sail on down the coast and make a landing at the next harbor, near the
site of St. Augustine, where he established Fort Charles.
Against the advice of Laudonniere, Jean Ribaut withdrew most
of the forces from Fort Caroline, and brought his ships to the bar of St.
Augustine. A violent storm arose before he could assault the Spanish,
and his fleet was driven southward, and wrecked on the coast.
Menendez learned from his Indian scouts that the French had
boarded ships and sailed toward Fort Charles, evidently with the intent
of attacking the fort. He realized that the French had probably sent their
best men in the ships against him, and recognized this storm and the
difficulties of the French fleet as his opportunity. Taking five hundred
soldiers, several Indians, and a captive Frenchman, who acted as a guide,
he made a forced march through the wilderness north of St. Augustine,
and after two days' time had brought his attacking force within a mile of
The French officers had humanely but imprudently withdrawn
their sentries from exposure to the continued rage of the storm. On the
morning of September 20, 1565, the Spanish soldiers fell upon the fort,
swept into the stockade and through the buildings of the enclosure,
routed the dazed Frenchmen, and killed all of the remnant garrison left
by Ribaut, except fifty or sixty men who escaped to the woods, some
reaching three small French vessels at the mouth of the river. Spanish
historians also state that about seventy women and children were spared
by the orders of Menendez. Having taken possession of the fort,