Fort Gadsden Historic Site
U.S. troops used the old fort
as a camp location and base
for raids during the Second
Seminole War.
Steamboat Boilers
These early 19th century
steamboat boilers came from
the Apalachicola River.
Fort Gadsden and the "Negro Fort" on the Apalachicola
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Fort Gadsden Historic Site, Florida
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Marker at Fort Gadsden
The old fort was used as a base for military
expeditions in the surrounding area during
the Second Seminole War of 1835-1842.
While Fort Gadsden was never officially
reactivated as a U.S. military post following
the departure of its garrison in 1821, the
earthwork did play a role in the Second
Seminole War (1835-1842).

In 1836 and 1837, bands of refugees from
the Creek Nation in Alabama fled south into
Florida. They came to avoid both the Trail of
Tears and atrocities being committed
against them by unscrupulous individuals
intent on looting them of their possessions
before they could be shipped west to what is
now Oklahoma.

It did not take long for these groups to
become engaged in fighting with white
citizens and militia forces in Florida. Although
these actions were really an extension of
Alabama's Creek War of 1836, they took
place in Florida at the same time as the
Second Seminole War and have generally
come to be associated with that conflict.

The first known use of Fort Gadsden by U.S.
troops in this new conflict took place in 1838.
A large group of Creeks that had surrendered
and concentrated at Walker's Town on the
upper Apalachicola River for shipment to
Oklahoma suddenly fled into the swamps.
They had heard rumors that white soldiers
were coming to kill the warriors and put the
women and children in chains.

Led by their chief, a charismatic leader
named Pascofa, they divided into small
bands and moved deep into the wilderness
swamps of today's Apalachicola National
Forest.

Reports from the Apalachicola newspaper of
the time indicated that a detachment of
soldiers passed by that city and went up the
river to Fort Gadsden by steamboat. From
there they launched a raid into the swamps
that resulted in the capture of a handful of
Pascofa's followers.

The raid was followed by four years of
predatory war between the Creeks and the
U.S. Army and North Florida militia forces.
A Park Rich in History
The fort today is a fascinating
historic site preserved by the
National Forest Service.
Copyright 2009 by Dale Cox
All Rights Reserved
Oak Tree at Fort Gadsden
This ancient oak may have
been a young tree during the
Second Seminole War.
The Second Seminole War
At least one major campaign, waged by
Colonel William Davenport of the U.S. Army,
took place in 1840 and troops again camped
at Fort Gadsden at that time.

The old earthworks appear to have been
occupied by soldiers off and on until Pascofa
finally surrendered at Fort Preston (present-
day Bristol).

As he was preparing to evacuate the group to
its new home west of the Mississippi, an
American military officer named Ethan Allen
Hitchcock commented on the absence of
children of certain ages among the Indians.
He learned that they had been suffocated by
their own parents to keep them from crying
out when soldiers passed near their hiding
places.

Not all of the Creeks hiding in the area could
be found at the time of the surrender of
Pascofa and attacks on white homesteads
continued until at least 1844. The raids finally
ended, but several small groups of Native
Americans remained in hiding in the region
for decades to come.

Fort Gadsden was used as a steamboat
landing during the years both before and
after the Second Seminole War.