CIVIL WAR PERIOD PENCIL SKETCH OF US TROOPS AT THE CASTILLO DE SAN MARCOS, “FORT MARION,” ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA

$375.00

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Item Code: 1054-1185

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Nicely matted in a gilt frame measuring 16 by 20 inches, this 9 by 13 inch pencil sketch shows a group of infantry at shoulder arms marching toward the gate posts and bridge leading into what can only be the Fortress of San Marco in Saint Augustine, shown with a large US flag flying over the battlements. The gateposts, bridge, high stone walls forming a star fort with bastions and cylindrical watch towers, sea battery and hotshot furnace are unmistakable.

The fort is the oldest masonry fort in the US, constructed from 1672 to 1695 by the Spanish. It was unsuccessfully besieged by the British in 1702, redesigned and modified in 1738, and again unsuccessfully besieged by the British in 1740. The Spanish ceded it to the British by treaty in 1763 and then reclaimed it, also by treaty, in 1783, before ceding all of Florida to the US in 1821. Renamed Fort Marion, during the Second Seminole War the structure imprisoned Seminole Indian leaders, some of whom managed to escape in 1837 and continue fighting for four more years, apparently taking it ill that they had been captured at a peace conference.

In 1861 Florida troops seized the fort from its sole U.S. guard, who only agreed to the surrender if provided with a receipt for the property. Federal forces took it over again on March 11, 1862, after the city and fort surrendered to avoid destruction by a U.S. Navy fleet.  (Most of the forts guns had been removed in any case.) After the war the fort continued in use as a prison for Native Americans, including Kiowa, Cheyenne, and Apache. Deserters from the US army during the Spanish American War were also housed there. The fort was removed from active duty in 1900, designated a National Monument in 1924, and transferred to the Park Service in 1933.

The sketch seems to have been made looking along the wall of the water battery, whose empty gun emplacements can be seen behind the wall. In the background, below the fortress walls, is the hotshot furnace, constructed after the first US takeover when that portion of the moat was filled in, the external battery constructed, and the furnace built to supply hotshot to its guns to set aflame any enemy ships foolish enough to come in range. The prominence given to the US flag and troops marching in suggests it was made not long after its reoccupation.  [sr]

The frame appears to contain plexiglass, so the possiblity of breakage during shipment should be minimal.

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