The Carrabelle History Museum will present a history program “The Fort at Prospect Bluff” with historian and author, Dale Cox, this Saturday, Feb. 15 from 10 a.m. to noon at C-Quarters Marina, 501 St. James Ave (Hwy 98).


Right down the road in Franklin County on a bank of the Apalachicola River is a bluff that once boasted the biggest community of escaped slaves and free black people in the country.


Often referred to as the “Negro Fort,” the fort was built by British troops during the final months of the War of 1812, and served as a rallying point and refugee center for more than 3,000 Red Stick Creek Indians who evacuated into Florida. The fort was the training station for a battalion of Colonial Marines (Black/Negro Marines); escaped slaves from Spanish Florida and the United States filled the ranks of this unit.


When the war ended, Great Britain withdrew from the Apalachicola River, and turned the massive 14 acre fort over to around 80 of the former Colonial Marines and their families, creating a community of more than 300 men, women, and children. From 1815-16, it was the largest free black settlement in North America.


U.S. forces destroyed the fort on July 27, 1816. The deadliest single cannon shot in American history blew up the gunpowder magazine with a devastating flash. Recent research at Prospect Bluff, now called Fort Gadsden, is gaining national attention. Over the past four years more discoveries have been made on and about this site than in the 60 years prior.


Cox will tell the story that inspired his book, “The Fort at Prospect Bluff” and discuss his research that led to the discovery of dozens of previously unpublished accounts. Author of more than one dozen books on Southern history and culture, he has won numerous awards. Copies of the book will be available.


There is no fee for this program; donations are gladly accepted to defray costs. Sponsorship for this series generously provided by C-Quarters Marina, Centennial Bank, and Shaun Donahoe Realty, with funding in part by the Tourist Development Council. For more information, contact 697-2141 or carrabellehistorymuseum@gmail.com.