Sunday, November 02, 2008

Fort Clinch; Fernandina Beach, Florida

Although Ed & I have camped at Fort Clinch State Park before, we had never toured the fort itself. So since the weather was a bit chilly for the beach, we decided to visit it with Chuck and Peggy. We started with the museum to learn about the history.

In 1842, the government decided to build a fort at the northern end of Amelia Island at the Florida-Georgia border to protect the mouth of the St. Mary's River, protect coastal and interior shipping, and defend the deep water port of Fernandina, Florida. Construction began in 1847 on Fort Clinch, named in honor of General Duncan Lamont Clinch, a respected officer who fought bravely in the Second Seminole War.

Fort Clinch is considered a Third System of Fortifications, after earthenworks (the First) and masonry (the Second.) The ultimate fort consisted of two walls, brick and earth. Work on Fort Clinch progressed slowly. Bt 1860, only two bastions and one third of the brick wall was completed.

The ramparts were in place, the guardhouse and prison were finished.

The lumber sheds, storehouse, and kitchens were in various stages of completion.

Not a single cannon had been placed in position.

In this unfinished state in 1861, along came the Civil War. Confederate militia quietly took control until Union troops arrived in early 1862. Units of the 1st New York Volunteer Engineers quickly began a push to complete the fort. It is this era to which the fort has been partially restored. Today we can see the storehouse...

and even the latrine!

Civil War encampments are staged the first weekend of each month at Fort Clinch. The brick ovens are still used to bake bread.

In 1935, the state of Florida bought the fort and property surrounding it for preservation and outdoor recreation. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) developed the property into Fort Clinch State Park. Today, Fort Clinch is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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