Fort King National Historic Landmark in Ocala, Florida
The fort stood on a hilltop in what is now Ocala,
Florida. A major post of the Second Seminole War, it
holds a unique place in American history.
Site of Fort King
No surface traces remain of
the historic fort that played a
critical role in the outbreak of
the Second Seminole War.
Monument at Fort King
A stone monument is one of
few reminders that the fort
once stood along East Fort
King Avenue in Ocala, Florida.
Model of Fort King
A scale model of the historic
fort can be seen at the Silver
River Museum in Ocala.
Fort King National Historic Landmark - Ocala, Florida
Fort of the Second Seminole War
Artifacts from Fort King
Numerous artifacts from the
Fort King site can be seen at
Ocala's Silver River Museum,
which is a great place to
explore the history of the city.
|Copyright 2010 & 2014 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Last Updated: March 2, 2014
Originally called Camp King or Cantonment
King, Fort King was a 19th century U.S. Army
post that stood on the present site of Ocala,
A National Historic Landmark, the site lies on
the north side of Fort King Street west of its
intersection with Northeast 41st and is
marked by a historical marker just off the
roadway. The site is publicly owned but must
currently be viewed from the sidewalk.
The fort was built as a result of the 1823
Treaty of Moultrie Creek, signed between the
United States and leaders of the Seminole
Nation. That treaty required the Seminoles to
relocate to a large reservation in what is now
Central Florida. The Moultrie Creek treaty
also prohibited white persons from entering
or settling on Seminole lands. As the Ocala
area was central to the main Indian towns,
the army built Fort King to assure that both
sides followed the terms of the treaty.
The original fort consisted of several log
buildings and a log stockade and was held
by the army from 1827-1829. Because of its
distance from Fort Brooke at Tampa Bay, the
army decided that it was too costly to supply
and evacuated it in the latter year.
The passage by Congress of the Indian
Removal Act in 1830 and the subsequent
negotiation of the highly controversial Treaty
of Payne's Landing with the Seminoles led to
the reoccupation of the post by the army in
1832. A core group of Seminole warriors, led
by Osceola and others, fiercely opposed the
determination of the U.S. government to
remove their people to new lands in what is
now Oklahoma. Fort King and the U.S. Indian
Agency it protected became symbols of
oppression for the Indians.
Much of the Seminole animosity was aimed
at General Wiley Thompson, the U.S. Agent
assigned to them. Thompson and Osceola,
who was not a chief but a respected warrior,
engaged in a growing series of verbal
confrontations. These culminated when the
agent suddenly ordered the warrior clapped
in irons and thrown into the guardhouse at
Fort King. The act would spark a war.
Released after a few days, Osceola decided
that armed resistance to removal was the
only option left to his people. On December
28, 1835, he exacted his revenge on Wiley
As the agent and Lieutenant Constantine
Smith went for an afternoon walk, they were
ambushed by a war party led by Osceola.
Thompson was shot 14 times and scalped.
Six others were also killed and the Indians
ransacked a storehouse. Fort King was too
strong to take so they withdrew to the Cove of
the Withlacoochee and Wahoo Swamp.
A larger force of Seminole warriors struck a
column of troops on its way from Fort Brooke
to Fort King on the same day. The result was
Dade's Battle, which left over 100 soldiers
dead. The Second Seminole War had begun.
Although Fort King survived the initial
outbreak, it was abandoned in May of 1836
when Fort Drane was built nearer to the
swamps from which the Seminoles emerged
to fight. The post was burned to the ground
by warriors two months later.
The site was reoccupied in April of 1837 and
the army built a new fort. It served as a base
for raids and in 1840 a sharp fight took place
just outside the walls.
Captain Gabriel Rains of the 7th U.S. Infantry
had led 16 soldiers from the fort on a scout
when they came under aggressive attack by
a Seminole war party. The captain managed
to fight his way back into Fort King, but not
before three of his men were killed in the
The Second Seminole War was declared
over on August 14, 1842. Fort King was
evacuated for good the following year.
The Florida Territorial Legislature created
Marion County in 1844 and the buildings of
the fort were used as its original courthouse
and offices. Fort King continued to fulfill this
purpose until a courthouse was built in the
adjoining settlement of Ocala in 1846.
The last standing building from the fort
burned in the 1920s and no visible trace
remains to be seen today. Archaeologists,
however, confirmed the presence of the site
and it was acquired by the City of Ocala and
Marion County in 1992-2001.
Fort King was designated a National Historic
Landmark on February 24, 2004. A major
effort to preserve and interpret the site is
underway and the Fort King Heritage
Association hopes to have it ready to open to
the public by this summer.
Please click here to learn more.
The site is located at 3925 East Fort King
Street in Ocala, Florida. A historical marker
there interpets the history of the fort. Artifacts
from the site can be seen at the nearby Silver
First U.S. Defeat of
the Seminole Wars!
Historic Forts of Florida