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(Back to Florida Haunted Index)

Castillo de San Marcos
HauntedHouses.com

saint-augustine
Haunted Dwelling — Castillo de San Marcos

ADDRESS:

1 Castillo Drive
Saint Augustine, Florida  32084

Web Link
* (904) 829-6506

LOCATION:

This 50,000 square foot fortress, Castillo de San Marcos, can be found on the Saint Augustine waterfront, just east of the old city gates.

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DESCRIPTION:

The Spaniards didn't fool around. This fortress was built to last and survive the sieges and battles that were to come. Tom and I really enjoyed our visit here.

"The fortification is a regular polygon of four equal sides and four bastions, resembling a star." This design, chosen by Spanish engineer Ignacio Daza, eliminated blind spots, and allowed multiple cannons to fire at the same target. Made with more than 400,000 coquina shell bricks, the walls are 11-19 feet thick at the base, and taper to 9 feet wide at the top.

A moat surrounds the structure, but the moat has been dry for many years. The entrance is to the south and is protected by a barbacan, or, less technically, an arrow shaped outwork. A stationary bridge leads part way across the moat and the path is then continued on into the fort by a drawbridge.

All of the areas and rooms are off the main square in the center of the fortress. Cannons are mounted on the upper gun deck walls of this immense structure.

The National Park Service has done its due diligence in keeping this old gal tourist-ready. Recently, a $3 million construction project was completed on Castillo de San Marcos, to renovate and stabilize this grand old fortress, that has the distinction of being the oldest masonry fort in the country. The cracks in the fort's coquina walls were repaired, and the concrete gun deck was replaced to prevent further deterioration.

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HISTORY:

The need for a well-fortified fortress was made plain to the Spaniards, after English pirates sacked and burned Saint Augustine in 1668, and when English settlers began the town of Charleston. Work began in 1672, and was finished in 1695. It was built to protect the entire town's population, inside its walls during a battle. Its first big test came in 1702, when Spain was at war with Great Britain - The War of the Spanish Succession. While the British occupied Saint Augustine, they attacked Castillo de San Marcos for 50 days. This fortress was never taken, though the town was burned.

Through the years as a military fortress, it saw a lot of action. It held through 14 other sieges, remaining uncaptured, never falling into enemy hands. In 1763, in the Peace of Paris Treaty, Florida was given to England, in exchange for La Habana. Castillo de San Marcos was renamed Fort Saint Mark. After only 20 years, this fortress was given back to Spain because the Peace of Paris recognized the independence of the United States. The fortress was once again in Spanish hands, until 1821, when Spain ceded Florida to the United States, for a dollar. They liked President Jackson, who loved the Spanish as well, because of his personal history. The fortress was renamed again by the Americans, Fort Marion, in honor of Revolutionary War hero, General Marion.

The Seminole Indian War began in 1834, and Fort Marion was in the center of the war effort. The Seminole War ended, when both of the major Seminole chiefs were lied to and tricked into coming to Fort Marion, for supposed peace talks. Osceola and Coacoochee were put in irons. The war ended in 1842. The only excitement the fort saw during the Civil War was the temporary take-over by southern sympathizers, which didn't last long!

During the Indian wars of the later 19th century, Fort Marion was the destination of captured Indians. As whole families would be sent to this fort, the Colonel in charge set up schools for the children, and programs to teach Indians how to fit into society.

It's last years of service occurred during the Spanish/American War. It was used as a prison.

In 1924, both Fort Marion, and its sister fort outpost, Matanzas, were declared national monuments, and given to the National Park Service to maintain. In 1942, the fortress was renamed with its original name, Castillo de San Marcos.

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HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS:

A CASE OF DEADLY ADULTRY AND CACULATED RAGE

As it has proven to be the case in other stories found on hauntedhouses.com, participating in adultery often ends badly.

(The Plains Hotel * The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables * Broadview Hotel)

In the month of July, 1784, when this mighty fortress was given back to the Spanish from the English, a new commander, Colonel Garcia Marti and his pretty young wife, Dolores arrived to start their new life here. It wasn't long until Colonel Marti's young, handsome, charming assistant, Captain Abela was introduced to the outgoing, friendly Dolores.

