The French Outpost at the Alabamas on the Coosa
Publication Year: 1989
Situated at the head of the Alabama River system—at the juncture of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers—Fort Toulouse in 1717 was planned to keep the local Indians neutral, if not loyal, to the French and contain the British in their southernmost Atlantic colonies. Unlike the usual frontier settlements, Fort Toulouse was both a diplomatic post, since its officers acted as resident ministers, and a military post. Because it was located in a friendly territory adjoining an area under a rival (British) influence, the post participated in psychological warfare rather than in blood-letting. It used trade and aid, and was familiar with spies and double-agents—welcoming and debriefing British defectors; no cannon was discharged in anger at Toulouse.
The most eminent figure to have been connected directly with Fort Toulouse was General Andrew Jackson, who established a military post there during the War of 1812 after his victory over the Indians at Horseshoe Bend. The outpost was named Fort Jackson in his honor and played a key role in the treaty negotiations and eventual settlement of the Indian land by Americans.
In addition to discussing geopolitical and military affairs and diplomatic relations with Indian chiefs, Thomas describes daily life at the post and the variety of interactions between residents and visitors. Waselkov's introduction places the original 1960 book within the context of the existing scholarship of that time and adds an extensive and enlightening review of the most recent archaeological and historical research to Thomas' pioneering work.
Published by: The University of Alabama Press
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Introduction: Recent Archaeological and Historical Research
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To the French, Fort Toulouse was simply, but emphatically, "the key to the country." The English, who found their plans for economic and political control of the Southeast so often thwarted there, called it the "mischievous French garrison Aleb�mah." And the Creek Indians, with their genius for self-determination amid the conflicting demands of powerful...
Fort Toulouse: The French Outpost at the Alabamas on the Coosa
Fort Toulouse was constructed by the French in 1717 and was maintained as an alvanced post of the colony of Louisiana until 1763. It was located on the Coosa River near the junction of that stream and the Tallapoosa; thus it was at the head of the Alabama, four miles south of Wetumpka, Alabama and ten miles north of Montgomery. There have been many...
I. The Potentialities of a Fort at the Head of the Alabama River
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By establishing Fort Toulouse, the French "secured the most valuable strategic position in the whole southwestern country" of the colonial period. (Alfred W. Reynolds, "The Alabama-Tombigbee Basin in International Relations, 1701-1763.") A French ring of forts around the English colonies would be an effort at "containment," or as one French contemporary expressed it, a "girdle" around these rivals. In one sense...
II. Conditions and Events Leading to the Establishment of the Post
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This post appears to he absolutely necessary in order to bring the savages into the interest of the French. (Minutes of the Council of Marine, Paris, Sept. 8, 1716.) One reason for the bleak prospects of the struggling French settlements on the Gulf had been the \var known as the War of the Spanish Succession in Europe and as Queen Anne's War in America, 1702-13. Louis XI" had concentrated his efforts on the...
III. The Construction of Fort Toulouse in 1717
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"If I had arrived one month later . . . the English would have won the [Creek] country." Lieutenant La Tour to Ordonnateur Hubert. It was late in July when La Tour and his men reached their destination.� No doubt they explored the upper reaches of the Alabama and some distance up Coosa, if not the smaller Tallapoosa, looking for the best location.
IV. Its Military Role and History to 1750
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"The post in the Alabamas, as is well-known, is one of the principal keys of His Majesty's domains on this continent." Governor Kerlerec in a proces verbal of May 16, 1760.� The military history of the new post is best understood if the position it occupied in the colonial government and administration is comprehended. Canada was the older French province, and Britain had hopes of limiting it to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence areas.
V. Life on the Post
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Typical nicknames of men in the garrison: Mathieu "Jolly" Brignac, Louis "Debonair" Fonteneau, Pierre "Richelieu' Fourre, St. Simeon "St. Peter" Brignac, Simeon "Carefree" Dousset, Joseph "Hurricane" Cevraise, Antoine "from Dauphine" Bonin. (From the Review of the Garrison, January 1, 1756.) One of the most difficult tasks of the historian is the description of the everyday life, of the daily activities of...
VI. Trade at the Alabama Post
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"The officers who had been at Tombeckbi and Alabama, Own'd to me, that they generally bought of the Indians about these places, fifty thousand skins a year, each." (Colonel Robertson to Major General Gage, March 8, 1764.) The number of pelts produced by the Alabamas in 1725 is estimated at 3,000. (Surrey, Commerce of Louisiana. ) The officials of Louisiana were not only interested in promoting...
VII. Fort Toulouse as a Missionary Center
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"... in addition to the knowledge of God that they would impart to them, at least to some of them, nothing is more useful than a missionary to restrain the Indians, to learn all that is happening among them and to inform the commandants of the neighboring posts about it, to prevent the quarrels that may arise between the voyageurs and the Indians and especially to see to it that the former do not sell their goods at too...
VIII. The Fort as a Diplomatic Center
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"I never did see the French take any Think in Hand among those Creek Indians, but what comes to the same End as they intended it." William Sludder, trader in a nearby village of Oakechoys, to William Pinckney, South Carolina Indian Commissioner, Nov. 11, 1750. It is a truism that diplomacy in the twentieth century includes a diversity of factors economic, psychological,
IX. The Show Down—The French and Indian War, 1754–1763
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An "Expedition against the Albahma Fort by Land as hath been often talked of, would be powerfully opposed." Edmond Atkin to William Pitt, March 27, 1760, in reply to Pitt's proposal of such an attack. The king of France has abandoned Louisiana. (Governor Kerlerec to Minister Choiseul, Aug. 4, 1760. ) The period between King George's War, ending in 1748, and...
X. The Fort in the Treaty Negotiations
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The boundary of Louisiana on the east should run from the mouth of the Perdido River to Fort Toulouse, from there to the westernmost point of Lake Erie, etc. (French Memoir of Aug. 10, 1761) Attention to the future boundaries of Louisiana was given by French officials as early as 1761. If Canada were ceded to Britain, it was expected that Louisiana would be retained.
XI. The French Evacuation in 1763 and the British Decision Not to Garrison the Fort
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"The English give me more trouble here, Monsieur, than the savages, ..." (Director-General d'Abbadie to Governor Kerlerec, Mobile, Nov. 6, 1763.) "The path to Mobile was once clear, but is now grown up, . . ." (An Alabama chief as quoted in a John Stuart letter of Dec. 2, 1770, British Transcripts, LC, PRO, C. 0. 5, 72:227. The officer who was assigned to oversee the evacuation and...
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"No other military post within the limits of the State of Alabama has a background equal in importance to that of Fort Jackson, ... [where] Gen. Andrew Jackson made peace with the Creek Nation, after one of the most bloody Indian Wars in the history of our country." Lieutenant Colonel Howard L. Landers, U. S. House Reports, 71st Cong., 2nd. Session, III, 17-18. The failure of the British to occupy� the fort did not...
Notes [Includes Back Cover]
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Publication Year: 1989