ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Battle of Baton Rouge, Louisiana
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - The Battle of Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Battle of Baton Rouge, Louisiana
A Revolutionary War cannon can be seen atop an
Indian mound near the Louisiana State Capitol. It
commemorates the Battle of Baton Rouge.
Battle of Baton Rouge (1779)
The city of Baton Rouge now
covers the battlefield, seen
here from above along the
right side of the photograph.
Site of the Fort
The British fort overlooked the
Mississippi River. Its ruins
were found by archaeologists
adjacent to the Pentagon
Barracks (seen at right).
Battle of Baton Rouge (1779) - Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Revolutionary War in Louisiana
Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Update: August 12, 2012
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The American Revolution
A memorial commemorates
the Louisiana battle that
ended British control of the
Mississippi River.
Spanish Battery Site
A marker near the riverfront in
downtown Baton Rouge
marks the site of a six-cannon
Spanish battery.
American Revolution in the South
The British fort at Baton Rouge, Louisiana,
fell on September 21, 1779, in one of the
least known yet highly important battles of the
American Revolution.

While the alliance of France with the fledgling
United States in their war of independence
against Great Britain is well known, few
remember that another European power -
Spain - also cast its lot with the American
patriots. King Charles III of Spain officially
declared war on May 8, 1779. Two months
later on July 8, 1779, he extended the right to
make war to Spanish subjects in North

Bernardo de Galvez was then the Governor of
Louisiana, which had passed into Spanish
hands at the end of the Seven Years War
(known in America as the French and Indian
War). He made immediate plans for a
campaign to take the British colony of West
Florida, which then extended all the way to
the Mississippi River, for the King of Spain.

The campaign would eventually lead to the
capture of both Mobile and Pensacola, but to
make these moves possible, de Galvez first
needed to take Baton Rouge. The city on the
Misssissippi was westernmost British
bastion in Florida.

Recognizing that the possibility of an attack
was growing, the British commander at
Baton Rouge, Lt. Col. Alexander Dickson,
had supervised the construction of strong
fortifications. The most important of these
was Fort New Richmond, a large earthwork
bastion that stood on the bluff overlooking the
Mississippi River adjacent to today's
Pentagon Barracks.

Armed with thirteen cannon, Fort New
Richmond was surrounded by a deep moat
and additionally defended against infantry
attack by a wooden palisade. The fort was
built in just six weeks, but offered a strong
challenge to any attacking force.

A second British post, Fort Bute, was located
on Bayou Manchac below Baton Rouge. Built
in 1766, it was in bad condition and Dickson
left only 20 men there to defend it as little
more than a show of the British flag.

Galvez moved north from New Orleans with a
small army of 580 Spanish regulars, 60 local
militiamen, 80 free blacks and ten American
volunteers. As he advanced, the general was
joined by another 600 or so men, many of
them Indians and Acadians.

Fort Bute was taken in a dawn attack on
September 7, 1779. Only one of its 20
defenders was killed. Another two dozen
were captured and six managed to escape
and make their way to Baton Rouge.

Galvez halted at Fort Bute to give his men
time to rest before continuing his march over
the remaining 15 miles to Baton Rouge. His
army reached the outskirts of the city on
September 12, 1799.

Fort New Richmond and Baton Rouge were
defended by 400 British regulars from the
16th and 60th regiments, some militia, a few
artillerymen and several companies of the
3rd Waldeck Regiment (German). The total
strength of Col. Dickson's force was around
550 men.

As he surveyed the British defenses, Galvez
decided it was too risky to try to move his own
cannon to within range of the guns in Fort
New Richmond. Instead he sent a small
force around to the north of the fort to block
any attempt to reinforce it from Fort Panmure
in what is now Mississippi.
Louisiana State Capitol
The magnificent Louisiana
State Capitol overlooks a
battlefield of the American
A second force of militia was sent into a
wooded area with orders to create a
disturbance and attract the first of the British
cannon. The tactic worked and the cannon of
the fort opened fire on the diversionary troops.

This accomplished, the Spanish general dug
siege and approach trenches allowing him to
position infantry and artillery within range of
the British defenses. Galvez opened his
bombardment of Fort New Richmond on
September 21, 1799.

The British returned the Spanish fire as best
they could, but held out only three hours.
Galvez offered them a chance to surrender
and they accepted, including the small force
at Fort Panmure as well. The Spanish troops
occupied Fort New Richmond, which was
renamed Fort San Carlos. It defended Baton
Rouge for the Spanish until 1810, when it
was taken by the revolutionary army of the
Republic of West Florida.

The Battle of Baton Rouge ended forever
British control of the Mississippi River.
Leaving the city strongly garrisoned, Galvez
returned to New Orleans but soon took the
field in a second campaign that led to the
capture of
Fort Charlotte at Mobile and finally
British capital at Pensacola.

While his name is rarely remembered today,
Bernardo de Galvez waged one of the most
successful campaigns of the American
Revolution. His victories ended forever British
claims to the Gulf Coast and what would
become the states of Louisiana, Mississippi,
Alabama and the western half of Florida.

A memorial commemorating the Battle of
Baton Rouge can be found atop the Indian
mound adjacent to the
Old Arsenal Museum
on the state capitol grounds in Baton Rouge.
It consists of a plaque and two historic

The mound and Old Arsenal Museum are
across North 5th Street from the State Capitol.

Markers in downtown Baton Rouge also
interpret the siege and one just north of the
Old State Capitol points out the site of the
Spanish battery during the battle.