Entrance to San Marcos
The site of historic San
Marcos de Apalache is now a
Florida state park.
Confederate Magazine
The fort was held by Southern
troops during the Civil War.
Their earthworks and powder
magazine can still be seen.
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - San Marcos de Apalache, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - San Marcos de Apalache, Florida
San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park - St. Marks, Florida
San Marcos de Apalache
The stone ruins of the Spanish fort can still be seen
at San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park.
Forgotten Citadel of the Gulf
Established by the Spanish more than three
hundred years ago, Florida's historic fort of
San Marcos de Apalache (Fort St. Marks to
the English and Americans) has been a
centerpiece for some of the most fascinating
events in American history.

During its long occupation, the fort at San
Marcos has been held by troops flying the
flags of Spain, England, the United States,
the Confederacy as well as the little known
Native American "State of Muskogee." It
provided the backdrop for an international
diplomatic incident and was the focus for
attacks by the real "Pirates of the Caribbean."

The original fort of San Marcos de Apalache
was constructed by the Spanish in 1679 at
the point of land formed by the confluence of
the St. Marks and Wakulla Rivers. Built of
plastered logs (to simulate stone), the fort
stood for only three years before it was
captured by pirates.

Over time, the original log fortification was
replaced by a powerful stone fortress.
Although it was only about half finished when
Florida was transferred to England in 1673,
the fort became a focal point for some of the
most dramatic incidents in American history.

Held by British troops during the American
Revolution, the fort returned to Spanish
control during the 1780s. Its presence,
however, was a thorn in the side of a pirate
and adventurer named William Augustus
Bowles, who dreamed of establishing for
himself an empire among the Native
Americans of Florida. Leading a force of
several hundred Seminole Indians and white
adventurers, he captured the fort and raised
over it the flag of his "State of Muskogee."

The Spanish took the fort back just five
weeks later, but it was captured again in
1818, this time by Andrew Jackson and the
U.S. Army.

Jackson's invasion of Florida was a phase of
the First Seminole War and resulted in a
major diplomatic incident after he executed
two British citizens (Alexander Arbuthnot and
Robert Ambrister) at San Marcos on charges
that they had incited the Seminoles to war
against the United States.

Jackson's occupation of San Marcos also led
to the execution of two key Native American
leaders, one of whom was the noted Creek
prophet, Josiah Francis (Hillis Hadjo).

Francis was the father of Milly Francis, the
woman remembered today as the "Creek
Pocahontas" for her role in saving the life of
an American soldier that had been captured
by her father's warriors.
U.S. troops occupied San Marcos, now
calling it Fort St. Marks, well into the 19th
century, but finally declared the fort obsolete
and withdrew. Some of the stones from the
original Spanish bombproofs were used to
construct a Marine Hospital at the site.

War returned to San Marcos de Apalache in
1861, however, when Florida seceded from
the United States and joined the
Confederacy. Southern troops reoccupied the
old fort, reinforced the old Spanish walls with
earthworks and renamed the site Fort Ward.

A primary target of the Natural Bridge
expedition in 1865, the fort was never
captured by Union troops. Soldiers and C.S.
Marines from the fort took part in the nearby
Battle of Natural Bridge.

San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park
is now maintained as a museum and
historic site by the State of Florida. It is
locatedat 148 Old Fort Road in the town of St.
Marks, Florida, and is open to the public from
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Eastern) on Thursday
through Monday of each week. The park is
closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

There is a $2 admission fee to see the
museum (children 5 and under admitted
free), but it is free to visit the grounds.
click here for more information.
Milly Francis Monument
A monument on the grounds
memorializes the life of Milly
Francis, the "Creek
St. Marks Military Cemetery
This small cemetery contains
the remains of soldiers who
died while serving at Fort St.
Marks during the early 19th
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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