Between the Florida Wars with the Seminoles and the Civil War, the U.S. Army spent a lot of time in St. Augustine during the 19th century, but by 1904, they didn’t have much use for our city. Here’s the Annual Report of the War Department from June 1904:
The military reservations in the vicinity of St. Augustine, Fla., are as follows:
” A.” Powder or magazine lot, containing an area of 11 acres.
” B.” The St. Augustine National Cemetery, formerly the post cemetery, containing an area of about fifty-eight hundredths of an acre.
” C.” The St. Francis Barracks and hospital lot, containing about 5 acres.
” D.” Two islands, near St. Augustine, in the main channel of the Mantanzas River, containing about 2 acres.
” E.” Fort Marion, an old Spanish work said to have been commenced in 1565 and completed in 1756, under the name of Castle of St. Mark. The fort and adjacent land contain about 22 acres.
” F.” Anastasia Island Military Reservation, containing about 700 acres.
The national cemetery contains the remains of the officers and enlisted men killed in the Dade massacre and Florida wars from 1835 to 1842.
Old Fort Marion serves no useful purpose, but is attractive as a relic. If a portion of this reservation could be set aside as a national cemetery and the remains moved from the present cemetery it would seem advisable, for historic and sentimental reasons, to retain the Fort Marion Reservation, marking accurately and properly its boundaries as determined by proper surveys, or selling to the parties who are located thereon under revocable licenses such portions of the reservation as they hold, carefully bounding and marking the remaining portion and prohibiting any further encroachment or trespass thereon. Then the lands embraced in what is now St. Francis Barracks, the adjoining hospital lot, national cemetery, and the powder or magazine lot might be disposed of.
The buildings at St. Francis Barracks are going to ruin, the post will probably never be occupied again, and it seems useless to expend any money for repairs. An ordnance-sergeant alone is in charge of these reservations, and has a care taker for the Fort Marion Reservation and one for the national cemetery. The sergeant manages all affairs and attends to all his duties in a very satisfactory and businesslike way. His relations with the city authorities and all concerned seem very cordial.
That ordnance-sergeant was quite a character, St. Francis Barracks is now the headquarters for the Florida National Guard, the St. Augustine National Cemetery honors those who served throughout the 19th and 20th century and this is what that old “relic” looks like today as a national monument.
Reposted with permission from Moultrie Journal.