Sunday, September 6, 2009

Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park - Jacksonville, Florida


As the Union army and navy tightened its grip on Florida's coastline in 1862, considerable Confederate attention was devoted to strengthening the defenses of the port of Jacksonville.

Southern engineers designed forts at key positions on both St. Johns and Yellow Bluffs, twin positions on the north and south sides of the St. Johns River that commanded the channel between Jacksonville and the mouth of the river. The position at St. Johns Bluff was actually finished and armed, but the Yellow Bluff Fort was still being completed when the Union attack on Jacksonville was finally launched in October of 1862.

According to Federal reports, the earthworks of Yellow Bluff Fort were designed to mount seven heavy cannon. Since the position commanded one of the key anchorages in the St. Johns, it would have been difficult for the Union navy to approach. At the time of the attack, however, it was armed only with 8 field guns.

After nearby St. Johns Bluff fell with barely a fight, the Captain Joseph L. Dunham and the Confederates holding Yellow Bluff Fort realized that resistance was futile. They evacuated the battery before the Union navy could attack. The site was occupied by Federal troops off and on for the duration of the war and was the location of an important signal tower.

Yellow Bluff Fort is now a small state park. Although it has been part of Florida's state park system since the 1950s, little has been done to develop the site. There is a monument placed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, a couple of picnic tables and an interesting collection of corroded old cannon, but the earthworks of the fort are heavily overgrown and there is no real interpretation at the site.

To learn more, please visit www.exploresouthernhistory.com/yellowblufffort.

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