Florida, which was in the possession of England from 1763 to 1783, remained
loyal to that country during the revolutionary war. After the fall of
Charleston 61 gentlemen of high standing, believed by the British to be
promoters of the revolution, were sent to St. Augustine as prisoners. A
number of these patriots, including General Gadsen, were closely confined in
the fort for nearly a year. The others were allowed the freedom of the city,
but were treated with great indignity and contempt. Among these patriots were
three signers of the Declaration of Independence, Arthur Middleton, Edward
Rutledge and Thomas Heyward, Jr. and David Ramsay noted historian of the
The Library of Congress has transcripts of many English records of Florida,
in the Manuscript Department. These give full accounts of the history of St.
Augustine of that period. At one time 11,000 refugees were in Florida.
FLORIDA CEDED TO THE UNITED STATES.
On the 10th day of July 1821, the flag of Spain, which for two and a half
centuries had waved over St. Augustine, was lowered forever from the castle
and in its place rose the Stars and Stripes. For the history of this period
read the American State Papers Public Lands.
THE CIVIL WAR.
On March 11th, 1862 the fort was surrendered without resistance to
Commodore Rogers, of the Union Forces and remained garrisoned by Federal
troops until the end of the war.
Harper's magazine Vol. 33, page 704, the 15th chapter of "Heroic Deeds of
Heroic Men" by John S. C. Abott, Nov. 1866 gives a detailed account of the
Civil War in Florida including the surrender of St. Augustine.
PRISONERS OF WAR.
In 1875 Comanche, Kiowa and Arrapahoe Indians to the number of 77 were
confined in Fort Marion. In 1886 five hundred Apache prisoners of war were
sent to Fort Marion, where they were kept for more than a year, after which
they were transferred to Alabama. During the Spanish-American war of 1898
it was used as a military prison.
COMMENCEMENT AND DESCRIPTION OF THE PRESENT FORT.
In the petition of Hernando de Mestas 1595 in which a request is presented
to the King for a stone fort, statements are made that there is plenty of
stone and lime "from which a masonry fort can be built". This petition has
notes on the margin, one of which is "See the plan and if it is approved by
engineer; if so, let it be built of stone". Another appropriates ten thousand
ducats for this purpose, another "Let this be seen in the council on fleet, to
see to it that it is built according to the plans", then, up to twenty negroes
may be provided.
In 1640 Appalachian Indians prisoners were employed on the Fort. In 1690
Governor Don Diego de Quiroga y Losada writes to the King that the Castle is
completed and the slaves idle, so he is using them to rebuild the officials
houses of stone. In one letter he mentions that his predecessor lived in the
In 1756 the engineer in charge placed over the entrance the coat of arms of
Spain with the inscription which, translated, reads:
"Don Fernandez the Sixth being King of Spain, and Field Marshal Don Alonzo
Fernandez de Herreda, Governor and Captain General of the city of St.
Augustine, Florida, and its province, this fortress was finished in the year
1756. The works were directed by the Captain-Engineer, Don Pedro de Brazas y
Fairbanks states, "I am not sure but that the boastful governor might not
with equal propriety and truth have put a similar inscription at the city
gate, claiming the town was also a finished city".
During all the Spanish rule the structure was known as San Marco Castle.
After coming into possession of the United States the name was changed to
Fort Marion, in honor of General Francis Marion, of Revolutionary fame.