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Castillo de San Marcos National Monument - St. Augustine, Florida
Posted by: Groundspeak Regular Member gparkes
N 29° 53.838 W 081° 18.708
17R E 469896 N 3307446
Quick Description: In 1861, a lone Union soldier stood watch on the fort, when the Confederate army demanded its surrender. No shots were fired during the surrender, nor the reoccupation of Union troops in 1862.
Location: Florida, United States
Date Posted: 2/4/2011 12:02:42 AM
Waymark Code: WMANHG
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 15

Long Description:
It should come to no surprise to anyone, that the oldest masonry fort in the United States should have a long, interesting history.

Construction began by Spanish troops on October 2, 1672, while Florida was a territory of Spain. The star shape bastion was of Italian origination, but continued to be the design of choice. The stone, however, was of convenience rather than choice. Due to a lack of clay to make brick or other hard stone such as granite, coquina was used. Coquina is a limestone, of sorts, formed from the remains of shells. It is a soft rock that would seem to be a poor choice for a fortification, but turned out to be a superior product. When cannon fire would hit the material, rather than shattering like brick or granite, coquina acts like Styrofoam, allowing the cannonball to burrow into the material safely. The fort was completed in 1695, using labor from Native Americans and Cubans.

The fort's completion came to use quickly, as in 1702, the British lay seige to St. Augustine. For two months the city inhabitants of about 1,200 and soldiers numbering 300, bunkered down inside the fort. Cannon fire was ineffective against the fort due largely to the aforementioned coquina stone. The British ships became trapped inside of the bay at St. Augustine when the Spanish fleet arrived from Cuba, breaking the seige. Rather than forfeit the fleet to the Spanish, the British burned their ships and marched overland back to the Carolinas.

In 1738, the exterior walls were increased from 26 feet to 33 feet tall, allowing for deeper interior rooms. Stone ceilings replaced the wooden ones. A gun deck was created allowing greater armaments.

In June of 1740, seven British ships lay siege, again, to St. Augustine. 1,300 residents and 300 soldiers retreated to safety inside the fortification. For 27 days, the British ships bombarded the city and its fortification, with no avail. Finally after enduring much hardship, the aggressors withdrew due to a lack of their own supplies.

After the Treaty of Paris in 1763, Spanish Florida became a British territory. Rather than the keeping of its Spanish name, Castillo de San Marcos was renamed Fort St. Mark. The outbreak of the revolutionary war gave the British need for the fort as a base of operations. Rather than fighting action, the fort was used as a prison through the war. In 1779, in the midst of the American Revolution, Spain declared war against Britain. By wars end though, the signing of the 1783 Treaty of Paris called for a return of Florida back to Spanish control.

Spain's return of control changed the name back to Castillo de San Marcos. Spain continued to attempt control over the territory, but the new United States would continue to challenge this notion. After many years of border control problems, Spain release Florida to United States control after signing the Adams-Onís Treaty in 1819.

Upon American control, the name was changed again, this time to Fort Marion. Fort Marion was commemorating the Revolutionary War hero, Francis Marion. His nickname was the "Swamp Fox," and is considered by some as the father of guerrilla warfare.

American utilization of the fort was both as coastal defense and as a prison. During the Second Seminole War in 1837, Seminole Chief Osceola and his followers, including Uchee Billy, King Philip and his son Coacoochee (Wild Cat) were imprisoned in the fort. Osceola was lured into a false sense of security as General Thomas Jesup flew a white flag to garner a peace council. As a matter of oddity, Uchee Billy died at the fort on November 29, 1837, where the Dr. Frederick Weedon kept his skull as a collectable. Osceola died on January 30, 1838 of malaria at Fort Moultrie, where Dr. Weedon decapitated post-mortem, the Seminole Chief's head. Along with his head, the doctor kept many of the chief's possessions.

The fort once again changed possession in January 1861. Union troops departed the fort, leaving a single soul to look after the fort. As Confederate troops marched in to take the fort, the Union soldier refused to release the fort without a receipt. The fort was then turned over without a single shot being fired in hostility. The resource poor south sent most of the artillery pieces throughout to other forts, leaving the fort virtually defenseless.

This led to the fort being taken back by Union forces on March 11, 1862. The USS Wabash entered the bay finding no Confederate forces in the fortification or town. Town leaders surrendered without a shot being fired.

Starting in 1875, because of the Indian Wars in the west saw renewed use of the fort as a prison. Many of the Native American prisoners died at the fort. Perhaps the most renowned of the captives was Chief White Horse of the Kiowa. Between 1886 and 1887, Fort Marion would imprison about 491 Apache; 82 were men, the remaining were women and children. In 1898, more than 200 deserters from the Spanish-American war were imprisoned at the fort.

In 1900, the fort was decommissioned from military use. On October 15, 1924, Fort Marion was designated a National Monument by President Calvin Coolidge. This same proclamation also included Fort Matanzas, Fort Pulaski, Fort Wood (Statue of Liberty), and Castle Pinckney. (In 1951, Castle Pinckney was transferred to the Army Corps of Engineers and is no longer a national monument.) In 1942, Congress authorized renaming the fort as Castillo de San Marcos. On October 15, 1966, Castillo de San Marcos was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1975, the American Society of Civil Engineers designated Castillo de San Marcos a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
Type of site: Other Military Site

1 South Castillo Drive
St. Augustine, FL USA

Phone Number: 904-829-6506

Admission Charged: More than $5

Website: [Web Link]

Driving Directions:
From I-95 exit at Route 16 east into St. Augustine; turn right for 2 miles on San Marcos Street.

Visit Instructions:
Post at least one photo of a Civil War related item or scene and post one Civil War Discovery you learned while visiting the waymark. The photo should have the coordinates of where it was taken if significantly different from the waymark's coordinates.
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