26.6.08

Treasure!

The 1622 Spanish Treasure Fleet Disaster in the Dry Tortugas

Investigations of the possible Nuestra Señora del Rosario
and the Swivel Gun Nest Site.

In the summer of 1622, a fleet of Spanish galleons, including the famous Nuestra Señora de Atocha and other ships including La Santa Margarita and Nuestra Señora del Rosario, were loaded with the wealth of the New World at Cartagena, Portobello, and Havana. Their cargoes included treasures such as copper, silver, gold, tobacco, and indigo, along with private goods smuggled by passengers to avoid government taxes. Due to delays, the fleet or flota didn't set until the 4th of September, which, to the captain's chagrin, was the height of the hurricane season.

The very next day a massive hurricane swept through the Straits of Florida and devastated the hapless fleet. Eight vessels were driven aimlessly by the storm until they wrecked on the reefs of the Florida Keys. The ill-fated flota had been scattered from the Dry Tortugas to the Marquesas Keys, and the three treasure-bearing galleons mentioned above were lost along with five smaller vessels.

Three of these eight ships wrecked in or near the Dry Tortugas. One was a Portuguese 117 ton nao and slave ship Nuestra Señora de Los Reyes, lost somewhere near East Key. Rosario grounded on "the last key of the Tortugas" near Loggerhead Reef. Another ship lost was a small patache (small support and reconnaissance ship) which wrecked "on an island to the east of the Rosario." Additionally, another patache was lost in the Tortugas a few weeks later when a storm struck a small Spanish fleet salvaging the sunken flota. more...

Dieu le Roy,
de Brantigny

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