Vocabulary for The 14th Colony:

The American Revolution’s Best Kept Secret

 Chapter Two: Why St. Augustine was so important to Great Britain

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Flax: Plants in the genus linum (where we get the word linen) with strong, fibrous leaves that can be used to make linen. Slaves clothing was usually made from flax that was of poor quality and inexpensive to produce.

Pitch: Pitch is produced by boiling tar to make it more concentrated. When heated it can be painted onto wood like paint, but then hardens as it cools. This was how ships, barrels, buckets, etc., were made water-tight.

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Effigies: Typically, effigies were made by attaching a shirt to a pair of pants and then stuffing the clothing with straw to make scarecrow-like figure. A stuffed head with a hat was often added, or even a jacket. A sign with the name of the person being mocked would be pinned to the body or hung around the neck.

Loyalist: An American colonist who openly declared loyalty to King George III. Women were declared to be Loyalists or Rebels based upon their husband’s or father’s loyalties, even if these ladies favored the other side.

Militias: Militias were military units made up of private citizens who served their states on a part-time basis in times of crisis or emergency. During the American Revolution, American militias were a welcome addition to the professional army when needed. But professional British soldiers had little respect for colonial militias and treated them poorly. Today, we refer to our state militias as the National Guard. The oldest National Guard unit in the United States is based in St. Augustine, FL.

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Garrison: Technically, a garrison is a fortified military post – most often a permanent one, like the Castillo de San Marcos. But it is also correct for the soldiers stationed at these posts to be referred to as “the garrison.” 

Palisades: Defensive structures (fences, walls, etc.) that protected soldiers while shooting and reloading their guns.

Masonry: This term most often refers to the craft of a stone mason – someone who builds structures from stone. In this case, masonry is used to describe the result of a stone mason’s work: a masonry fortress.

Refurbishment: To improve, rebuild, or restore an existing structure.

Redoubts: (ri-dowts) Defensive structures built to jut out beyond the normal line of defense. This provided soldiers safe cover and a better angle to fire at anyone getting too close to their walls or palisades.

Insert: Invading East Florida was no easy task

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Fording: The act of crossing a river, creek, or other body of water where the water is shallow to wade across.

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Quagmire: a shallow, swampy area that is so saturated with water and slime that the ground won’t hold the weight of anyone walking through it, causing them to sink and sometimes get stuck.

Stagnant: When there’s no movement. In this case, it’s a reference to foul-smelling, swampy areas where the water has no movement and is filled with disease-carrying mosquitoes and deadly to drink.

Estuaries: Where a river’s fresh water meets the tide of the sea or ocean. This mixture of fresh and salt water is called brackish.

Resounding: (ri-zoun-ding) To impressively, thoroughly, and completely succeed at something. In this case, to leave no doubt as to the outcome of the battle.


Insert: Lt. Colonel Thomas Brown and the East Florida


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Indentured Servants: During this time in history Europeans hoped to get a new start in life in the colonies of North America. But the cost of travel was very expensive and a great many of these people couldn’t afford the cost. But the New World was desperate for workers and these people were desperate for a change in their lives, so they signed contracts promising to work for little or no pay for typically seven years and then regain their independence. The investors paid for their cost of travel, food, shelter, clothing, and tools to work with. Often there was promise of a year’s worth of food and clothing, a gun, and even land waiting at the end of their terms of indenture, but most of the time such promises were conveniently forgotten.

Magnate: A person of extreme importance, political influence, and/or wealth. Scholars argue whether the word is Polish or Hungarian in its origins, but it was originally a reference to members of the upper houses of parliament.

Thrashing: A severe beating that most likely will go beyond being punched or kicked. Whips or sticks were often used in a thrashing, but in this case it the thrashing went as far as to include torture.

Tarred and Feathered: In this time in history it was not uncommon for mobs to tie up those that they wanted to “teach a lesson” and pour large amounts of hot tar over their victims heads and shoulders until it ran down their entire bodies. The victim would then be covered in feathers that would stick to the tar. If the victim lived, they were badly scarred and often had to wait months before they could finally remove all of the tar without tearing at their healing wounds.

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Aristocrat: In history English there was a class of people who were considered socially superior because of their place in society. They were typically born into a royal family (king, queen, prince, princess, duke, duchess) or someone who had been granted a noble status (marquis, earl, lord, viscount, baron) by their king or queen – or inherited nobility from family members who had died. By the time of the American Revolution people like Thomas Brown’s father were able to earn respectability from their great wealth and were welcomed into aristocratic circles…as long as they remained rich!

Guerrilla Warfare: (guh-rill-a) Guerrilla warfare is a Spanish term that means “little war.” Throughout history civilians who chose to defend their lands against regular armies have formed loose-knit military united that rely upon speed, surprise, ambush, and sabotage – in other words, they fight dirty! – in order to have any hope of defeating large professional armies. Thomas Brown’s East Florida Rangers were formed for this purpose, to create as much confusion and cause as much damage as possible without putting an entire army in the field.

Espionage: The use of spies to discover military or political secrets of other nations and empires, especially in a time of war.

Campaign: Multiple military offensives typically coordinated within a specific geographic region and with a common goal.

