Happy Summer!!

Happy Summer!!

Wherever Home is Parked?

Wherever Home is Parked?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Red River, Fort Randolph & Buhlow State Historic Site

I slept in the morning as my back and legs were screaming from all the walking we did yesterday.  It was a beautiful day and temps reached the low 80’s!  I spent my morning recouping and my afternoon taking the dogs for a run (i rode the golf cart) and then relaxing in my lounger.  This evening was spent doing more of the same of just relaxing and recouping from a fun filled day yesterday.  I’m going to add to yesterday post since there was just too much to post at one time.

Yesterday we had several choices of what and how we were going to spend the day.  Since we declined an invite from friends Tommy and Diane we needed to make some decisions.  One of my first choices was a local Zoo they have in Alexandria.  After discussing it and we both agreed to go see Fort Randolph and Buhlow first.  It’s on the way!  A joke amongst RV Volunteers – i will go into that another time :)


from the Cajun Pawn shop (continue from yesterday’s blog) heading toward the bridge that goes over the Red River. 


The Red River,  located in the Texas Panhandle, runs two different branches in the northern section of Texas and flows about 1,638 km (1,018 mi) eastward along the Texas-Oklahoma border.  From there it goes through southern border with the Oklahoma & Arkansas, then shifts direction and flows south into Louisiana and then SE to the great Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico.


The Red River separates Alexandria and Pineville, LA. 


across the river and a few turns and you find signs for Fort Randolph and Buhlow, located on the Red River in downtown Pineville, the site includes a visitor center with exhibits on the Civil War Red River Campaign, an elevated boardwalk around the fort area, with an overlook near Bailey's Dam site, and an open field for Civil War re-enactments. Forts Randolph & Buhlow were placed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 1, 1981.   

005 A

continue down the road and you see the entrance


a bit closer up of the entrance sign


once you enter the entrance you follow the road to the visitor center


Inside the visitor center we were asked where we come from.  We said Illinois and it was stated … OH the the evil enemy  coming to check us out :) . Yes ..  Illinois was from the Union and the home of President Lincoln.  Of course it was a very friendly greeting and we all laughed and enjoyed it.


Inside the visitor center we watched about a  15 minute video which gave us a bit of information on the Civil War and why the Forts were built. We also toured the displays they have inside.


confederate uniform and saddle


a replica of the Forts


a replica of how they lived


A demonstration of how to remove the seed from cotton


cotton was a big thing back then and it was considered the gold of the south.  First is to get the seeds out of the cotton before making it into thread.  It has to be ran through twice to get all the seeds out and the seeds were kept for replanting.


you can feel seeds all through the cotton.  Pretty neat as i have never felt cotton in it’s natural form, nor seen a cotton machine.  I’m fascinated with cotton and i love the feel of it.  I prefer my clothing made out of cotton then anything else.


After the Battle of Mansfield.   Confederates expected a third invasion by Union forces of the Louisiana Red River Valley in 1865. Halting the Union advance to the West in Spring of 1864, Forts Randolph and Buhlow were constructed on the Red River at Alexandria by Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of the confederate Trans-Mississippi Department.  Realizing the need for fortifications along the Red River, in order to repel future Union attacks through Northwest Louisiana and prevent Union naval vessels from ascending the river past Alexandria Louisiana.  


Completed by March 1865, under the command of Cpt. Christopher M. Randolph and supervised by a military engineer, Lt. Alphonse Buhlow, for whom the forts are named after. A third and larger fort, planned for the Alexandria side of the river, was never built.


The Fort Randolph had an outer ditch and central earthen citadel with gun positions, magazine, and bombproof shelters for the garrison. It is estimated that the fort held from 4 to 8 guns. It was built in tandem with Fort Buhlow (located just to the north of Fort Randolph). It was sited on a hill overlooking the rapides in the Red River then in existence and the remains of Bailey’s Dam which had been built in May 1864. The fort was built mainly by free Negroes and slaves who were conscripted to provide labor. Confederate soldiers from units stationed in the area also contributed to the construction so that the fort would be completed before the start of the campaigning season in the spring of 1865.


