Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Fort Gadsden Historic Site - Sumatra, Florida


Fort Gadsden, located on the Apalachicola River just south of the modern communityof Sumatra, is better known for its role in the First Seminole War than as a Confederate outpost.

Built in 1818 by the army of Andrew Jackson, the old fort occupies the site of the British Post on the Apalachicola (called "Negro Fort" by U.S. authorities). The original fort was destroyed by a cannon shot from an American gunboat on July 27, 1816. The "hot shot" cannonball struck the gunpowder magazine killing 270 of the 320 men, women and children at the fort in one of the deadliest single shots in American history.

Jackson later picked the site on the lower Apalachicola River for a supply depot. It was from here that he launched his two major campaigns against the Seminoles in Spanish Florida.

Abandoned following the cession of Florida from Spain to the United States in 1821, the fort served a minor role during the Second Seminole War but had been long abandoned when the Civil War erupted in 1861. Initially ignored by Confederate military planners, the fort was reoccupied in 1862 after the evacuation of the coastal defenses in the city of Apalachicola.

Infantry, artillery and eventually only a few pickets were stationed in the old earthwork through 1865 and the fort twice came under minor attack by the Union navy.

To learn more about the remarkable history of the site, please visit my new Fort Gadsden Historic Site pages at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/fortgadsden.

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