When the Union abandoned a fort in Florida, they left behind a single soldier as caretaker. When the Confederacy marched on the fort, the lone soldier refused to surrender without a receipt for the fort. He received one, and the fort was taken without a shot fired.

Castillo de San Marcos

Not to be confused with Castle of San Marcos (El Puerto de Santa María).

Aerial view photo taken from northwest. Although the fort had a water-filled moat at the time, it was originally a dry moat.

The Castillo de San Marcos (Spanish for “St. Mark’s Castle”) is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States; it is located on the western shore of Matanzas Bay in the city of St. Augustine, Florida. The Castillo was designed by the Spanish engineer Ignacio Daza, with construction beginning in 1672, 107 years after the city’s founding by Spanish Admiral and conquistador Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, when Florida was part of the Spanish Empire. The fort’s construction was ordered by Governor Francisco de la Guerra y de la Vega afte… Continue Reading (15 minute read)

8 thoughts on “When the Union abandoned a fort in Florida, they left behind a single soldier as caretaker. When the Confederacy marched on the fort, the lone soldier refused to surrender without a receipt for the fort. He received one, and the fort was taken without a shot fired.”

  1. The linked wikipedia article is poorly sourced. [Here is a better source](https://www.nps.gov/casa/learn/historyculture/the-civil-war-in-florida.htm).

    > Three days before Florida officially seceded from the Union, Florida militia dispatched from Fernandina arrived in St. Augustine with the intention of taking over the fort and securing the cannons and munitions stored there.

    >At this time, Ordinance Sergeant Henry Douglas, living in a caretaker’s house on the fort green, comprised the entire Federal garrison of St. Augustine. Confronted with the overwhelming militia force, Sgt. Douglas demanded they sign a receipt for the fort and all its contents. Only then did he give up the keys. The Floridians, impressed with the sergeant’s spirit, took up a collection amongst themselves to pay his passage back to Philadelphia. Thus the first conflict between North and South in St. Augustine was resolved peacefully.

  2. It’s also the oldest standing fort in the US and has been occupied by the Spanish, British, the US and the confederates.

  3. There are visible places on the coquina walls where you can tell that cannon balls hit and bounced off, from other engagements.

  4. This sounds like a Monty python sketch. “No, you can’t have the fort, haven’t got a receipt! What’s that? You say you’ve got one? Well, that’s a different story! Come on in! I’ll put on the kettle.”

  5. That’s smart of the Sergeant. It’s just like the Army to blame the soldier and take it out of his pay. Bureaucracy at its best.

  6. Caretaker to general later: ‘That’s as good as money. Look, see this? That’s a fort. Might wanna hold on to that one’

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