Historic Markers Across Florida

Old Fort Park - Fort Pierce

Marker ID: FLHM 
Location: 901 South Indian River Drive, Fort Pierce, FL
County: St. Lucie
Coordinates: N 27° 26.236    W 080° 19.221
  27.43726666    -80.32035
Style: Interpretative Sign **
Waymark: WM7CVY


Old Fort Park - Fort Pierce

Fort Pierce (1838-1842) was a significant Second Seminole War U.S. military post built during General Thomas S. Jesup’s winter campaign of 1837-38. Strategically located on a high bluff along the Indian River’s western shore, the Fort stood four miles south of the old Indian River Inlet. Artillerymen constructed the blockade from readily available palmetto logs and named Fort Pierce for their "worthy commander" Brevet Lt. Col. Benjamin K. Pierce, a career military man whose brother Franklin later became the United States 14th President.

Fort Pierce briefly served as the Army of the South headquarters when General Jesup arrived here with his staff and troops on January 14, 1838. Jesup's large mounted force included more than 1,000 troops. Four hundred troopers of the 2nd United States Dragoons, 600 Alabama and Tennessee Mounted Volunteers, and a mixed force of 200 sailors, regulars, and Washington City Volunteers served here. A nearby fresh water spring supplied water; and the bounty of the river helped feed the Fort's occupants.

Fort Pierce bustled with activity as troops engaged in the campaign to force Florida's Seminole Indians to emigrate west of the Mississippi River. During the first battle with the Seminoles on the Loxahatchee {January 15, 1838) Lt. Levin Powell and his Navy force suffered four casualties, including their doctor; and they retreated north to Fort Pierce, where the wounded were treated by the Fort's doctor. During the Battle of the Loxahatchee (January 24, 1838) about 200 Seminoles, including Blacks, faced Jesup and his force of nearly 1,400. Nine Tennessee volunteers, two soldiers and an unknown number of Seminoles were killed.

Following its frenetic early days, Fort Pierce soldiers settled into a routine of training and maneuvers, patrolling the region, cutting trails, surveying and mapping lands, and transporting provisions to other nearby forts. No battles occurred here, and the Seminoles, so skilled in survival, resisted removal. The Fort was deactivated in February, 1842, at the end of the Second Seminole War. The Fort was destroyed by fire in December, 1843.

Military Fort Pierce at Old Fort Park, Fort Pierce

One of the Seminoles' most dangerous warrior chiefs, Coacoochee (Wild Cat), arranged to surrender at Fort Pierce. Mounted soldiers led by Lt. William Tecumseh Sherman (of later Civil War fame, pictured above) escorted Wild Cat and his warriors into the Fort. Wild Cat and his followers were forcibly removed to Indian Territory, and they later immigrated, by choice, to Mexico, where he died. Although a peace treaty was never signed, The U.S. government declared the Second Seminole War at an end in 1842.

"Worthy Commander" Lt. Col. Benjamin K. Pierce 1st U.S. Artillery

Artifacts recovered from the site of Fort Pierce include uniform buttons, musket balls, flint, black powder, parts of guns, and eating utensils.

Pictures of this marker can be view on HMDB.org