EUROPEAN FORTIFICATIONS BUILT IN NORTH AMERICA: 1004-1599

I have used a geographical definition and fudged this area to include the Caribbean, Central America, and northern South America. The names of many of these forts are a desperate confusion and I have included all those names for a structure that I have been able to collect.[1] I have further ignored minor site adjustments in various re-buildings of fortifications. A military fort was usually built for strategic reasons in some specified area and even if ownership and nationality changed the strategic purpose was often recognised and adopted.

Search techniques for this database might use the following keys: name, dates, nationality, or battles. No doubt there are errors here, however with such large numbers that is probably inevitable and are only of detail.

European Fortifications Built in America: 1004-1599

Names & Location

Construction & Events

Mississippi Valley Mounds, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Prehistoric; c4000 BC, Hundreds of earth monuments and defenses built in this area - some clearly fort-like for defence but the builders were not likely Europeans; c4000 BC, Fort Bayou de Chien Mounds consist of seven 15-20' high and 50-100' in diameter closely grouped and assessed as defensive Obyam's Fort is an example.

L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland

Commanders: Thorvald Erikson; Thorfinn Karlsefni; Freydis Eriksdottir

Norse Viking; 1004, Stone camp built was nominally defensible; 1006, Thorvald Erikson killed by Skraelings (Beothuk Indians) in Labrador while eight Skraelings were killed; 1007, Freydis Eriksdottir decided to abandon the earliest known European settlement in North America.
Presidio Baluarte de Santiago, Veracruz, Mexico Spanish; 1526, Stone fort built; 1635, Stone walls built around city; 1898, Damaged by Americans in Spanish American War.
Castello San Felipe del Morro, Puerto Rico Spanish; 1533-1539, Built fortified stone tower with stone walls gun platforms and dry moat to defend San Juan; 1595, Attack by English Sir Francis Drake; 1598, Captured and left by English Sir George Clifford; 1625, Siege by Dutch; 1760-1780, Major additions of 140' walls up to 25' thick and with San Cristóbal c455 guns and 450-man garrison but 6,000 men in 1797 attack; 1797, Invasion by English General Ralph Abercromby; 12 May 1898, Bombardment and Spanish-American War.
Fort Fort Ste Croix, Québec French; 1535, Jacques Cartier built temporary log fort, with wood palisade, 5-10 kms up the St Charles River near Québec City; c1740, French built new fort at same location; 1759, Captured by British and abandoned.
Fortaleza San Juan De Ulua, Veracruz, Mexico Spanish; 1535, Fortress in the harbor; 1825, Capture by Mexican Patriots ended Spanish rule in North America; 1898, Captured by Americans in Spanish American War.
Presidio La Fortaleza, Puerto Rico Spanish; 1539, Built fortified stone tower; c1835, Built into governor's mansion.

Fort Mountain, Georgia

Commander: Hernando DeSoto

Spanish; 1540, Built as protection from the Indians.
Fort Charlesbourg, Québec French; January 1542, Jacques Cartier and colonists attacked by Iroquois Indians.
Presidio Portosi, Peru Spanish; c1551, Built to guard a Spanish silver mine by conscript Indian labour and to protect several missions; 1562, A mint and several convents and two monasteries had been added.

Fort Serof, Alabama

Commander: Tristan de Luna

Spanish; c1557, Built by de Luna.
Drake's Fort, California English; 1559, Built temporary fort to repair ship and claim land for England.

Fort Santa Maria, Alabama

Commander: Tristan de Luna

Spanish; 1559, Built fortified settlement.

Charlesfort (Fort Charles, Fort San Salvador, Fort San Felipe, Santa Elena? Fort San Sebastian, Fort San Marcos), South Carolina

Commander: 1562, Jean Ribaut

French; 1562, Huguenots built a small earth and log fort; 1563, Abandoned; 1566, Spanish occupied and rebuilt fort called Fort San Salvador; 1570, Expanded fort called Fort San Felipe; 1570; Rebuilt on higher ground with moat after new powder magazine exploded; 1576, Attacked and destroyed by Indians; 1577, Rebuilt town and triangular fort called San Marcos; 1583, Rebuilt; 1587, Destroyed and abandoned as Spanish forced out.

