Fort Clinch aerial view, October, 2003
|Location||Amelia Island, Nassau County, Florida|
|Architectural style||Brick Masonry|
|Visitation||167,000 (an average year)|
|Governing body||State of Florida|
|NRHP Reference #||72000343|
|Added to NRHP||November 15, 1972|
Fort Clinch is a 19th-century Third System masonry coastal fortification located on a peninsula near the northernmost point of Amelia Island in Nassau County, Florida. The fort lies to the northeast of Fernandina Beach at the entrance to the Cumberland Sound and lies within Fort Clinch State Park.
Since 1736 the site where Fort Clinch now stands has been occupied off and on by troops because it sits at the entrance to the St. Marys River and the Cumberland Sound.
Construction of a fort, later named Fort Clinch, was begun in 1847 after the end of the Second Seminole War. The actual compound is pentagonal in shape, with both inner and outer walls, and consists of almost five million bricks. There are corner bastions and embrasures in the outer walls and several structures in the interior courtyards, including a 2-story barracks. The fort was named in honor of General Duncan Lamont Clinch after his death in 1849. General Clinch fought in the War of 1812 and was an important figure in the First and Second Seminole Wars.
Confederate forces seized the fort in early 1861. It then provided a safe haven for Confederate blockade runners during the first year of the Civil War. However, rifled cannon had rendered its brick walls obsolete and in March 1862 General Robert E. Lee ordered its abandonment, preferring not to tie up scarce troops in its defense. Federal troops re-occupied it in early 1862. This gave the Union control of the adjacent Georgia and Florida coasts and the fort then served as the base of Union operations in the area throughout the Civil War.
The fort was placed on caretaker status in 1869 and remained so until 1898 when the Army again garrisoned it during the Spanish-American War. However, the Army abandoned it again in September of the same year.
The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began restoration during the 1930s, and in 1935, the State of Florida bought 256 acres (1.0 km2) that included the then-abandoned fort and the surrounding area. Fort Clinch State Park including the fort, opened to the public in 1938. The fort itself was closed to the public during World War II and used as a communications and security post, but re-opened after the war ended. The fort was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. State Park personnel reenact military life at the fort, which is open from 8:00am till sundown, year-round.
- "National Register of Historical Places - Florida (FL), Nassau County". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-02-20.
- Amelia Now Magazine website: Fort Clinch State Park-Something for Everyone
- National Park Service website: Florida Historic Places-Fort Clinch
- Nassau County listings at National Register of Historic Places
- Nassau County listings at Florida's Office of Cultural and Historical Programs
- Florida Historic Places - Fort Clinch at The National Park Service - Links to the Past
- Exploring Florida - Fort Clinch Photo Gallery at The Florida Center for Instructional Technology