Fort Foster was constructed by 1837 by Colonel William S. Foster and his troops. After the initial construction, Foster left behind a small contingent of about 70 men, along with volunteers, whose job it was to finish building the fort and garrison it.
The fort was built along what was called the Fort King Military Road, originating at Fort Brooke on Tampa Bay and ending at Fort King near what is now Ocala. To the south, the Fort King Military Road followed near the Hillsborough River and at the site of Fort Foster, a bridge was built over the river.
On February 2, 1837, the Seminole Indians attacked the fort and attempted to burn down the bridge, hoping to disrupt the supply route from Fort Brooke to Fort King.
Andrew Jackson wanted to crush the Seminole Indians as part of his desire to claim Florida as United States territory. The First Seminole War did not go as Jackson has planned. After becoming President (1829-1837), Jackson decided the best thing to do with all Indians east of the Mississippi was to round them up and intern them to reservations mostly in Oklahoma.
According to the Treaty of Paynes Landing in 1832, the Seminoles had 36 months to migrate out of Florida and settle out West. That didn’t go exceptionally well for Jackson either. By 1834 less than 4,000 Seminoles had moved and the majority remained behind under their leader Chief Osceola.
In December of 1835, Chief Osceola murdered Indian agent Wiley Thompson and Osceola’s warriors, numbering about 300, ambushed Major Francis Dade and his troops, setting off the Second Seminole War.
With U.S. troops in the field, Fort Foster became an important outpost in order to keep the bridge in tact so as not to disrupt the supply lines open to the north. Eventually Osceola and his warriors headed into the Everglades fighting the U.S. Army using more guerilla-like tactics but ultimately the majority of the Seminoles surrendered and moved to Oklahoma. Some Seminoles remained in the swamps being led by Billy Bowlegs and yes, a Third Seminole War would eventually break out.
Below are some photographs of the recent reenactment that took place at Fort Foster. All photos were taken by Milt Inman.