Friday, January 11, 2008

The American Forts Of Old. P.1

As a 'Civilian & Military Surname Searcher,' I'd like to introduce your research
efforts to include the "Forts" of the early eras. Many times in researching you may happen onto data, such as located in a diary, or family documents, that is difficult to gather a specific time frame about personnal incidents that occured with this family member. This is where knowing when a "Fort" was built, location, its purpose, incidents, and who were the men & women that actually were at this "Fort" may bracket in [dates and times]. So this is why I decided to offer this type of information on the following page.

This data that I've gathered will offer you insight about the sickness, floods,
fires, embankments....and much, much more. Normally the material will have
specific dates, and what actually was taking place on a daily basis in and
around those times. It has been my experience that when obtaining the "Fort" info in the past from the Chief Engineer of the War Department it can be somewhat boring to read. I read over the complete material for the "Fort" that is listed, then I tend to "pull" what I consider interesting material from the construction reports, and compile it in such a manner that is interesting to the researcher. However, I do understand that many of you may wish the complete report, and if that would happen to be the case just e-mail me and I can help you obtain that complete document.

Note. The information for these three pages comes from Naval affairs Vol. I. -IV. Who’s records are housed at Library of Congress.

If you would like to leave a comment about this page, or need help, you can write to following.

Important note. As you read these reports you will note some of the reports will state that work is done or will be done by such a time, then the next year they are still working on it. This is caused by the lack of funds or they ran low of funds or Congress give no appropriation for that year or was slow doing so. All so note when I give a date for the year of a report this is for the work of the year before, the report for 1832, is for 1831, and so on.

Fort Adams.

In a report of 1825, it is stated the fortification at Brenton’s Point has been named Fort Adams and was started last year. This year besides the completion of a survey and the leveling of the site, which was started last year. There has been construction of cranes and other labor-saving machinery, the excavations of earth and stones for the foundations and &c.

Fort Adams, Newport, Rhode Island, in the reports of 1828-31, state that the work was going fine and a lot of progress was made and the materials was of excellent quality and the workmanship of superior execution, an abundant supply of materials is obtained from Rhode Island and neighboring states. It was reported because of the superior workmanship from the contractors there had been no injuries.

Important Note. The American forts of old is in three parts, do not forget to look over page two and three, page three will contain maps of forts. It will also have a list of many names of forts which were not put on the other pages.

Fort at Bayou Bienvenue, Louisiana.

Fort at Bayou Bienvenue, Louisiana, it was reported in 1828, as far as the nature of the soil on which it is erected ( a prairie tremblaute ) has been completed. The settling of the foundation was grater then thought or foreseen and the labor has caused the cost to exceed the amount appropriated for this year. In a report of last March, states that the material used was of excellent quality.

In a report of 1829?, The work at Bayou Bienvence will be completed this year. It is a small work, but such is the character of the surrounding county, a ( trembling salt marsh ) where an enemy will find scarcely a foot of ground to stand upon within three miles of the work, and where this famous bayou is but twenty-five or thirty feet wide; it is deemed to be amply sufficient to defend this pass, to which some importance has been attached, in consequence of its being the unselected by General Packenham and by which he approached in December 1814, the place of his defeat, and of the great triumph of the western militia under our beloved Jackson.

Fort Calhoun.

In a report of 1824, it stated that it was thought the main foundation would be done this season, even though there was no officer to super. The workers, but it was thought there would be no delay and if the mole ( Which is the pile of stones upon which the structure is to be built ), will settle there should be no more delay’s.

In a report of 1825, it is stated that the work on the superstructure had not started last year because of no officer to super., the work. The money for this year has been applied in the formation of the mole and in collecting materials for the superstructure, and the construction of cranes and the completion of the wharf and the establishment of railways, buildings for workshops and quarters.

In a report of 1826, it was stated: The foundations had commenced this year, but because of the depth of the water work could be conducted only while the tide was at its lowest stage. Work has progressed slowly with the frequent interruptions but when the foundations have been laid the work may be expected to progress rapidly.

Fort Calhoun, Hampton Roads, Virginia 1828, The stone deposit for the formation of it base has been continued and now of such extent and firmness as to justify the construction, during the next year, of the first or lower tier of the castle. The materials used are of a durable quality and the work executed is substantial.

Fort Calhoun, Hampton Roads, Virginia 1829, No contracts have been made for supplies of materials during the last year, at Hampton Road, but have been purchase on the open market. The freestone is abundant and of superior quality has been obtained on the waters of the Chesapeake.

