History of Fort Foster

A view of reenactors lined up along the wall of the fort.

Fort Foster was originally built in December 1836 by Col. William S. Foster and his 430 men. Using only hand tools, it took him and his men three weeks to construct the fort.

During the Second Seminole War, the purpose of Fort Foster was to defend the bridge crossing the Hillsborough River and act as a resupply point for the soldiers in the field.

The fort was garrisoned on and off from December 1836 through April 1838. From January 1836 through March 1837, the fort was garrisoned predominately by sailors. U.S. Navy Lt. Thomas J. Lieb, 50 sailors and 20 artillery soldiers were assigned to defend the fort and bridge.

The fort was attacked on several occasions but the worst was in February 1836 when Seminole Indians attempted to set fire to the bridge. The attempts were thwarted by aggressive musket and cannon fire from the sailors and the artillery men within the fort. Seminole attacks increased to a point that forced Lt. Lieb to send a message to Fort Brooke, where Tampa is today, for reinforcements.  

From there, 150 Marines were dispatched to Fort Foster to assist the sailors. When the Marines arrived, the Seminoles rethought their intentions and the hostilities nearly ceased at the bridge crossing.