Fort Foster State Historic Site (part of Hillsborough River State Park) is a reproduction of a fort originally built on the same grounds in December 1836, by Col. William S. Foster and his 430 men. During the Second Seminole War the purpose of Fort Foster was to defend the bridge crossing at the Hillsborough River and act as a resupply point for the soldiers in the field.
Fort Foster was originally built in December 1836 under the direction of Lt. Col. William S. Foster on the site of Fort Alabama. On December 1, 1836 Colonel Foster arrived at the site with 430 men to rebuild the fort and bridge that had been destroyed months earlier. By December 19, he had erected 2 blockhouses, a large storehouse and a fort. Then on the 22nd, Col. Foster departed with 180 men, and 25 wagons with provisions and forage to resupply Fort Armstrong. The remainder of his men were tasked with completing the bridge and powder magazine.
On January 1, 1837, Col. Foster boasted in a letter to General R. Jones that, "the works at "Fort Foster" on the Hillsborough River. That Fort & Bridge form one of the best and strongest field fortifications ever erected against Indians."
Fort Foster was a strategic fortification built for the protection of the bridge and with more importance on the supplies within. Fortified supply depots were continuously placed deeper into Seminole territory to allow the soldiers to operate in the field while they captured the hostile Seminoles.
The armament and supplies at Fort Foster consisted as follows: A six pounder and a howitzer with at least 100 rounds of ammunition for each. Forty thousand rounds of rifle powder and bullets. Fifty thousand ball and buckshot cartridges. Fifty thousand rations of subsistence and ten thousand bushels of corn. Tools of every description as well as iron, steel, nails, cordage, & etc. required for service in the field.
Fort Foster was garrisoned from January until March 1837 by Navy Lieutenant Thomas J. Leib, 2 Midshipmen and about 50 Sailors from the USS Concord. Lt Leib was also provided with 20 artillerymen to man the six pound iron gun and twelve pound howitzer to defend the fortification and bridge.
The site was significant for skirmishes in February 1837 during the Second Seminole War, when 50 seamen from the USS Concord and 20 artillerymen resisted Seminole attacks and attempts by the hostile Seminoles to burn the bridge. That summer, the fort was abandoned because of disease among its forces.
Fort Foster was reactivated in the fall of 1837 to the summer 1838 to act as a supply post. Then it remained abandoned until 1841-1842, and again in 1849 when it only opened for short periods to meet the needs of the military when Seminole activity threatened.
The fort site was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on June 13, 1972. A replica of the fort was constructed at the site by the state and opened to the public in February 1980. It is owned and operated by the Florida State Park system as Fort Foster State Historic Site, a part of Hillsborough River State Park.
Today, park staff and reenactors provide living history demonstrations of life at Fort Foster. Each year, the site offers two living history events: Fort Foster Rendezvous in January, and the Candlelight Experience at Fort Foster in December. An Interpretive Center houses over 100 artifacts on display that were found at the Fort Foster Historic Site. Exhibits offer an understanding of both sides of the conflict between the Seminole nation and the US military. The center is open daily, from 8am - 5pm.
The fort was designed for war and not built to modern safety standards. Rough terrain, uneven floors and blockhouse stairs can be hazardous. Please remain aware of your surroundings as you tour. In particular, pay close attention to small children. Help preserve the fort by not climbing, sitting, touching or placing any items on the cannons. The fort and its artifacts may look durable but they are subject to wear and tear. The Florida Park Service cares for special places so that all may experience our Florida heritage.
The Fort Foster Rendezvous is a living history reenactment featuring military, Seminole, and civilian reenactors, sutlers, traders, and craft demonstrations. The annual Fort Foster Rendezvous features military demonstrations and a small reenactment that is loosely based on the skirmish and varies from year to year. [crazycrow.com]
VISIT THE PARK
Thank You Davide Tanasi at USF Tampa
15402 U.S. 301 N. Thonotosassa, FL 33592
PHONE: (813) 987-6771
HOURS: Fort Foster is not open for visitation on a daily basis. The Fort is opened for guided tours and for special events.
Tour Times: Thursdays of each week, at 10:30 am
page information credit: Florida State Parks, National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service, Crazy Crow Trading Post [www.crazycrow.com], USF Tampa
photos from the sources listed above, as well as publicly posted online sites with thanks to the contributors