Nicolls' Outpost - Chattahoochee, Florida
Nicolls' Outpost - Chattahoochee, Florida
Nicolls' Outpost
The outpost stood atop a large Mississipian era
Indian mound at Chattahoochee Landing in
Gadsden County, Florida.
Nicolls' Outpost
The outpost was a fort built
near the confluence of the
Chattahoochee and Flint
Rivers during the War of 1812.
Apalachicola River
The outpost, along with a
second, larger fort 30 miles
up from the river's mouth,
defended the Apalachicola
Nicolls' Outpost - Chattahoochee, Florida
A Fort of the War of 1812
Copyright 2013  2014 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Updated: November 8, 2014
Custom Search
Historic Forts in Florida
Lt. Col. Edward Nicolls
This painting of the famed
Briitsh officer was made later
in his life when he was Gen.
Sir Edward Nicolls.
A Fort on the Apalachicola
The fort at Chattahoochee
stood about one mile below
the confluence of Flint and
Chattahoochee RIvers.
During the closing year of the War of 1812,
British forces built two forts on Florida's
Apalachicola River., the British Post at
Prospect Bluff and Nicolls' Outpost at what is
now Chattahoochee.  They were part of a
plan to recruit Red Stick Creek and Seminole
Indians to take part in planned invasions of
Louisiana and Georgia.

The British Post, later known as the "Negro
Fort," was about 30 miles north of the mouth
of the river at today's
Fort Gadsden Historic
Site. Nicolls' Outpost, a smaller fort, was built
atop a large Indian mound at
Landing in Gadsden County, Florida.

The two forts on the Apalachicola were the
only permanent posts established by the
British in the South during the War of 1812.
While historians sometimes combine the
two into a single structure, documentary
sources are conclusive that there were two
separate forts.

The British arrived at the mouth of the
Apalachicola River in May 1814, hoping to
supply arms and ammunition to the Red
Stick Creeks who had been warring against
the United States. Thomas and William
Perryman, Lower Creek chiefs who lived on
the Chattahoochee River, had appealed to
English officials in the Bahamas for help.
They had watched from afar as three U.S.
armies drove into the Creek Nation and
feared that their towns on the Florida border
might be next.

It took time for the British to respond and by
the time Brevet Major George Woodbine
arrived at the mouth of the Apalachicola with
a shipload of supplies, the Red Sticks had
been smashed by Andrew Jackson at the
Battle of Horseshoe bend, Alabama.

Woodbine was met by two prominent Red
Stick leaders, Peter McQueen and the
Prophet Josiah Francis. They explained the
situation to him and reported that thousands
of their followers were fleeing into Spanish
Florida destitute and starving.

Woodbine distributed some supplies at the
mouth of the Apalachicola, but soon moved
up the river to Prospect Bluff where John
Forbes & Company operated a trading post.
There he established a depot that grew into
the fort generally referred to as the British
Post on the Apalachicola.

Major Woodbine soon moved overland to
Pensacola, the capital of Spanish West
Florida, where he was joined by Brevet
Lieutenant Colonel Edward Nicolls. A brave
officer in the Royal Marines who already had
earned the nickname of "Fighting Nicolls"
because of his many battle wounds, the
senior officer took command and began to
provision, equip and train his new Red Stick,
Seminole and African allies.

The latter individuals were often said by U.S.
officials to be escaped slaves from Georgia
and the Carolinas, but subsequent events
demonstrated that most of them actually
were free blacks who enlisted in Florida.
They were formed by Nicolls into a battalion
of Colonial Marines.

This force was still being trained when it took
part - along with some Red Sticks - in the
unsuccessful British attack on
Fort Bowyer at
Mobile Bay on September 15, 1814.

The battle proved to be a disaster for the
British when Andrew Jackson retaliated by
leading an American army against
Pensacola. The British evacuated the city
ahead of his attack and withdrew to their fort
on the lower Apalachicola River.

Upon his arrival on the Apalachicola, Colonel
Nicolls realized that his primary post at
Prospect Bluff was highly vulnerable to an
American attack by way of the river. To better
secure his position, he went upstream to
build a fort just below the confluence of the
Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers (today's Lake

The area around the confluence was very
swampy and prone to flooding, so Nicolls
settled on the largest of the
seven Indian
mounds at what is now Chattahoochee
Landing as site for his fort. The top of the
mound was well above the normal flood
stage of the Apalachicola and offered the
British an elevated position from which they
could see the confluence about one-mile to
the north.

Since any American attack could be expected
via the Chattahoochee or Flint Rivers, the
position just below the confluence was ideal.
The fort was described Spanish officers of
the time as a square or rectangular "redoubt
of land" (an earthwork fort) and by American
officers as an "entrenched post." The latter
said it had a breastwork about four feet high,
a stockade or picket work and two pieces of
artillery, a howitzer and a cohorn mortar.

The United States moved against the fort in
January 1815. Colonel Benjamin Hawkins, a
veteran of the American Revolution and U.S.
Agent for Indian Affairs in the South, led a
large force allied Creek warriors down the
Chattahoochee River to a place he called
"115 Mile Camp" in what is now Seminole
County, Georgia.

A cautious officer, Hawkins sent forward
scouts to study the fort and its defenses.
They soon reported that the force occupying
the outpost was made up of 180 white and
black British troops and around 500 Red
Stick and Seminole Indians. Peter McQueen
and the Prophet Francis were both reported
as present and in British uniform.

Hawkins prepared to attack and the last
major battle of the War of 1812 almost
happened at Nicolls' Outpost in February
1815. At the last minute, however, news
reached the two forces that the war was over.

Hawkins and his force withdrew expecting
the British to do the same, but instead
Nicolls lingered. A major council of Red Stick
and Seminole chiefs was held at the outpost
on March 15, 1815, in which a petition was
drafted to King George asking him to
guarantee that the United States abided by
the Treaty of Ghent and returned lands taken
from the Indians at the Treaty of Fort Jackson
back to them.

The British appear to have evacuated Nicolls'
Outpost in April 1814. Although they offered to
destroy the fort in a conversation with a
Spanish officer, its entrenchments could still
be seen two decades later when they were
described by a visiting French nobleman.

No visible trace remains of Nicolls' Outpost
today. The fort stood atop the large Fort
Walton era (Mississippian) platform mound
at Chattahoochee Landing. A new historical
marker tells the story of the War of 1812 fort.

To reach Chattahoochee Landing and the
large mound where the outpost stood from
the intersection of US 90 (Washington St.)
and Main Street in Chattahoochee, travel east
for one-half mile on US 90 and turn left on
River Landing Road. Following River Landing
past the Chattahoochee RV Park until it
reaches Chattahoochee Landing Park on the
banks of the Apalachicola River.

The large mound on which Nicolls' Outpost
stood will be right in front of next to the
parking area. The park is free to visit and
features walking trails, picnicking, a boat
ramp, playgrounds and restrooms.

Please click here to learn more about the
Chattahoochee Landing Mounds.
Award-Winning Trails
The City of Chattahoochee's
award-winning nature trails
can be accessed from near the
outpost site and provide a
great opportunity to explore the
Apalachicola floodplain.
Chattahoochee Landing
The landing is one of the
most significant historic sites
in America. Here the river
glimmers in the background
past one of the smaller of the
Chattahoochee Landing