Friday, May 30, 2008
Apalachicola River, Part 23
The earthworks of Fort Gadsden, seen here, remain in remarkably good condition today and obviously were still substantial at the time of the Civil War.
Following the evacuation of Apalachicola in March of 1862, the Confederates withdrew up the Apalachicola River to Ricco's Bluff. Southern engineers, however, soon began an examination of points along the river that might be better suited for defenses.
One of the points they considered was Fort Gadsden. At least one Confederate engineer recommended the construction of artillery emplacements at the site, but the bluff's reputation for sickness overruled the recommendation.
Even so, the Confederates did use the fort as an advanced post from 1863 until 1865. Small detachments of men, sometimes accompanied by a battery of field artillery, camped within the old Seminole War earthworks and erected what was described as a "guardhouse" here. Sickness remained an issue, however, and the men were constantly ill from fevers.
By 1865, only a small squad of men from the 5th Florida Cavalry were at Fort Gadsden when the Union Navy sent a boat party over from St. Andrew Bay to attack Ricco's Bluff. A portion of this force dropped down the Apalachicola to Fort Gadsden and captured the handful of men there, apparently without firing a shot. It is not clear if the fort was occupied by Confederates after that point.
In our next post, we will look at Fort Gadsden Historic Site as it appears today.