Fort Toulouse Site-Fort Jackson
A portion of the modern Fort Toulouse reconstruction, photo taken in 2007
|Location||Elmore County, Alabama, USA|
|Nearest city||Wetumpka, Alabama|
|NRHP reference #||66000148|
|Added to NRHP||October 15, 1966|
|Designated NHL||October 9, 1960|
Fort Toulouse (Muscogee: Franca choka chula), also called Fort des Alibamons and Fort Toulouse des Alibamons, is a historic fort near the city of Wetumpka, Alabama, United States, that is now maintained by the Alabama Historical Commission. The French founded the fort in 1717, naming it for Louis-Alexandre de Bourbon, comte de Toulouse. In order to counter the growing influence of the British colonies of Georgia and Carolina, the government of French Louisiana erected a fort on the eastern border of the Louisiana Colony in what is now the state of Alabama.
The fort was also referred to as the Post of the Alabama, named after the Alabama tribe of Upper Creek Indians, who resided just below the confluence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers on the upper reaches of the Alabama River.
The number of troops in garrison varied between 20 and 50 French Colonial Marines. Living and working at the fort, the Marines traded extensively with the local Creek Native Americans and cultivated friendly relations with them. The French would trade European goods such as Flintlock guns, ammunition, and gunpowder, iron tools, knives, glass beads, copper pots, and wool blankets in exchange for local food stuffs, fur and deerskins. According to tradition, the French commander Captain Jean Baptiste Louis DeCourtel Marchand married the high-status Creek woman Sehoy in about 1720. Later generations of Sehoy's descendants include the Creek chiefs Alexander McGillivray, and William Weatherford, who inherited their status in the matrilineal tribe from their mothers' clans.
Due to the poor living conditions at the fort, which was neglected by the French government, the troops mutinied in 1722. They killed Captain Marchand and captured the other officers, tying them up before leaving the fort. The imprisoned officers managed to escape, and with the help of nearby Creek, they captured the mutineers and sent them to Fort Conde in Mobile for punishment.
By the early 1740s, conditions had improved at the fort. Many soldiers had married French women from Mobile or intermarried with the local Creek. They and other settlers developed numerous farms nearby, which led to improved food supplies. The humid climate caused deterioration of the fort by the late 1740s, and the French planned for a third fort to be built. Under the direction of Captain Francois Saucier, soldiers finished the reconstruction of Fort Toulouse about 1751. It cost nearly half of the military budget for the whole Louisiana colony.
In 1763 the Treaty of Paris ended the French and Indian War. As the French had been defeated by the British and ceded their territory, the French garrison spiked their cannons and left for New Orleans and an eventual return to France for some. The British chose not to occupy the Fort, which eventually collapsed into decay. In 1776 the naturalist William Bartram noted visiting the area while studying local flora and fauna.
During the War of 1812 and the simultaneous Creek War, General Andrew Jackson encamped his troops on the site of the old Fort Toulouse. He ordered construction of a larger fort, which was named Fort Jackson by General Joseph Graham in honor of Jackson's victories against the Creek and in the Battle of New Orleans.
Fort Toulouse-Fort Jackson State Historic Site
The site was declared a National Historic Landmark by the Department of Interior in 1960. During the American Bicentennial, local groups supported reconstruction of Fort Toulouse. But the replica was incorrectly built upon the outline of the much larger Fort Jackson rather than the historic French fort.
In the 1980s the park was acquired by the Alabama Historical Commission. It dismantled the incorrect replica and constructed a replica of Fort Toulouse near its original site. This will allow for a future reconstruction of Ft. Jackson on its site (occupied successively by the two forts). Archeological excavations have been continuing at the site, supervised by Dr. Craig Sheldon of Auburn University at Montgomery.
The Fort Toulouse-Fort Jackson State Historic Site has living history programs to portray and interpret the lives of the Creek inhabitants, the French colonists and the U.S. military troops associated with the War of 1812. The fort is located southwest of Wetumpka, off of U.S. Highway 231.
- National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Fort Toulouse Site-Fort Jackson". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2008-01-11. Retrieved 2007-10-21.
- Cecil McKithan (June 29, 1989) National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Fort Toulouse / Fort Jackson, National Park Service and Accompanying 1 photo, undated.
- Heldman, Donald P. "Fort Toulouse of the Alabamas and the Eighteenth-Century Indian Trade". World Archaeology 5.2 (1973): 163-169.