ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Fort Hughes Monument, Georgia
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Fort Hughes Monument, Georgia
|Fort Hughes Monument
Occupied for only two weeks, Fort Hughes was the
scene of a fierce battle of the First Seminole War.
The site is in Bainbridge, Georgia.
Fort Hughes, Georgia
The small fort stood on the
high ground visible here. The
Fort Hughes Monument is
visible at left.
Fort Hughes Monument - Bainbridge, Georgia
A Fort of the First Seminole War
|Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Update: July 3, 2012
Sites of the First Seminole War
Grave of Fifer Aaron Hughes
The monument was placed
during the 1880s to mark the
grave of a U.S. soldier. Aaron
Hughes, a fifer, was killed at
the Battle of Fowltown.
Site of Fort Hughes
Land Lot Surveys show the
fort stood on a small hillock in
what is now J.D. Chason
Battle of Fort Hughes
The fort was besieged for
three days by a Seminole,
Creek and African American
force led by Peter Cook, a
British store clerk.
Fort Hughes was a small temporary log fort
built by U.S. troops during the First Seminole
War of 1817-1818. Here they held off a fierce
attack by force of Red Stick Creek, Seminole
and African American warriors.
The site is now part of the J.D. Chason
Memorial Park in Bainbridge, Georgia, where
a Federal monument marks the proximity of
the grave of Aaron Hughes. A fifer from the
7th U.S. Infantry, Hughes was killed during
the nearby Battle of Fowltown on November
30, 1817. The fort was named in his honor.
During the summer and fall of 1817, U.S.
officers at Fort Scott (18 miles down the Flint
River) engaged in a war of words with the
chief of Fowltown, a village of Lower Creek
Indians located south of what is now
Bainbridge. Known by his title of Neamathla
(Eneah Emathla or "Fat Warrior"), the chief
refused to give up land demanded by the
At the end of the Creek War of 1813-1814, the
leaders of the Creek Nation had signed the
Treaty of Fort Jackson with Maj. Gen. Andrew
Jackson. That treaty required the cession of
23 million acres of land as reparations for
the cost to the United States of the War.
A large part of that cession was located
along the Florida line in Southwest Georgia.
The Lower Creek Indians who lived there had
not been consulted and were infuriated by
the demands that they give up their land.
Neamathla told Major David E. Twiggs at Fort
Scott that "the land was his, and he was
directed by the Powers above to defend it."
When Twiggs reported the chief's position to
Maj. Gen. Edmund P. Gaines, the latter officer
ordered the movement of the men of the 4th
and 7th Infantry Regiments from Camps
Montpelier and Montgomery in Alabama to
Fort Scott. This march was completed on
November 19, 1817, and the next day Gaines
ordered Twiggs to proceed to Fowltown and
bring Neamathla back to the fort, using force
Twiggs' effort resulted in a sharp skirmish
and the deaths of several Indian men and
women. Neamathla, however, escaped his
A larger force of 300 men was ordered out
three days later. Headed by Lt. Col. Matthew
Arbuckle, this command reached Fowltown
on the morning of November 23, 1817. No
trace of the town's inhabitants was found and
the soldiers began to load a wagon with
grain from one of the Indian corn cribs.
As this effort was underway, Neamathla and
his warriors suddenly emerged from a
nearby swamp and opened fire. The Battle of
Fowltown lasted for around 20 minutes,
ending only when the chief and his fighters
withdrew into the swampy morass that nearly
surrounded the town.
Arbuckle evacuated his wounded back to the
high bluff that overlooks the Flint River at the
site of today's Bainbridge, Georgia. There he
buried the body of Aaron Hughes, a fifer from
the 7th U.S. Infantry, and threw up a small log
fort to protect the important river crossing. He
named it Fort Hughes after the unfortunate
No detailed description of the fort is known to
survive, but it was mentioned in U.S. reports
as a "small house" or "house." Undoubtedly
this means it was a simple blockhouse (see
the pages on Fort Gaines and Fort Hawkins
The term "picket work" was also used to
describe Fort Hughes, probably meaning that
the blockhouse was enclosed within a small
log stockade. Since the fort was designed to
be manned only by a small detachment, its
position was strategic. It stood near the crest
of the bluff overlooking the river crossing
It took Arbuckle's men only three days to build
the fort, after which they resumed their return
march to Fort Scott. A company of 40 men
was left behind under Captain John McIntosh
to garrison the new outpost.
The raids on Fowltown, however, had turned
the war of words into a war of fire and blood.
Seminole, Creek and African (often called
"Black Seminole) warriors rushed to the
support of Neamathla and his followers.
Several hundred of these reinforcements
reached Fowltown during the second week of
December, led by a British store clerk named
Peter Cook. According to military reports and
a statement later given by Cook, this force
attacked Fort Hughes on December 13, 1817.
The Battle of Fort Hughes lasted 3-4 days.
While Cook and his warriors held great
superiority in numbers and firepower, the
soldiers under Captain McIntosh were well-
protected by the solid log walls of the fort and
could not be dislodged. So well built was the
blockhouse, in fact, that not a single soldier
was wounded despite the storm of lead shot
rained down on the position by the warriors.
Cook continued the attack until his men ran
short on ammunition, but then withdrew back
to Florida to resupply. Colonel Arbuckle, now
commanding at Fort Scott, wasted no time in
sending a large force to extricate Captain
Hughes and his company from their exposed
position. The military occupation of Fort
Hughes came to an end after only three
So far as is known, soldiers never again
garrisoned Fort Hughes, but the little log fort
was still standing when the first settlers
arrived in the area a few years later. The
outline of the fort was shown on the original
land surveys of the area and the new village
founded there was known as Fort Hughes
until its name was changed to Bainbridge by
the Georgia Legislature in 1824.
No trace of the fort remained by 1882 when
Lt. J.D. Hoskins of the U.S. Army was sent to
investigate the condition of military burials in
the area. It was at his recommendation that a
permanent monument was erected on the
site in early 1883. It was made by mounting a
32 pounder cannon from Fort Clinch, Florida,
upright in a block of granite quarried at Stone
The site of Fort Hughes is now at the J.D.
Chason Memorial Park at the intersection of
North Donalson and West Jackson Streets in
Bainbridge. The park is open daily and is free
Battle of Fowltown
Fort Hughes was built by the
command of Lt. Col. Matthew
Arbuckle after the Battle of
Fowltown, fought nearby on
November 23, 1817.