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by Clyde Powell

 

 







 


Key West Area Parks Dry Tortugas National Park
from 1857-1889

History of Fort Jefferson and the Dry Tortugas

bullet1857 The walls at Fort Jefferson started to crack as the main wall reached
a height of 15 feet.
 
bullet1858 As the main wall reached a height of 20 feet the first tier of the Fort
was almost complete.
 
bullet1860 The main wall reached 35 feet. It's final height of 45 feet was done 1862.
The construction done by the Army continued thru 1875. Fort Jefferson was
never fully completed.
 
bullet1861 The first prisoners started arriving at Fort Jefferson.
 
bullet1862 Test done at Fort Pulaski Georgia showed that the new rifled cannons now
being put into service are able to breach an eight foot thick wall in 9 hours.
This made all masonry Forts obsolete.
 
bullet1863 Work continued during the Civil War. The barracks and officers quarters
were finished with most of the work now being done by prison labor.
 
bullet1864 The number of prisoners grew to about 800. President Lincoln commuted
the death penalties for deserters to imprisonment at Fort Jefferson. These men
most from the Union Army work in the construction battalion.
 
bullet1865 Doctor Samuel Mudd, Edward Spangler, Michael O'Laughin and Samuel Arnold
arrived at the Fort. All convicted Lincoln Conspirators. Mudd being the most noted
for setting the leg of John Booth after he broke it jumping from the balcony after
shooting President Lincoln.
 
bullet1867 Yellow Fever hits Fort Jefferson. Of the 400 people at the fort 270 got the
fever. The Surgeon at the Fort and all four of the nurses at the hospital died.
Dr. Samuel Mudd and Dr. Daniel Whitehurst returning from Key West fought and
lived the battle against the fever. Mudd's action during this time of crisis help
lead to his pardon in 1869.
 
bullet1870 The construction continues with prison labor. The old guns replaced by the
new rifled guns, plus big 15 inch Rodmans.
 
bullet1873 With the finishing of the moat wall the moat's final depth was reach.
Another outbreak of Yellow Fever hits the Fort.
 
bullet1875 The Army construction came to an end at Fort Jefferson.
 
bullet1882 The Fort became part of the Navy program.
 
bullet1888 Loggerhead, Bird and Garden Keys were set up as a new national quarantine
station. It handled it's first case of smallpox in 1889.

Clyde's Key West Parks
 


Prices are subject to change   Give Mike a call for the current pricing