Nicolls' Outpost

Nicolls' Outpost was the smaller and more northern of two forts built by British Lt. Col. Edward Nicolls during the War of 1812. (The Americans referred to it as Fort Apalachicola. Built at the end of 1814, together with the larger "British post" or storage depot down the Apalachicola,[1]:47 it was "the northernmost post built by the British during their Gulf Coast Campaign". It was just below the Spanish Florida–Georgia border, where the Flint and Chattahoochee Rivers meet to form the Apalachicola, in River Landing Park in modern Chattahoochee, Florida. Even though what was built was smaller than the much larger British post down the Apalachicola, it was intended to be the base, presumably enlarged, for an English invasion of the United States, and British post was to have been its supply depot. The 1815 end of the War of 1812 aborted this project.

It was built atop the largest of three surviving mounds of the prehistoric Fort Walton culture. Above the winter flood stage of the Apalachicola, it could reach both forks of the river with cannon fire. It was built in 1814 and abandoned early in 1815, at the end of the war. It was armed with a 5+12-inch howitzer. It also had a coehorn, a mortar that could fire 24-pound shells. According to a report of U.S. Colonel and Indian agent Benjamin Hawkins, there were "200 troops white and black and an assemblage of 500 [Creek] Warriors", "well supplied with cloth[e]s and munitions of War". The intention was to mount an expedition "up the river" (the Flint), bringing the cannon along.[2]:76 Georgia militia, other U.S. forces, and the faction of the Creek allied with the U.S. (the Lower Creeks) were preparing upriver (in Georgia) for a battle. News of the treaty ending the war (Treaty of Ghent), which reached both sides in February 1815, prevented the battle from taking place. The British abandoned both of its forts on the Apalachicola, leaving them in the hands of the black Corps of Colonial Marines that Nicolls had trained, and of Red Stick Creek Neamathla and his warriors.

Council of 1815Edit

Before abandoning the Fort, an important council (meeting) took place there on March 10, 1815. The meeting was between Red Stick Creek leaders Neamathla, Francis the Prophet (Josiah Francis), Peter McQueen, and more than 30 other Native Americans, and Lt. Col. Nicolls and four other British officers, passing through on their way to British ships to return them to other British colonies (Bahamas, Jamaica, Trinidad) or to England. "The council included representatives from towns or groups of Lower Creeks, Red Sticks, Miccosukee, Alachua, Yuchi and Choctaw. Languages spoken included Hitchiti, Yuchi, and Choctaw. In short, a wide range of cultures was combining into the group that we know today as Seminoles."[3] In retrospect, this was the founding of the Seminoles, a loose alliance of various groups of Native American refugees in Spanish Florida, although they did not set up a central authority, which was "extremely difficult for the United States military to understand. ... The political and social complications at play in the developing Seminole Nation were utterly incomprehensible to American settlers and officials."[3] The person who did understand them, Indian agent Hawkins, died in 1816.

The Treaty of Ghent stated that Native Americans were to be restored "all possessions, rights and privileges which they may have enjoyed, or been entitled to in 1811". The meeting was to point out to the British that having assisting them, the Creeks faced even greater hostility from the Americans. They claimed to be subjects of Britain, and asked British assistance in recovering their lands.

Treaty of Nicolls' OutpostEdit

The most important outcome of the meeting was the little-known Treaty of Nicolls' Outpost. In it, the Creeks promised allegiance to Great Britain, which in turn accepted them as subjects of the British empire. The hope was that Britain would provide them with protection against the United States, so they could recover the land taken since 1811, more specifically that taken in the Treaty of Fort Jackson, which they, the Red Stick Creeks, had not signed and which, they claimed, did not apply to them. Nicolls, a champion of Native American rights, created this treaty on his own initiative, without authorization.

The outcome was the famous trip of Francis the Prophet to London, together with Nicolls, to seek "recognition and assistance" from Great Britain. The British government, in no way interested in further conflict with the United States, summarily rejected the Treaty, sent Francis home, and chastised Nicolls.[2]:84

Historical markerEdit

A historical marker has been erected at the site:

Atop this large prehistoric mound stood Nicolls' Outpost, a British fort of the War of 1812. Built in the fall of 1814, it was a rectangular earthen redoubt with a surrounding stockade and was armed with two small cannons. Garrisoned by 180 white and black Royal Colonial Marines, the outpost was named for Bvt. Lt. Col. Edward Nicolls, a noted British officer of the early 19th century. Nicolls was assigned the task of forming a battalion of Royal Colonial Marines by enlisting and training both free blacks and liberated slaves from Spanish Florida and the United States. He was also ordered to supply a large fighting force of Red Stick Creek and Seminole Indians. The outpost provided protection for Nicolls' main base at today's Fort Gadsden Historic Site in the Apalachicola National Forest. It was to serve as a launching point for a planned invasion of Georgia and more than 500 Creek and Seminole Indians gathered here in February 1815. They were preparing to attack when news arrived of the end of the War of 1812. A major council of chiefs met here in March to appeal for continued British support, but Nicolls' Outpost was abandoned soon after.[4]

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Cox, Dale (2015). Nicolls' outpost : a War of 1812 fort at Chattahoochee, Florida. Old Kitchen Books. ISBN 9780692379363.


  1. ^ Cox, Dale (2015). Nicolls' outpost : a War of 1812 fort at Chattahoochee, Florida. Old Kitchen Books. ISBN 9780692379363.
  2. ^ a b Cox, Dale; Conrad, Rachael (2017). Fowltown: Neamathla, Tutalosi Talofa and the first battle of the Seminole Wars. Old Kitchen Books. ISBN 0692977880.
  3. ^ a b Cox, Dale (2016). Fort Scott, Fort Hughes & Camp Recovery. Three 19th century military sites in Southwest Georgia. Old Kitchen Books. p. 65. ISBN 9780692704011.
  4. ^ West Gadsden Historical Society (2014). "Nicoll's Outpost". Retrieved March 22, 2018.

Coordinates: 30°42′02″N 84°51′24″W / 30.7006°N 84.8568°W / 30.7006; -84.8568