Site of the central octagon or citadel of the Fort at Prospect Bluff.
Prospect Bluff Historic Sites (Negro Fort/Fort Gadsden)
A newly-enhanced trail system leads along Prospect Bluff to the sites of Fort Gadsden and the Negro Fort.

A newly-enhanced trail system leads along Prospect Bluff to the sites of Fort Gadsden and the Negro Fort.

Prospect Bluff Historic Sites is the new name for one of America’s most important historic landmarks.

Formerly known as Fort Gadsden Historic Site, Prospect Bluff is the site of British Post National Landmark. This was the site that many remember as the Negro Fort on the Apalachicola River.

The fort was built by the British in 1814 as the War of 1812 entered its final months. It was a supply depot and training base for a battalion of Colonial Marines and became the centerpiece of the largest free black settlement in North America.

The British withdrew in 1815 but left the fort, its artillery and a massive stockpile of arms, ammunition and other supplies in the hands of a company of maroon (escaped slave) soldiers and their families. The United States moved to destroy this colony even though it was in Spanish Florida.

A joint land and sea expedition was sent against the post in July 1816. Scroll down for articles that provide a day by day history of that campaign from July 10, 1816 – July 28, 1816, but first enjoy the new documentary from Two Egg TV:

 

 
Prospect Bluff, Florida (Part 1)

Garcon and the garrison of the Fort at Prospect Bluff fought under the flag of Great Britain. The fight for control of the fort could well be called the last battle of the War of 1812.

Prospect Bluff is often called the “Negro Fort” because it was the site of the largest settlement of free blacks in North America in 1814-1816. The fortified community was established by the British during the War of 1812 and destroyed by the United States in 1816.

Click here to read the first part of this series…

 

 

 

The Fort at Prospect Bluff (Part 2)

A new footbridge crosses the moat of the Fort at Prospect Bluff.

The fort is sometimes described as an early stop on the “Underground Railroad,” but in reality it was the primary station on an “Above Ground Railroad.” Maroons (escaped slaves) came there from the United States, Spanish Florida, the Creek Nation and the Seminole towns of Florida.

Click here to learn more about the fort’s importance…

 

 

 

Gunboats No. 149 and No. 154 at Apalachicola Bay (Part 3)

WP_20151124_304Four ships were sent from New Orleans and Pass Christian to join in the expected attack on the “Negro Fort.” The transport/supply vessels General Pike and Similante carried heavy artillery and ordnance stores while Gunboats No. 149 and No. 154 served as their escort.

Click here to learn more about the naval contingent…

 

 

 

The Year Without A Summer (Part 4)

Sunset over Mobile Bay as seen from Fairhope, Alabama.

A strange red sky and remarkably cold temperatures were facts of life in 1816. The explosion of a volcano in Indonesia caused multi-year climate change in the Northern Hemisphere. Starvation and untold deaths were reported in Europe while crop failures, frosts and even snow were reported deep into the South.

Click here to learn about the Year Without A Summer…

 

 

 

The Defenses of Prospect Bluff (Part 5)

The citadel of the Fort at Prospect Bluff was an octagonal earthwork with walls 14-feet high and 18-feet thick.

The fortifications at Prospect Bluff were the most elaborate constructed by the British during the Gulf Coast Campaign of the War of 1812. They included multiple layers of defenses that made use of entrenchments, moats, ditches, stockades, a water battery and a central citadel.

Please click here to learn more about the design of the fort…

 

 

 

Garcon challenges the U.S. Navy (Part 6)

U.S. Gunboats No. 149 and No. 154 entered the mouth of the Apalachicola River on July 24, 1816.

The occupants of the “Negro Fort” did not sit idly and wait for the American attack to materialize. Garcon and the Choctaw chief led a detachment to Apalachicola Bay to reconnoiter the U.S. ships. This movement led to a skirmish between the two forces on July 15, 1816.

Please click here to learn about the first confrontation…

 

 

 

The U.S. Army Prepares to March (Part 7)

Lt. Col. Duncan Lamont Clinch and the men of his battalion from the 4th Infantry Regiment made preparations to march against the “Negro Fort” or Fort at Prospect Bluff on July 16, 1816. Despite his rank, Clinch had seen no action during the War of 1812. That would change in a matter of days.

Please click here to learn more about Clinch and his men…

 

 

 

The Watering Party Attack (Part 8)

The first bloodshed of the Negro Fort Campaign took place on July 17, 1816. A detachment of maroons and Choctaw warriors attacked a U.S. Navy boat party that had rowed into the mouth of the Apalachicola River in search of fresh water. The result was a devastating defeat for the American sailors.

