Old Fort of Nassau
|Old Fort Nassau|
|Old Fort Nassau, The Bahamas|
|Condition||Destroyed and replaced by British Colonial Hilton Nassau|
|Built by||William III|
The fort was a fort in Nassau, Bahamas, first built in 1697 and lasted for nearly two hundred years with a rich legacy of history until it was finally demolished in 1897. It was located on the north side of Marlborough St., on the site of the current British Colonial Hilton Nassau. Remnants of the old walls can be seen on the hotel grounds. For many years it was the only fort in Nassau.
Even though Columbus was the first to think of building forts first in his newfound islands in Bahamas to secure it for Spain, it was put into action only in 1687 by private people with intent on piracy oriented actions, with the tacit compliance of the then governors of the islands, in the Caribbean. The reason for establishing the fort at Bahamas was the sacking of the town and killing of the British Governor by the Spanish with support from French ships which had caused the islanders to flee. In order to prevent further such attacks, at the intervention of Charles II, in 1684 the town was resettled. In order to make the town more secure an Act was passed in 1695 not only for building of the town but also to build a defensive fort. This fort was built in 1697 and named as Nassau, after King William III (House of Orange-Nassau). It underwent several invasions, rebuilding and final dismantling in 1897.
When built first in 1697 the fort was fortified with 22 cannon. In just about 3 years, part of the fort was damaged in an attack by the Spaniards in 1700, and two years later in 1702 Governor Elias Haskett was imprisoned in the fort. The allied forces of Spain and France attacked New Providence when the fort suffered severe damages with the guns getting immobilized and the inhabitants forced to leave the town. Soon pirates operating from the fort became a common event.
However, on the urgings of the business community of London, George I sent forces, in 1718, to govern the island and to get rid of piratic operations. The governor set to action by restoring the island to normalcy when only one nine pounder cannon was found in the fort in total disrepair. It was only in 1741, a serious effort was made to get the fort restored under the guidance of an experienced engineer. The fort was renovated in 1744 with 54 cannon and 26 brass mortars. The process of neglect and frequent repairs followed and in 1776 the fort was attacked by the American Colonies who were fighting the British forces, to capture the ammunition stored here. The American naval Forces found only 100 guns since the ammunition had been stealthily moved to Boston before the attack. However, the Governor had been taken hostage in the bargain.
The last act of attack on the fort was by the Spaniards in 1782, when they took control of the fort and held it till 1783 until the war with England ended in 1783. During this time, the valiant effort made by Colonel Deveaux to recapture the fort was fruitful, bringing an end to the saga of repeated attack and destruction of the fort. The fort was garrisoned in 1787 and a new fort (Fort Charlotte) was ordered to be built to defend the island. In the French revolution that followed, the old fort was allowed to remain in state of disrepair till it was decided to fully demolish it in 1897.
The fort had been built of stone in the shape of a 4-pointed star with its two high walled ends projecting northward into the harbour. The fort guarded the western end of the port. However, the reasons for the repeated damages suffered by the fort were attributed to its strategically poor location on a hill promontory which could be easily attacked from the higher hills to its south from where it was subjected to frequent and effective bombardments even with smaller sized guns.
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- Theodore P. Savas; J. David Dameron (24 May 2010). A Guide to the Battles of the American Revolution. Casemate Publishers. pp. 42–. ISBN 978-1-932714-94-4. Retrieved 26 April 2011.
- John J. McCusker (1997). Essays in the economic history of the Atlantic world. Psychology Press. pp. 274–. ISBN 978-0-415-16841-0. Retrieved 26 April 2011.