This view was taken looking
up the Apalachicola River, the
direction from which the fort
was attacked in 1865.
The Confederates positioned
four field guns in the old fort
from 1862 to 1863.
Fort Gadsden and the "Negro Fort" on the Apalachicola
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Fort Gadsden Historic Site, Florida
|Parade Ground of Fort Gadsden
Confederate troops camped at the old fort
from 1862 until the end of the war, despite
the unhealthy location of the bluff.
Fort Gadsden initially attracted little attention
when war broke out between the North and
the South in 1861. Florida's Confederate
authorities focused considerable attention on
the port of Apalachicola, but no immediate
thought was given to upriver defenses.
In March of 1862, however, demands from
Richmond for additional troops from the state
forced the evacuation of the fortifications at
Apalachicola. The heavy artillery from the city
was moved upriver to Ricco's Bluff, a position
on a sharp bend well upstream from Fort
Gadsden, but a battery of four field pieces
and a company of infantry were stationed at
the old fort. Their assignment was to provide
early warning should the Union navy attempt
to force its way up the Apalachicola River.
Confederate engineers also considered the
site of the old fort as a possible location for a
battery of heavy artillery. Gen. P.G.T.
Beauregard favored the Fort Gadsden site,
pointing out that it was surrounded by
swamps and virtually impossible to flank.
Other officers disagreed, however, and new
batteries for the defense of the river were
ultimately built a short distance upstream at
the "Narrows," where the Apalachicola
wound around several sharp bends. The
field guns from Fort Gadsden were removed
to the "Narrows" to defend the fortifications
there until they could be completed.
Just as had been the case during its initial
occupation by the U.S. Army, Fort Gadsden
once again proved to be a malaria-infested
outpost. A severe outbreak of fever in 1863
forced the evacuation of the infantry company
from the site and for the duration of the war
the old earthworks held only a few sentries
assigned to watch for Union activity on the
The fort came under fire once during 1863
when a Union boat party rowed upriver and
captured the blockade runner Fashion in
Brushy Creek above the fort. On their way
back down to Apalachicola Bay, the Federals
fired a single cannon shot into the fort, but
Fort Gadsden Burial Ground
Some of the graves at the fort
may date from the Civil War
as fever drove the troops out.
|Copyright 2009 by Dale Cox
All Rights Reserved
The View Down the River
Fort Gadsden served as one
of the southernmost sentry
points on the Apalachicola.
Fort Gadsden in the Civil War
the pickets stationed there did not return fire.
No injuries were reported.
The fort was attacked again in January of
1865 when a party of Union sailors made
their way up Bear Creek from St. Andrew Bay
and dragged their boat across a narrow
portage to the Chipola River. Once in that
stream they rowed down to the Apalachicola
and soon surprised and captured a
detachment of men from the 5th Florida
Cavalry on duty at Ricco's Bluff. The artillery
from the bluff had long since been removed
to Alum and Rock Bluffs upstream.
Having nabbed the garrison at Alum Bluff,
some of the sailors returned to St. Andrew
Bay while a second party rowed downstream
past the now abandoned fortifications at the
"Narrows" to Fort Gadsden. There they
captured a few pickets without firing a shot
and continued on down the river to the bay.
The incident was the last recorded mention
of Fort Gadsden in the surviving reports of the
The old fort lapsed completely into oblivion
after the war. It was still used as a steamboat
landing into the 20th century, but soldiers
never again occupied the old earthworks.