For over a century and a half the French possessed a large empire in North America, stretching from the Gulf Coast, up the Mississippi and all the way to the Great Lakes and Canada - an Empire that threatened to pin the British colonists against the east coast, and keep them out of the vast hinterland of the continent. This book looks at the fortifications that defended the large but often tenuous French claim to much of that territory (although the main fortresses, which are covered in Fortress 27, and the fortifications of the north-east (Fortress 75) are not covered.
These fortifications came in a wide range of size and styles. Very few were just simple wooden stockades - many of the smallest wood forts could boast corner turrets or bastions (although many were also surprisingly short-lived), while Fort Niagara was given the full Vauban treatment.
The text is supported by some impressive contemporary plans of the forts, including one that shows two forts built by the Natchez Indians, complete with corner turrets. There is also a good selection of modern photographs of the surviving forts, some of which survive to an impressive degree.
The fortifications featured in this book loomed large in the fears of the British colonists on the east coast, perhaps often larger than their scale and somewhat perilous situations deserved. Despite that these forts played a part in a remarkable period of exploration and deserve to be remembered.
The Early Forts of the Great Lakes
The Prairies and the 'Western Sea'
Forts of the Lower Mississippi Valley
The Gulf Coast and the 'Alibamons'
The Forts Today
Glossary of Fortification Terms
Author: René Chartrand