Fort Matanzas National Monument is an old Spanish
fortress located in St. Johns County, Florida in United States. It
was constructed in 1740-42 to secure Spanish possessions in the New
World. This national monument covers an area of 227.76 acres (0.91
km²). It is administered by the National Park Service next to
Castillo de San Marcos and other tourist attractions in the city
of San Agustín (Florida).
In 1739 the War of the Seat broke out. General
James Oglethorpe laid siege to the Castillo de San Marcos, blocking
the mouth of the Matanzas River, hoping to surrender it with a
continuous bombardment. Seeing that the guns were not effective due
to the resistance of the coquina with which the fort had been built,
he decided to surrender the place due to hunger. However, a small
Spanish ship was able to evade the blockade and give notice to
Havana, from where supplies were sent. After 38 days the British
ended the siege without having managed to surrender the castle.
In order to protect San Marcos Castle from future dangers and to
avoid the siege by land, it was necessary to protect the entrance to
San Augustín through the Matanzas River, and for this, Fort Matanzas
(in English Fort Matanzas) was built. what were predicted future
incursions by land against the fort of San Marcos.
the restoration works began in the deteriorated fort, which allowed
that in 1924 the position of National Monument was granted to him
and the 10 of August of 1933 its maintenance happened of the
Department of War to the Service of National Parks. Thanks to its
consideration as a historical area under the control of the National
Parks Park Service, it was included in the list of the National
Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.
31, 2008, the main office and visitor center of the Fuerte Matanzas
National Monument, built in 1936, was added to the National Registry
due to its value as a significant example of the particular
architectural design of the National Park Service.
Matanzas can only be accessed through guided boat tours. There are
tracks for hikers on the barrier island.
History Fort Matanzas National Monument
Fort Matanzas was built by the Spanish in 1742 to
guard Matanzas Inlet, the southern mouth of the Matanzas River,
which could be used as a rear entrance to the city of St. Augustine.
Such an approach avoided St. Augustine's primary defense system,
centered at Castillo de San Marcos. In 1740, Gov. James Oglethorpe
of Georgia used the inlet to blockade St. Augustine and launch a
thirty-nine-day siege. St. Augustine endured the siege, but the
episode convinced the Spanish that protecting the inlet was
necessary to the security of the town. Under Gov. Manuel de
Montiano's orders, construction of the fort began that year and was
completed in 1742. Engineer Pedro Ruiz de Olano, who had worked on
additions to the Castillo de San Marcos, designed the fortified
observation tower. Convicts, slaves, and troops from Cuba were used
as labor to erect the structure, which was sited on present-day
Rattlesnake Island and had a commanding position over Matanzas
The fort, known to the Spanish as Torre de Matanzas
(Matanzas Tower), is a masonry structure made of coquina, a common
shellstone building material in the area. The marshy terrain was
stabilized by a foundation of pine pilings to accommodate a building
50 feet (15 m) long on each side with a 30-foot (9.1 m) high tower.
The standard garrison of 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 cannon were placed at the
fort—four six-pounders and one eighteen-pounder. All guns could
reach the inlet, which at the time was less than half a mile away.
In 1742, as the fort was nearing completion, the British under
Oglethorpe approached the inlet with twelve 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 1763 Treaty of
Paris, and regained control with the 1783 Treaty of Paris. With the
Spanish Empire falling apart, Spain spent little effort maintaining
the fort after this time. When the United States took control of
Florida in 1821, 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.
Fort Matanzas was named for the
inlet, which acquired its name after the executions, or matanzas
(Spanish: slaughters), on its north shore, of Jean Ribault and his
band of Huguenot Frenchmen, the last of the Fort Caroline colonists,
by the Spanish in 1565.