The Official Site of Fort DeRussy, Louisiana
A Brief History of
Fort DeRussy, an earthen fort built to defend the Red River from naval intrusions during the Civil War, is located in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, about three miles north of the town of Marksville. It was named after Colonel Lewis G. DeRussy of Natchitoches, the oldest West Point graduate to serve in the Confederate Army and a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican War. DeRussy, a prominent engineer in civilian life, was engineering officer in charge of the construction of the first fortifications at that site. Construction of the fort began in November of 1862.
Fort DeRussy was the site of three major Civil War engagements and numerous
minor skirmishes. In February of 1863, the US ram Queen of the West was captured
by Confederate troops at the fort, and was repaired and refitted there prior to being
sent out to capture the US ironclad Indianola. In May of the same year, as the fort
was being abandoned, the Confederate gunboats Cotton and Grand Duke were attacked
by the US gunboats Albatross, Arizona and Estrella in the river in front of the fort.
In spite of significant losses on the Confederate boats (4 missing, 17 wounded),
this action also ended as a Confederate victory. The Union gunboats retreated down
the river, and the captains of the Arizona and Estrella were later court-
After the capture by US forces, Fort DeRussy was used as a recruiting
station for black troops, and as a "contraband camp" for escaped slaves for several
weeks. By mid-
Fort DeRussy was never re-