Click here to learn more about the Watering Party Attack…

 

 

 

An Alliance with Creek Warriors (Part 9)

100_4010Lt. Col. Clinch, the commander of the U.S. expedition, held an important council with prominent Creek leaders on July 18, 1816. This meeting resulted in an agreement to join forces for an attack on the Negro Fort, increasing the size of the U.S. force from 112 to around 500 men.

Click here to learn more about Clinch’s council…

 

 

 

Torture and Scalping on the Apalachicola (Part 10)

The U.S. alliance learned the fate of one of the sailors captured during the Watering Party Attack as Clinch continued his push down the Apalachicola River on July 19, 1816. The unfortunate man had suffered a gruesome fate and a courier was carrying his scalp to area Native American towns.

Click here to read about Torture and Scalping on the Apalachicola…

 

 

 

“Rockets Red Glare” at Prospect Bluff (Part 11)

The Battle of Negro Fort began on July 20, 1816. U.S. forces landed just north of the fort and moved to surround it. Clinch plan to storm the works and end the battle quickly but was driven back when Garcon and his men opened fire with cannon and a terrifying new weapon.

Click here to read about the first day of the battle…

 

 

 

The Battle for Negro Fort (Part 12)

The men, women and children at Prospect Bluff engaged American and Creek troops with heavy cannon fire on July 21, 1816. Their determined defense kept the attacking forces from closing to within one mile of the outer defenses. Plans for an immediate U.S. assault were quickly cancelled.

Click here to read about the Battle for Negro Fort…

 

 

 

Cannon Fire at Prospect Bluff (Part 13)

The sounds of an intensifying battle could be heard by U.S. sailors at Apalachicola Bay on July 22, 1816. Each time U.S. soldiers or allied Creek warriors tried to advance to within range of the Fort at Prospect Bluff, they were driven back by heavy cannon fire.

Click here to read about the continued fighting…

 

 

 

“Most of them determined never to be taken alive.” (Part 14)

Garcon refused a demand that he surrender the Negro Fort and allow his people to be returned to slavery. Instead he made clear to the chiefs who delivered Clinch’s demand that he would fight and was ready to do so.

Click to read about Garcon’s response…

 

 

 

Gunboats on the Apalachicola (Part 15) 

The U.S. Navy began its long awaited move up the Apalachicola River to join the Prospect Bluff attack on July 24, 1816. The ships had remained in Apalachicola Bay from fear that they would be attacked by forces hidden in the heavy growth along the banks of the river.

Click to read about Gunboats on the Apalachicola…

 

 

 

Meeting at Bloody Bluff (Part 16)

The commanders of the U.S. land and naval forces met at appropriately named Bloody Bluff on July 25, 1816. They discussed the stalemated battle and debated their next move. U.S. soldiers and Creek warriors continued to hover around the Nego Fort, keeping Garcon’s defenders pinned down.

Click here to learn about the Meeting at Bloody Bluff…

 

 

 

Eve of Destruction (Part 17)

They had no way to know it, but most of the defenders of the Negro Fort were living the last full day of their life on July 26, 1816. U.S. soldiers worked to clear ground for building a heavy battery while Clinch and Loomis conducted a long-range surveillance of the fort’s defenses.

Click here to learn about the Eve of Destruction at Prospect Bluff…

 

 

 

Destruction: The Deadliest Cannon Shot in American History

The deadliest cannon shot in American history was fired from U.S. Gunboat No. 154 into one of the powder magazines of the Fort at Prospect Bluff (or Negro Fort) on July 27, 1816. The blast killed an estimated 270 men, women and children.

Click here to learn about the destruction of Negro Fort…

 

 

 

Survivors and Their Fates

The devastation at Prospect Bluff was horrible beyond belief. Bodies and body parts were spread across the one-mile plateau of the bluff and some could even be seen in the top branches of the tall longleaf pine trees that grew there. Somehow around 50 people managed to survive the initial explosion.

Click here to learn about the survivors and their fates…

 

Please click here to learn more about Prospect Bluff Historic Sites including directions and open days.

 

The following free videos from www.twoegg.tv provide more detail on the destruction of the fort, the history of Prospect Bluff and a chance to see more of the site:

 

You can learn more of the story of Prospect Bluff and the Negro Fort/British Post in these books: