Monday, November 24, 2008

Fort Matanzas

A few miles south of St. Augustine, Florida lies an obscure piece of history: Fort Matanzas.  It can hardly be called a fort given its size - 50 feet long, 30 feet wide, with a 30 foot tower in the back half - quite tiny.  Standard garrison was generally only one officer, four soldiers, and two gunners (more could fit if needed).  It was built in 1740 to protect the southern entrance or "back door" to St Augustine and protect Matanzas Inlet after the British under Oglethorpe (founder of the colony of Georgia) used the Matanzas river as a way around the main Spanish defenses in St. Augustine to lay siege to that town in 1740.  It was abandoned after the Spanish ceded Florida to the United States and lay in ruins until the 1920s when it was turned over to the US Park Service and has since become a national monument and is run in conjunction with the larger and more famous Castillo de San Marcos in downtown St. Augustine.  You can visit Fort Matanzas for free (donations greatly accepted), but it does require a boat ride on a park service run ferry that operates every hour on the half-hour.  If you are lucky you will catch them on a day when there are soldiers re-enacting Spanish or British garrisons (as they were this past weekend when we visited).

Tomorrow: The British are coming!  The British are coming! :)

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