Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Apalachicola River, Part Nineteen
Continuing our series on Civil War sites along Florida's Apalachicola River, this is one of the most significant historic sites in the United States.
The dark, slightly wet area running through the center of the photograph is what remains of the moat of the British Post on the Apalachicola, also called the "Negro Fort."
The events that took place here became a common fixture in Abolitionist writings during the decades leading up to the Civil War and helped ignite the anti-slavery movement in the North.
British troops led by Bvt. Lt. Col. Edward Nicolls (often misspelled as "Nichols") and Bvt. Major George Woodbine built a fort on this site in 1814. The War of 1812 was still raging at that time and the British were shifting their focus to the Gulf Coast in anticipation of the invasion that ended at the Battle of New Orleans.
As part of their planned Southern campaign, British leaders ordered Nicolls to recruit a large force of Creek and Seminole warriors and to issue a proclamation offering freedom to any African American slave who could reach the British Post. The effort was successful and several thousand Creek, Seminole and black soldiers joined the British force. The fort on the lower Apalachicola was used as a training and supply base for these volunteers. They were given basic military training and provided with British arms and uniforms.
Although a few of the leaders of this organization were present at the Battle of New Orleans and others fought at the Battle of Fort Bowyer (Mobile Bay), the main force never saw action. The Treaty of Ghent ended the War of 1812 before they could begin their anticipated invasion of Georgia.
Nicolls and his British troops abandoned the fort during the late spring of 1815, leaving it in the hands of his former allies along with a huge supply of small arms, ammunition and light and heavy artillery.
We will continue our look at this site when our series continues.