Location of Fort Assumption on a 1743 map
Fort Assumption (or Fort De L'Assomption) was a French fortification constructed in 1739 on the fourth Chickasaw Bluff on the Mississippi River at present day Memphis, Tennessee. The fort was used as a base against the Chickasaw in the abortive Campaign of 1739.
In 1739, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville led an army of 1,200 Frenchmen into the area of what is modern day Shelby County, Tennessee to eradicate the native Chickasaw Indians in order to secure and prepare the land for settlement by the French. As a base for the operation he chose the fourth Chickasaw Bluff and ordered the construction of a fortification on top of the bluff. On August 15, 1739, the day of the Feast of the Assumption, the fort was finished and named Fort Assumption in commemoration of the holy day. The French stronghold consisted of three bastions facing the land and two bastions fronting the Mississippi River. On the slope from the river to the top of the Bluff seven wide terraces protected from attacks. During the winter of 1739/40, the garrison was plagued by "weather, disease, desertion and drunkenness". The Chickasaw had taken French hostages during the eradication campaign, the hostages were released on March 20, 1740 after negotiations. On March 31, 1740 the discouraged and exhausted French troops were withdrawn and the fortification was abandoned by the French army. Although the French presence on the fourth Chickasaw Bluff only lasted for a few months, the area was claimed by France for eighty years.
Some historical research indicates that Fort Assumption could have been built on or near the site of an earlier French stockade fortification, Fort Prudhomme. Cavelier de La Salle's canoe expedition of the Mississippi River Delta constructed Fort Prudhomme in 1682.
See also