Castillo de San Marcos

Well we visited Caroline’s fort  (Fort Caroline which was found by the French) so now we needed to check out Marcus’.

In 1513 Spain claimed Florida through the expedition of Ponce de Leon, but France had Fort Caroline on the St. John’s river by 1564.  The Spanish saw this as a threat.  King Philip sent Pedro Menendez to eliminate this problem.  After he could not board the French ships anchored at the mouth of the St. John’s he sailed south and established St. Augustine.  A French fleet sailed south to attack, but as we learned at Fort Caroline a storm stopped them.  The Spanish then marched north to Fort Caroline and captured it.  The same happened to the rest of the French fleet.

The next adversary for Spain was the English.  Sir Francis Drake attached and burn St. Augustine in 1586.  Then the English established Jamestown in 1607.  English pirates attacked in 1668, then Charleston was settled in 1670.  The Spanish decided they needed a fort.  Castillo de San Marcos was built from 1672-1695.  The walls are made of coquina which is a sedimentary rock made up of shells.  Over the years there had been nine wooden fort here.  It saw action in 1702 during the War of Spanish Succession when the English occupied St. Augustine.  The Spanish held off the English for 50 days.  Again in 1740 the English attacked and were held off during the 27 day battle.  The Spanish saw they needed a blockade at the Matanzas Inlet which was the back entrance into St. Augustine.  A fort was built there in 1742, which we will visit next.

British forces obtained the fort in 1763 as a result of a treaty of the French and Indian War.  The Spanish regained control in 1784 at the end of the Revolutionary War.  Spain held the fort until 1821 when Florida became a US territory.

We toured the many rooms of the fort.  We watched a cannon demonstration.  They followed many practiced steps in order to maintain and shoot the cannon.  We learned in our junior ranger books about each step.  After the demonstration we headed down to try it out for ourselves.  I was harder than it looked.  We watched a film on the fort and attended a presentation on the history of the fort.  It was definitely one of the most interesting forts we have been too.  It is actually more of a castle than a fort because of the moat and the drawbridge.

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