(The Castillo de San Marcos) in St Augustine, Florida
A monument not only of stone and mortar but of human determination and endurance, the Castillo de San Marcos symbolizes the clash between cultures which ultimately resulted in our uniquely unified nation. Still resonant with the struggles of an earlier time, these original walls provide tangible evidence of America’s grim but remarkable history.
The massive coquina walls of the
Castillo de San Marcos have
guarded St. Augustine since the
The Castillo De San Marcos was the tenth in a series of forts to protect St. Augustine. The previous nine were constructed of wood. The work on Castillo began 1672 in the month of October. A pirate attack in 1668 and the founding of Charleston by the English in 1670 prompted the Queen Regent Mariana of Spain to approve the building of a powerful masonry fortification to defend Florida. The Castillo is the largest fort ever constructed by Spain in North America. Constructed using coquina rock quarried across the bay on Anastasia island, it took 23 years to complete.
The massive walls of the Castillo de San Marcos were first tested in battle in 1702. An English army led by Gov. James Moore of South Carolina tried to capture St. Augustine. Queen Anne’s War was then underway and Moore came south to lay siege to the Oldest
The 1,500 soldiers and citizens of St. Augustine took shelter within the fort and held off the English army for 52 days until they were relieved by a Spanish fleet from Cuba. Moore burned the city but became the first of many commanders that tried and failed to take the Castillo.
In 1763, as an outcome of the Seven Years’ (French and Indian) War, Spain ceded Florida to Great Britain in return for La Habana, Cuba. The British garrisoned Matanzas and strengthened the Castillo, holding the two forts through the American Revolution. The Treaty of Paris of 1783, which ended the war, returned Florida to Spain.
Spain held Florida until 1821, when serious Spanish-American tensions led to its cession to the United States. The Americans renamed the Castillo Fort Marion and used it to house Indian prisoners during the Seminole War 1835-42. Confederate troops occupied it briefly during the Civil War and Indians captured in western military campaigns were held there later on. It was last used during the Spanish-American War as a Military Prison.
Complete Timeline of Castillo
- 1513 Sailing from Puerto Rico, Spanish claim Florida.
- 1565 Spanish found St. Augustine and destroy French at Fort Caroline and Matanzas Inlet.
- 1672 Ground is broken on October 2 for Castillo de San Marcos
- 1695 Castillo de San Marcos (curtain walls, bastions, living quarters, moat, ravelin, and sea wall) is finished in August.
- 1702 War of the Spanish Succession pits Spain and France against Austria, Great
- Britain, and others. Coastal Georgia missions are destroyed by Carolinians en route to St. Augustine. Carolinians occupy and burn St. Augustine but the Castillo successfully resists their siege.
- 1738 Spanish governor at St. Augustine grants freedom to runaway, British slaves. Black families settle at, new town called Fort Mose.
- 1740 St. Augustine successfully endures siege by British, Georgian, and South Carolinian forces. Spanish attack and defeat British Highland troops camped at Fort Mose.
- 1740-42 Fort Matanzas is built to block southern approach to St. Augustine.
- 1756-62 Fort Mose rebuilt in masonry. Earthworks at Mose extended to complete northernmost defense.
- 1763 Peace of Paris gives Florida to Great Britain in exchange for La Habana. Castillo becomes known as Fort St. Mark,
- 1783 Peace of Paris recognizes independence; of the United States and returns Florida to Spain.
- 1821 Spain cedes Florida to the United States.
- 1825 Castillo de San Marcos renamed Fort Marion
- 1924 Fort Marion and Fort Matanzas are proclaimed national monuments.
- 1942 Original name-Castillo de San Marcos-is restored.