Alexandria in Rapides Parish, Louisiana — The American South (West South Central)
Unnamed during the colonial period, Alexandria's beginnings as the major city in central Louisiana are traced to ca. 1797, when the "seat of justice" for Rapides Post was transferred from the north to the south bank of Red River. By 1799, the greater percentage of the population was located here. Growth was rapid, spurred by the introduction of the cotton gin in 1800, by Alexander Fulton. Within two years, Fulton had begun clearing land, opening roads and, in 1805, Frederick Walther, Fulton's surveyor, laid out the "Town of Alexandria". The plat contained eighty square blocks between present-day Jackson Street, Tenth Street, Overton Street and the river, surrounding a public square. Tradition holds that the town's name honored a young Fulton daughter. Following the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, Alexandria became the seat of justice when an act creating Rapides County became law on April 10, 1805. Trade, business and agriculture gained greatly with the advent of steamboat service. In late December, 1814, the first steamboat, Enterprise, captained by Henry Miller Shreve, docked at Alexandria.
In 1818, the State Legislature granted Alexandria a charter. Because of the rapids immediately to the north, the town was the head of navigation for Red River from July to January. This created growth as a shipping point,
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During the decades preceding the Civil War, Alexandria became the most important trade and social center for the plantation system in Central Louisiana. As a result of agricultural activity, the first railroad west of the Mississippi was constructed in 1837, by Ralph Smith-Smith with the depot located at Courthouse Square.
Alexandria was the focus of military activity in Louisiana during the last two years of the Civil War. The town was designated Headquarters for the Confederate Trans-Mississippi Department by orders of Lieutenant General E. Kirby Smith on March 7, 1863. Two months later, Alexandria was briefly occupied by a raiding Union force under the command of General Nathaniel P. Banks supported by naval forces under Admiral David D. Porter.
A second invasion of the Red River valley in April, 1864, by the Union under the same officers was repelled by Confederate forces under the command of General Richard Taylor. In their retreat, Union troops burned Alexandria, destroying all courthouse and municipal records; the date was Friday, May 13, 1864.
Erected 1988 by City of Alexandria.
Location. 31° 18.668′ N, 92° 26.661′ W. Marker is in Alexandria, Louisiana, in Rapides Parish. Marker is on 3rd Street north of Johnston Street, on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Located in Alexander Fulton Park. Marker is in this post office area: Alexandria LA 71301, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Thomas Courtland Manning (a few steps from this marker); Post-Civil War Alexandria (a few steps from this marker); Commercial Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Rapides Parish Governors (within shouting distance of this marker); Old Rapides Bank Building (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Guaranty Eagles (about 300 feet away); Louisiana Maneuvers (about 400 feet away); Red River (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Alexandria.
Categories. • Industry & Commerce • Settlements & Settlers • War, US Civil • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on March 18, 2017. This page originally submitted on November 22, 2010, by Lee Hattabaugh of Capshaw, Alabama. This page has been viewed 785 times since then and 59 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on November 22, 2010, by Lee Hattabaugh of Capshaw, Alabama. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
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