Pensacola, Florida

At the time of the United States War of Independence, Pensacola, a city along a wide bay with white sandy beaches and surrounded by lush pine forests,was the capital of British Florida (West Florida). An earlier Spanish settlement had been established by Tristán de Luna in the island of Santa Rosa in 1559 and was made permanent in 1668. It was taken over by the French, albeit briefly, before being ceded to the English in 1763, as a result of the Seven Year War. Bernardo de Gálvez attempted to conquer the city in October, 1780, but a hurricane dispersed his fleet. Nevertheless, the obstinate governor returned in March, 1781, at the head of an army of nearly 8,000 men, determined to fulfill the orders of the king.

Fort George was the main English stronghold during the attack by Gálvez’s troops; it fell after a three-week assault, forcing the British to surrender on May 8, 1781. The fort has been partially restored in North Palafox Street, and it is currently a memorial park commemorating the American Revolution. Not far from it is a large equestrian statue of Gálvez installed in 2018, thanks to donations by the Pensacola Heritage Foundation. It is bordered by red roses, in memory of the blood shed by Spanish soldiers fallen in battle.

The entrance to Pensacola Bay is currently a U.S. naval air force base. Inside is the old fort of San Carlos de Barrancas, from where the English cannons attempted, unsuccessfully, to halt the incursion by Gálvez and his ships. The fort was first Spanish, then British, and finally North American, when U.S.forces invaded it in 1818, later giving the fort its current configuration.

José Manuel Guerrero Acosta
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