Colonel Garcia Marti was a very busy commander, with a dour, humorless personality, somewhat older than Dolores, and perhaps neglected Dolores a bit. It was probably an arranged marriage. While Dolores made lots of friends with people in the town of Saint Augustine, she also wanted a closer relationship with a man; unfortunately it wasn't her husband. She and Captain Abela fell in love and began a love affair that would cost them dearly.

Dolores wore a strong perfume, that she put on liberally. One day, when Captain Abela was giving his report to Colonel Marti, the good colonel couldn't help but notice the strong aroma of Dolores' perfume, all over the front of Captain Abela's uniform. Uh Oh! In the darkness of night, when most of the soldiers had gone back to town to spend the night, both Dolores and Captain Abela disappeared from sight. Only about 30 soldiers remained on duty at the fort.

After several days, the soldiers were wondering where their beloved Captain Abela was, as he didn't show up for the daily call. Colonel Marti told the soldiers that Captain Abela was sent on a special mission to Cuba.

Friends of Dolores began to wonder what happened to her. So, Colonel Marti held a large dinner party, inviting all their friends from town. He told them, with great concern, that Dolores had become ill from the weather in St. Augustine, and was sent to live with her Aunt in Mexico, who would nurse her back to health. Dolores would then be sent back to Spain to live, where it was more agreeable with her constitution. Funny, but she didn't look sick to them, the last time they had seen her. Questions and theories circulated about what really had happened, but Colonel Marti's story wasn't directly challenged.

It wasn't until 1833, fifty years later when Castillo de San Marcos was under American control, that the truth was inadvertently uncovered by a curious American officer, Lieutenant Tuttle. He was studying the architecture of this place, and was puzzled when he found a hollow sound in one of the walls of the dungeon area. When he removed the first brick, a rush of air, smelling like a strong perfume flowed swiftly into the room. After taking down the wall, he found the hidden room, and two skeleton remains of two former prisoners, chained to the wall. It is thought that Captain Marti had Dolores and Captain Abela chained and entombed here to end their lives. Probably at least some of the guards on duty were in cahoots with the Colonel, and this dastardly deed of revenge went undiscovered. Leave it to an American soldier to find out the truth!

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SOLDIERS LONG DEAD ARE STILL ON DUTY

A sense of duty, purpose and bonding experienced in the military, has long been a strong cause of men who have died while serving to still continue on, not letting death get in the way with their duties!

(Fort Delaware * United States Air force Museum in Dayton * Gettysburg Battlefield and houses * Fort Bridger)

PRISONERS OF WAR WHO DIE OR ARE EXECUTED IN CAPTIVITY

Entities of former prisoners of various institutions and forts, often hang around the place where they died, not able to let go of this world, because of unsolved issues, or emotional upset.

(Fort Delaware * Fort Pulaski * Fort Mackinac * The Alamo)

MANIFESTATIONS:

Dungeon AND Hallway, leading to the dungeon:

    • Many people notice the strong, overwhelming smell of Dolores' perfume.

    • Aura orbs, and bright lights are seen near the wall of the room where the two errant lovers were entombed.

    • EVPs were also recorded in this once-sealed room by the Ghost Adventures crew.

Soldier's Quarters:

    • Sounds of soldiers' boots have been heard in this room by staff.

    • A staff member saw the indentation of full form apparition of a soldier lying in one of the beds.

Other Areas of the Fort:

    • The living are sometimes shoved by an unseen presence in the cannon room.

    • An apparition of a soldier is seen walking along a wall of the castile, with a lantern.

    • Footsteps are heard of soldiers running around the courtyard.

    • An apparition of an executed English pirate has been seen at the wall where he died via firing squad.

    • A head of an Indian is seen floating around the walls of the courtyard, looking displeased.

STILL HAUNTED?

A big YES INDEED is in order.

The brave lads of Ghost Adventures gathered some hard evidence and had personal experiences as well.

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SOURCES INCLUDE:

Haunt Hunter's Guide to Florida, by Joyce Elson Moore, Pineapple press, 1998.
Ghost Stories of Florida, by Dan Asfar, Lone Pine Publishing, International, 2005.

nps.gov * accessgenealogy.com * youtube.com