55 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, the founders of St. Augustine celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving and a meal with the local native tribes.
It took a long time to get the Castillo off the ground. Meet the governor who started construction and learn about the massive project that was St. Augustine's stone fort.
The Castillo is constructed from a unique stone called coquina. The Spanish built with it because it was the only local stone, but it turned out to be the best thing they could have used!
Coquina stone is not the Castillo's only unique feature. Learn more about its design and purpose throught the years.
The Castillo's relied on three main factors for its successful defenses: its structure and design, the soldiers who drilled repeatedly, and the devastating weapons of that era.
Only seven years after the Spanish finished the Castillo de San Marcos, it would see the first test of its strength: a siege by English forces from Charles Town, Carolina.
As the British expanded their North American empire, more clashes with the Spanish who had long claimed the region were inevitable. The Castillo saw action once again when Georgia founder James Oglethorpe laid siege in 1740.
Although the Castillo never fell to enemy forces in battle, it did finally change hands from Spanish to British through the treaty that ended the French & Indian War. Big changes were coming to St. Augustine.
Although the Castillo was originally built to be a protector, several times it was also used as a prison. During the Second Seminole War (1835-1842), the U.S. Army housed Seminole prisoners of war at the fort.
While the Castillo, now known as Fort Marion, did not see any "action" during the American Civil War, it was used by both sides for a variety of purposed.
The U.S. Army once again used Fort Marion as a prison for Native Americans in the late 1870s, this time for 74 members of five different tribes from the Great Plains. These people left a lasting legacy in the form of a special kind of artwork.
After years of hardship and resisting U.S. Army attempts to push them onto reservations, the Apache people and their chiefs surrendered one by one. In an effort to prevent them from returning to the fight, the U.S. government imprisoned over 500 of them at Fort Marion in the late 1800s.
World War II had a major impact on Florida, from submarines off the coast, to the construction of over 100 military bases, to the post-war population boom when GI's returned to the balmy climate they had enjoyed during training.
Last updated: August 8, 2021