Many days, my work takes me up A1A from Daytona to St. Augustine, Florida. It's a very scenic ocean route. In St. Augustine, there's a huge Spanish fort. I mean HUGE. It's the Castillo de San Marcos, and it's fourteen miles north of Fort Matanza. On the highway to St. Augustine, there's an inlet from the Atlantic Ocean, which approaches St. Augustine by a different sea route. That inlet is Matanzas inlet , and as you drive north, you can look up the inlet and see a very small fort; this is Fort Matanzas, and was meant to stop the British before they got to St. Augustine, at least those coming from the south. I wouldn't want to have been stationed there; it's a very small fort, or did I already say that?

Fort Matanza was built between 1740 and 1742. A tall stone watchtower is a reminder of those who used to watch for ships approaching and a canon remains from it's day as the last resort. Some French Huguenots under the command of Jean Ribalt, were massacred here, 200 years before the presence of Ft. Matanzas. The Spanish killed 250 French when they refused to renounce their faith and convert to Catholicism. Whether or not the name "Matanza", the Spanish word for Massacre, was coined before or after this event, seems to be in doubt.

The British were "given" Florida at the Treaty of Paris in 1873, and they, then occupied Ft. Matanzas to protect their interests. But then in 1874, Florida was "given" back to the Spanish at the second Treaty of Paris. The fort remained largely unmaintained until it was purchased by the United States in 1819. The fort was almost in ruins in 1821 and the U.S. Army never took possession. Although the inlet saw plenty of action in the Civil War, the fort remained unused; Barges were used as blockades instead.

Fort Matanza was declared a National Monument in 1924, and a member of the National Parks Service in 1933. Extensive repair work was done in the '20's and '30's, and then again most recently in 1999, when the coquina chimney was restored and two canon balls were replicated.I visited this place on a trip about 30 years ago and remember it quite well actually, especially , how small it is.


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