Fort Calhoun, Hampton Roads, Virginia 1831, When the walls and piers of this fort had been carried up to the level of the second battery it was found that the additional weight caused a subsidence of the foundations, which made it prudent to suspense the construction of the masonry and confine the operations of the past year to the reception of materials which have been so distributed as to equalize the pressure on the bottom as much as possible and produce a uniform settling.

Fort Charleston, Harbor, South Carolina.

Fort Charleston, Harbor, South Carolina, 1828, As there was no supervisor till late last year, and one was unable to get till the month of July, be cause of this he unable to organize the force of masons to resume the construction of its masonry. The supervisor believes now that by the end of the year, the citadel will have so progressed as to receive its terminating grillage, in addition to all the damage sustained by the storm of August of 1827, should have been repaired.

At last year report a officer of engineers was assigned last winter, but has been occupied with the construction of a fort on the shoal opposite to Fort Moultrie, but the work has been traced out, and preparations made at Fort Johnson, on James Island for the materials and workers. A contract was made for 30,000 tons of stones for the foundation at the new fort at Charleston and work will commenced.

Fort Cockspur, Island.

1828-Fort Cockspur Island, will be on the Savannah river in Georgia, An officer has been assigned to superintendence of the construction work as soon as he is furnished with the plans &c., which are now being copying.

1829-The operations on Cockspur is of now chiefly of a preparatory nature, examination of the site and laying out the work. The construction of wharves and temporary quarters. The excavation of a short canal has begun for the delivery of materials.

Fort Jay-Fort Columbus

Fort Jay, was renamed Fort Columbus in 1803, I have no reports on Fort Columbus at this date ( 1830 ), but I did, find there was a Surgeon mate stationed at Fort Jay, by the name of Lyman Spalding in 1802.

Fort Constitution.

Fort Constitution, of Portsmouth, New Hampshire was going under repairs in 1826, and 1830.

Fort Crawford, Praire Du Chien.

This fort was first occupied in 1816, in a inspection report about September 28, 1829, it was found the fort had a block-house and hunts, all of wood and had so much decay as to make them uninhabitable without repairs, even with the repairs the barracks can not be rendered comfortable to secure the health of the troops. The floors and lower timbers are decayed in part by frequent overflowing of the river, which has left the wood soaked and filled with damp sediment.

Fort Chef Menteur, Louisiana.

Fort Chef Menteur, 1825, The progress of the operations has been much obstructed by the unusual quantity of rain which fell during the year; yet the means of the contraction have been so ample and well organized as to have enabled them to overcome every difficulty, and by the quantity of work executed.

1828, This fort was completed soon after last years report, a inspection of it was made in last March, and the reports state that the materials and workmenship was good and no injury could be found.

1829, Fort Chef Menteur is now so completed as to be ready to receive its armament complete at the close of the present working season.

Fort Delaware.

Fort Delaware, origin is difficult to trace with any certainty, the fort is on the Mississippi River about six miles below Newcastle on a Island called Pea Patch. A Colonel Mc Lane states that the Island has been known since 1756, when it was a shoal only visible at low water. According to legend it rose from the accidental sinking of a Shallop loaded with stones, and some peas, and thus forming the nucleus of a bar or bank, which has since reared above the tides and became a considerable Island. In 1824 there was a suit in the courts between the United States and the heirs and assigns, of the original granter which was James Duke of York, the grant was dated March 20, 1664. In the suit it states that the United States held not rights to the land, even thro they could show they had bought the land from the state of Delaware. The suit stated that the state of Delaware held no legal rights either. The suit states that any time one buys land and if the land is divided by a creek or river the land under said creek or river is owned by the granter, and buy no fault of said owner if new land if formed on said creek or river the land is still owned by the original granter. We all know how the suit went you can not fight the government.

Note. The meaning of Shallop.
A light boat with oars, sails, or both, used in shallow waters.

In a report of 1826, it states that the work well be finished this year, and the injuries of the sinking of the foundations will have been repaired.

In a report of 1829, it stated the work on the embankment and the wharves necessary for the protection of the Island, and the service of the garrison was slow, as the working season had elapsed before an officer could be disposable, and combind with the sickness which prevailed at the fort.

In a report of 1830, the commanding officer at Fort Delaware states that owing to the insufficiency of the embankments intended to secure the Pea Patch Island on which Fort Delaware is built, the whole Island has become inundated and the very fortifications is in danger of being injured and even sapped.

Fire at Fort Delaware.

