Site of Fort Fanning, Florida
The spot where the old fort
once stood has been carefully
preserved and is now open to
the public as a riverside park. - Fort Fanning Historic Park, Florida - Fort Fanning Historic Park, Florida
Fort Fanning Historic Park
The reconstructed gate of old Fort Fanning
welcomes visitors to the beautiful park overlooking
the Suwannee River in Fanning Springs, Florida.
Suwannee River
Florida's famed Suwannee
River flows past Fort Fanning.
The stockade was built to
protect an important river
Overlooks at Fort Fanning
Paved walking paths at the
park lead to a series of
overlooks that provide nice
views of the Suwannee River.
Second Seminole War
The Fort Fanning site is one
of the few preserved locations
of Second Seminole War forts
that are now open to the
Fort Fanning Historic Park - Fanning Springs, Florida
Historic Fort on the Suwannee
It is seldom remembered today that Florida's
beautiful Suwannee River was once a major
military objective. The Second Seminole War
raged in Florida from 1835-1842 and beyond,
leading the U.S. Army to build Fort Fanning
on a bluff overlooking the river at today's town
of Fanning Springs.

Fort Fanning was established in 1838 as
part of a military effort to contain a series of
Indian raids and attacks that had erupted
across North Florida. Blamed for the most
part on parties of refugee Creeks who had
fled South into Florida following the Creek
War of 1836, these attacks terrorized the
region and led to bloody reprisals.

The fort was named for Colonel Alexander
Fanning (sometimes spelled Fannin), a
regular army officer who was a fixture in
Florida during the Seminole Wars.

One of the first graduates of the U.S. Military
Academy at West Point, Fanning completed
his time at the Academy in 1812 and went on
to be recognized for heroism during the War
of 1812. He came to Florida in 1818 as a
major under Andrew Jackson and was part of
the campaign that led to the destruction of
Suwannee Old Town, just across the river
from the site of Fort Fanning.

By the time Fort Fanning was built in 1838,
Colonel Fanning had taken part in some of
the key actions of the Second Seminole War,
including the Battle of the Withlacoochee at
present-day Dunnellon, Florida.

Fort Fanning was a strong log stockade
located atop of level bluff that commanded a
long stretch of the Suwannee River. Its
primary function was to guard the important
cross there, but it also served as a base of
operations for troops assigned to sweep the
area in search of Native Americans.

By 1842, this search was focused on a band
of Creeks led by the war chief Octiarche. A
major campaign was launched to find and
capture Octiarche and his followers, with Fort
Fanning serving as one of the primary bases
of operation. Led by Colonel John Garland,
hundreds of soldiers from the Fourth U.S.
Infantry moved from the fort as part of the
campaign. Octiarche, however, was not

When the war finally came to an end, Fort
Fanning was evacuated by the army and its
log defenses were slowly claimed by
During its time of occupation, 31 soldiers
died at Fort Fanning. The primary culprit was
disease, although three lost their lives to
battle wounds in forgotten skirmishes
around the area. They were buried in a small
military cemetery near the fort.

It has long been known that the old fort stood
somewhere on the top of the bluff at Fanning
Springs and some ruins were still visible as
late as the 1930s. The precise site was
confirmed by archaeologists in recent years
and a multi-agency effort was launched to
establish a park on the site.

Fort Fanning Historic Park is now a beautiful
memorial to the old fort and the men who
served there. The gate of the fort has been
reconstructed along with a small section of
stockade, and visitors can walk paved paths
that lead to overlooks along the beautiful
Suwannee River. There is no charge to visit
the historic site.

Fort Fanning is located on the north side of
the U.S. 19 bridge over the Suwannee River
in Fanning Springs, Florida.
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Copyright 2011 by Dale Cox
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