Fort Gaines, the historic Georgia city overlooking the Chattahoochee River, is now 200 years old. (Be sure to see the video at the bottom of this page!)
Located on the sites of American Indian settlements dating back thousands of years, the city takes its name from a frontier military post established by U.S. troops on April 2, 1816. The high bluff was then at the very edge of the country’s frontier and settlers trickling into lands ceded from the Creek Nation by the Treaty of Fort Jackson were facing resistance from Creek and Seminole warriors.
To counter reports of growing anger among the American Indians living on the Chattahoochee, Flint and Apalachicola Rivers, Maj. Gen. Edmund Pendleton Gaines accompanied a battalion from the 4th U.S. Infantry down the Chattahoochee from Fort Mitchell, Alabama. The troops were under the immediate command of Lt. Col. Duncan Lamont Clinch and arrived at the present site of Fort Gaines 200 years ago today.
The general described his arrival at the site in a letter to Major General Andrew Jackson:
I descended the Chattahoochee with a battalion of the 4th from Fort Mitchell to the mouth of Summochechoba Creek where I left it in the command of Lt. Col. Clinch on the 7th inst. The Lt. Colonel has commenced a small work, consisting of a square picketing and two block houses, to be defended by one company. The site is strong, handsome and apparently healthy. It is upon the left bank of the river on a hill or bluff 133 feet, nearly perpendicular from the edge of the water. (Maj. Gen. Edmund P. Gaines to Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson, April 18, 1816)
General Gaines remained at his namesake fort only four days, although he returned several more times over the next two years. Behind he left Lt. Col. Clinch and his men to complete work on the new stockade.
Maj. John M. Davis, who visited Fort Gaines during the fall of that year, described it in a report filed the following spring:
Fort Gaines is a commanding situation on the East bank of the Chatahoochie river, about the 32d Degree of North latitude. – It is a small stockade work with two Block houses at diagonal angles, where there is at present a small detachment of the 4th Regiment of Infantry. This place is sufficient for the reception of one company – is considered a healthy situation, but somewhat difficult to get supplies of provisions &c. As every article that is got there has to be waggoned from Georgia, a distance of one hundred miles through a wilderness country, to the Chatahoochie river, where the Federal road crosses – thence it is taken by water to Fort Gaines. (Maj. John M. Davis, Inspection Report, April 30, 1817)
The original fort was occupied by the army until 1821 and played an important role as a supply depot during the First Seminole War of 1817-1818. The site is marked today by a one-third scale replica of one of the log blockhouses.
Fort Gaines will officially celebrate its 200th anniversary on the weekend of April 8-9, 2016, with “A Skirmish at Fort Gaines.” The event will take place at the Frontier Village at 100 Bluff Street (adjacent to the original fort site) and will be underway from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern time on both Saturday and Sunday.
There will be demonstrators, reenactors, vendors, BBQ, live music and even a daily reenactment of a battle between early settlers and Creek warriors. The reenactment will start each day at 2 p.m. Eastern and has an admission fee of $5 for Adults (free for kids under 10).
Enjoy some video scenes of the Fort Gaines blockhouse by clicking play below: