Fort Heileman, Florida

Garey's Ferry, Florida

Garey’s Ferry, Florida

Fort Heileman, Florida, was a U.S. Army post established in May 1836 during the Second Seminole War at the confluence of the north and south forks of Black Creek in present-day Middleburg.

The fort was established at the small settlement of Garey’s Ferry and was first called Fort Garey’s Ferry. Captain Charles S. Merchant built the fort and living quarters under orders from Major Julius Heileman. In July, the fort was renamed Major Heileman after he was killed in action at Fort Drane on June 27, 1836

The post served as a quartermaster depot and workshop and was quickly expanded as the soldiers tried to keep pace with the growing military involvement against the Seminole Indians. In 1837 the fort became an ordnance depot, at which time it was more often called Black Creek Arsenal. Though the post’s purpose was primarily administrative rather than defensive, frightened settlers often arrived in great numbers when the Seminole Indians attacked farms in the area. Though the fort never saw combat, its military presence gave the local people great comfort.

In these years, several more structures were built until the post included almost two dozen buildings, small piers, and the large ordnance depot was enclosed by a palisade wall. In 1840 the army began slowly removing the supplies from Fort Heileman to Fort Shannon in Palatka, and on June 18, 1841, the troops marched south to Fort Wheelock. The 8th U.S. Infantry briefly re-occupied the fort in 1842.

Fort Heileman Historic Marker in Middleburg, Florida

Fort Heileman Historical Marker in Middleburg, Florida

Afterward, civilians from the settlement of Garey’s Ferry occupied the buildings. The settlement grew around the fort; by 1851 it was renamed Middleburg. There are no remains of the fort today. A historical marker stands in front of a shopping center at the intersection of Blanding Boulevard (Florida Route 21) and Scenic Drive in Middleburg, Florida.


© Kathy Alexander/Legends of America, updated November 2022.

Also See:

Florida Forts

Forts Across America

Forts Photo Gallery

Seminole Wars