Historic Place of the Slaughters

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In the 1560s the ownership of the Florida Peninsula was hotly contested. The French had preemptively built a small fort, Fort Caroline, near what would become Jacksonville, Florida. In 1565 the Spanish marched from St. Augustine and took this small fort, slaughtering some 200 people. Then, they chased down the remaining French Huguenots near a small inlet. Believing that his men would be well treated, the leader surrendered to the Spanish. The Spanish slaughtered them to the last man in an act that horrified the people of the age. Thus this beautiful location became known as Matanzas or Place of the Slaughters.

Fort Matanzas was finished by the Spanish in 1742. It was meant to guard Matanzas Inlet, the southern end of Matanzas River. The Spanish were worried the river would serve as a 'back door' to the city of St. Augustine. They built it of coquina shellstone, naturally abundant in the area. The fort is a smaller square style with walls 50 foot long on each side and a 30 foot tall high tower. On the right hand wall of the fort a small tower overhangs the wall. This was where the sentries were posted. The fort was armed with five cannon aimed at the inlet and manned by one officer, four infantrymen and two gunners. The fort was only involved in one skirmish in which it successfully drove off a British fleet.

By 1821, the fort was unlivable. Restorations began in 1916. By 1924 the fort was stabilized and it was given National Monument status. The National Park Service
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