Location: Zephyrhills, Florida
Webpage: Florida State Park
General Description: During the Second Seminole War, which began in 1835, the major American Forts were Fort Brooke in Tampa to the South and Fort King in Ocala to the North. As the war progressed, other forts were built along the Fort King Military Road through the Seminole Indian Reservation between these two including Fort Armstrong, Fort Dade, and Fort Foster. Overland travel in Florida in the 1800s was difficult and the rivers were major obstacles. There was only one suitable crossing over the Hillsborough River and Major Dade found only smoking ruins during his ill fated march to Fort King in December, 1835, delaying him for 2 days. Simply replacing the bridge was not enough since the Seminoles would just burn it again, so a fort to protect the crossing was needed. In March, 1836, Fort Alabama (named for the troops from Alabama that built it) was built on the site. Although the Seminoles were not able to take the fort after two attempts, it was abandoned on April 26. It was common practice at the time to garrison these forts from fall to spring due to the heat, humidity, insects, and disease. They would commonly be abandoned during the summer. However, they booby-trapped the powder magazine that exploded when the Seminoles tried to take possession of the fort. With orders to reestablish the fort, Lt. Col. William Foster, led a force of 320 men in November, 1836 at a slightly different location with better access to the bridge. On two occasions, the Seminoles tried to storm the fort and burn the bridge without success. Over the summer, the fort was again abandoned until October, 1837 when it was reoccupied and continued to function as a supply depot until the spring of 1838, when it was abandoned for good since the Seminoles had been pushed far enough south to secure the location. Today, Fort Foster has been completely reconstructed and many events on weekends throughout the year are held in the fort. In addition, the bridge over the Hillsborough River has also been reconstructed in its original location just off US 301.
1) The museum for the fort is actually across the highway in Hillsborough River State Park. It has a few exhibits about the Second Seminole War and the history of the fort.
2) It was great to see a fully reconstructed fort for that time period. Due to the fact they have multiple events through the year, each of the buildings are stocked with period furniture including beds, tables, and chairs, and good examples of the supplies that would have been available.
3) The fort is obviously not large enough to house over 300 soldiers and their horses and their is no evidence there was a barracks inside the palisade. The soldiers would sleep in tents outside the fort, retreating into the fort when attacked. The primary purpose of the fort was to protect the supplies and bridge. The small door with a cannon aimed at it that could fire straight down the bridge was especially impressive.