Earlier this week we made a visit to Fort Clinch, a well preserved military installation in a beautiful state park on Amelia Island, just on the border of Florida and Georgia. Throughout it’s long history, Amelia Island has been under the governance of eight flags, and was first settled by the French in 1562. For the next few hundred years, the island passed back and forth between the French, the British, and the Spanish, finally falling into American hands in 1821. My laughably brief history doesn’t even cover the period during the Regency when Amelia Island was under the control of pirates and smugglers – I’ll cover that in another Regency Friday Fun post in the next few weeks.
As you can tell, Amelia Island had a tumultuous history and was considered by all its occupiers to have great strategic importance. In 1842, the U.S. government purchased a tract of land on the northern tip of the island, on which to build a military installation to guard the mouth of the St. Mary’s River and to defend the deepwater port of Amelia’s thriving town, Fernandina. Construction began on the fort in 1847, but was as yet uncompleted by the start of the Civil War. With no federal garrison on site, the Confederate Army claimed it until 1862, when federal gunboats and troops moved in to reestablish Union control. Units of Army engineers than began a push to complete the fort.
Today, Fort Clinch is preserved as it was during the Civil War and its occupation by the 1st New York Volunteer Engineers. The guides are trained reenactors, much like those in Williamsburg, Virginia. They do a great job showcasing life at the fort during the Civil War.
The fort itself is a large set of fortifications on the beach, with some of the rooms built right into the massive walls. As you can see from the picture at the top of the page, it was a cold and gloomy day when we visited. We scuttled over the Officer’s Kitchen, which had a fire going and was the warmest room at the fort. The kitchen also served as the dining room, and held a degree of elegance since the table was set with linen and proper china and cutlery.
Also in the kitchen was an impressive display of pots and pans.
The Guard Rooms, where the off-duty guard contingent stayed, also felt pretty cozy on a blustery day, and the men stationed there clearly tried to make the room something more than a utilitarian bunkhouse.
The clock is beautiful, and the presence of the chess board on the mantelpiece indicates how the men passed their time. But make no mistake – this was a working fort, with a pretty spare way of living, especially for the enlisted men. Here are their barracks, complete with rifle rack to store their weapons.
Here’s a closeup of the rifle rack, which gives you an idea of how many men probably shared the same living space.
You’ll no doubt be shocked to hear that the officers didn’t reside at the fort but in town, living in the beautiful Victorian houses that lined the streets of Fernandina.
But the men at the fort obviously preferred it that way. After all, they were doing all the work, while the officers just mucked things up and made life difficult. According to our guide, the soldiers and engineers breathed a collective sigh of relief on the days when the officers stayed in town. It’s amazing how some things never change.
I have lots more pictures of Fort Clinch, but I’ll save those for another post. And since it’s Friday, I’m doing a book giveaway. It’s a copy of Lord Of The Isles, a paranormal Highland historical by my very talented friend, Debbie Mazzuca. All you have to do to win is tell me what’s your favorite historical site or park to visit. Fort Clinch is certainly one of my favorites, and well worth the visit.
11 thoughts on “Regency Friday Fun (not really) and Giveaway”
One of my most favorite historical sites to visit is Warwick Castle in England. The castle is full of so much history and, the grounds are absolutely stunning. I highly recommend this castle as a “must see historical site”.
Warwick Castle is beautiful, Diane. Another castle I really enjoyed visiting was Sudeley Castle, in the Cotswalds.
I’ve never been to Sudeley Castle Vanessa. I feel bad about that considering that I lived in Oxfordshire for 20 years. Actually, I have to confess that I’ve seen more of England since I left there 20 years ago as I always go sightseeing when I go home for a visit.
My husband is a Civil War fanatic and his favorite battlefield to visit is Gettsburg. His mother lives in Savannah which is so close to Amelia Island I can’t believe we never took the time to visit Fort Clinch – definately on the schedule for our next visit.
My favorite American Revolution site is Cow Pens which is near Greenville, SC where my son and his family lives – yes it was one of the battles in the movie The Patriot.
Our last trip south we even went to Appomatox and believe it or not were the only ones there! A National Site but miles and hours away from anything else. Definately work the trip.
On a vacation to Scotland we “found” Linlithgow Palace the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots which was fascinating! It has been occupied at different periods of history by both the Scots and English and destroyed and re-built several times. The fountain is not to be missed. Once again we were the only ones there when we visited and it was amazing to have the Palace all to ourselves!
Jeanne, you must go to Fort Clinch. It’s a fabulous park and historic site, and mostly undiscovered.
I have not traveled very much so I have not seen many historical spots. I have been to Alcatraz I guess that is historical. I found it horrible and amazing at the same time! It was kinda eerie at night too since it is supposed to be haunted. Thanks for sharing with us today. Great post!
Johanna, Alcatraz totally counts. Thanks for stopping by!
Diane, it seems like we never visit the sites closest to us, doesn’t it?
I have been to Windsor Castle several times, Stonehenge and Hampton Court Palace. They were all wonderful in their own ways. If I had to pick my favorite historical site in England it would be the Roman Baths in Bath. I have never seen anything that interesting since. The city of Bath is gorgeous. I understand why Jane Austen wrote it into most of her books.
Stacie, I adore Bath!
I dugg some of you post as I thought they were handy very helpful