Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
—1862 Peninsula Campaign —
During the Civil War, Fort Monroe played an important strategic role for the Union because of its proximity to the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay, and the James and York rivers. The fort also sat on the southern tip of the James/York Peninsula, a strategic route to Richmond. The North Atlantic Blockading Squadron used the fort as a base and several amphibious expeditions to capture Confederate ports were organized from Fort Monroe.
Fort Monroe was the only Union controlled fortified base in the Upper South and it soon became known as the “Freedom Fort” by blacks who sought escape from bondage. Brig. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler’s decision while commanding Fort Monroe in May 1861 to declare escaping slaves as “contraband of war” was the Civil War’s first step towards it becoming a war about freedom.
Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan used Fort Monroe as his primary base for the Peninsula Campaign’s first phase. President Abraham Lincoln came to the fort in May 1862 hoping to further cooperation between the Army and Navy and increase the campaign’s pace. While here, President Lincoln formulated
Fort Monroe continued to serve as an important Union base throughout the war. The war’s last army-navy amphibious operation against Fort Fisher in North Carolina was launched from this fort. Lincoln returned to Fort Monroe once again in February 1865 to attend the Hampton Roads Peace Conference. This conference, actually held on board a steamer in Hampton Roads harbor, failed to restore peace. Jefferson Davis, the former Confederate president, was imprisoned at Fort Monroe following the war’s conclusion.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 37° 0.151′ N, 76° 18.6′ W. Marker is in Fort Monroe, Virginia, in Hampton. Marker is on Bernard Road, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Fort Monroe VA 23651, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Eprouvette Mortar (here, next to this marker); 12-Pounder Howitzer (here, next to this marker); The Old Cistern (a Lantaka (a few steps from this marker); Austrian 6-Pounder Gun (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Austrian 6-Pounder Gun (within shouting distance of this marker); John Mitchel (within shouting distance of this marker); 14 – Pounder James Rifle (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fort Monroe.
More about this marker. The upper left of the marker contains pictures of “Fort Monroe and Hampton Roads – A Bird’s Eye View” and “The Lincoln Gun” by E.S. Hall. The right of the marker features a picture of “Ben Butler and the ‘Contrabands of War’.”
Also see . . .
1. Unofficial Fort Monroe website. (Submitted on August 17, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.)
2. Tidewater Virginia, The 1862 Peninsula Campaign. Civil War Traveler. (Submitted on August 17, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.)
3. Fort Monroe. (PDF) National Register documentation for Fort Monroe. (Submitted on August 17, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
Categories. • Forts, Castles • Military • Notable Buildings • Notable Places • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 17, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,873 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on August 17, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.