By Joseph Forster
I got a chance to travel to Florida and see some of the historical Spanish locations throughout the state. First on my 3-day tour was the mission and fort at Mission San Luis in Tallahassee. Here are some pictures from my afternoon with Rufus DeVane at the San Luis Mission Park.
The Spanish lived with the Apalachee in San Luis from the 1650’s until 1704 when English raids forced them to evacuate the 1400 Apalachee and burn all the buildings and fortifications so they didn’t fall into the hands of the English. The park has many rebuilt structures, a fine interpretive center and knowledgeable reenactors on site.
Rain and lightning kept us inside for a good hour and a half and we were able to chat with the reenactors and view all the artifacts.
Here are some of the artifacts found in excavations around the fort site.
The Apalachee lived in close proximity with the Spanish in San Luis. The Apalachee had a massive council house just a stone’s throw from the large Catholic Mission church building.
At 120 feet in diameter and 5 stories high, this structure is impressive and awe inspiring both outside and inside.
The church is impressively large as well. Even when compared to Rufus the giant.
The Spanish house was roomier than expected and the natural weathering from the red clay gave me some ideas for my next paint job. San Luis was home to about 1400 Apalachee and about 200 Spanish.
But I really came for the fort and blockhouse!
This 3 story blockhouse was finished in 1697 to help defend the settlement. The blockhouse measures about 70 by 40 feet and was manned by up to 45 soldiers. That would be about 15″x9″ in Blood & Plunder. The palisade fort was only “finished” in 1702. It’s an odd shape, not square on any corner. Only 3 of the corners of the palisade have a bastion and only 3 of the sides had the ditch outside the wall. No one really knows why they didn’t put a fourth bastion on the wall but I suspect it was either because they were lazy (Spanish specialty) or the blockhouse was close enough to the corner to serve as a gun platform to cover that particular corner.
All the walls are different lengths but the longest wall is around 220 feet long from bastion from bastion. That would be about 49″ in Blood & Plunder.
The fort was armed 4 four pounders, a six pounder on a field gun, and 7 swivel guns. The six pounder, probably equivalent to a Medium Cannon in the game, felt large and looked very heavy. I’ve never painted a cannon with a blue carriage but I probably will now.
The inside was roomy but we couldn’t access the second or third stories. Firelock has a model based on this very blockhouse, scaled down for ease of use in Blood & Plunder but they haven’t been able to cast enough to release them yet.
The palisade model is also based on this very fort.
This fort and blockhouse were never actually attacked but it was one of the larger Spanish forts in Florida during Queen Anne’s War. When threatened, the English brought overwhelming force and the Spanish deserted and burned the entire fort and settlement rather than defend it with no hope of success.
The park is beautiful and the rebuilt structures are amazing! If you are ever in the Tallahassee area, I highly recommend visiting. Admission is only $5 per person.
In spite of not being the site of a real battle that can be recreated in Blood & Plunder, it’s a historically significant location from the era and it’s inspiring to visit.