This article first appeared in The Tallahassee Democrat on April 27, 2019
PROSPECT BLUFF — Two hundred years ago, a post overlooking the Apalachicola River housed what historians say was the largest community of freed slaves in North America at the time.
Hurricane Michael has given archaeologists an unprecedented opportunity to study its story, a significant tale of black resistance that ended in bloodshed.
The site, also known as Fort Gadsden, is about 70 miles southwest of Tallahassee in the Apalachicola National Forest near the hamlet of Sumatra.
British lived at Prospect Bluff with allied escaped slaves, called Maroons, who joined the British military in exchange for freedom, along with Seminole, Creek, Miccosukee and Choctaw tribe members.
The Negro Fort, which was built on the site by the British during the War of 1812, became a haven for escaped slaves. Inside, 300 barrels of gunpowder were stored, and defended by both women and men.