“[C]ertain Negroes and outlaws have taken possession of a
Fort on the Appalachicola River in the territory of
Florida,” wrote General Edmund Gaines on May 14, 1815.
British agents helped the Seminoles construct the fort
during the late stages of the War of 1812. Their plan was to
recruit Indian and slave allies who would harass Georgia’s
slaveholders on the southern frontier. The war ended before
the British could put the plan into action, but the fort was
complete. After the British and most of the Indians left,
the “Negro Fort” rapidly became a beacon for fugitive
slaves.* By June of 1815, approximately 330 black warriors
and 30 Seminole Indians were stationed on the banks of the
Apalachicola at Prospect Bluff, protecting the region with
four pieces of artillery, six light cannon, and a large
stock of British ammunition and arms. One of the leaders was
a charismatic free black from Pensacola named Garcon, who
conducted affairs wearing a tattered British military
Giddings Exiles 35-43, Forbes 200-05, ASPFR 4: 559-61.
Part 1, Early Years: l
*The Fort was also known as "African Fort," "Prospect Bluff
Fort," and "Nicholl's Fort," after the British agent who oversaw
its construction. The U.S. later built Fort Gadsden on the same site.