Chapter Three: The Invasion of 1776

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Barracks: A building, or group of buildings, used to house soldiers. This was an important issue in the British colonies because the colonists were often forced to house and feed British soldiers without receiving any pay for the costs. In St. Augustine, Governor Tonyn built new barracks as soon as he arrived in the spring of 1774. This not only gave the soldiers new living quarters, but the people of St. Augustine appreciated the new governor’s respect for their families and homes.

Regiments: In the British army, regiments were formed when one or more battalions came under the command of a colonel. Battalions were made up of three or more companies, and companies had anywhere from 80-250 men. But no matter what a soldier’s role (riflemen, cook, artillery, etc.), the regiment was his family and his home – often for his entire career.

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Invincible: Unconquerable; incapable of ever being defeated.

Dragoon: Dragoons were horse-mounted infantrymen armed with short-barreled rifles called carbines. Dragoons would race ahead of the infantry, dismount, and fight on foot until the larger force arrived. In the British army dragoons were typically big men on large horses. Cavalry units, on the other hand, were known as “light horse” units because they were typically smaller men on smaller, faster horses. These men had superior skills in horsemanship, fighting with sabers while still mounted. Governor Tonyn was a dragoon for 33 years and the colonel of his own regiment before being made governor of East Florida.

Merit: In this case, in addition to military promotions, Governor Tonyn received recognition and honors – merit – for bravery in battle.

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Malaria: An infectious disease that causes recurring bouts of chills and high fever. Malaria is caught from the sting of an anopheles mosquito carrying the microbes that cause the disease.

Scoff: To mock or discount an idea that is different than what the person scoffing believes. In this case, historians have discounted the idea of southern Native Americans being of much use to the British during the American Revolution. But letters from British officials and officers have proven that the British were dependent upon the southern nations and tribes in many ways.

Chapter Four: The Invasion of 1777

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Cache: A hidden or heavily protected place of storage for ammunition, weapons, food, blankets, and other wartime necessities that were to be used at a later date.

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Rendezvous: An agreement between two or more people to meet at a certain place and time, or in this case, to meet at a certain place by a certain time frame.

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Depositions: A statement given under oath that’s taken down in writing and can then be used in place of spoken testimony in a court of law. This is often done when the witness is physically unable to attend court, or even so that the court can determine if there is justification for a trial at all.

Colleague: a friend, business associate, fellow officer in the military, or member of a fraternity, sorority, department, profession, etc.

Clandestine: Something done in extreme secrecy – usually a reference to the work and trade of spies.

Treason: To betray an allegiance sworn to a government or sovereign, in this case King George III. To be involved in any attempt to overthrow the government was called “high treason,” usually punishable by death.

Cabal: A small group secretly plotting against a government or person in authority.

Dissensionists: Those who disagree with the position taken by a larger group or someone in authority. In this case, it was a small group of wealthy men in the colony who believed that Governor Tonyn should either be removed from office or change his views to agree with theirs.

Agitators: Those who stir up resentment and hostility toward an individual or group in authority.

Tyrant: A person in a position of authority who abuses their power by using it unjustly and, often times, too harshly.

Chapter Five: The First Invasion of 1778

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Frigates: Built for speed and maneuverability, frigates were medium-sized warships that carried anywhere from 20 to 38 cannons located on one or two decks, depending on the size of the ship. What classified a ship as a frigate was that it had at least three masts, each with a set of large, square sails (that’s where we get the nautical term “square-rigged”). The U.S.S. Constitution (“Old Ironsides”) is an example of an 18th-century frigate and may be visited today in Boston Harbor.

Fodder: Inexpensive, bulk food for livestock. In this case, it a reference to how easily and effortlessly the cannons of the Castillo would make a cheap meal out of these vessels. It wasn’t uncommon for infantrymen of this era to be referred to as cannon fodder as they marched straight into blazing cannon fire.

Letter of Marque: A Letter of Marque was the difference between a legally appointed agent of king and country and a criminal. These letters were accepted by every European empire and nation. A Letter of Marque issued by a British royal governor would have been honored by a French captain in the China Sea. In East Florida, Governor Tonyn issued many Letters of Marque, building what he called a “fresh-water navy” from the local seamen who were willing to patrol the many rivers, creeks, and estuaries of northeast Florida.

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Tributaries: Moving bodies of water, such as creeks, streams, rivers, etc., that flow into larger bodies of water. For example, the Ohio River is one of the largest rivers in the United States and has hundreds of smaller tributaries that “feed into” it. But even though the Ohio River is so large, it is also a tributary of the Mississippi River, which is a tributary of the Gulf of Mexico.

Chapter Six: The Second Invasion of 1778

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Amassed: To have gathered, accumulated, or collected large quantities of “things” (money, cannons, horses, people – in this case, soldiers).


Chapter Seven: The Invasion of 1780

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Foray: the word “foray” is most often used today to describe quick strikes into another region, typically for plunder. But the British dictionary also defines “foray” as a first attempt or new undertaking. In this case, this would not be Washington’s first attempt to send an army into East Florida. But in General Rochambeau’s mind, it was a new undertaking of an already proven bad idea.

Ramparts: The surrounding embankment of a fort, typically including any walls, parapets (defensive walls or structures in a fort), walks, etc., built on top of the embankment.