Saturday, December 5, 2009

Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park - Jacksonville, Florida

At Dame's Point point on the north shore of the St. Johns River, an all but forgotten Florida state park preserves the earthwork remains of Yellow Bluff Fort, built by Southern forces in 1862 to defend Jacksonville from Union attack.

Yellow Bluff Fort Historic State Park was established in the 1950s, but remains largely undeveloped. A monument and a few corroded iron cannon dot the grounds, which consist of a few acres surrounding the earthen battery built by Confederate troops in September of 1862. The important east coast ports of Fernandina and St. Augustine had fallen that month, but the South determined to wage a stronger fight for control of Jacksonville and the vital St. Johns River. Major fortifications were built on St. Johns Bluff near today's Fort Caroline National Memorial and at Yellow Bluff, which commanded a sweeping bend of the St. Johns and an important anchorage.

Although Southern engineers planned to place seven pieces of heavy artillery at Yellow Bluff, the fort was armed only with light field pieces when the Union attack on the St. Johns was launched in early October. Although the garrison at St. Johns Bluff threw back the initial attacks, the commander there evacuated his works before the main Union attack could place. The controversial move gave Federal forces control of the important position and rendered the unfinished fort at Yellow Bluff untenable. The site was evacuated by Confederate forces and the U.S. flag was raised over the earthworks on October 5, 1862. Held by Union troops off and on for the rest of the war, it was used as a camp and signal station.

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