26 May 2008

The Castle on the Hill

Ok, so this is the Castillo de San Marcos, the main defense and probably most famous landmark in St Augustine. It was built from 1672 to 1695, in response to pirate attacks. Prior to its construction, the town had been defended by a series of wooden forts. Like many structures in the area, it was made of Coquina blocks, a sort of natural concrete containg tiny shells, quarried from Anastasia Island across the river. In 1670, the British founded Charles Town in South Carolina, and in 1702 they laid siege to the town under command of James Moore. The British canon shots had little effect on the coquina walls, and the siege was broken when the Spanish fleet arrived from Cuba, trapping the British and forcing them to burn their ships. The next conflict occured in the War of Jenkins Ear, when James Oglethorpe, who had founded Georgia in 1733, landed troops on Anastasia Island in a new blockade of the town. The British ships were unable to come into the bay however, due to the Spanish Fort Matanzas at the mouth of the river. This helped lead to a Spanish ship running supplies from Cuba to the town, causing the British to give up and go home. In 1763, after the Seven Years War, Britain was given Florida as part of the treaty. Florida remained loyal to Britain when the American Revolution started, and the fort, now called Fort St Mark, held several Patriot prisoners. Following the Revolution in 1784, Florida was returned to Spain, and remained that way until tensions between Spain and the US led to the First Seminole War, and Florida was finally transferred to the US in 1819. The US renamed it Fort Marion, for the South Carolina partisan hero, and became part of the American Coastal Defense System, and saw many Native American captives, including Seminole leader Osceola. In January 1861, with the secession of Southern states, state forces took the fort in exchange for a receipt for the fort. But the fort returned to US hands when the USS Wabash found that the Confederates had abandoned the area on Mar 11 1862. The fort held prisoners for the rest of its time, including deserters during the Spanish American War. In 1900, after 205 years under four nations, having never been taken in battle. It became a National Monument in 1933.
This is the outer entrance to the Castillo, complete with drawbridge.
The exterior of the main wall and part of the moat.
the main entrance to the fort
Inside the fort, on the parade ground
the stairs leading to the upper level of the fort
Looking down on the entrance bastion. The outer entrance is seen on the left, while the main (inner) entrance is below the photo.
looking towards the Bridge of Lions

Another of my famous composite photos, this one a full 360 taken from the upper level of the Castillo. (Remember, click it to make it bigger!)
Looking down on part of the outer defense wall and moat, as well as the reconstructed town wall, leading out to the old town gate.
Spanish coat of arms on a canon
Castillo chapel
Artifacts from the Castillo
Remains of British pipes found at the Castillo
Recreated British barracks room
Recreated Spanish barrack room
This writing on one of the interior wall is so old and faded that no one is sure what language it is in, let alone what it says.
Walking in the moat, between the main wall of the fort and the outer defense wall.

1 comment:

Carla said...

I hit the "next blog" button and here you were. I LOVED St Augustine. When we were there it was 108 degrees and they were doing a reenactment of the changing of the possession. Very interesting.