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Staten Island in Richmond County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Dry Moat and Counterscarp

Fort Wadsworth

 

—Gateway Nat’l Rec Area —

 
Dry Moat and Counterscarp Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 13, 2009
1. Dry Moat and Counterscarp Marker
Inscription. From 1859 to 1876, army engineers built these 30-foot-high granite walls to form this corridor. In military terms, Fort Tompkin’s scarp (wall to your right) now faced a counterscarp (wall to your left), creating a 30-foot-wide dry moat. When originally built, the counterscarp extended behind you to protect Fort Tompkins’ back and sides from land-based attacks.

Within the counterscarp, a gallery allowed soldiers to shoot through the wall’s vertical slots as well as from behind the fort’s scarp wall through alternating gun slots. Attackers crossing the moat would face a deadly crossfire. However, Fort Tompkins and its defenses were never challenged – evidence of their effectiveness.
 
Erected by National Park System.
 
Location. 40° 36.261′ N, 74° 3.379′ W. Marker is in Staten Island, New York, in Richmond County. Marker is on Tompkins Street, on the left when traveling north. Click for map. Marker is located in the Fort Wadsworth Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area. Marker is in this post office area: Staten Island NY 10305, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Battery Duane (within shouting distance of this marker); Fort Wadsworth
Marker behind Fort Tompkins image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 13, 2009
2. Marker behind Fort Tompkins
The alternating gun slots of the counterscarp can be seen in this photo.
(about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Fort Tompkins (about 300 feet away); Defending New York Harbor (about 300 feet away); Battery Weed (about 300 feet away); Verrazano – Narrows Bridge (about 300 feet away); Historic Fort Wadsworth (about 500 feet away); Fort Wadsworth / (about 500 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Staten Island.
 
More about this marker. The background of the marker contains an illustration of the second Fort Tompkins’ Scarp (or outer wall), Counterscarp Gallery and Dry Moat. It explains the field of fire of defending soldiers and why the soldiers could not shoot each other. The bottom left of the marker features a picture of Fort Tompkins and Battery Weed in New York Harbor. It has a caption of “The counterscarp gallery was part of New York’s defense system. It provided Fort Tompkins, which protected Battery Weed below, which protected the Narrows entrance into New York Harbor.”
The bottom of the marker contains illustrations of Fort Wadsworth’s Defense Systems during different time periods: First
Dry Moat image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 13, 2009
3. Dry Moat
An attcking enemy entering this moat would be fired upon by soldiers from the scarp on the right and the counterscarp on the left.
System Defenses, 1794 – 1807; Second System Defenses, 1807 – 1817; Third System Defenses, 1817 – 1876 (which includes Battery Weed); and Endicott System Defenses, 1890 – 1910.
 
Also see . . .  Fort Wadsworth. Staten Island USA website. (Submitted on August 15, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 
 
Categories. Forts, CastlesMilitary
 
Fort Tompkins image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 13, 2009
4. Fort Tompkins
The Dry Moat and Counterscarp are located on the western side of Fort Tompkins.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 711 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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