Step back in time and experience Colonial Spanish St. Augustine. The Saint Augustine Garrison makes it possible. This group of reenactors portrays the life and times of the Spanish soldiers and their families in the 1740s.
During this time period, St. Augustine was a remote outpost on the fringes of the Spanish empire established to protect the Spanish treasure fleets that were returning to Spain along Florida’s east coast. Daily life was extremely difficult for soldiers and their families. Not only were they under constant threat of attack from hostile Indians, they were also combatting British invaders laying claim to Spanish territory from the north. Relief supply ships and reinforcements from the New Spain (Mexico) sometimes took years to arrive. It truly was a struggle to survive in this extremely harsh environment for those who lived in the first continuous colony in the new world.
Unlike English colonies to the north, the Spanish didn’t have as many slaves in Florida and St. Augustine was purely a military outpost - not a plantation economy. As British settlements moved south, the Spanish actually gave sanctuary to slaves who escaped from British plantations. It was these former slaves who helped established Fort Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose, a vital part of the defensive line of the Garrison of Saint Augustine.
To increase awareness of these historic events, the Saint Augustine Garrison reenactment group was created in 1984 by the Historic Florida Militia, Inc. to foster an understanding of military history of early Spanish Florida through military demonstration, interpretive programs, and portrayals of publications. They also aim to provide visitors of the Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas a trip back into time of 1740 Spanish St. Augustine.
The Saint Augustine Garrison has the distinction of being named the Kings’ Guard. In 2001, King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sophia, the reigning monarchs of Spain, visited St. Augustine. During their visit, King Juan Carlos I name the Saint Augustine Garrison as his own personal guard. No other reenactment group in the history of the nation has ever been bestowed such a distinguished honor by a head of state.
The Garrison is comprised of volunteers who are devoted to historical accuracy to recreate life in 1740 through reenactments. The group not only takes part in events in the nation’s oldest city but also represents St. Augustine in other cities and states educating people far and wide. Membership into the Garrison is open to men, women and families.