On the night of Feb. 8, 1831 at about ten o’ clock the sentinel give the alarm of fire, which was coming from the roof or under it , which covers the fortification. The men leaped from their quarters and ran to the scene of the fire, axes were put to use and a attempts were made to cut away the roof, but it being dry the fire spread with amazing speed under the roof , so much so the men were driven from every part of the roof to avoid death. The powder from the magazine had been removed and thrown through the embrasures out upon the canal do prevent an explosion, the walls still remain uninjured. Finding that the roof could not be saved the work of the officers and men were directed to save the platforms and quarters, but the falling of the shingles and rafters fell all most at once upon the platforms and parade and quarters that made it impossible to save, be cause of this the family’s were unable to save any of their property and had grate losses. It has been suggested be cause of the fast spread around the roof that a incendiary was used, but its believed by the commanding officer that no human being at the station would be so depraved or wicked to cause the act. Its believed that the roof took fire from some of the stoves pipes of the fires-places, which the roof has always been exposed. This is why the commanding officer repeatedly ask for a fire-engine.

Fort at Governor’s Island, New York.

In a report of 1831, it states, The arrangements necessary for the removing of the garrison has not been done and nothing has been done except to obtain some materials and machinery.

Fort Gratiot, Michigan, Territory.

In a report of 1829, it states that the road from Detroit to Fort Gratiot has seventeen miles put under contract and a considerable portion is completed and the remainder is in a state of forwardness.

Fort Griswold.

1832-The work on Fort Griswold, on Groton Heights, in New London Connecticut has begun.

Fort Hamilton.

In a report in 1825, it was stated that the fortifications at New Utrecht Point was renamed Fort Hamilton, and work had started last year, and under an appropriation for purchasing the site and collecting materials. In another report of 1826, it was stated in a report of last year that not all the land could not be procured and for this reason only one-half of the work had been laid out and commenced.

In a report of 1829, it was stated that the materials used in the construction is mostly taken from the southern part of the State of New York. The supply’s are abundant and the quality of the materials and workmenship very good, the construction is going so well it should be done next year. In a report of 1831, it stated that within a few months their will be ready to receive their garrison. In 1831 it is reported the work had been completed.

Fort Jackson.

In a report in 1824, it was stated that there was a grate sickness at Fort Jackson on the Mississippi, and has proved fatal to a number workers and military convicts employed as laborers, because of the loss less work had been done then expected, but it was hoped to complete the work in the ensuing spring. It was reported that it had rained for one hundred and twenty days and within that time one hundred and seven rain had fall.

Fort Jackson at Palquemine Bend, It was stated in a report of 1826, that the weather and other circumstances have been favorable this year, as they were disastrous last year for carrying on the work at the fort.

The report of 1828, states that with the money they got this year and with the money left from last year should be suffice for the completion of the fort, unless the upcoming season should prove unfavorable either by storm or the flooding of the Mississippi, it was all so said the was less sickness this year then last.

In a report of 1829, it was stated that it would be three more seasons not counting this one before it would be completed, but it is in a state of forwardness which would enable them in the event of war, the could be ready within a month, as two-thirds of its armaments and more then two-thirds of the work has been constructed. The report of 1830, states that within a few months they will be ready for their garrison.

In 1831, it is reported the fort is completed and is occupied by a garrison, some slight injuries have been caused by the recent floods, but orders have been given for the repairs.

Fort Lafayette.

Fort Lafayette, Narrows, New York, it was stated in a report in 1830, that repairs were nearly completed which will put the fort in very good condition. In 1831, the work was reported completed.

Fort Macon,Bogue Point, North Carolina.

In a report of 1826,, it was stated that the money had been given by Congress for the work to begin some time in 1825, but be cause of the encroachments of the sea upon the site originally selected for this work made it necessary to select another site.

Fort Macon is now at Beaufort, North Carolina, in a report of 1828, it is stated that the damage of the storm of August 1827, have been repaired, the masonry and other parts of the work have likewise.

In the report of 1829, it was stated that not enough sufficient supply of bricks of a suitable quality could be had, and being the chief material used in the construction work came to a stop.

The report of 1831, says that the work was going forward and should be done in 1832, it was found the encroachments of the sea threatens the safety of the fort and immediate measures are to be taken to stop its progress.

Fort Mifflin.

The annual reports of 1829, have not been received, but by the monthly reports its concluded that the piers in the Delaware at several points are very nearly if not quite finished.

Fort Mobile Point, Alabama.

The report of 1826, stated the construction had progressed very favorably this year. The report said, it was still unfinished but the work was in progress, in another report of 1831, it stated that the work is still in progress and the completion should be next year. It was also reported that there was some difficulty making the embankments of the ramparts as they are of a very sandy nature and have to be cover with clay in order to secure them from the action of the winds.

