Fort De Russy (4)
Fort De Russy (4) (1862-1864) - A Confederate U.S. Civil War earthworks Fort established in 1862 along the Red River near Marksville, Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana. Named Fort De Russy after Colonel Lewis G. De Russy (Cullum 96), of Natchitoches (brother of Brig. General René Edward De Russy). Abandoned in 1864. Also known as Camp De Russy.
Fort DeRussy was an U.S. Civil War earthworks fort built to block Union gunboats coming down the Red River. It was located in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, some three miles north of the town of Marksville. The Avoyelles Parish Police Jury approved the construction of the fort and Major General Richard Taylor, the only son of former U.S. President Zachary Taylor, hired Colonel Lewis G. DeRussy to superintend the work on the fortifications. Colonel DeRussy was then the oldest West Point graduate serving in the Confederate Army and was a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican War. Construction began in November 1862.
The main fort was built on a slight hill overlooking and protecting the lower Water Battery. The Water Battery was located at a strategic bend on the Red River that exposed Union gunboats as they rounded the turn and the smoke from their stacks provided advance warning. The fort was vulnerable from the land side and finally fell to a massive landside attack. During the war, the fort was the site of three major engagements and many minor skirmishes.
After the capture by Union forces, Fort De Russy was used as a recruiting station for black troops, and as a contraband camp for escaped slaves. By late May 1864, Union forces had abandoned the fort and it was never re-garrisoned.
Now a part of the Fort De Russy State Historic Site which covers some but not all of the major components of the fort defenses. The site is behind a locked gate with only a sign at the tree line to indicate the fort location. There is no visitor center or other facilities. There are two monuments on the site, one indicates the gravesite of Colonel Lewis G. De Russy who was reinterred here and the other is a monument to the slaves that built the fort and to those who died in that effort. The redoubt is located at this site and can still be seen, other portions of the fort are located off the State Historic Site.
The Water Battery is gone and access to the riverside sites was restricted by locked gates and a high banked levee. The line of the Covered Way can still be seen as a line of trees across a field, but the parapet is gone and only one trench remains. The Hill Fort remains in fair condition with the earthworks clearly visible. The earthen walls of the fort still stand from 12 to 25 feet tall with the overgrowth kept at bay by local volunteers. The crater from the exploded magazine can still be seen, and the bombproofs just outside of the State Historic Site boundaries reportedly remain.
The main redoubt of the fort was purchased by La Commission des Avoyelles in March 1996. Additional property was purchased and the site (now about 70 acres) was donated to the Louisiana Office of State Parks and became a State Historic Site in 1999. Funding problems have prevented further development.
Visited: 30 Oct 2020