Monday, May 6, 2013

Photo Essay: Fort Matanzas, Florida

       I first encountered Fort Matazas many years ago and have been fascinated by it ever since. It is a lonely little outpost that guarded the bay entrance to Saint Augustine  in the days of the Spanish rule. The town had been attacked by this back channel one prior occasions and the earlier wooden watch-towers had either decayed of burned down (cue the Scottish Lord from "Monty Python's Search for the Holy Grail"), Needless to say this became both tiresome and hazardous so the Spanish Crown dug up the cash and built something a bit more durable. You can get the full story here from very informative the National Park Service's website. You can also get even more information about the Spanish Empire in Florida from the NPS website for the Castillo de San Marcos, well worth the time both of them!

a truly lonely outpost, even to this day

the north face of the fort

the western face, 
during colonial time there was a ladder where the stairway is now

a view from the southwest

a close-up of the lookout tower

the south face,
 during colonial times this was not such a grim edifice, 
the Spanish covered the fort in white stucco and painted the trim in brilliant red

the southeast face

the eastern gunport

a closer view of the stonework

to get a sense of scale this is the stone six from the bottom in the picture above,
it is about nine inches across

the lookout tower from the inside

the view from inside the tower doorway

one of the cannon on the south face, 
the ramparts are rather low to allow the guns to fire over them

the alarm gun was kept loaded and this cover was placed over the touch-hole to keep it dry

and equally impressive bit of leather-work protected the muzzle

notice the second-story musket ports covering the gundeck

the rather simple cooking arrangements (it also functioned as a heater)

the barracks (from the point of view of the fireplace)

an interesting little drawing (reproduced nowhere else that I can find) 
of the major components of the fort

the windows were heavily shuttered as this post was occupied through hurricane season

a view of the gun deck from the barracks doorway

the other half of the deck including the lookout tower

a shot of the desolate countryside,
looking south along the inlet from the top of the tower

the top of the tower provides an excellent view 
and cover for musketeers defending the hort

the newly-restored chimney

this time looking north, 
passing ships or boats would be under the fire of the fort's guns 
for a long time as they navigated the narrow shallow waters of the inlet

     Anybody interested in more details I have a much larger selection of photos taken during over a dozen trips to this fort through the years. Just leave a note in the comments section or e mail me at daftrica89 at yahoo with the title being "Matanzas" and I can send them to you. If you would like to check out other forts that I have had the opportunity to visit take a look at the Fortified Places tab of my blog.


  1. Very interesting, and useful, too. Any idea about how many men would have been stationed in the place?

    1. A couple of officers and perhaps twenty five men.

      I am thinking of building one as a model in 28mm, it would go nicely with my Pirates and the 28mm Lace Wars figures from Wargames Factory

    2. I was thinking it was just the thing for one of my VSF outposts. Small, at a key point. Maybe along a Martian canal.

    3. Such a structure would be perfect for controlling a canal as the firepower is very one-directional. This one was built to exert maximum firepower at ships trying to cross the bar into a narrow inlet which would then have to sail directly toward the fort, very much like a canal. Of course a couple of Whitworth Rifles and a handful of Martini-Henrys would be far more powerful than some 18th century cannons!