Topic: Forts

Fort George, Castine, Maine

The little town of Castine, on the Penobscot River, Maine, is a favorite resort for summer visitors, who are attracted by its fine air, its abundance of seafood, and its accessibility to the interior of the country. These same considerations together with the fine strategic location of Castine Peninsula at the head of Penobscot Bay, guarding the entrance to the Penobscot River, influenced the French adventurers of three hundred and more years ago to plant their settlement of Pentagoet and to build a fort in this very vicinity. Traditions of the settlement and grass covered ruins of the fort are still to be discovered at Castine. In the course of the years there came here the British at war with the colonies, and His Majesty’s forces built Fort George, an important post in its day and one of the best-preserved Revolutionary works in New England. These ruins are the scene of pilgrimage of hundreds of people annually merry parties from the summer colonies which dot the shores of Penobscot Bay or from Mount Desert Island, around the corner as the land lies from Castine. The remains of Fort George might even today be, with no disproportionate labor, put into condition for defense. The fort was a square bastioned work protected by a moat excavated down to solid rock. Each bastion was pierced with four embrasures. Though no buildings now...

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Fort Frederick, Pemaquid, Maine

The English clenched hand, which answered the brandishing of the French mailed fist at Pentagoet, now Castine, was Fort Frederick at Pemaquid, that anciently known peninsula which marks the entrance to the Kennebec River. Parts of the walls of old Fort Frederick are still standing, its entire outlines are plainly to be discerned, and it is a favorite point of visit with the many people who make their homes in this part of the Maine coast during the summer months. Pemaquid, itself, is one of those long arms of rock, which are characteristic of the Maine coast. A good word picture of the locality has been painted by S. A. Drake, the chronicler of Maine coast history. “A belt of rusty red granite stretches around it above low water mark,” he writes, ” and out into the foaming breakers beyond. Pastures pallid from exhaustion and spotted with clumps of melancholy firs spread themselves out over this foundation. In the extreme corner of this threadbare robe there is a lighthouse. You look about you in vain for the evidences of long occupation which the historic vista has opened to you in advance.” While there have been many wild reports that the settlement on Pemaquid antedated that on Massachusetts Bay, itself, there is lacking weight of historical evidence to support this contention. Pemaquid was visited by Captain John Smith in 1614,...

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Fort Columbus or Fort Jay

Even Governor’s Island, once a smiling garden, appertaining to the sovereigns of the province, was now covered with fortifications, inclosing a tremendous blockhouse, – so that this once peaceful island resembled a fierce little warrior in a big cocked hat, breathing gunpowder and defiance to the world! – Washington Irving, “Knickerbocker’s New York.” The graceful little island of Washington Irving is described in a recent publication of the government printing office at Washington after the following eloquent fashion: ” Irregular in form but approaches nearly the segment of an oblate spheroid, its longest diameter being from north to south, and about 800 yards in length. The transverse diameter is about 500 yards. It has an elevation above high water mark of 20 feet, and its face is smooth and green, with a rich carpet of grass.” On the top of the highest feature of this smooth, green face with its rich carpet of grass is Fort Columbus, more properly known by its ancient name of Fort Jay. No doubt you will find it hard to visualize the importance of Fort Jay. It is the headquarters of the Department of the East of the army of the United States, you may be told. Yes, you will answer indifferently, it is a quiet little place, not nearly so noisy as the roaring forties of Broadway; it keeps to itself and is...

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Fort Annapolis Royal

More by accident than by design the Sieur de Monts, in 1604, with his oddly assorted band of adventurers on the foggy Bay of Fundy, steered into the rocky entrance, which leads into the beautiful landlocked basin of present day Annapolis in Nova Scotia. One of his followers, the Baron de Potrincourt, was so enchanted by the beauty of the scene that he asked a grant of land here. This was given him, and upon this land in the next year he built himself first a fort, then a house, and then several more houses. This was the beginning of Port Royal, now known as Annapolis, the second oldest fortified place in the Western Hemisphere. The voyager today may repeat de Monts’s experience and with no design to do that, too. Fogs wrap the eastern and western coasts of Nova Scotia in an impenetrable blanket most of the time. The traveler who sails, let us say, from St. Johns, New Brunswick, for the Annapolis Basin, crosses sparkling waters, and then, as he enters the mountainous cleft which gives entrance to this beautiful bay, comes into the belt of mist which obscures all of the coast. He hears the fog horn on the point at the entrance, which de Monts did not hear, and then suddenly, like an apparition, the land looms into view; there is a lane of shrouded,...

