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Construction on Fort Pike just to the east of New Orleans was begun in 1819 and was completed in 1826. The military installment was named for General Zebulon Montgomery Pike, after whom Pike�s Peak is also named.
Fort Pike was the first in the so-called Third System fortifications, which was a group of brick and masonry forts built between 1816 and 1867, and designed to withstand attack from land or sea. It overlooks the Rigolets Pass, one of the important entryways into Lake Pontchartrain that would allow for advance on New Orleans.
The fort was constructed under orders of President James Monroe in response to the War of 1812, during which the British destroyed the United States capital and attacked New Orleans. Fort Pike was designed to protect New Orleans in combination with nearby Fort Macomb on Chef Pass, Forts Jackson and St. Philip on the Mississippi River, and Fort Livingston on Barataria Bay.
Fort Pike was garrisoned by 400 men during wartime, but only housed up to 80 soldiers during peacetime. Artillery consisted of 32- and 24-pounder cannons.
During the Seminole Wars of the 1830s, the fort served as a staging area for troops heading to Florida and as a holding area for Seminole prisoners and their slaves en route to Oklahoma.
Likewise, during the Mexican War in the 1840s, Fort Pike staged soldiers heading to Texas and Mexico.
In 1861, before the outbreak of the Civil War, Louisiana militia captured Fort Pike, and Confederate forces held the fort until the Union army captured New Orleans in 1862. Union forces then used the installment as a base for raids along the Gulf coast and Lake Pontchartrain area, as well as to protect New Orleans.
It also became a training facility for former slaves, who were taught to use heavy artillery. These soldiers became part of the United States Colored Troops, who played an important role in many battles, including the siege of Port Hudson north of Baton Rouge.
However, no action was seen at the fort itself.
Fort Pike was officially abandoned, but in 1972 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
It was used as Fort Resurrection in the 2010 movie Jonah Hex.
April 9th, 2014
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