Castillo de San Marcos - First United States Period

First United States Period

Upon receiving the fort from Spain, the Americans changed its name to Fort Marion. It was given that name to honor the legendary American Revolutionary War hero General Francis Marion "The Swamp Fox". the Structurally, they made few changes to the fort during this time. Many storerooms were converted to prison cells on account of their heavy doors and barred windows. Also, part of the moat was filled in and transformed into a artillery battery as part of the American coastal defense system. The original Spanish seawall was dismantled to ground level and a new seawall constructed immediately adjacent to the seaward side of the original. At this time a hotshot furnace was also built in the filled in section of the moat behind the newly built water battery. Cannonballs were heated in the furnace to fire at wooden enemy ships.

In October 1837, during the Second Seminole War, Seminole chief Osceola was taken prisoner by the Americans while attending a peace conference under a flag of truce. He was imprisoned in the fort along with his followers, including Uchee Billy, King Philip and his son Coacoochee (Wild Cat). Uchee Billy was captured on September 10, 1837, and he died at the fort on November 29. His skull was kept as a curio by Dr. Frederick Weedon, who also decapitated Osceola after his death in Fort Moultrie and kept the head in preservative.

On the night of November 19, 1837 Coacoochee along with Talmus Hadjo, 16 other Seminole braves and two Seminole women escaped from Fort Marion by squeezing through the eight inch (203 mm) opening of the embrasure located high in their cell and sliding down a makeshift rope into the moat. They made their way to their band's encampment where the Tomoka River meet the Atlantic. Due to their treatment they vowed to continue fighting and prolonged the war for four more years. In the past Coacoochee's Cell from which he escaped was part of the official lore of the fort.

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