Fort Massac

Fort Massac (or Fort Massiac) is a colonial and early National-era fort on the Ohio River in Massac County, Illinois, United States.

Legend has it that, as early as 1540, the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and his soldiers constructed a primitive fortification here to defend themselves from native attack. Maps from the early 18th century show an "Ancien Fort" ("Old Fort") near this location.

Fort Massiac was built by the French in 1757, during the French and Indian War and was originally called "Fort de l’Ascension." The name was changed in 1759, to honor of Claud Louis d'Espinchal, Marquis de Massiac, the French Naval Minister. (Massiac is a place in the Communes of the Cantal department in France.) Many early 19th-century sources claim that "Massac" was derived from a "massacre" that occurred at the site; but there is no record of such a massacre.

Following the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, the French abandoned the fort and a band of Chickasaw burned it to the ground. When Captain Thomas Stirling, commander of the 42nd Highland Regiment, arrived to take possession for Britain, he found nothing but a charred ruin.

The British never rebuilt the fort. In 1778, during the American Revolutionary War, Col. George Rogers Clark led his regiment of “Long Knives” into Illinois near the fort at Massac Creek. In 1794, during the Northwest Indian War, President George Washington ordered the fort rebuilt, and for the next 20 years it protected U.S. military and commercial interests in the Ohio Valley.

In the Fall of 1803, the Lewis and Clark Expedition stopped at Fort Massac on its way west, recruiting two volunteers. During the summer of 1805, former U.S. Vice President Aaron Burr and Gen. James Wilkinson met at Fort Massac where they allegedly drew up plans to conquer Mexico and the American southwest.

The Fort was damaged by the New Madrid Earthquake in 1812. It was again rebuilt in time to play a minor role in the War of 1812, only to be abandoned again in 1814. Local citizens dismantled the fort for its timber, and by 1828 little remained. In 1839 the city of Metropolis was platted about a mile west of the fort.

The Fort Massac site was made a State Park in 1908, the first Illinois state park. A replica of the old Fort has been built. Each fall, reenactors gather for the Fort Massac Encampment, interpreting life in the 18th century. A visitor center just north of the reconstructed fort contains a museum with Indian artifacts, wax figures in period clothing, and other exhibits explaining the history of Fort Massac.

Other articles related to "fort, fort massac":

Lusk's Ferry Road
... road in Illinois that provided an overland connection between the main settlement, Fort Kaskaskia, on the Mississippi River, and Lusk's Ferry, an important crossing point on the Ohio River ... Fort Massac is on the Ohio River, about 20 miles (overland) southwest of Lusk's Ferry ... This was a French fort that was abandoned and burned in 1763, at the end of the French and Indian War, when control of the Illinois Country passed to the British ...

Famous quotes containing the word fort:

    I think it will thrill you. It may shock you. It might even horrify you. So if any of you feel that you do not care to subject your nerves to such a strain, now is your chance to—Well, we warned you.
    —Garrett Fort (1900–1945)