Note. The meaning of rampart.
Fortified embankment: a defensive fortification made of an earthen embankment, often topped by a low protective wall.

Fort Monroe, Hampton, Roads, Virginia.

In a report of 1824, it was stated that the work on the fort was going will and some parts of the main wall has been completed and the building of the hospital has started, and a additional permanent quarters has been built. In another report of 1824, it was stated that eleven companies were taken from Fort Monroe and Old Point Comfort to be formed into corps as a school of practices for the artillery, and that the dispersed condition of the artillery made it necessary to the improvement of its discipline.

Fort Monroe.

In a report of 1828, it was found there was limited supply of stone, during last summer, but to no fault of the contractor, and the masonry did not progress to the extent contemplated, but even so considerable work has been effected towards its completion. Nearly all the casemates on the water fronts are finished, and most of the ramparts on the fronts formed.

Note. Meaning of casemates.
Fortified artillery compartment: a fortified compartment on an old sailing ship or a rampart, where a cannon was mounted.

Fort Monroe, Old Point Comfort, Virginia.

In 1829, it was reported that the masonry of the body is nearly completed, and would have been closed but for a failure in the supply of freestone owing to the death of the person contracted had died. Earth has been placed in the embankments which will be nearly completed before the ensuing winter. The masonry of the revetments will need time to consolidate before its subjected to grate pressure, it is proposed to raise the embankments at present only to the level of the terreplein which is to receive the upper guns.

Note. Meaning of Terreplein.
Embankment on which guns are positioned: a raised embankment or platform behind a parapet where heavy guns are positioned.

The report of 1831, states that the operation of this year has been on the formation of the ramparts, and excavation of the ditch and embankment glacis. The construction of a conterscap wall for the protection of the ditch which is liable to fill by the tides in Mill Creek, the masonry and fitting up of the casement of the fort for occupancy.

Fort Moultrie.

There is little information on this fort as yet, but in 1830, work on the repairs of this fort was in progress.

Fort Mc Henry.

In a letter of 1826, by Alexander Macome, Major General, Chief Engineer, stated “ The quantity of land which belongs to the site on which Fort Mc Henry has been erected, whether any private buildings are placed near that fort and at what distance from it, and whether it is indispensably necessary to the public service that the land next adjoining the fort should be purchased.”

Fort Oak Island.

Fort Oak Island is at the mouth of Cape River, the report states that the work was to start in 1825, but no officer could be assigned to it superintendence until late in the season. The materials have been collected and buildings storehouses and workshops and lodging the workers have been erected. No workers could be obtained in the neighborhood they would have to come from the north.

In a report of 1828, it was stated because the money was late coming, the engineer was unable before the month of July to organize the force of masons to resume the construction of its masonry. However the engineer confidently believes that by the end of the year the citadel will be ready to receive its terminating grillage, and the damage sustained by the storm of August of 1827, will be repaired. The report of 1829, states the work is on going and the masonry is now almost completed

Note. Meaning of :
Citadel: A fortress or strongly fortified building in or near a city, used as a place of refuge.

Grillage: A framework of beams and crossbeams built as a foundation for a building on soft ground.

Fort Pinckney.

This fort is also known as Castle Pinckney, and is near Charleston, a report of 1831, states that the fort had been under repair and is now thoroughly repair and is now ready to receive a garrison.

Fort Santa Rosa Island, Pensacola Bay, Florida.

In a report 1828, from Fort Santa Rosa, it states that an officer has been assigned to superintendence the construction as soon as the plans have copied and sent.

In a report of 1829, it said that the work had stopped, but by June the excavations had begun, since that time the work has been prosecuted with grate activity. The work at mid season goes will and is hoped the activity goes will before season end, as many of the workmen are not of the climate and the diseases will soon be on them, which if not fatal will produce an effect on the constitutions and the lives lost the corps can not cover.

Fort Snelling.

In a report of October 2, 1827, it states that the fort stands upon the high point of high land which terminates in an almost perpendicular cliff, on the right bank of the Mississippi river, which is within musket shot of the mouth of the St. Peter’s, which is below the fort and on the same side of the Mississippi, nearly seven miles below the falls of St. Anthony. The fort is somewhat larger than it should be were it designed never to have a garrison of less than a battalion. The fort it seems was built more for the comfort of the troops and not for the defense from an enemy, the buildings are too large, and too numerous and over a space to great, and the parade is five times grater for the climate.

Note. This report is a page and a half and to long to put here, if you would like a copy just ask, it tells of the land and more on what the fort looks like.

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