Castillo de San Marcos - Second United States Period

Second United States Period

The fort was taken back by Union forces on March 11, 1862, when the USS Wabash entered the bay, finding the city evacuated by Confederate troops. The city leaders were willing to surrender in order to preserve the town, and the city and the fort were retaken without firing a shot. Throughout the rest of the fort's operational history, it was used as a military prison.

Beginning in 1875, numerous Native American prisoners were held at the fort in the aftermath of the Indian Wars in the west. Many would die at the fort. Among the captives were Chief White Horse of the Kiowa, and Chief Grey Beard of the Southern Cheyenne.

During this period, Richard Henry Pratt, a Civil War veteran, supervised the prisoners and upgraded the conditions for them. He developed ways to give the men more autonomy and attempted to organize educational and cultural programs for them. They became a center of interest to northerners vacationing in St. Augustine, who included teachers and missionaries. Pratt recruited volunteers to teach the Indian prisoners English, Christian religion, and elements of American culture. He and most US officials believed that such assimilation was needed for the Indians' survival in the changing society.

The men were also encouraged to make art; they created hundreds of drawings. Some of the collection of Ledger Art by Fort Marion artists is held by the Smithsonian Institution. It may be viewed online.

Encouraged by the men's progress in education, citizens raised funds to send nearly 20 of the prisoners to college after they were released from Ft. Marion. Seventeen men went to the Hampton Institute, a historically black college. Others were sponsored and educated in New York state at private colleges. Among the latter were David Pendleton Oakerhater, as he became known, who was sponsored by US Senator Pendleton and his wife. He studied and later was ordained as an Episcopal priest. He returned to the West to work as a missionary with Indian tribes. He was later recognized by the Episcopal Church as a saint.

Based on his experience at Fort Marion, Pratt recommended wider education of Indian children, a cause which Senator Pendleton embraced. He sponsored a bill supporting this goal, and the US Army offered the Carlisle Barracks in central Pennsylvania as the site of the first Indian boarding school. Its programs were developed along the industrial school model of Hampton and Tuskegee Institutes, which officials thought appropriate to prepare Native Americans for what was generally rural reservation life. Through the early 20th century, the government founded 26 other Indian boarding schools, and permitted more than 450 boarding schools run by religious organizations.

From 1886-1887, approximately 491 Apaches were held prisoner at Fort Marion; many were of the Chiricahua and Warm Springs Apache bands from Arizona. There were 82 men and the rest were women and children. Among the men, 14, including Chatto, had previously been paid scouts for the US Army. Among the Chiricahua were members of the notable chief Geronimo's band, including his wife. Geronimo was sent to Fort Pickens, in violation of his agreed terms of surrender. While at the fort, many of the prisoners had to camp in tents, as there was not sufficient space for them. At least 24 Apaches died as prisoners and were buried in North Beach.

In 1898, over 200 deserters from the Spanish-American War were imprisoned at the fort. This marked one of the last uses of the fort as an operational base. In 1900, the fort was taken off the active duty rolls after 205 years of service under five different flags.

In 1924, the fort was designated a National Monument. In 1933 it was transferred to the National Park Service from the War Department. In 1942, in honor of its Spanish heritage, Congress authorized renaming the fort as Castillo de San Marcos. As an historic property of the National Park Service, the National Monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) on October 15, 1966. The National Park Service manages the Castillo together with Fort Matanzas National Monument. In 1975, the Castillo was designated an Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Since being transferred to the Park Service, the Castillo has become a popular tourist attraction. It occupies 2.5 acres (10,100 m²) in downtown St. Augustine, Florida.

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