Interior of the Fort
This view looks across the
interior of old Fort Gadsden
from the northwest corner of
its river face.
The river is now considered a
national treasure and is
popular with eco-tourists.
Fort Gadsden and the "Negro Fort" on the Apalachicola
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Fort Gadsden Historic Site, Florida
|The Walls of Fort Gadsden
The earthworks of the old fort are now
preserved at a historic site maintained by
the Apalachicola National Forest.
For more than 100 years after the end of the
Civil War, the sites of Fort Gadsden and the
"Negro Fort" remained lost to time. The forest
gradually reclaimed the site and by the
1960s it was difficult to identify the remains of
the earthworks in the dense undergrowth.
Preservationists took interest in the site,
however, and Fort Gadsden was designated
as a Florida state park. The brush and tree
cover was cleared away and the earthwork
outline of the 1818 fort revealed once again.
The site has since been turned over to the
National Forest Service by the State of Florida
and is now maintained as Fort Gadsden
Historic Site by the staff of the Apalachicola
National Forest. The park is open daily and
features a picnic area and interpretive kiosk
in addition to the historic sites of the old forts
and burial ground.
To reach the site from U.S. 98 at East Point,
follow Highway 65 north and turn left at the
Fort Gadsden sign onto Brickyard Road and
then left onto Fort Gadsden Road.
Here are some of the more interesting things
to be seen at the historic site:
Milly Francis Marker
Located near the entrance of the walking trail,
this marker tells the story of Milly Francis, the
15-year-old daughter of the Prophet Josiah
Francis who became known to history as the
"Creek Pocahontas" after she saved the life
of an American soldier.
This unique wood structure provides
displays of artifacts found at the site, a scale
model of the 1818 fort and interpretive panels
that help visitors better understand the
significance of the Fort Gadsden site.
Outer Works of the British Post
A small marker points out the shallow
depression of the British north moat. This
was part of a system of fortifications that the
British constructed at the site to protect the
large encampment they established there.
Milly Francis Marker
A marker at the site tells the
story of Milly Francis, the
|Copyright 2009 by Dale Cox
All Rights Reserved
Entrance of the Historic Site
Fort Gadsden is located on a
Forest Service road just south
of the community of Sumatra.
Fort Gadsden Historic Site Today
Two boilers and other artifacts from a 19th
century steamboat wreck are on display
along the walking trail.
The earthworks of Fort Gadsden are well-
preserved and still retain the shape of the
original fort. An interpretive sign includes an
illustration showing the locations of cannon
and buildings in 1818.
The "Negro Fort"
Posts placed upright in the ground help
visitors identify the site of the octagonal
powder magazine blown up by U.S. forces in
1816. Although the actual fort occupied the
entire top of the bluff, this site is most closely
identified with the tragic incident.
The Fort Gadsden Cemetery
A short trail leads from the magazine site to
what remains of the old burial ground. None
of the graves are identifiable and most are
marked only by shallow depressions in the
ground. The remains of a brick vault can be
seen. Archaeologists could find no trace of
the mass grave of the explosion victims here,
prompting speculation that the grave might
be elsewhere or that the remains have since
vanished due to the acidity of the soil.