Fort Ward, Florida

2005 photos/narratives courtesy of Dale Cox, AR
Webmaster for any use of these images


1. Fort Ward (Florida) - Wikipedia

Fort Ward was a Confederate earthwork built over the ruins of earlier Spanish forts. The Confederates used the old Spanish stonework as a foundation for their batteries and then reinforced the old masonry with earth. They also constructed a large magazine and breastworks for infantry. The fort guarded the confluence of the St. Marks and Wakulla Rivers and the southern terminus of the railroad leading from St. Marks to Tallahassee


The earthworks of Fort Ward are now preserved as part of San Marcos de Apalache, a state park in St. Marks, Florida. The museum and walking trails interpret all aspects of the site's remarkable history, including the antebellum and Civil War eras. The park is open year round, but is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays


The large earth-covered magazine of Fort Ward is one of the more prominent features in the park. The walking trail leads to the top of the magazine, which provides an outstanding view of the entire site and adjacent St. Marks and Wakulla Rivers. This magazine was the primary ammunition storage facility for the fort and was adjacent to the battery overlooking the St. Marks River


This view shows the confluence of the Wakulla and St. Marks River as seen from the earthworks of Fort Ward. The Gulf of Mexico is due south across the marshes. The Confederate artillery commanded a long reach of the river as it approached the fort. Sentries were kept a points between the fort and the Gulf to warn the garrison of any approach by the Union Navy, a measure that successfully intercepted a boat expedition sent against the fort by the blockade ships


One of the two Confederate batteries at Fort Ward was built here, into the stonework of the old Spanish bombproof. The Union Navy attempted to attack the fort on a couple of different occasions, but was never able to make it up the narrow channel from the Gulf of Mexico. The Confederate Navy, incidentally, regularly used the same channel and often based a small gunboat, the C.S.S. Spray, at the fort. The most serious attempt on Fort Ward was made in March of 1865, when a Union expedition intending to take the works from the rear was turned back in the nearby Battle of Natural Bridge


During the 1860s, stone from the old Spanish fort of San Marcos de Apalache was used to construct a marine hospital on the site. When the Confederates reoccupied San Marcos and built Fort Ward, they used the hospital as a barracks. This view shows the foundations of the old marine hospital, on top of which the state has constructed a museum

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