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Fort Fincastle, The Small However Mighty Flatiron Protector of The Bahamas

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The Bahamas is comprised of 700 islands in addition to 1000’s of rocks and cays (low banks of coral reefs) unfold out over 100,000 sq. miles of ocean. It’s an ecological paradise with a few of the clearest waters on Earth, however there may be extra to discover than simply stunning seashores. It’s also a nation with a turbulent historical past and engaging historic websites, one being Fort Fincastle.

The fort is a exceptional instance of early fashionable navy engineering and structure, probably the most vital examples of a navy fortress in all the Caribbean.

A Temporary Historical past of the Bahamas

In 1492, when Christopher Columbus set sail to find new wealth and lands, he disembarked on one of many Bahamian islands. The islands had been inhabited by Amerindian tribes till the approaching of the Spanish.

After the collapse of the native inhabitants due to exploitation and illness, the Spanish uncared for the islands. They have been later utilized by English pirates who turned the islands right into a ‘pirate republic’. The English crown prolonged their management over the islands within the 18 th century when Nassau was constructed and developed. 

New Windfall Raid, March 1776 by V. Zveg, 1973, depicting Continental Sailors and Marines touchdown on New Windfall Island, Bahamas ( Public Area )

The Bahamas turned a big sugar cane producer, primarily based mostly on slave labor. Throughout the American Struggle of Independence, Nassau was attacked twice by revolutionary forces. The Spanish briefly re-occupied the islands in early 1780s till the English regained management and strengthened their maintain over the Bahamas by constructing quite a lot of fortresses corresponding to Fort Fincastle.

The Constructing of Fort Fincastle

The fortress was inbuilt 1793 on Bennet’s Hill within the metropolis of Nassau, New Windfall Island. It overlooks Nassau and the bay and was designed to forestall a naval assault and to offer security for these resisting invaders, particularly from the newly impartial People.

Cannon at Fort Fincastle (Krinstinenoel / Adobe Stock)

Cannon at Fort Fincastle ( Krinstinenoel / Adobe Inventory)

Its development was overseen by the governor of the islands Lord Dunmore, who was an vital determine of their historical past, though in no way effectively regarded by the inhabitants. He named the fort for considered one of his many titles as he was Viscount of Fincastle in his native Scotland.

Sir Joshua Reynolds - John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore (Public Domain)

Sir Joshua Reynolds – John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore (Public Area )

Fort Fincastle was garrisoned by common English troops in addition to native militia. Though the Bahamas weren’t attacked in the course of the Napoleonic Wars within the early 19 th century, the fort was used as a lighthouse till one was constructed within the 1820s. After this, the fort was used as a sign station, particularly after it ceased to be a navy base and fortress. 

The Uncommon Design and the Well-known Queen’s Staircase

The fort is situated in a park that’s surrounded by street. It’s inbuilt a most uncommon form, consisting of a triangular and a semi-circular part. The form of the fort has usually been in comparison with a paddlewheel of a steamship. This design was widespread in Europe, however uncommon within the Americas and is what makes Fort Fincastle corresponding to vital web site.

The unusual triangular and semi-circular shape of Fort Fincastle (CC BY NC-2.0)

The bizarre triangular and semi-circular form of Fort Fincastle ( CC BY NC-2.0 )

The fort was constructed utilizing massive blocks of native limestone which additionally protected in opposition to cannon balls. Though comparatively small, it was constructed to go with the bigger Fort Charlotte .

A flight of stone stairs referred to as the ‘Queen’s staircase’ is used to entry the fort. This include 66 steps which have been hewn out of limestone rock by 600 slaves and allowed the native garrison to rapidly entry the fort. It was completed lengthy after the fort was constructed and named after Queen Victoria .

A view the bottom of Queen’s Staircase (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A view the underside of Queen’s Staircase ( CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Contained in the fort are quite a lot of artillery platforms with three rooms beneath which have been utilized by the garrison. Maybe essentially the most spectacular facet of the fort is the cannons that date from the 18 th and 19 th century. Initially there have been 5 cannons and one howitzer stationed on the fort.  These, together with two 24 pounders, two 32 pounders and two 12 pounder cannons mounted on the fortress, can nonetheless be seen. Smaller cannon which have been delivered to the positioning from elsewhere in recent times are located within the grounds. 

Exploring Fort Fincastle and the Surrounding Space

The fort is simple to seek out as it’s close to the middle of Nassau. An inexpensive admission price is charged and native guides, who’re all native volunteers, can be found. The fortress is compact but fascinating and could be seen in lower than an hour. Native teams wearing 19 th century uniforms maintain common re-enactments of life within the fort which is effectively price seeing.

High picture: Fort Fincastle                                                           Supply: CC BY 2.0

By Ed Whelan

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