Fort Matanzas National Monument
Overview
 
Commemorated in 1924, Fort Matanzas National Monument is a United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 National Monument run by the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

. The Monument consists of a 1740 Spanish fort, Fort Matanzas, and about 100 acres (0.4 km²) of salt marsh
Salt marsh
A salt marsh is an environment in the upper coastal intertidal zone between land and salt water or brackish water, it is dominated by dense stands of halophytic plants such as herbs, grasses, or low shrubs. These plants are terrestrial in origin and are essential to the stability of the salt marsh...

 and barrier island
Barrier island
Barrier islands, a coastal landform and a type of barrier system, are relatively narrow strips of sand that parallel the mainland coast. They usually occur in chains, consisting of anything from a few islands to more than a dozen...

s along the Matanzas River
Matanzas River
Matanzas River is a body of water located in St. Johns and Flagler counties in Florida. It is a narrow saltwater bar-bounded estuary sheltered from the Atlantic Ocean by Anastasia Island....

 on the northern Atlantic coast of Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

. It is operated by the Park Service in conjunction with the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
Castillo de San Marcos
The Castillo de San Marcos site is the oldest masonry fort in the United States. It is located in the city of St. Augustine, Florida. Construction was begun in 1672 by the Spanish when Florida was a Spanish territory. During the twenty year period of British possession from 1763 until 1784, the...

 and several sites in the city of St. Augustine
St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine is a city in the northeast section of Florida and the county seat of St. Johns County, Florida, United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, it is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the continental United...

.

Fort Matanzas guards Matanzas Inlet
Matanzas Inlet
Matanzas Inlet is a channel in Florida between barrier islands connecting the Atlantic Ocean and the south end of the Matanzas River. It is south of St. Augustine, in the southern part of St. Johns County, at coordinates...

, the southern mouth of the Matanzas River
Matanzas River
Matanzas River is a body of water located in St. Johns and Flagler counties in Florida. It is a narrow saltwater bar-bounded estuary sheltered from the Atlantic Ocean by Anastasia Island....

, which can be used as a rear entrance to the city of St.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
Commemorated in 1924, Fort Matanzas National Monument is a United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 National Monument run by the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

. The Monument consists of a 1740 Spanish fort, Fort Matanzas, and about 100 acres (0.4 km²) of salt marsh
Salt marsh
A salt marsh is an environment in the upper coastal intertidal zone between land and salt water or brackish water, it is dominated by dense stands of halophytic plants such as herbs, grasses, or low shrubs. These plants are terrestrial in origin and are essential to the stability of the salt marsh...

 and barrier island
Barrier island
Barrier islands, a coastal landform and a type of barrier system, are relatively narrow strips of sand that parallel the mainland coast. They usually occur in chains, consisting of anything from a few islands to more than a dozen...

s along the Matanzas River
Matanzas River
Matanzas River is a body of water located in St. Johns and Flagler counties in Florida. It is a narrow saltwater bar-bounded estuary sheltered from the Atlantic Ocean by Anastasia Island....

 on the northern Atlantic coast of Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

. It is operated by the Park Service in conjunction with the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument
Castillo de San Marcos
The Castillo de San Marcos site is the oldest masonry fort in the United States. It is located in the city of St. Augustine, Florida. Construction was begun in 1672 by the Spanish when Florida was a Spanish territory. During the twenty year period of British possession from 1763 until 1784, the...

 and several sites in the city of St. Augustine
St. Augustine, Florida
St. Augustine is a city in the northeast section of Florida and the county seat of St. Johns County, Florida, United States. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer and admiral Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, it is the oldest continuously occupied European-established city and port in the continental United...

.

Fort Matanzas guards Matanzas Inlet
Matanzas Inlet
Matanzas Inlet is a channel in Florida between barrier islands connecting the Atlantic Ocean and the south end of the Matanzas River. It is south of St. Augustine, in the southern part of St. Johns County, at coordinates...

, the southern mouth of the Matanzas River
Matanzas River
Matanzas River is a body of water located in St. Johns and Flagler counties in Florida. It is a narrow saltwater bar-bounded estuary sheltered from the Atlantic Ocean by Anastasia Island....

, which can be used as a rear entrance to the city of St. Augustine. Such an approach avoids St. Augustine's primary defense system centered at Castillo de San Marcos. In 1740, Gov. James Oglethorpe
James Oglethorpe
James Edward Oglethorpe was a British general, member of Parliament, philanthropist, and founder of the colony of Georgia...

 of Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 used the inlet to blockade St. Augustine and launch a 39 day siege. St. Augustine endured the siege but the Spanish realized the need to protect the inlet. Under Gov. Manuel de Montiano
Manuel de Montiano
Manuel de Montiano y Luyando was a Spanish General and colonial administrator who served as Royal Governor of La Florida and Royal Governor of Panama...

 construction began in 1740 with completion occurring in 1742. Convicts, slaves, and troops from Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 were used as construction labor. The Fort was sited on Rattlesnake Island and has a commanding position over Matanzas Inlet.

The Fort is constructed of coquina
Coquina
Coquina is a sedimentary rock that is composed either wholly or almost entirely of the transported, abraded, and mechanically sorted fragments of the shells of either molluscs, trilobites, brachiopods, or other invertebrates. For a sediment to be considered to be a coquina, the average size of the...

, a common shellstone building material in the area. It is 50 feet (15.2 m) long on each side with a 30 feet (9.1 m) tower. The marshy terrain was stabilized by a foundation of pine pilings. The standard staff for the Fort was one officer in charge, four infantrymen, and two gunners, though more troops could be stationed if necessary. All soldiers at Fort Matanzas served on rotation from their regular duty in St. Augustine. Five cannons were placed at the Fort - four six pounders and one 18 pounder. All guns could reach the inlet, which at the time was less than a half mile away.

In 1742, as the Fort was nearing completion, the British under Oglethorpe approached the inlet with 12 ships. Cannon fire drove off the scouting boats and the warships left without engaging the Fort. This brief encounter was the only time Fort Matanzas fired on an enemy. Spain lost control of Florida with the Treaty of Paris, 1763, and regained control with the Treaty of Paris, 1783
Treaty of Paris (1783)
The Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, ended the American Revolutionary War between Great Britain on the one hand and the United States of America and its allies on the other. The other combatant nations, France, Spain and the Dutch Republic had separate agreements; for details of...

. With the Spanish Empire
Spanish Empire
The Spanish Empire comprised territories and colonies administered directly by Spain in Europe, in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. It originated during the Age of Exploration and was therefore one of the first global empires. At the time of Habsburgs, Spain reached the peak of its world power....

 deteriorating, Spain spent little effort maintaining the fort after this time. When the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 took control of Florida in 1819, the Fort had deteriorated to the point where soldiers could not live inside. The United States never used the fort and it became a ruin. In 1916, restoration work began on the badly deteriorated fort. In 1924, National Monument status was proclaimed. It was transferred from the War Department
United States Department of War
The United States Department of War, also called the War Department , was the United States Cabinet department originally responsible for the operation and maintenance of the United States Army...

 to the National Park Service on August 10, 1933. As an historic area under the Park Service, the National Monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places
National Register of Historic Places
The National Register of Historic Places is the United States government's official list of districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation...

on October 15, 1966. The Headquarters and Visitor Center were added separately to the National Register on December 31, 2008.

The Fort is accessible only by guided boat tours. Hiking trails are available on the barrier island.

External links

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