investigate archaeological sites in urban
landscapes. More importantly, it allows further investigations into areas
written-off or classified as un-approachable because of an urban
I hope this study will reveal how historic features within urban
landscapes can serve as modern cultural and temporal markers, and how
public archaeology can enhance social identity and awareness within a
metropolitan environment. In addition, this study will provide opportunities
for neighborhoods located outside of traditionally bounded historic
districts to embrace their possibly unknown or un-documented heritage.
This type of awareness can help shape community consciousness and
identity, which often is lost in the sprawling urban growth that threatens
cultural development in today’s American cities. CLICK
THANK YOU VERY MUCH