Fort Gadsden Historic Site


Fort Gadsden Historic Site



Off State Road 65, west on Forest Road 129,
Sumatra, FL 32335






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Sited on the east bank of the Apalachicola River on Prospect Bluff, the known military use of this location dates back to the 1814 construction of a British post. After the British withdrew, it was occupied by some 300 blacks, many of them fugitive slaves. Viewed by the Americans as a haven for runaway slaves, a force led by Colonel Duncan Clinch, under orders from General Andrew Jackson, destroyed the “Negro Fort” and killed most of the occupants in July 1816 when a “hot shot” fired from a gunboat blew up the fort’s magazine. Recognizing the strategic location of this site, General Jackson later directed Lieutenant James Gadsden to construct what became Fort Gadsden at the ruins of the earlier fort. Due to the significance of the Apalachicola River to area transportation, a company of Confederate infantry occupied this site in 1862 as a deterrent to Union navy ventures up the river. An outbreak of malaria in July 1863 forced the withdrawal of the infantry company, but a few Confederate sentries continued to be stationed at the fort for use as an observation post. In January 1865, several Confederate pickets at Fort Gadsden were surprised and captured by a Union navy raiding party. The Fort Gadsden site contains interpretative information in a kiosk building and on markers, including a State Historical Marker.