Topic: Forts

Unanswered Questions Concerning Charlesfort

Late 16th and 17th century maps published in France, the Netherlands and Germany stated that Captain René Goulaine de Laudonniére journeyed up what appears to be the Savannah River to the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1562 and claimed the gold-bearing lands for the King of France.  De Laudonniére was only at Charlesfort for less than a month in 1562, before returning to France. He does not mention making any long journeys. However, prior to leaving he was given a gold chain that was made in these mountains. He was also given a chunk of silver ore that supposedly came...

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The French Colony of Charlesfort

South Carolina archaeologists currently believe that they have found the location of Charlesfort on Parris Island, SC, within the U.S. Marine Reservation. The location matches the description of Charlesfort’s landscape, provided by de Laudonniére.  French-made artifacts were found in the lower levels of a fort constructed by the Spanish. The Spanish burned the French fort in 1565, but apparently rebuilt it in 1566. The launch of the first colonial voyage occurred a month before the beginning of the French Wars of Religion.  In March of 1562, troops employed by the Duke of Guise massacred an unarmed Huguenot congregation inside their church at Wassy, France.  Warfare soon raged across France.  Of course, Ribault continued his plans for colonization with the assumption that all was normal back in France. Jean Ribault and René Goulain de Laudonniére made contact with a powerful Native king, they named Audisto.  His name is most likely the same person, named Edisto five years later by the Spanish settlers of Port Royal Sound. Audisto introduced the Frenchmen, who were sub-kings of neighboring provinces.  Relations with their neighbors were excellent.  Ribault had a trunk filled with trinkets at his side often, so he could always end diplomatic meetings with gifts.  The French made no effort to impress the Indians with their superior military During the early phase of the first expedition, de Laudonniére was given a chunk of...

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First Voyage Commanded by Jean Ribault – 1562

On February 15, 1562 the government of France dispatched Captain Jean Ribault with a small fleet to explore the South Atlantic Coast, claim it for the King of France, and identify potential locations for colonies. Unlike colonial expeditions sponsored by Spain and England in that century, the French expedition was extremely well planned, at least on paper. It was financed by the French Crown, whereas Spanish and English colonial attempts were privately capitalized.  The members of the expedition included all skills necessary to survive in the New World, including carpenters and ship builders. Admiral de Cologny intended French Florida to become a major center of ship-building, because of the inexhaustible supply of wood on the Southeast. The colony would thrive from the profits of ship-building and not be dependent on support from the French Crown for very long.  That was the plan, at least. The expedition reached the coast of North American around April 15.  De Laudonniére’s memoirs do not give a specific date. The place is called a cape or headland that consisted of a white sandy beach and a horizon defined by trees.  This well could have been one of the larger barrier islands on the South Atlantic coast.  The French called this geographical landmark, Cape François.  De Laudonniére said that it was at about 30 degrees latitude. Almost all scholars assume that Cape François was Cape...

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Strongholds of the Past

The tourist on the coast of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia- for in summer hundreds of people seek out this pleasant land for its cheerful climate – may come upon a little bay on the easternmost verge of the land where is a deep landlocked inlet protected from elemental fury by a long rocky arm thrust out from the shore into the sea. He will not be able to surmise from the present aspect of his surroundings that this was the site of mighty Louisburg, the greatest artificial stronghold (Quebec being largely a work of nature) that the French ever had in the New World. Of this massive and menacing fortress, which cost thirty million livres and twenty-five years of toil to build after the designs of the great Vauban, hardly one stone lies placed upon another and grass and rubble have taken the place of the heavy walls. Standing on the ground where New France’s greatest leaders stood it is difficult today to picture the martial pomp which once must have claimed this spot, to visualize, more particularly, the setting for the farcical onslaught of the zealous New Englanders of 1744, under the doughty Pepperell, in their greatest single military exploit. The Treaty of Utrecht, which provided a basis of agreement for France and England in the New World for almost half a century, did not establish boundaries...

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West Point, New York

The long trough of land which runs 384 miles from New York to Montreal, consisting of the Hudson River Valley, Lakes George and Champlain and the Richelieu River Valley, is without doubt the most vital of American natural highways and its importance has been recognized from the earliest days of American history. The French in the days when the lilies of France waved over half of the American continent sent their war parties down this depression to prey upon the English settlements, and hence came about the building of Ticonderoga at the northern entrance to the long march. The American colonists years afterward, when they had need to defend the southern mouth of the valley, fortified West Point and its neighboring points and crags, their first cover being taken at Peekskill some three or four miles south of West Point. It will be remembered that in 1777 came about that menacing campaign in the Hudson in which the British from the south under Sir Henry Clinton and in the north under General Burgoyne attempted a juncture of forces at Albany, the intention being to divide the American colonies along the line of the historic Hudson Valley and then to reduce each half at leisure while the British fleet prevented any efforts at union by way of the seacoast. Burgoyne surrendered in October of that year at Saratoga, which is...

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Historic and Quaint Forts of North America

Historic and Quaint Forts of North America. An account of the most famous fortifications of North America is, in realty, a cross section of the military history of the continent; and whatever ingenuity there may be in this method of presenting the conspicuous deeds of valor of the American people will, it may be hoped, add interest to the following pages.

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Forts Trumbull and Griswold

The sunny waters of the Thames at New London, Connecticut, present a smiling aspect, and from the high flagstaff of trig little Fort Trumbull the stars and stripes float gaily. Across the river on the hill above the little town of Groton is the State reservation containing the remains of Fort Griswold, with rough zigzag paths approaching the summit of the hill. Adjacent to Fort Griswold is the stone monument which commemorates the Fort Griswold massacre. Many sunny years will not wipe out the memory of the bloody deeds of that violent hour. Fort Trumbull is situated one mile...

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Fort Ticonderoga

One could desire to be at the bold promontory of Ticonderoga in 1609, when the virgin woodside gazed anxiously at Samuel Champlain, that intrepid French adventurer, as he fired his bellmouthed musket against the mystified Iroquois. The echoes of the discharge of this ancient firearm were seldom allowed to die in these wildernesses until the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, until the complete ascendency of white man over red had been established. Standing upon the ramparts of the old fort one may today easily imagine himself in a virgin forest world. Civilization has set her hand upon Lake Champlain, but her work is not obtrusively near to the fort. The hills to the rear are still wooded; the waters, to front and sides, are clear; and the same blue bends over all. The immediate surroundings are little different from those in which Champlain fought his opera bouffe fight and inaugurated the long struggle between red men and white in this part of the world. We must remember that in 1609 the French had already taken hold of New France. They had a querulous, contumacious baby of a colony on the Saint Lawrence at Quebec and to this point came many curious red men. With some of these red men the French had formed alliance. One tribe of these allies had seen the thunderous cannon and guns of the French...

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