Historical Forts

Forts Of Nassau
Commonwealth of The Bahamas

The first man to contemplate the construction of a fort in The Bahamas was Christopher Columbus.  After landing on the Island of San Salvador and discovering the New World, the intrepid navigator wrote to the King and Queen of Spain, expressing his admiration for the beauty of the Islands and emphasizing the need to secure them for Spain.

"I wished," he reported, "to give a complete account to Your Highness, and also to find when a fort might be built."

The Spaniards, however, made no attempt to fortify The Bahamas.  On the contrary, a few years after their discovery by Columbus all the aboriginal inhabitants were transported to work the mines in Hispaniola (now known as the Republic of Haiti and the Dominican Republic).  The islands, abandoned, gradually fell under the control of Spain's greatest maritime rival, Britain.  Privateers terrorized the Spanish Main and were quick to appreciate the importance of the Islands as a base from which to attack homeward bound Spanish galleons which were accustomed to "rendezvous at the noted port of Havana before their return to Europe."

Several forts, including a stockade one in 1687, were built at New Providence, which had become the headquarters of numerous privateers.  The temptation to engage in piracy was strong - even the Governors of the Settlement, it is alleged, were obliged to co-operate or leave The Bahamas.  The Spaniards frequently attacked their tormentors, sometimes aided by French ships, and in 1684 they attacked New Providence and completely demolished the settlement.  The Governor was murdered, and most of the inhabitants fled.

In 1684 Charles 11 personally intervened to secure the enactment of a law for the punishment of pirates, but men undaunted by Spanish warships refused to be intimidated and in 1688 the refugees returned from Jamaica and established a community on more decorous lines.  However, piracy continued to be one of the principal industries.

An Act was passed in 1695 for the erection of the present town and a fort, called Nassau after King William III.

Fort Nassau

Fort Charlotte 

Fort Montagu 

Fort Fincastle 

All on one page: Fort Winton / Potter’s Cay /  Hog Island (Paradise Island) / Old Fort

All information courtesy of the Department of Archives, and/or Antiquities, Monuments, 
Further information can be obtained from the booklet Historic Forts of Nassau

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