A Tale of Two Forts

In 1823, the Treaty of Moultrie Creek allocated land to the Seminole with the northern-most boundary of the reservation ending at what would soon be known as Fort King. Due to the growing friction between the Seminole and white settlers, the first Indian Agency was built in 1826 by Gad Humphreys. The purpose of the agency was to settle and temper the building conflict. However, in 1827 conditions worsened and tensions rose.


THE FIRST FORT – Fort King was built in 1827 to administer the Treaty of Moultrie Creek and protect the Seminoles and their designated lands from white settlers. Governor Duval and Indian Agent Gad Humphreys selected the location of Fort King based on three requirements for an Army fort – a defendable hill, a close and reliable source of drinking water and the presence of a nearby source of lumber for construction material. The site was also a short distance away from Humphreys’ Indian Agency.


The fort was named for Colonel William King, who had been the commanding officer of the Fourth Infantry before Duncan L. Clinch. In 1818, Andrew Jackson had appointed Colonel King as civil and military governor of the provisional government of West Florida.


An 1827 design drawing of the fort’s layout by Captain James M. Glassell indicates that the stockade wall was to be 162’ x 152’. The main gate was on the north wall, with a second gate on the south wall. Two blockhouses, 14’ square, were planned, one being on the northwest corner and the other on the southeast corner. Inside the stockade were barracks, officers’ quarters, kitchens, mess halls, and munitions magazines. Letters written during the period also mention other structures around the fort including a commissary and quartermasters’ store house, sinks, hospital, guard house, sutler’s store, stables, and a blacksmith’s shop.


An illustration of the first fort provided in the diary of Lieutenant Henry Prince while stationed at Fort King indicates the first fort was not built to the specifications provided in the design drawings but instead was an irregular pentagon. Archaeology supports the diary illustration. It is speculated that the U.S. Army ran out of funding, other resources and time, resulting in the first fort’s incomplete construction.


The occupancy of Fort King fluctuated over the next several years, leaving the fort vacant for a period of three years. With tensions between the Seminole and the settlers worsening the soldiers returned to Fort King in the summer of 1832. After Osceola’s attack on Fort King in 1835, the fort was abandoned by the military in May of 1836. In July of that same year, Fort King was burned by the Seminole.


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