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Relics of Rebel Slave Fort Unearthed by Hurricane Michael

When Hurricane Michael tore through the Florida Panhandle last October, its furious winds ripped through the site of a 19th-century fort along the Apalachicola River, some 70 miles southwest of Tallahassee. Aound 100 of its trees were pulled out of the ground, unearthing long-hidden artifacts from the community of rebel slaves that occupied the fort before coming to a tragic end.

“Hurricane Michael has provided us an unprecedented opportunity to study artifacts from the Maroon Community, which occupied Negro Fort between 1814 and 1816,” says U.S. Forest Service archaeologist Rhonda Kimbrough. A team from the the National Forests in Florida and Southeast Archaeology Foundation are now hard at work sifting through historic treasures that were tangled up in the roots of the trees, reports Nada Hassanein of the Tallahassee Democrat. To date, shards of British glass, pipe fragments, gun flints, ammunition and ceramic pieces have been found in the area. Experts have also unearthed the location of a field oven, or the ditch that encircles a fire pit.

The fort was constructed by the British during the war of 1812, and sits in an area now known as Prospect Bluff Historic Sites. But it was once called the “Negro Fort”—named for the “maroons,” or runaway slaves, who took up residence there.

Maroon communities formed across the Americas and in the Caribbean over the course of more than four centuries, often congregating in remote, hard-to-access areas. Some groups were able to persist for generations, and grew to encompass thousands of people of African descent with their own culture, government and trade systems. Many maroon communities developed military defenses and fought doggedly against European and American oppressors, who, in some cases, were left with no choice but to make peace treaties with the rebels. But in the case of the Prospect Bluff community, the maroons aligned themselves with the British military in exchange for their freedom, reports Live Science’s Yasemin Saplakoglu.

Read entire article at Smithsonian.com