Poised to protect a valuable harbor off the tip of Florida was one of the largest forts ever built. Nearly thirty years in the making (1846-1875), Fort Jefferson was never finished nor fully armed. Yet it was a vital link in a chain of coastal #forts
that stretched from Maine to California. Fort Jefferson, the most sophisticated of these, was a brilliant and undeniable symbol that the United States wanted to be left alone. Though never attacked, the fort fulfilled its intended role. It helped to protect the peace and prosperity of a young nation.
During the Civil War, Union warships used the harbor in their campaign to blockade Southern shipping. The fort was also used as a prison. Its most famous prisoner was Dr. Samuel Mudd, the physician who set the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth.
Abandoned by the Army in 1874, the fort was later used as a coaling station for warships. Though used briefly during both world wars, the #fort
’s final chapter as “Guardian of the Gulf” had long since closed.
Image: An estimated 16 million bricks were used during the construction of Fort Jefferson.
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