Fort Caroline, (Fort San Mateo, San Matso, Saint Matthias), Florida

Commander: Rene de Laudonniere

French; 1562, Jean Ribault's failed colony; 22 June 1564, Triangular, wood and earthen fortress with moat built by Rene de Laudonniere; 20 September 1565, Resupplied by Jean Ribaut with 600 men but attacked captured and surrendered to Spanish with 'massacre' of 736 with another 100 held prisoner by Gobernador Pedro Menéndez de Avilés' 500 men and renamed Fort San Mateo; 1566, Spanish re-built; 18-19 September 1568, French Dominique de Gorgues destroyed fort and garrison; 1569, Re-built by Spanish.

Fort Nombre de Dios

Commander: Gobernador, Captain-General Pedro Menéndez de Avilés

Spanish; 8 September 1565, Fortified Timucua Indian Chief's house.

Presidio Santa Lucia de Canaveral (Fort Saint Lucie, Fort Canaveral, Lucy), Florida

Commander: Gobernador, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés,

Spanish; October 1565, Built presidio for protection against the Indians; 1568, Indians killed so many soldiers the garrison mutinied and abandoned the fort.
Presidio San Antonio (Calos, Carlos), Florida, Spanish: 1565.
Fort San Juan, Florida Spanish; 1565, Built small fort with French guns taken from Fort Caroline; 1568, Captured and destroyed by French.

Presidio Santo Tomás, Florida,

Commander: Gobernador, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés

Spanish, 1565.
Presidio Matanzas, Florida Spanish; 1565, Battle of Matanzas Inlet between Spain and France; 1569, Built wooden block house and watchtower; 1683, Attacked by pirates; 1686, Attcked by pirates; 1741, Built near site of earlier massacre of French as 40' square coqina-cement fort with 30' walls to protect St Augustine against British attacks; 1742, Defeated British attack with newly installed guns; 1743, Defeated British attack.

Castillo de San Marcos (Presidio de San Augustin, Fort San Juan de Pinos, Pinillo, Fort St Mark, Fort Marion), Florida

Commander: 1565, Gobernador General Pedro Menendez de Avilés

Spanish; 6 September 1565, Built first of nine wood fort to protect St Augustine the Spanish capital of Florida; September 1565, Failed French attack; 1566, Rebuilt fort twice; 1572, Rebuilt again; 1578, Rebuilt again; 6 June 1586, Sir Francis Drake's siege capture and destruction; 1586, Re-built of wood and expanded as Fort San Juan de Pinos; 1604, Rebuilt again; 1647, San Augustin popuation 2,000; 1653, Rebuilt again; 1665, Sacked and burned by English pirate Captain John Davis; 1666, Re-built; 1668, Destroyed by English pirate Captain Robert Searles; October 1672-1695, Main coquina-stone fortress construction finished with 12'-thick walls with bastions and gun batteries; 1696, Seawall was built and whole fort cost Spain ~$30m; c5 November 1702, Failed siege by Governor James Moore of Charleston who burnt San Augustin town; 1738, Finished construction of city walls with redoubts and palisaded ditch called the Hornwork and outer gun forts plus vaulted fortress stone roofs; c29 May-10 July 1740, Failed siege by General James Edward Oglethorpe; 1762, Castillo construction finished; 21 July 1763, ceded to Britain under Treaty of Paris and renamed Fort Saint Mark; 1775, Repaired as capital of East Florida; 1776, Added Fort Moultrie; 1783, Second Treaty of Paris ceded Florida back to Spain; 12 July 1784, Spain re-occupied Castillo and returned name; 10 July 1821, Spain ceded Florida to the US who named it Marion; 1836, Prison for Seminole Indians; 1886-1894, Prison for Apache Indians; 1942, Renamed San Marcos.

