1500 - 1763 Discovery and First Spanish Period
1763 - 1783 English Period
1783 - 1821 Second Spanish Period
1821 - 1845 Territorial Period
1845 - Statehood
and Later
1861 - 1865 Civil War
Gulf Stream The Mapping of the Current


Fernandina on the northeast coast of Florida was an important part of the smuggling of slaves into the southern states after the passage of a law, making slavery illegal in the U.S in 1808. Its location near St. Marys River and Nassau River and not too far north of the St. Johns River also made it a valuable port for supplying food, supplies and ammunition to the confederate troops and Florida militia.

Nearby railroads led to Cedar Key and from Jacksonville west to Tallahassee and the Georgia/Alabama border. Even though Pensacola was a larger city and port, other ports on the Florida Peninsula such as St. Augustine and Key West were held by the Union and Cedar Key was blockaded very early (January 1862). This made Fernandina and Jacksonville more important. Ft. Clinch and sand dunes were the defenses of the town of Fernandina. In March 1862, a Union ship sailed into the bay at Fernandina. Having heard that the ship had left Port Royal (in S.C.) most of the inhabitants deserted the town of Fernandina. Consequently the takeover by union troops was easy. From there they sailed to Jacksonville.

This early 1771 map of the entrance to the St. Marys River shows Fernandina as “New Settlement.” This later became the “Old Town” but it shows its importance as a port because of its proximity to two or three rivers of smuggling.

John Percival, Earl of Egmont was one of the chief promoters of Georgia around 1743.

Historical Maps of North America
Swift, Michael

Florida Oriental. Boca y Barra del Rio Sta. Maria

This earlier chart shows the entrance and bar of the St. Marys River and a tiny town labeled Sta. Maria in the later Fernandina site. It was made by the Spanish during the Second Spanish Period (1768-1821) when Florida was the last Spanish possession in the eastern U.S. area. North is to the right.