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Fort Adams and Newport’s Defensive Ruins

Here is an odd little cluster of islands on the eastern side of the entrance to Narragansett Bay. The most important of these is Aquidneck and on the southern extremity of Aquidneck Isle is situated Newport. At the southern extremity of Newport is Brenton’s Point and on Brenton’s Point is Fort Adams. This is the proper way to build up a climax! Picture to yourself a sunny Fourth of July in 1799; this is the day on which Fort Adams is to be dedicated with imposing ceremonies. From out of the little many spired city across the sparkling blue waters of Newport Bay winds a little procession around the shore road which leads to the fort. First of all, comes the company of soldiers, which is to garrison the post. It is Captain John Henry’s company of artillery. After this comes the major general of the State militia with his staff in gorgeous gold braid. Following him is the famous Newport Artillery Company with two brass field pieces making a brave show. Then there are the Newport Guards with two brass field pieces. Finally there is a company of citizens. They are all assembled at the fort. Major Tousard, of the corps of engineers of the army of the infant republic, is speaking: He says: ” Citizens: Happy to improve every occasion to testify my veneration for that highly...

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Field Fortifications

In the nature of the case field fortifications are temporary erections, earthworks thrown up for an immediate emergency; but, occasionally some bright deed or some momentous consequence gives these defenses a fame more enduring than walls of stone planned with deliberation and executed with leisured care. Who has not heard of Valley Forge and the heroic winter of 1777-1778 which Washington spent there with his meagerly clad men? Valley Forge is now a public reservation about twelve miles north of Philadelphia, on the Schuylkill River. Excursion trains run out from that city to the park, so it is easy of access. The grounds cover hundreds of acres, but the principal points are plainly marked and may be quickly reached. One of the most interesting souvenirs of Washington’s immortal encampment at Valley Forge is the little stone house, which the great commander used as his headquarters. An unpretentious, substantial structure of the typical style of building of the days in which it was constructed, it is in excellent preservation, strong and sturdy as on the day of its erection. The building contains numerous Washington relics and curios collected by the State authorities or presented to the park by men and women of various parts of the nation. One of the most conspicuous objects of the reservation is the Memorial Arch erected by the United States government to the memory of...

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Crown Point, Lake Champlain

It would be hard, gazing upon Crown Point today, to realize the storms and terrors it let loose upon the English colonists not quite two hundred years ago. Girt by the smiling waters of one of America’s most beautiful lakes, overtopped by a verdant mountain, and gazing out upon green fields in the shade of majestic woodlands, all of the atmosphere of the place is one of peace and aloofness from the pain of human suffering. Yet the name ” Crown Point ” was a sinister thing in the early days of the English colonists, particularly in the northern provinces. The New England matron putting to bed her infant Stephen Brewster or little Praise the Lord Jones, or the Dutch vrouw in the country round about Albany with her little Van Rensselaer Tasselwitch, had but to utter this dreadful name, ” Crown Point,” to bring her child into the most docile state of apprehension. From Crown Point went forth the scalping parties of French, Indian and half breeds, which preyed upon the borders of the English colonies, carrying wrack and horror wherever they went. A glad and beautiful place, it nourished in its heart an evil spirit. The settlement of the Crown Point district by the French began soon after the opening of the eighteenth century. The beautiful lake which bears the name of its discoverer had been known...

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The Alamo and Fort Sam Houston

The Alamo, which is famous for its heroic defense against the Mexicans by Travis and his men, is situated in San Antonio, Texas, and is the point of pilgrimage annually for many hundreds of the visitors to the southwestern part of the United States. On the outskirts of San Antonio is the modern great military plant. Fort Sam Houston, the Alamo’s lusty successor. The Alamo, as late as 1870, was used for military purposes by the United States government, but of recent years it has been preserved purely as a monument to those brave men who lost their lives in it fighting bravely to the last a battle which they knew to be hopeless from the first. Upon the front of the building has been placed an inscription which reads, “Thermopylae had its messenger of defeat. The Alamo had none.” The building, itself, is a low structure of the familiar Spanish mission type, and its main walls, though constructed in 1744, are almost as solid today as when new. The chapel of the Alamo bears the date 1757, but this was of later building than the rest of the place. The city of San Antonio owes its foundation to the establishment in 1715 by Spain of the mission of San Antonio de Valero, which in accordance with the custom of that country combined priestly enterprise with military prerogative. The...

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The Citadel at Halifax, Nova Scotia

The province of Acadia had been in English possession for nearly half a century when, in 1749, the powers that were in the Mother Country decided that Annapolis, the little gamecock city of the peninsula, whose history went back to 1605, was not a fitting place for the capital of the province. Its harbor, while beautiful and secure, was not large enough for the purposes that England had in mind; moreover, it was on the western side of the peninsula, so that to get to it from Europe one must pass around Cape Sable and up the foggy Bay of Fundy. And so we find that the home authorities projected a new city, which was to be the capital of the province and whose location was to be the magnificent harbor of Chebucto on the east coast of Acadia. That they did not go astray in their anticipations of the future is proved by the present day Halifax, Nova Scotia’s principal city, the child of the plans of these Englishmen of 1749. The value of Chebucto as a harbor had been known for many years before this time, we may assume. It had been for many years a rendezvous for British vessels in American waters. When D’Anville’s misfortuned fleet of French men-of-war was scattered by the elements, its remnants came together in Chebucto Bay. That there was some form...

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