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Le Chevalier Nicholas de Grammont, famous French corsair, began his career at sea with the French Royal Marines. He eventually gained command of a frigate and acted as a privateer. On his second voyage, the frigate broke up on a reef during a storm. He bought a new ship with 50 guns and became a corsair captain.

Known for gambling and a haughty manner, Grammont was notoriously successful as a pirate, acquiring major treasures and capturing several Caribbean and Central American forts and port cities. In 1686, he met defeat trying to lay siege to St. Augustine.

Grammont had planned to join forces with five British ships to attack St. Augustine, but he grew impatient. He joined another Frenchman, Captain Nicholas Brigaut, instead and they went off on their own.

Under Grammont's command, Brigaut's 80 men entered the Little Matanzas Inlet at the south end of Anastasia Island. They seized the watchtower at Ayamon, just 21 miles south of St. Augustine.

When the townspeople heard of the attack, they barricaded themselves inside the fort. The Spanish governor sent 90 soldiers out to foil Brigaut's advance. Brigaut retreted southward after several skirmishes on Anastasia Island and the arrival of Spanish reinforcements. He left his ship aground to rendezvous with Grammont at Mosquito Inlet. On the way, they were attacked by Indians who killed all but two men and Brigaut.

Grammont stayed in the area for several days hoping to rejoin his men. But he weighed anchor and positioned his vessels off St. Augustine Inlet and maintained the blockade for 16 days. The citizens believed the pirates were waiting for ships to bring the troop pay fund and food from Havana. The pirates hoped their blockade would starve St. Augustine to  surrender. Grammont finally abandoned his attack on St. Augustine and any hope of finding Brigaut and sailed north to take on provisions.

Some historians say that the fear sparked by Grammont's attack drove the governor to finish the Castillo de San Marco without interruption.

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Did you know?

  • At the height of its popularity, Port Royal, Jamaica had one drinking house for every ten residents. In July 1661 alone, 41 new licenses were granted to taverns.

  • Pirates wore an earring to ensure they died with at least one piece of treasure to buy their way into 'Fiddler's Green' (sailor's paradise in heaven).

  • The reason you've heard of most well known pirates is that they were captured and killed, or brought to trial where their exploits were recorded. But pirate captain Henry Every was made famous because he evaded capture after his piratical exploits.

  • Many pirates had eye patches, peg legs, or hooks. Ships in the 17th and 18th century were extremely dangerous places to work, so pirates would commonly lose limbs or even eyes during battle. 

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