Presidio Santa Catalina de Guale, Georgia

Commander: 1597, Governor, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés

Spanish; 1566, Built fort to protect missions from Guale Indians; 1597, Attacked and destroyed by Guale Indians; 1605, Rebuilt fort and mission; 1671, Permanent Spanish garrison; 1680, Attacked and destroyed by South Carolina militia; 1763, Occupied by Britain; 1780, Captured by General Bernardo de Gálvez Madrid Cabrera Ramirez y Márquez for Spain; 1783, American.
Presidio San Felipe, South Carolina Spanish; 1566-1576, Built in South Carolina
Fort Ays, Florida Spanish; c1567, Built blockhouse.

Fort Santa Elena, Tennessee

Commander: Juan Pardo

Spanish; c1567, Built blockhouse on island.
Presidio San Antonio de Padua, Florida Spanish; 1567, Blockhouse abandoned after the garrison was starved out by the Calusa Indians.
Presidio Isla del Batton (Batton Island Fort), Florida Spanish; 1567, Small fort; 1568, Attacked and destroyed by French.

Presidio Tequesta (Tegesta), Florida

Commander: 1597, Gobernador, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés Marquez

Spanish; March 1567, Garrison of 30 men and 28 houses in stockaded fort at Tekesta Indian village; 1567, Indians attacked and Spanish abandoned fort; 1568, Reoccupied; 1570, Burned by Tequesta Indians; 1570, Abandoned.
Presidio Cartel (Quartel), Florida Spanish; c1567, Built; 1740, English occupied with gun battery.

Presidio San Pablo, Florida

Commander: Gobernador, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés

Spanish; c1567.

1568, Presidio Nuestra Señora, Florida

Commander: Gobernador, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés

Spanish; 1568.
Presidio Carlos, Florida Spanish; c1568, a blockhouse and presidio to protect the local Mission..
Presidio Tocobaga, Florida Spanish; 1568, Indians killed garrison and burned fort.

Presidio Santiago, Florida

Commander: Gobernador, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés

Spanish; c1568.

Presidio San Pedro, Florida

Commander: Gobernador, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés

Spanish; 1569, Built against the French on the St John's River.

Presidio Santa Maria de Gálvez (Gálve, Galve, Fort Barrancas), Florida

Commanders: 1569, Don Andres de Arriola, 1698, Capitan Franck, 1719, Gobernador Juan Pedro de Matamoros de Isla, 1721, Lieutenant Carpot de Montigny

Spanish; 1569, Don Andres de Arriola established failed colony; 1698, Built a four-pointed bastioned fort (called San Carlos de Austria) but included church and village plus manpower; 1707, Defeated English attack; 1719, Captured by French; 1720, Burned; 1722; Regained by Spanish; 1763, Site occupied by British and built Fort Barrancas; 1781, Occupied by Spanish; 1821, Occupied by Americans.
James River Fort, Virginia Spanish; 1570, Spanish attempted to establish mission on James River; 1572, Massacred by Powhaten Indians.

Castillo San Lorenzo, Panama

Commanders: 1660, Warden, Don Pedro de Lisaldo y Ursua, 1671, Captain Richard Norman, c1730, Capitan Don Juan Carlos Jutierrez Zevalles, 1740, Captain Knowles

Spanish; 1575, Fort required for Spain's Panama gold shipments; c1575-1595, Built on a mountain at Chagres river palisades filled with earth with 30' moat drawbridge with four land bastions, and two for sea the south side totally inaccessible the north surrounded by river; a sub-fort was at the foot were three batteries of 20 guns; 1670, Garrison 350 men; 6-9 January 1671, Attacked burned captured and looted by English Privateers Admiral Henry Morgan and Captain Joseph Bradley; 1671, Castillo used as base for raid on Panama; 22-24 March 1740, Bombarded captured and looted by British Admiral Sir Edward Vernon during the War of Jenkin's Ear; 29 March 1740, Castillo destroyed.

