A Bit of History: The Cannons at Fortsberg

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For years, I’ve heard about cannons that were located out in Fortsberg, a section of the island just beyond Coral Bay. So on Sunday, I set out to find them.

(Full disclosure: When I was looking for the cannons, I thought I was traversing public land within the National Park. I subsequently learned, after contacting a real estate agent, that the land is in fact private. He stated that the “No Trespassing” signs have repeatedly been removed. So while I’m excited to share this very interesting piece of history with all of you, please do not seek out to find it yourselves.)

The arrow points to the Fortsberg area on St. John.
The arrow points to the Fortsberg area on St. John.

The ruins of Fortsberg are that of a typical 18th-century citadel fortress, according to the National Park Service. There are also ruins of a supporting shore battery, which is where I found five cannons, about 1,000 feet southeast of the fort. Check out a few pics:

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From the National Park Service:

“Begun in 1717, (Fortsberg) was the site of a successful slave rebellion on November 23, 1733. Seizing the fort, the liberated African slaves massacred the garrison and occupied most of the plantations on St. John. When two attempts by the Danish authorities failed to suppress the rebellion, 400 French soldiers from Martinique were called in. After six months of fighting, the rebellion was quashed. In 1760, four bastions and a gun deck were added to the fort. During the Napoleonic Wars, the fort and adjacent battery were occupied by the British in 1801, and again from 1807 to 1815.”

For those of you who have been following News of St. John for quite some time, you may recall when workers from Public Works found three cannons while cleaning up Cruz Bay beach. Here is a picture of what they found courtesy of St. John Source:

Image credit: St. John Source
Image credit: St. John Source

So as it turns out, this section of land happens to be listed for sale. Contact Tropical Properties at (340) 776-6862 for more information. In the meantime, check out this quick video we shot of the property’s incredible view:

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