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Monday, December 5, 2016

Touring Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida

In 1565 Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles, along with 600 Spanish soldiers and settlers landed at the Timucuan Village of Seloy.  Don Pedro claimed Florida for Spain, named the new settlement St. Augustine, and started fortifying the area.

British privateers attacked St. Augustine and drove off its defenders in 1586.  The city was again attacked in 1668 by British pirates and burned the town.  Stone fortifications were needed to defend Spanish interests in northern Florida.

Castillo de San Marcos, built between 1672 & 1695,  protected the
 St. Augustine coastline from attack for hundreds of years.

A reenactor in Spanish
Army uniform greets

The fort's main gate.

The walls were constructed with Coquina, a local limestone comprised of small seashells. Cannonballs became lodged in the porous Coquina walls, instead of shattering on impact, like Granite and other stones do.  Invaders were never able to breach the fort's walls with projectiles.

A Park Ranger tells
visitors about the
types of cannonballs
used here.

cannonballs that weighed
from 12 to 32 pounds.

The parade ground with
an impromptu sun screen.

The ramp to the bastions
is in the rear corner.

Soldiers lived in
cramped quarters.

The Chapel's altar 

Cannons are placed along
the bastions to repel
invading ships.

The British besieged Castillo de San Marcos for 52 days in 1702.  Unable to breach the fort, the British burnt St. Augustine to the ground, before leaving.  The settlers rebuilt the town and walled it in.  The British returned in 1740 to capture St. Augustine.  They were unsuccessful.  

The cannoneers had sight
lines of approaching

All water approaches to
St. Augustine are

Castillo de San Marcos and Florida were ceded to the British in 1763, following the French and Indian War.  Spain took control of West Florida during the Revolutionary War and reclaimed all of its colony in 1783.  

Union troops left one soldier at Castillo de San Marcos.  He surrendered the fort to Confederate soldiers after receiving a receipt.  St. Augustine was surrendered to Union forces on March 11, 1862, without a shot being fired.

During the Spanish-American War, 200 court-marshaled Army deserters were imprisoned at
the fort.

In 1900 Castillo de San Marcos became a National Monument.  About 800,000 people visit the fort and it's grounds annually.

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