city, seat (1865) of Dallas county, central Alabama, U.S. It lies on the Alabama River about 50 miles (80 km) west of Montgomery. The site was first recorded on a map in 1732 as Ecor Bienville; it was later called Moore's Bluff, for a settler who arrived about 1815. It was renamed about 1819 by William Rufus King, an organizer of the town, for one of Scottish poet James Macpherson's Ossian poems. A Confederate supply depot during the American Civil War, it was burned by Union troops after being captured in battle (April 2, 1865).
Learn more about Selma with a free trial on Britannica.com.