The Straits of Florida is a 110-mile sea passage between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean bordered on the northern side by the Florida Keys and the Florida Reef. In its waters, along the reef, and on desolate keys, thousands of men and women have died in shipwrecks, attacks by natives, sea battles, and pirate boardings. Few of their stories have survived, but those that have tell gripping tales of their struggles against the perils of the sea and the onslaughts of men. This book presents a selection of such stories during the age of sail from the time Spanish navigators discovered the Straits to the end of the Second Seminole War in 1842.
Excerpted from ships' logs, captains' diaries, court-martial transcripts, and newspaper accounts, the stories in this volume—a companion to "The Florida Keys, Volume 1: A History of the Pioneers"—will make you glad you live in a modern world. Read harrowing tales of the cruelty and torture inflicted on mariners at the hands of bloodthirsty pirates; of pistol and cannon battles between merchant ships and wayward privateers; and of the hardships endured by some of Florida's earliest settlers.
Sprinkled with hand-drawn illustrations, photographs, and maps depicting the lay of the land during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this book presents a scholarly, historically accurate account of life on the Keys and in the perilous Straits of Florida during the age of sail. And index and extensive bibliography are included.
WHAT THE EXPERTS ARE SAYING:
"An important addition to South Florida history. This work includes never-before-told tales of shipwrecks, castaways, and privateer engagements. . . . It has the best account that I have read of the native people of the Florida Keys and their relations with the Europeans."—Tom Hambright, Historian of Monroe County Library, Key West
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
John Viele is a retired naval officer and a former submarine commander now living on Cudjoe Key. He writes a monthly column on Keys history for the Island Navigator newspaper, and his articles have also appeared in Florida Keys Magazine and Tequesta, the journal of the Historical Association of Southern Florida. He is a frequent lecturer on Keys history. He serves as a director on the boards of the Key West Maritime Historical Society and the Historic Florida Keys Foundation. He served as history editor for a resource textbook on the history and environment of the Florida Keys prepared for Monroe County Public school teachers.