Zachary Taylor Tames No Man’s Territory at Fort Jesup
When the Louisiana Purchase Treaty of 1803 failed to clearly define the western boundary of Louisiana, which was also the western border of the country at that time, the United States claimed eastern Texas and Spain claimed western Louisiana.
The ensuing dispute gave rise to the “Neutral Ground,” an area where the laws of neither nation were enforced. Soldiers and settlers were kept out and rogues of various stripes ruled the region. The Florida Purchase Treaty of 1819 finally fixed the Sabine River as the territorial boundary and soon after, the United States built Fort Jesup.
Lieutenant Colonel Zachary Taylor established and commanded the garrison, which was originally called Cantonment Jesup in honor of his good friend Brigadier General Thomas Sidney Jesup. Taylor’s troops managed to establish law and order in the Neutral Ground and Fort Jesup remained an important military post for nearly 25 years.
Located just 30 minutes from Natchitoches, Fort Jesup provides a unique glimpse of life when Louisiana was still part of the nation’s frontier. The Louisiana Office of State Parks Historic site features the original field kitchen, a replica of an officers’ quarters which serves as a museum and visitors center, and interpretive programs.