Fort Hawkins


In 1806 this portion of Georgia was the western frontier of the United States. The Creek Indians had not been very peaceful since 1770's.


FORT HAWKINS
by
Diane Wilcox

 

FORT ESTABLISHED

Fort Hawkins was built in 1806 by the United States government under the administration of President Thomas Jefferson. It overlooked the ancient Indian mounds of the Ocmulgee Old Fields, as well as, the future site of Macon, across the river.

 

BENJAMIN HAWKINS

The fort's namesake was Benjamin Hawkins, an American officer in the Revolutionary War, a member of the Continental Congress, and a former North Carolina Senator. He was highly esteemed by President George Washington, and was appointed by him in 1785 to negotiate with the Creek Indians. Later he was named principal agent of Indian Affairs south of the Ohio River, and was active in arranging treaties and handling other matters incident to the territorial expansion of the United States. Hawkins served meritoriously in this capacity for about 30 years.

 

 

THE FORT'S CONSTRUCTION

The fort consisted of two large blockhouses connected by a strong stockade made of hewn timbers, with port holes for muskets at each alternate post. The stockade enclosed an area of 1.4 acres. The blockhouses were located at the SE and NW corners of the rectangular stockade. Both blockhouses were built with an above-ground basement of stone blocks surmounted by two stories of hewn log and topped with a watchtower. There were four long houses, made of logs, inside the stockade, one in the center of each side wall, with their walls forming part of the stockade. The buildings were used for soldierıs quarters, the storage of provisions, as well as, to store the goods and hides of the Indian trade. In the center of the fort were the officers' quarters, surrounded by oak trees, for shade. The remainder of the fort's interior and over 90 acres outside the stockade wall, were cleared of undergrowth and large trees, to prevent surprise attacks, and for clear observation.

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FORT

After the 1805 treaty between the United States and the Creek Indians, the Ocmulgee River became the Southwestern boundary of the United States. Fort Hawkins was built to protect and defend this frontier, serving as a federal military post or the United States. During the Creek War (1813-1814) and the War of 1812 with Great Britain, Fort Hawkins was prominent for the rendezvous and disposition of troops. In October 1814, 2,500 militia were organized and equipped at the fort to join General Andrew Jackson at Mobile. Some of these soldiers saw duty in the Seminole uprisings in South Georgia. Fort Hawkins at this time was the principal depository for army supplies, and rations for troops involved in both Indian fighting and the War of 1812.

In Feb. 1818, General Jackson with 1,000 Tennessee volunteers arrived at Fort Hawkins. Here he was joined by 900 Georgia Militia and a number of friendly Creeks enroute to the campaigns of the First Seminole War. The last great assembly of Indians at the Fort occurred in 1817, when 1,400 Creeks gathered to receive annuities from the government. Each U.S. treaty provided payment of such annuities in return for ceding the ownership of Indian land. By 1818, Anglo-Americans began settling on the lands around the fort. A ferry was built across the river. Within three years, the settementıs name was changed from Fort Hawkins to "Newtown".

In 1821, the Creeks signed a treaty giving up their lands between the Ocmulgee and Flint rivers, and shortly afterwards the city of Macon was laid out on the west side of the Ocmulgee River. But for the entirety of its existence as an active U.S. military establishment, Fort Hawkins had sat upon Indian-owned land.

 

DEACTIVATION AND DISREPAIR

At the end of 1818, the fort was headquarters for the Eastern Section of the U.S. Army's Division of the South. A small administrative staff, under the commander of the Eastern Section, were probably the last troops to stay at Fort Hawkins. After 1819 the fort was not garrisoned. The land embracing the fort was acquired by local developers in 1828. Gradually the buildings fell into disrepair and by 1879 only the southeast blockhouse remained. Later even it was dismantled and relocated to be used as a barn and was eventually destroyed in an accidental fire.

 

BLOCKHOUSE REPLICA

In 1938, through the efforts of the Nathaniel Macon Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and with the Works Progress Administration, a replica of Fort Hawkins' southeastern blockhouse was reconstructed on the exact location of the original, using some of the original stones in the basement section. The upper floors are made of concrete formed to simulate the original wood timbers. During reconstruction, archaeology conducted at the site revealed the location and extent of the stockade walls and corner blockhouses. These excavations uncovered many everyday items used by the fort's inhabitants. The City of Macon currently maintains the structure and it is occasionally opened to the public.

Excerpts from http://www.nps.gov/ocmu/pi/fthawkins.html

Roadside Georgia Fort Hawkins City of Macon Georgia
     

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  This site  was last updated 06/10/2004 09:32:38 AM CDT

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