American Revolution in St. Augustine, Florida
American Revolution in St. Augustine, Florida
Bell Tower of the Castillo
This tower on the northeast
bastion of Castillo de San
Marcos held an alarm bell to
warn the city of attack.
Fort Matanzas
The small fort at Matanzas
Inlet was held by British
troops during the American
American Revolution in St. Augustine, Florida
American Revolution in St. Augustine
British troops occupied the massive Castillo de San
Marcos in St. Augustine during the American
Revolution, calling it Fort Saint Mark.
The Forgotten British Colony
Although most Americans know something
of the American Revolution and of the thirteen
colonies that rebelled against Great Britain,
fewer know that Florida actually played a
major role in the great war for independence.

England actually held sixteen American
colonies at the beginning of the Revolution.
In addition to the thirteen that rebelled
against King George III, these included
Canada and East and West Florida. Canada,
of course, was originally French and the
Floridas originally Spanish, but Great Britain
gained control of them following the end of
the French and Indian War.

Already over 200 years old,
St. Augustine was
the capital of East Florida and an important
military post for the British.
Pensacola, at the
opposite end of the modern state, was the
capital of West Florida.

When the thirteen colonies rebelled in 1775,
East and West Florida remained loyal to the
King. As a result, St. Augustine became a
hub of Loyalist activity. British troops
garrisoned both the
Castillo de San Marcos
(which they called Fort Saint Mark) and
Matanzas and the city served as a launching
point for several expeditions against Georgia.

American forces also launched several
campaigns against St. Augustine, but none
succeeded. There were, however, a number
of battles and skirmishes in the northeast
corner of Florida and southeast corner of
Georgia as the two armies battled for control
of the area between St. Augustine and

Because it remained in British hands
throughout the war, the city became an
important destination for Loyalist refugees
from throughout the thirteen rebelling
colonies. The population of St. Augustine
swelled and numerous new homes and
other structures were constructed and many
older Spanish buildings renovated.

The hand of the British is evident throughout
the old city. Many of the old Spanish
structures were of one-story design and
constructed of coquina stone. The British
added second floors of wood to these
buildings, creating the unique looking
structures that can be seen throughout the
city today. A classic example is the Oldest
House now owned by the St. Augustine
Historical Society.
Cannon of St. Augustine
A wide range of artillery
provided a formidable
obstacle to any attack against
the ancient city. As a result, it
never fell.
St. Augustine was also noted as a prison
location during the war. Several signers of
the Declaration of Independence fell into
British hands during the war and were
brought to St. Augustine as prisoners of war.

When the American Revolution ended in
favor of the thirteen states in 1783, Great
Britain also lost control of Florida. Spain had
sided with the fledgling United States and
regained possession of its Florida colonies
at the end of the war.

A large number of structures that were
standing in St. Augustine at the time of the
American Revolution have been restored or
reconstructed and can be seen in the city
today. Among these are the Government
House, Oldest House, Tovar House and
Pena-Peck House.

From a military perspective, the two primary
forts that protected St. Augustine during the
American Revolution survive in remarkable
Castillo de San Marcos National
Monument and Fort Matanzas National
Monument are open daily and provide
detailed information on this unique era in
Florida history.
The Government House
A center of official activity
during the British area, the
Government House served as
a headquarters.
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Copyright 2011 & 2013 by Dale Cox
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Last Update: November 14, 2013