Fort Matanzas Matted Print, Medium


Beautiful colored matted print of St. Augustine’s Fort Matanzas. Comes sealed in a poly sleeve stamped with the cities crest. Available in blue or black matting.

11″ x 14″ matted
8″ x 10″ picture

Also available in small size

Fort Matanzas

St. Augustine, Florida

This print is an offset lithograph reproduced from a wood engraving in the 1872 edition of “Picturesque America.” The original drawing was by Harry Fenn.

St. Augustine was well located, able to defend itself from attack on the ocean side. A weakness in its defense was if an enemy ship could cross the bar at Matanzas Inlet, it could sail up the San Sebastian river and attack from the rear.

In 1569, Pedro Menendez built a wooden watchtower and a thatched hut at Matanzas Inlet to house six soldiers who would take turns scanning the horizon. If a ship was sighted, a runner or a man in a log canoe set out to warn St. Augustine. Watching and warning was the tower’s only task, for it lacked any armament.

The British siege of 1740 convinced Gov. Manuel de Montiano that he needed to have more than just a wooden tower at Matanzas Inlet. If the British had been able to seize that point, they would probably have been able to starve the city into surrender. Montiano therfore ordered engineer Pedro Ruiz de Olano to build a strong, coquina tower.

The marshy little island that Gov. Montiano and engineer Ruiz chose for the stone tower was naturally defensible and only a short cannon shot from the inlet channel. It was well situated for defending St. Augustin’s “back door.”

Craftsmen came from St. Augustine while convicts and royal slaves did the heavy labor. Coquina was quarried at present day Summer Haven. Construction was difficult because long piles had to be driven deep into the mud to support the rising stonework. Repeated skirmishes by the British and their Indian allies tried to stop construction, but their efforts were in vain. By the end of 1742, work was complete., The next year the British attacked again, but heavy seas foiled their efforts. They withdrew, never to return.

The British gained all of Florida by a treaty in 1763.  They also regarded Matanzas Inlet as a key to defending St. Augustine, and usually dept seven soldiers and two cannons there, but no attacks came. During the American Revolution, Spain had planned to capture Matanzas and advance upriver to the Castillo, but these plans never materialized.

Over the next 50 years the tower fell into disrepair. By the time the United States took control in 1821, the interior was already in ruins, and the gun platform’s soultheast angle had cracked, and its foundation undermined. Blockade runners used Matanzas Inlet during the Civil War. For ten years the inlet was a port of entry, but this had little effect on the old tower, for soon the area was abandoned. In 1924 Fort Matnazas was designated a National Monument and is now operated by the National Park Service.


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