Named after Brigadier General Thomas Sidney Jesup, a decorated veteran of the
War of 1812, the US army erected Fort Jesup in 1822 along the Spanish Road, which
linked
Natchitoches to San Antonio and other Mexican cities. The fort replaced Fort
Claiborne of 1804.

After the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, the western portions of Louisiana territory
along the Red River were in a major disarray. Since 1763,  Louisiana had been
controlled by Spain. After Napoleon won the territory back in 1798, he promptly
sold it the U.S. in 1803. No one, of course, asked the inhabitants what they wanted.
Instead, a "neutral strip" of land between the Red and Sabine rivers was established
by default, where gentleman's agreements were supposed to keep peace, but
offered little in the way of an organized government. The people living there did not
know to whom they owed allegiance... and some men took advantage of that. Some,
like James Bowie, sold false land claims, while others may have tried to establish a
New World kingdom, which Aaron Burr alledgedly tried to do. The presence of the
US army after the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819, which established the international
borders between New Spain and the United States, was supposed to alleviate the
doubts.

Like
Fort Towson in Indian Territory, Fort Jesup provided protection for native
tribes and American settlers. Mostly, however, the troops engaged in road building,
not combat. They built a road to Fort Smith, Arkansas and one towards Baton
Rouge. During the Texas Revolution, American volunteers were mustered at Fort
Jesup before entering Texas. The army regulars at Fort Jesup were also sent into
Texas in 1845 to counter the Mexican army upon Texas statehood. Led by Zachary
Taylor, one can argue that Fort Jesup started the Mexican American War (1846-1848).

The fort closed immediately after the Mexican American War. Its location was not of
any great importance thereafter, not even during the Civil War, as it remained
unused. The federal government disbanded it completely in 1869.

Built in the Cane River Creole style of raised foundations, the fort gradually
succumbed into ruins save for its kitchen, which was restored when the residents
of nearby Many raised money to do so. By the 1950s, the Louisiana State Park
department acquired the fort, which was also designated a National Historic
Landmark.
Fort Jesup
The fort's original kitchen is surrounded by the foundation pillars for the barracks
and officer quarters. Like its surrounding architecture, Fort Jesup was built in the
Creole style of raised foundations.
Re-enactors at Fort
Jesup hold cooking
demonstrations in the
barrack's original
kitchen. Several other
kitchens appeared on
the grounds, but only
one remains.
The officer's quarters
have been
reconstructed using
original designs. The
frontier post was
built in the Creole
style.
A dragoon displayed
in the fort's museum
helmet resembles its
Mexican and French
counterparts.
"Dragoon" was the
name given to
mounted infantry -
meaning, to be a
dragoon, you'd better
bring your horse.
Otherwise, you're just
a "regular" foot soldier.