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This Day (With Salt, Please, Edition)


On this day in 1864, J. E. B. Stuart, Yellow Tavern, “I’d rather die than be whipped!”, oh wait, oops, etc. Meanwhile, in 1585, Sir Richard Grenville and a bunch of Virginia-bound Englishmen dropped anchor at the island of St. John’s in present-day Puerto Rico. They spent a couple weeks in Spanish-controlled territory, first at Mosquetal (known for its terrible mosquitoes)—where they built fortifications, skirmished with the Spanish, built a boat, captured a boat, and stole some horses—then in San German Bay. What they stole there was salt.
John White was along as an expedition artist, and what you see above is his rendering of a) the stolen Spanish ship; b) the fortifications; and c) the piles of stolen Spanish salt. You can see some men standing guard and others having a go with their pickaxes while still others pack the salt in bags and haul it to a skiff. From there it was off to the ship where, if memory serves, they invented the margarita.
IMAGE: Plan of an entrenchment near Cape Rojo, Puerto Rico. Pen and brown ink cover black lead, with watercolor and white bodycolor, 315 x 220 mm. Inscribed in brown ink: “The forme of a fort wch was mad by M: Ralfe Lane in a parte of St Johns Ilande neere Capross where we toke in salt the xxvjth of May 1585”

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