Fort George Park
A small section of the fort has been
reconstruced at the intersection of
Palafox and La Rua Streets in
Revolutionary War Cannon
A pair of British guns frown from the
rampart of Fort George, aiming out at
the downtown buildings.
|British Cannon at Fort George
An 18th century British cannon aims out at Palafox
Street in Pensacola from the site of Fort George.
British Fort in Pensacola, Florida
Fort George is an often overlooked but
significant historic landmark in Pensacola,
Florida. A small park at the intersection of
Palafox and La Rua Streets preserves a
portion of the original site.
The fort was built by the British when they
occupied Pensacola from 1763-1781. It was
a major target of allied forces during the
Battle of Pensacola, a little known but highly
important of the American Revolution.
When the British took possession of Florida
following the French and Indian War, they
found Pensacola to be poorly defended. The
Spanish had built a number of forts over the
years but they were in ruins. British forces
accordinlyg launched an aggressive effort to
modernize both the city and its fortifications.
This intensified with the outbreak of the
Revolutionary War in 1775 and gained more
momentum when France and Spain forged
an alliance with the American colonies.
The downtown area, then the entire city, was
surrounded by a strong stockade and a new
redoubt was built on the red clay bluffs where
Fort Barrancas stands today. The real key to
the defense of Pensacola, however, was Fort
The strong bastioned fort was located on
Gage Hill, the name given by the British to the
commanding hill that overlooks downtown
Pensacola. It can easily be seen today by
looking up Palafox Street from downtown.
A strong "horn work" led down the hill toward
the town stockade and, like the main fort
itself, was liberally supplied with cannon.
Because Fort George was commanded by
even higher ground to the north, the British
built two more redoubts to protect the fort.
The first of these, called the Prince of Wales
Redoubt, was located 300 yards north of Fort
Georgie. The second, the Queen's Redoubt,
was 300 yards beyond the Prince of Wales.
Both redoubts could be held by independent
garrisons in the event of a siege and both
were armed with heavy artillery.
The defenses of Fort George were finally
tested on March 9, 1781, when a Spanish
and French fleet led by General Bernardo de
Galvez arrived off the mouth of Pensacola
Bay. Nine days later the fleet stormed into the
bay, despite cannon fire from the batteries at
the red cliffs.
The British were unsure of whether Galvez
planned to lay siege to Pensacola or use his
ships to blockade the city. He did both.
The general spent six weeks moving his
thousands of troops (including 25 American
volunteers) into position. By the end of April,
however, he had moved land batteries to
within range of Fort George.
Heavy barrages of cannon fire shook the
ground for miles around as the two armies
engaged in fierce combat. The Spanish
batteries were pushed closer and closer,
despite counter attacks by British troops and
their Creek and Seminole allies.
The climactic moment came on May 8, 1781,
when Spanish shot blew up the powder
magazine in the Queen's Redoubt. Galvez
sent his troops forward to occupy the wreck
of the redoubt and quickly moved cannon into
position to fire on Fort George from the ruins.
Fort George could not be held and British
General John Campbell raised the white flag
over its ramparts. Pensacola fell to the allies..
The Battle of Pensacola was one of the
largest engagements of the Revolutionary
War. It completed a campaign by Galvez that
drove the British out of the Gulf Coast and
lower Mississippi River valley.
The Spanish now occupied the fort and
renamed it Fort San Miguel. The remained
the primary defense of Colonial Pensacola
for the next four decades.
British troops occupied the fort during the
War of 1812, this time as guests of the
Spanish governor. They strengthened its
deteriorating walls and used it as a base for
an attack against Fort Bowyer, a U.S. post at
the entrance to Mobile Bay.
The attack failed and brought the wrath of
Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson down on the city.
He led an army from the Mississippi Territory
(today's Alabama) into Spanish Florida and
attacked Pensacola. A sharp fight took place
but the Stars and Stripes soon flew from the
flagstaff at Fort San Miguel (called Fort St.
Michael by the British and Americans).
The War of 1812's Battle of Pensacola took
place on November 7, 1814. Creek and
Seminole warriors were involved in the
Jackson evacuated the city after watching the
last of the British ships sail away. His men
maintained strict discipline and both the
citizens and officials of Pensacola expressed
gratitude for the preservation of their rights
The U.S. flag flew over Fort St. Michael again
in 1818 when Jackson returned and seized
the city during the First Seminole War. Spain
had been providing food, arms and other
supplies to refugee Native American families.
The United States took permanent
possession of Florida in 1821 but the old fort
was too dilapidated to be of further service.
The site was found by archaeologists during
the 1970s and a small section of Fort George
was reconstructed. Fort George Park, at the
intersection of Palafox and La Rua, includes
displays and interpretive panels on the
history of the fort, a marker detailing the
Battle of Pensacola, and the reconstructed
section of ramparts which features two 18th
century British cannon. The rest of the site is
now under houses and other structures.
Bernardo de Galvez
A bust of Bernardo de Galvez
stands at Fort George, paying
tribute to the Spanish general who
The Battle of Pensacola
Fort George was a focal point of the
Battle of Pensacola, a major
Revolutionary War engagement.
Site of St. Michael
Fort George was renamed Fort San
Miguel (Fort St. Michael) by Spain. It
was occupied by the British during the
War of 1812 and seized by the U.S.
Army in 1814 and 1818.
|Copyright 2017 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated August 17, 2017
(Some contents Copyright 2010)
FORT GEORGE PARK
American Revolution in the South