Fort Gadsden

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Fort Gadsden (1818-1821) - First established in 1818 as Fort Apalachicola by Lt. James Gadsden, U.S. Engineer Corps, on the site of earlier forts, British Post, Fort Nicolls and Negro Fort. Later renamed Fort Gadsden after Lt. James Gadsden who rebuilt the Fort. Abandoned in 1821.

Fort Gadsden Parade
Fort Gadsden Plan
Fort Gadsden Earthworks Panorama

Earlier Fortifications

Location of the exploded British Fort Magazine

The original fortification at this location was a British post built by Ltc. Edward Nicolls, a British Royal Marine, during the War of 1812 with the intent of recruiting Indian allies. Under the British the post was known as the British Post and Fort Nicolls. The War of 1812 ended a few months after the fort was established and the British left the fort early in 1815. The fully equipped fort was left to 300 escaped slaves and some 30 Seminole and Choctaw Indians. The fort became known as the Negro Fort and served as a gathering point for escaped slaves.

On 17 Jul 1816 the Negro Fort fired upon a passing U.S. Naval Force on the Apalachicola River and four Americans were killed. This action triggered an attack on the fort by U.S. Forces who succeeded in blowing up the magazine in the fort. The destruction of the fort was almost complete and most of the defenders were killed by the blast or by Creek Indian allies of the U.S. forces, surviving ex-slaves were returned to slavery.

Fort Gadsden History

In 1818, during the First Seminole War, General Andrew Jackson sent Lt. James Gadsden, U.S. Engineer Corps, to the site of the earlier forts to rebuild the fortifications. The reconstructed fort was an octagonal earthwork fortification with a magazine and 15-foot bastions named Fort Apalachicola. Jackson was so pleased by Gadson efforts that he ordered the fort renamed Fort Gadsden. The fort was garrisoned until Florida was ceded to the U.S. in 1819 and then abandoned in 1821. There is some evidence that the site was used during the later Seminole Wars but not garrisoned.

U.S. Civil War

Confederate troops garrisoned the fort between 1862 and July 1863 when malaria forced them to abandon the site.

Current Status

Fort Gadsden Entrance Sign at the End of Fort Gadsden Road

Part of Fort Gadsden State Historic Site, Franklin County, Florida. Difficult to find as the signage is limited and some is missing. Look for the intersection of Hwy 65 and Brickyard Road and travel down Brickyard Road until you reach Fort Gadsden Road on the left. The parking area is at the end of Fort Gadsden Road and the fort is beyond that. The earthworks and some of the moat works remain. The old octagonal British Fort magazine is outlined with posts and marked with a small marker. There is a cemetery for those killed when the magazine exploded but it was down a path that was flooded when I visited and I did not visit it. There are some artifacts and a diorama on display.

Location: Fort Gadsden State Historic Site, Franklin County, Florida.

Maps & Images

Lat: 29.941389 Long: -85.0125

Sources:

Links:

Visited: 13 Feb 2010

Fort Gadsden Picture Gallery

Click on the picture to see a larger version. Contribute additional pictures - the more the better!

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