Castillo de San Marcos National Monument - St. Augustine, Florida
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument - St. Augustine, Florida
Castillo de San Marcos
The main gate or sally port of
the Castillo de San Marcos
was never breached in the
many attacks on the fort.
Florida's Ancient Fort
The historic Castillo de San
Marcos was built 100 years
before the American
Revolution and never fell to
enemy attack.
Castillo de San Marcos - St. Augustine, Florida
Castillo de San Marcos
A Spanish flag waves over the cannon and ramparts
of Castillo de San Marcos, the massive stone fort
built to protect St. Augustine, Florida.
Oldest Masonry Fort in the U.S.
America's oldest masonry fort, the Castillo de
San Marcos ("Castle of St. Marks") has
overlooked the waterfront of
historic St.
Augustine, Florida, for more than three
hundred years.

Actually the tenth in a series of forts built to
protect St. Augustine (the previous nine being
constructed of wood), work on the Castillo
was begun in October of 1672. A pirate attack
in 1668 and the founding of Charleston by
the English in 1670 had prompted the Queen
Regent Mariana of Spain to approve the
building of a powerful masonry fortification to
defend Florida.

Constructed using coquina rock quarried
across the bay on Anastasia Island, the fort
took 23 years to complete. A spectacular
example of Spanish colonial architecture, the
fort was the largest ever constructed by Spain
in North America.

The walls of the Castillo de San Marcos were
tested in battle in 1702 when Gov. James
Moore of South Carolina attempted to capture
St. Augustine in one of the major American
campaigns of Queen Anne's War. The 1,500
soldiers and citizens of St. Augustine took
shelter within the fort and held off the English
army for two months until they were relieved
by a Spanish fleet from Cuba. Forced to
withdraw, Moore burned the city but became
the first of many commanders who would
attempt and fail to take the Castillo.

The Spanish strengthened the fort in a
second construction project begun in 1738,
when they also built walls and other forts
around St. Augustine. The improvements
came just in time to fend off yet another
English attack, this one by Gen. James
Oglethorpe and his army from the new colony
of Georgia.

Never able to capture the massive Castillo
de San Marcos by force, the British finally
gained possession of the fort (and the rest of
Florida) in 1763 by the treaty that ended the
French and Indian War. The Spanish had
sided with the French and lost their American
colony when England won the war. Now
called Fort St. Marks, the one hundred year
old fort was an important British base during
the American Revolution. Troops marched
north from here to fight numerous battles
against the American Colonists in both
Florida and Georgia.

Florida and the Castillo were returned to
Spain at the end of the American Revolution.
Besieged on the eve of the War of 1812 by a
force of "revolutionaries" from Georgia and
the Carolinas, the fort once again served its
purpose and protected St. Augustine from
capture.

Florida became a territory of the United
States in 1821 and the U.S. Army occupied
Castillo de San Marcos, renaming it Fort
Marion. It served as an important base for
operations during the Second Seminole War
of 1835-1842 and was used as a prison for
captured Seminole leaders. The Native
American leader
Osceola was held here
briefly before being sent to
Fort Moultrie,
South Carolina, where he died and remains
buried today.

The Castillo itself was considered antiquated
by the time of the Civil War, but the water
battery built by the United States in 1841-
1842 was an important defense of the harbor.
The Cannon of the Castillo
The old fort in St. Augustine
was originally armed with an
array of 6 and 18-pounders.
One of the country's finest
displays of Colonial artillery
can still be seen there.
Occupied by state troops in 1861, the fort
was held by Confederate forces until March
of 1862 when they evacuated St. Augustine,
along with most of Florida's other port cities.
Union troops moved in and the Castillo de
San Marcos (or Fort Marion) remained a
United States fort for the rest of its military
history.

In the years after the Civil War, the fort was
used as a prison for American Indians who
resisted the westward expansion of the
United States. Members of the Kiowa,
Apache, Cheyenne, Comanche and Arapaho
nations were imprisoned here during the
1870s and 1880s. In 1898, the old stone
rooms of the fort were used to house 200
men who deserted from the U.S. Army during
the Spanish-American War.

After more than 200 years of continuous
military occupation, the fort was finally
declared surplus and abandoned by the U.S.
Army in 1900. Declared a National Monument
in 1924, it was transferred from the War
Department to the National Park Service in
1933. The original Spanish name, Castillo
de San Marcos, was restored by the U.S.
Congress in 1942.

Today the Castillo de San Marcos National
Monument stands as a remarkable example
of Spanish colonial architecture. The oldest
masonry fort in the continental United States,
the beautifully preserved fortress is open to
the public daily.

Along with
Fort Matanzas, Fort Mose and
reconstructed sections of the
city walls, the
Castillo interprets the rich military history of
the oldest city in the continental United States.

Castillo de San Marcos is located at 1 S.
Castillo Drive, St. Augustine, Florida.

The fort is open daily from 8:45 a.m. 5:15
p.m. The admission fee is $7 for adults age
16 and up, free for kids age 15 and under.

Please click here for more information.
Defenses of the Oldest City
The Castillo anchored the
series of walls and defenses
that ringed St. Augustine
during the Spanish era.
Civil War at the Castillo
Already 187 years old at the
time of the Civil War, the
Castillo de San Marcos was
held by both Union and
Confederate forces.
Custom Search
Copyright 2011 and 2013 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Update: November 13, 2013
Historic Forts in Florida