Wednesday, June 18, 2008
St. Augustine, Florida - Part Four
This unique structure about 15 miles south of St. Augustine is historic Fort Matanzas.
Built by the Spanish during the 1740s to guard the southern approaches to the ancient city, it is now a national monument.
Built of coquina stone, a unique rock found in only three places in the world (one of which is the St. Augustine area), the fort was normally garrisoned by only a handful of men, but mounted five pieces of artillery that could control nearby Matanzas Inlet, one of the water approaches to St. Augustine.
The fort fired in anger only once, in 1742, when a British fleet commanded by Gov. James Oglethorpe of Georgia approached the inlet. Oglethorpe and his men rowed into the inlet in small boats and the Spanish in the fort fired a single shot at them. It may have been history's shortest battle. Realizing that the Spanish guns could control the waterway, Oglethorpe and his soldiers turned back and no other shots were fired.
The fort is accessible only by a passenger ferry that leaves once each hour from the visitor center off Highway A1A. For more information, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com and look for the St. Augustine heading. You will find a link there for Fort Matanzas.