Fort Lane, Puerto Rico

Commander: 1585, Sir Richard Grenville

English; 12 May 1585, Built two temporary forts for Roanoak expedition to enable new construction of lost boat and forging of new nails; c29 May 1585, Burned and abandoned but Ralph Lane seized stockpile of Spanish salt..

Citie of Ralegh in Virginia (Fort Raleigh, New Forte in Virginia, Fort Roanoke Island), North Carolina

Commanders: 1585, Sir Richard Grenville, 1585, Governor Ralph Lane, Captain Stafford, 1586, Governor John White

English; 1585, Built Built small wood star-shape fort on a square with side bastions and cottages with brick foundations outside fort; May 1586, War with Indians; June 1586, survivors picked up by Sir Francis Drake; July 1586, Rebuilt with new garrison of 15 men; 1587, Abandoned.and destroyed by Indians; 1587, Rebuilt and remanned (1586 men not found); 8 August 1587, Garrison led by Governor White in attack on Indians; 1588, Spanish Armada stopped resupply; 1590, Found again abandoned.
Presidio San Juan Del Puerto, Florida Spanish; 1587, Built on Fort George Island to protect mission; 1597, Guale Indians destroyed the mission; c1600, Rebuilt; 1702, Destroyed by English Governor James Moore of South Carolina.
Castillo de San Felipe del Morro, Puerto Rico Spanish; 1589, Began construction for protection from pirates and Europeans; 1596, Failed attack by English Sir Francis Drake; 1598, Captured by land English attack of George Clifford Duke of Cumberland occupied but unable to hold Castillo; 1625, Dutch attack fails but San Juan looted and burned; 1898, Failed American attack.
Castillo de Los Treyes Reyes del Morro (Morro Castle), Cuba Spanish; 1589, Large triangular-shaped stone fortress built to protect Havana harbour-entrance and colonists from pirates; 1762, Captured by British Sir George Pocock; 1898, Captured by Americans in Spanish-American War.

Fort La Paz, Baha California, Mexico

Commanders, Capitans 1596, Vizcáino, Francisco Ortega, 1734, Estevan Rodriguez Lorento, Monroll

Spanish; 1596, Built against pirates with stockade of facines; 1596, Attacked by Indians and abandoned; 1632, Rebuilt and abandoned; 1679, Built a crescent-shaped log fort with guns; 1 July 1683, Failed attack by Guairuros Indians; 1685, Abandoned; 1734, Recaptured with 250 men from occupying Pericué and Guaicurvo Indians; 1734, Garrison 10 men;

Presidio San Antón, Florida

Commander: 1597, Governor, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés

Spanish; 1597, Built on Dry Tortugas.

ENDNOTES

1         There are many sources, including endless internet sites, however, I found some paricularly helpful. The website at http://www.geocities.com/naforts/ provides a large database of forts listed separately by state. Bruce Grant, American Forts, Yesterday and Today; and Pete and Phil Payette's NORTH AMERICAN FORTIFICATIONS at http://www.geocities.com/forts. The latter is an extended site covering the American states and Canadian provinces, plus some Mexican and Caribbean forts. Therre is a history of Illinois forts at http://www.genealogytrails.com/ill/forts.html#PREHISTORIC, West Virginia forts at http://www.rootsweb.com/~wvwags/forts.txt. For specific French details see http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/6750/links.htm and http://www.mlrmag.com/pubaddnl/TonyG/french.htm, a specialist list of Florida forts ia at http://www.treasurelore.com/florida/florida_forts.htm, New York forts are at http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/forts/fortsA_D/anneFort.htm, and Canadian forts see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Hudson%27s_Bay_Company_forts. I also consulted authors like Frank McLynn,1759, the Year Britain Became Master of the World, and Fred Anderson, Crucible of War for more specific details. A full list of useful websites may be found in the bibliography under Internet Citations.

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