More than Ramparts and Redoubts: Forts and Families of New France

Part of: Society for Historical Archaeology 2014

The study of military fortifications is an enduring research topic in the archaeology of New France. However, forts in the French colonial world were far more than military installations. These sites served as expressions of imperial power, commercial centers, locations where identities were negotiated, and sometimes safe havens for settlers. French colonists settled North and South America, expanding an empire, interacting with various cultural groups, and exploiting economic opportunities. With settlements spread over thousands of miles, the French colonial experience was far from homogeneous. The papers in this session address political, social, and economic entanglements of the French colonial world in archaeological perspective through the lens of fort habitation. Enduring attention needs to be drawn to fort sites as social interaction spheres as opposed to simple cases studies of ‘military archaeology.

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  • Documents (9)

  • Attempting to Reconstruct a French Colonial Settlement on the Alabama Frontier: Geophysical Investigations at Fort Toulouse (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Cameron Wesson. Hamilton Bryant. Craig Sheldon. Ned Jenkins. John Cottier.

    Between 1717 and 1763 a French community associated with Fort Toulouse thrived near the junction of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers in present-day central Alabama. Although several prior archaeological investigations have targeted the remains of the three forts built by the French in this location, until recently, few explicit efforts had been directed toward the recovery of archaeological data from the community that developed outside these defensive structures. During the summers of 2012 and...

  • Beyond Guns, Soldiers, and Palisades: The Archaeology of Fort St. Joseph on the Frontier of New France (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Alexander Brand. Erin Claussen. Ian Kerr. Michael Nassaney.

    Fort St. Joseph, an 18th-century French mission, garrison, and trading post complex, served as an important hub for colonial relations in the western Great Lakes region. Dominated primarily by exchange activities, the fort brought Native peoples and French colonists into close interactions with significant material implications. Archaeological evidence gathered through excavations at Fort St. Joseph suggests the emergence of a fur trade society marked by mutual influence that led to complex...

  • The Colonial Village Site at Crown Point: French or English? (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Paul Huey.

    The French built Fort St. Frédéric on Lake Champlain in 1734 in an effort to stop illegal trade and the smuggling of English goods from Albany to Montréal. However, the French at Crown Point, with repeated wars and with supplies from France increasingly difficult to obtain, themselves could not resist the temptation to sell and consume English goods. Louis Franquet, visiting Fort St. Frédéric in 1752 and 1753, found many irregularities and recommended that only the commander of the fort be...

  • The Des Rivieres at House 7, a Michilimackinac Case Study (2014)
    DOCUMENT Full-Text Lynn Evans.

    Michilimackinac, located at the crossroads of the Great Lakes, was a fortified trading settlement and entrepôt, rather than a traditional military fort. Although the military played an important role at the settlement, more than half of the space within the palisade walls was taken up by the church/mission complex and civilian homes. This paper will examine the French Canadian civilian experience at Michilimackinac through the prism of the excavation of a specific row house unit, House 7 of...

  • The Heterogeneity of Early French Forts and Settlements. A Comparison with Fort St. Pierre (1719-1729) in French Colonial Louisiane (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only LisaMarie Malischke.

    Fort St. Pierre (1719-1729), located near present-day Vicksburg, Mississippi, was a short-lived and lightly manned frontier fort. Unlike other French forts this post never developed an accompanying settlement since local concessions failed and the workers moved away. The absence of an established mission with a resident missionary, and incursions by English traders into the region compounded the shocks awaiting the soldiers recruited from France. Archaeological evidence reveals that adaptation...

  • Les abenakis de la rivière Saint-François au 18e siècle et la question du fort d’Odanak/ St. Francois River Abenakis in the 18th century and the Fort Odanak Issue (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Genevieve Treyvaud. Michel Plourde.

    Since 1979, the Grand Council of the WabanAki First Nation, mandated by the two band councils at Odanak and Wolinak, has had a mission to ensure a future for the Abenaki nation by offering various operations related to documentation of the past and enhancement of the culture. Thus it seemed natural to integrate archeology in this process. In collaboration with the Abénakis Museum, the band council of Odanak and Canadian Heritage, we developed an archaeological research project to participate in...

  • Les soldats et les sauvages en la Louisiane: Entangling Alliances at Fort Louis and Fort Tombecbé (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ashley Dumas. Gregory Waselkov.

    After LaSalle’s Texas debacle in the 1680s, French colonization of the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico focused initially at Fort Louis de la Louisiane and the surrounding settlement known today as Old Mobile (1702-1711). The French established other forts in succeeding decades throughout La Louisiane to protect their own settlements, strengthen Indian alliances, and hinder English encroachment. Among these was remote Fort Tombecbé (1736-1763), at the eastern frontier of Choctaw country....

  • More than Ramparts and Redoubts: An Introduction and Case Study from the Richelieu River Valley (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Andrew Beaupre.

    This paper serves as the preface to the symposium More than Ramparts & Redoubts: Forts and Families of New France. The paper is designed to offer an introduction to the symposium paper topics on current research at the fortifications of New France, and the authors own theoretical and methodological outlook on the future of ‘military archaeology’. This preamble is then followed by a case study from the excavations of Fort Saint-Jean, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. Fort Saint-Jean remains a...

  • Walls of Wood, Earth, and Friendship: French Colonial Forts at the Alabama Post, 1717-1763 (2014)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Craig Sheldon.

    Forty years of historical and archaeological research revealed three sequential versions of Fort Toulouse and adjacent French and Indian communities at the junction of the Coosa and Tallapoosa rivers in Alabama. Each of the four-bastioned palisaded forts varied in architectural and construction details due to differences in armaments, garrison size and composition, local conditions, administrative policies, and French perceptions of colonial British military threats. More critical to forty-six...