Dale County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. The vast majority of Fort Rucker U.S. Army Aviation Center for Excellence is located in Dale County. Its name is in honor of General Samuel Dale. As of the 2010 census the population was 50,251. Its county seat and largest city is Ozark.
The area now known as Dale County was originally inhabited by members of the Creek Indian nation, who occupied all of southeastern Alabama during this period. The county, together with the surrounding area, was ceded to the United States in the 1814 Treaty of Fort Jackson, ending the Creek Indian Wars. A blockhouse had been constructed during the conflict on the northwestern side of the Choctawhatchee River, and the first non-Indian residents of Dale County would be veterans who began to settle in the area around 1820.
Dale County was established on December 22, 1824. It originally included the whole of what is now Coffee County and Geneva County, together with the "panhandle" portion of Houston County. The original county seat was located at Dale's Court House (now the town of Daleville), but when Coffee County split from Dale in 1841, the seat was moved to Newton. Here it remained until 1870 when, following a courthouse fire in 1869 and the formation of Geneva County (which took the southern third of Dale County), the county seat was moved to the town of Ozark, where it remains. In 1903 a small portion of the southeast part of Dale county was joined to the newly-formed Houston County.
Portions of the 15th Regiment of Alabama Infantry, which served with great distinction throughout the U.S. Civil War, were recruited in Dale County, with all of Co. "E" and part of Co. "H" being composed of Dale County residents. This unit is most famous for being the regiment that confronted the 20th Maine on the Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. Despite several ferocious assaults, the 15th was ultimately unable to dislodge the Union troops, and was ultimately forced to retreat after a desperate bayonet charge led by the 20th Maine's commander, Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain. This assault was vividly recreated in Ronald F. Maxwell's 1993 film Gettysburg.