Fort George Reconstruction
A small section of the fort has
been reconstructed at the
intersection of Palafox and La
Rua Streets in Pensacola.
Revolutionary War Cannon
A pair of British guns frown
from the rampart of Fort
George, aiming out at the
downtown buildings.
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Fort George Historic Site, Florida
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Fort George Historic Site, Florida
Fort George Historic Site - Pensacola, Florida
British Cannon at Fort George
An 18th century British cannon aims out at Palafox
Street in Pensacola from the site of Fort George.
British Fort in Pensacola, Florida
A small park at the intersection of Palafox
and La Rua Streets in
Pensacola, Florida,
preserves a portion of the site of old Fort
George.

Built by the British when they occupied the
city from 1763-1781, the fort was a major
target during the
Battle of Pensacola, one of
the least known yet most significant battles of
the American Revolution.

When the British took possession of Florida
following the French and Indian War, they
found Pensacola to be poorly defended. The
Spanish had built a number of forts over the
years, but they were in ruins. As a result, the
King's officers launched an aggressive effort
to modernize both the city and its fortifications.

This effort intensified with the American
Revolution broke out in 1775 and gained
even more momentum when France and
Spain forged an alliance with the American
colonies.

The downtown area, then the entire city, was
surrounded by a strong stockade and a new
redoubt was built on the red clay bluffs where
Fort Barrancas stands today. The real key to
the defense of Pensacola, however, was Fort
George.

The strong bastioned fort was located on
Gage Hill, the name given by the British to the
commanding hill that overlooks downtown
Pensacola and an easily be seen looking up
Palafox Street from the downtown area.

A strong affiliated or "horn work" led down the
hill toward the town stockade and, like the
main fort itself, was liberally supplied with
heavy artillery.

Because Fort George was commanded by
higher ground to the north, the British built
two redoubts to protect the main fortress. The
first of these, called the Prince of Wales
Redoubt, was located 300 yards north of Fort
Georgie. The second, the Queen's Redoubt,
was 300 yards beyond the Prince of Wales.

Both redoubts could be held by independent
garrisons in the event of a siege and both
were armed with heavy artillery.

The defenses of Fort George were finally
tested on March 9, 1781, when a Spanish
and French fleet led by General Bernardo de
Galvez arrived off the mouth of Pensacola
Bay. Nine days later the fleet stormed its way
into the bay, despite ineffectual fire from the
batteries at the red cliffs.

At first the British were unsure whether
Galvez planned to lay siege to or simply
blockade the city. He spent six weeks moving
his thousands of troops (including 25
American volunteers) into position. Finally, by
the end of April, however, he had planted
batteries within range of Fort George.

Heavy cannonading took place as Galvez's
army battled the British troops of General
John Campbell. The Spanish batteries were
pushed closer and closer, despite counter
attacks by British troops.

The climactic moment came on May 8, 1781,
when Spanish fire blew up the powder
magazine in the Queen's Redoubt. Spanish
troops occupied the wrecked fort and soon
had cannon in position to fire on Fort George
from short range. General Campbell raised
the white flag.

The Spanish occupied the fort, renaming it
Fort San Miguel. It was still standing in 1814
when U.S. troops under Andrew Jackson
attacked the city and took possession of the
fort during the War of 1812. They Anglicized
the name to Fort St. Michael.

By the 1820s, the fort was so dilapidated that
it was no longer of service. Abandoned in
favor of powerful new fortifications down the
bay, it soon faded away.

The site was found by archaeologists during
the 1970s and a small section of Fort George
was reconstructed. Fort George Park, at the
intersection of Palafox and La Rua, includes
displays and interpretive panels on the
history of the fort, a marker detailing the
Battle of Pensacola, and the reconstructed
section of ramparts which features two 18th
century British cannon. The rest of the site is
now under houses and other structures.
Bernardo de Galvez
A bust of Bernardo de Galvez
stands at Fort George, paying
tribute to the Spanish general
who took Pensacola.
The Battle of Pensacola
Fort George was a focal point
of the Battle of Pensacola, a
major Revolutionary War
engagement.
Site of Fort George
This is another view of the
small section of the fort that
has been reconstructed at
Fort George Park.
Copyright 2010 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.