Fort Taylor (2)

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Fort Taylor (2) (1846-1947) - Construction of this Third System Fort began in Jun 1845 and was essentially complete in 1866. Named for Zachary Taylor and also known as Fort Zachary Taylor. Declared surplus and turned over to the Navy in 1947.

Fort Taylor 1872, by Seth Eastman
Fort Taylor from the land side 1861
Fort Taylor North Casemates and Barracks
Fort Taylor South East Bastion


Fort Taylor Lower Casemates

Fort Taylor was designed as a three-tiered, double casemated, Third System brick and masonry fort in the shape of a trapezoid. The land face was 495' long and the seaward curtains were 255' long each. There were four bastions, three seaward facing curtains and one land facing gorge.

The fort was located offshore about 1000' on the southwestern side of Key West Island, Florida.

The landward side of the fort was to be protected by a large casemated cover face located on Key West itself, directly across from the fort with a drawbridge connecting them. The cover face was to have mounted 48 guns but was never built.

Fort Taylor Barracks

Construction began in Jun 1845 by the end of 1860 the fort was ready for occupancy and by 1866 it was completed. When completed the Fort could mount 140 cannons and house 450 men. The armament varied over the years but by the end of the U.S. Civil War, it mounted some of the largest smoothbore cannons the Union had and the best-rifled Parrot guns available.

Later modifications to the fort during the Endicott Period reduced the fort to a single tier of casemates to reduce the possibility of enemy damage to the brick walls.

Key West Barracks, built in 1831, provided a support facility in Key West during the construction and garrisoning of Fort Taylor.

Martello Towers

Two Martello Towers were constructed along the eastern shore of Key West as defensive structures for the fort itself. Each tower was fronted by a casemated battery with positions for 14 guns. The towers were square structures with a single tier of two-story casemates. On top of each tower was a barbette tier with four gun emplacements.

The two towers were called Martello Tower 1 (West) and Martello Tower 2 (East). Tower 1 was located near the corner of Atlantic Blvd. and White Street. During the Endicott Period Tower 1 was modified and Battery Inman placed where the frontal casemates were originally located. Tower 2 is located at the southeastern end of South Roosevelt Blvd.

Martello Tower 1 Plan 1934

U.S. Civil War

Rodman Cannon in Casemate

Union troops secured the fort for the Union 15 Jan 1861 and by March 1861 the fort had a complement of 178 guns. Fort Taylor, Fort Jefferson, and Fort Pickens were held by Union forces throughout the U.S. Civil War. Fort Taylor served as headquarters for the Union Navy East Gulf Coast Blockading Squadron and guarded some 300 captured vessels anchored in front of the fort. Fort Taylor never saw hostile action.

Fort Taylor U.S. Civil War Battery (edit list)
Click on Battery links below
No. Caliber Type Mount Service Years Notes
Battery Unnamed 6 10" Columbiads 1861-18??
Battery Unnamed 83 8" Columbiads 1861-18??
Battery Unnamed 42 42-Pounder 1861-18??
Battery Unnamed 11 32-Pounder Howitzer 1861-18??
Battery Unnamed 36 24-Pounder Howitzer 1861-18??
Source: CDSG

Endicott Period

Rodman Cannons Used as Fill

Fort Taylor was upgraded during the Endicott Period with 10 reinforced concrete gun batteries in and around the fort proper. The top two tiers of casemates were removed and two newer coastal artillery batteries were built into the South and West casemates. Battery Osceola was built into the South casemates and Battery Adair was built into the West casemates. Fill for the cavities was provided from destroyed casemates and obsolete artillery pieces. Excavations in the 1960s and 1970s recovered many of the artillery pieces now displayed and exposed others. General Order 43, 4 Apr 1900, designated the entire military reservation around the old Fort Taylor as Fort Taylor, encompassing the new batteries.

All ten batteries were started between 1897 and 1904 and all were completed by 1904 and accepted for service by 1906. Accepted for service did not necessarily mean that they were armed, and it was 1917 before all were armed. Battery Inman was built into the West Martillo Tower.

Fort Taylor Endicott Period Battery (edit list)
Click on Battery links below
No. Caliber Type Mount Service Years Notes
Battery Seminole 8 12" Mortar 1897-1903-1904-1942 Armament sold & removed 15 Dec 1944
Battery Osceola 2 12" Barbette 1898-1899-1900-1943 Armament sold & removed 16 Oct 1944
Battery De Leon 4 10" Disappearing 1897-1903-1904-1942 Battery destroyed 1962
Battery Covington 2 8" Disappearing 1897-1903-1904-1917 Battery destroyed 1962
Battery De Kalb 2 6" Pedestal 1904-1904-1906-1917 Battery destroyed 1950s
Battery Gardiner 2 4.72" Pedestal 1898-1899-1900-1913 British Armstrong Guns
Guns & Carriages to Hawaii Jul 1913
Battery destroyed 1962
Battery Ford 2 3" Pedestal 1903-1904-1906-1946 Battery destroyed 1964
Battery Inman 2 3" Pedestal 1904-1904-1906-1946 In West Martello Tower
Battery Dilworth 2 3" Masking Parapet 1899-1900-1901-1920 Battery destroyed 1970s
Battery Adair 4 3" Masking Parapet 1899-1901-1904-1920
Source: CDSG
Fort Taylor Plan 1921

World War II

World War II brought the Coast Artillery Modernization Program to Fort Taylor and Key West. Two standard 200 series batteries, Battery 231 and Battery 232 were built and finished but Battery 231 never received its gun tubes. The plan was to replace and deactivate Battery Seminole and Battery Osceola as soon as the two 200 series batteries were complete. Two Anti-Torpedo Motor Boat (AMTB) batteries, Battery AMTB 5 and Battery AMTB 6, were installed with the dual mission of anti-aircraft and torpedo motorboat defense. Each AMTB battery had two shielded 90mm fixed gun positions and two 37mm guns on mobile carriages.

In addition to these batteries, Battery Ford and Battery Inman remained operational through the end of the war. Anti-aircraft guns were installed on Battery Adair in 1943 and at other locations. The guns and carriages for Battery Seminole and Battery Osceola were sold for salvage and removed in 1944. The remaining Endicott Period batteries had been deactivated by the beginning of World War II.

Additional defensive equipment including searchlights and radar were employed at Fort Taylor and sub-posts.

Fort Taylor World War II Battery (edit list)
Click on Battery links below
No. Caliber Type Mount Service Years Notes
Battery 231 2 6" LR Shielded Barbette 1943-194? Not armed
Battery 232 2 6" LR Shielded Barbette 1944-1946 East of Martello Tower
Salt Ponds Military Reservation (airport)
Battery AMTB 5 - Fort Taylor 2
Fixed Pedestal
1943-1946 One emplacement on Battery Adair
Battery AMTB 6 - West Martello Tower 2
Fixed Pedestal
1943-1946 Near West Martello Tower
Battery 155 - Fort Taylor 4 155mm Panama Mounts 1940-1943 2 on Battery De Leon
2 on Battery Covington
Battery 155 - West Martello Tower 4 155mm Panama Mounts 1942-1942 Near West Martello Tower
Battery 155 - East Martello Tower 4 155mm Panama Mounts 1943-1944 Near East Martello Tower
Source: CDSG
Fort Taylor Batteries 1945

Current Status

The fort site was transferred to the Navy in 1947 and was used a storage yard for scrap metal. The Department of the Interior took over the property until it was deeded to the State of Florida in 1976. The fort is now a Florida State Park.

Location: Key West, Florida.

Maps & Images

Lat: 24.547884 Long: -81.810207



Visited: 27 Dec 2009

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