The earthen forts, constructed using local plantation slave labor, were fortified with cannon and over 800 soldiers. In addition to a Confederate troop buildup in the Alexandria area, the Confederate ironclad Missouri was anchored in the river opposite

Layout map of Forts Randolph-Buhlow SHS

After the Forts were built they were never involved in any action during the American Civil War. In May of 1865, the Confederates surrendered to Union forces.  The fort was surrendered to Union forces on June 3, 1865, and the Forts where occupied for a short while by the Union before being abandoned at the end of the war.  

The United Daughters of the Confederacy held a ceremony to place markers at Forts Randolph and Buhlow in October 1927


Forts Randolph & Buhlow State Historic Site also includes the remains of Bailey’s Dam. Bailey’s Dam, remarkable for its design and the amount of time required in constructing it, allowed for the Union Fleet, under the command of Admiral David Porter, to escape below the rapids on the Red River at Alexandria during the Union retreat after the battle of Mansfield. Called “one of the greatest engineering feats of the Civil War,” The dam designed by Colonel Joseph Bailey has left a lasting mark on the history of the region. The site is today commemorated with interpretive signage and a scenic overlook of the Red River.


One of the guns from the fort


the board walk that goes around the fort


signs with history .. Why was Fort Randolph built?


Click on this picture and you can read it better


here is what the fort area looks like today .. can imagine having to live here?  One of the signs said that after being built the first winter conditions were terrible as Alexandria was flood and temps reached below freezing. 


Lake Pierson


a replica of what the soldiers lived in .. doesn’t look like you would stay to warm in this .. huh??


Cypress roots


There really isn’t a lot to see when walking around the fort.  It’s mostly just grown up brush. But .. you have to remember is that the Union had already came and burned everything down and dirt was basically all they had left other then the few guns they could get.  The Navy had come in first for the cotton and what they could get.  They were ordered to leave the town in tact but then the Army came in and destroyed the town.  The people fled to safety in the levee.  You can read more about it here .. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandria,_Louisiana


the beauty of the place is after you tour the fort.  Here is a side  view of the bridge going over the Red River.


I love this picture, this was so cute.  Here in the south they grow gardens in boxes .. they love their greens.


this side of the garden was greens that could be eaten, turnip greens, collards and mustard greens, green onions


the other side was my kind of greens .. cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower .. now that is what I'm talking about


telling some history of the place to some other tourist.  This is a beautiful setting and I can imagine when the grass is green it’s breath taking.


reenactment of what it was like to live here at the fort


Can you imagine when it’s cold or raining outside and having to cook like this all the time?   Thinking about it makes me really thankful and appreciate my modern day kitchen  ... i have to be honest and admit I love my luxury’s of indoor gas stove, gas grills and electric appliances.  Makes cooking so much easier.  I can’t imagine having to bend over all the time to cook my meals with this ole back i have, esp when it’s cold or raining as i can barely stand up on those days.


On the hand, I have to say that in our younger years before my illness and we could afford the luxury of a camper, we tent camped and i did not mind cooking like this at all.  We looked forward to going camping and cooking like this for a bit using the fire to cook along with our portable propane stove & grill outside, it was fun.  We have some great memories of our family experiencing the great outdoors. 


In fact I still love to cook outside today but I have to admit i prefer my gas grill and my electric appliances.  Although I’ve been told that out in the desert in AZ and CA you will find this setup still exist and I am looking forward to getting to experience it this winter on our journey.  Not sure i could cook this way as bending over the fire, I'd likely fall in with my balance.   I used to have several Dutch ovens and iron skillets and I have to admit that i miss them but when with my lifting limitation and starting our RV living life style we were thinking of weight and they were just to heavy for both.


Fort Buhlow is closed to the public.  It could be because they are building a new bridge over in that area.  It wasn’t clarified.  It was $4.00 per person, 12 and under or 62 or older are free.  It was a beautiful day to walk about and take in the scenery.  I have to admit it wasn’t thrilling walking around the fort.  All it managed to do was irritate my allergies and felt like we were walking in a big ole berm pile which was not thrilling to me.  After walking it and thinking about it later makes you realize what the people had to endure must of been horrible. 

We did enjoy walking and seeing how the soldiers lived and the re enactment.  It’s another Fort we can add to our list that we have seen.  We love forts and their history.

Stay turned as this adventure does not stop here .. YESS .. there is more to come :)