Now that I have moved 500 miles, I have more historic places to visit and share. I plan on making more youtube videos, but do not expect them to be very high quality and made with expensive equipment. I just want to get the information out there.
Photo: St. Marks lighthouse at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Built in 1831. The foundations was made from limestone blocks salvaged from Fort St. Marks.
To start out with, I visited Fort St. Marks, or San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park last weekend. I also visited a few other sites connected to territorial Florida during the Second Seminole War. Here are the videos:
Fort St. Marks part 1:
Fort St. Marks part 2:
St. Marks part 3: Port Leon, Magnolia, and the St. Marks Lighthouse. (All 1830s/40s.)
Fort St. Marks is the only significant site of the 1818 First Seminole War that remains and that you can visit today. The most noticeable events of the history of the site happened with William Augustus Bowles’ capture of the fort for five weeks in 1791, and the events of the First Seminole War in 1818. If it was not for Jackson’s invasion and illegal capture of the site, it might have been forgotten in history. Here Jackson used the fort as his headquarters and base of operations. Here Jackson held a military tribunal for two British citizens and ordered them executed afterwards, even when the court only recommended lashings for one of them.
This interesting events of Bowles and the 1st Seminole War are covered in the museum and in the interpretive film at the park. But unfortunately, are not really covered in the park brochure, when I believe that they should be. The brochure plays down the significance of the site in the First Seminole War, only saying that Jackson “occupied the fort for a brief time in the early 1800s.” Well the Americans were there for 10 months, which I think is more than most people realize. The actions that Jackson did in Florida probably went far to encourage Spain to hand over Florida to the United States. Would Florida have become part of the U.S. otherwise?
In the back of the park are unmarked graves to U.S. soldiers of the 4th and 7th Infantry. This was an unhealthy post, and the post returned from the American occupations of the site list a high death and desertion rate. It was not uncommon to have about two dead and for deserted each month. Sometimes more.
A real irony is that there is a marker commemorating Milly Francis at the park entrance. She was the daughter of Creek / Seminole Red Stick leader and prophet, Josiah Francis. Milly saved the life of a captured soldier that Creek warriors wanted to execute. Long story short, because of Milly’s actions saving the life of a soldier, she was awarded a congressional medal 30 years later as she was on her death bed in Oklahoma. How ironic is a monument to Milly at Ft. St. Marks, while Jackson executed her father Josiah Francis, possibly at the same place, during the First Seminole War.