“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Fort Monroe

Fort Monroe Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, February 6, 2021
1. Fort Monroe Marker
Explore Fort Monroe
400+ Years of History
For over 400 years the point of land known as Old Point Comfort, which now includes Fort Monroe has served as a strategic site at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. From its use by Virginia Indians years before the settling of Jamestown to its most recent mission as a US Army post, Old Point Comfort and Fort Monroe have influenced many aspects of our nation's history.

Early History
In August 1619, the first documented Africans in Virginia arrived here aboard the White Lion, an English privateer based in the Netherlands. Colonial officials traded food for these "20 and odd" Africans, who had been captured from a Portuguese slave ship. This was the first recorded trade of Africans in English North America. No permanent fortifications stood on this site until Fort Monroe was constructed. Designed by French engineer Simon Bernard and named in honor of President James Monroe, construction on the largest masonry fort in the US began in 1819.

American Civil War
Remaining a Union stronghold during the war, three enslaved men known today as

Fort Monroe Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, February 6, 2021
2. Fort Monroe Marker
Frank Baker, James Townsend, and Shepard Mallory escaped the Confederate Army in Norfolk and fled in a small boat to Fort Monroe. Union commander Major General Benjamin Butler refused to return the men declaring them "contraband of war." During this time Fort Monroe earned the nickname "Freedom's Fortress" as thousands of enslaved people sought freedom here.

Coastal Defense
Fort Monroe protected the Hampton Roads harbor during both World Wars and served as a training ground for soldiers. Over the years the fort was home to the Coast Artillery School, Army Ground Forces, Army Field Forces, United States Continental Army Command, and most recently United States Army Training and Doctrine Command. The fort was deactivated in 2011.

Building #1, Quarters No. 1
This building is the oldest house inside the moat and was constructed in 1819. It originally served as the constructing engineer's quarters and later the commanding officer's quarters. President Lincoln stayed here in 1862 while planning the attack on Norfolk. Other notable visitors include Marquis de Lafayette, Generals Grant, Butler, and Sherman, and Presidents Garfield, and Hayes. Photo, 1901.

Flagstaff Bastion and Pet Cemetery
The flag has been a welcoming symbol to mariners since the fort's early days. When walking along the ramparts, see

Fort Monroe Marker image. Click for full size.
By Devry Becker Jones, February 6, 2021
3. Fort Monroe Marker
more than 200 gravestones marking the final resting places of military service animals and pets belonging to military families. The practice is no longer permitted, but is said to have begun in 1928 and continued through 1988. Photo, 1959

Chapel of the Centurion
The Post Chapel was dedicated in 1858 and designed by architect Richard Upjohn. The chapel was named for the Roman Centurion Cornelius, the first Gentile converted to Christianity. In this 1885 photograph, oystermen are seen in front of the chapel. An active congregation remains. Photo, 1885.

Other Points of Interest
Old Point Comfort Lighthouse
The 1802 lighthouse was a British observation post during the War of 1812 and is the oldest operating lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay. The lighthouse is maintained by the US Coast Guard.

Parade Ground
Surrounded by mature live oaks, including the 500-year-old "Algemoume Oak," this area was historically used for recreation, military exercises, and ceremonies.

Lincoln Gun
Cast in 1860 and named for President Lincoln in 1862, it was the first 15-inch Rodman Gun ever made.

Lee's Quarters Lieutenant Robert E. Lee and his wife Mary Custis Lee, great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, occupied these quarters from 1831-1834. An engineer by training, Lee supervised a significant

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portion of the construction of the fort. The Lee's first child, George Washington "Custis" Lee, was born here in 1832.

Postern Bridge and Moat
Dating to the early construction period of the fort, the postern bridge has served as a pedestrian passageway across the moat. One of the fort's defensive features, the moat is fed by Mill Creek and was originally eight feet deep at high tide.

Experience Fort Monroe
At Fort Monroe you will see numerous historic structures, miles of public beaches, and breathtaking views of the Chesapeake Bay. Imagine how the property may have looked when the Virginia Indian tribe, known as the Kecoughtan, used the site as a fishery and hunting ground. Contemplate the journeys of the first "contrabands," as they courageously sought freedom at Fort Monroe during the American Civil War. See wildlife including brown pelicans, ospreys, and bald eagles; and explore landscapes that evoke the spirit of Captain John Smith, who was one of the first Europeans to explore Old Point Comfort. Begin your visit at the Casemate Museum and discover these things and more.

Fort Monroe Today
Deactivated in 2011, 565-acre Fort Monroe is jointly managed by the Fort Monroe Authority, National Park Service, and the US Army. It remains a home and workplace just as it was during the period of active service. Today

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the fort is a thriving community where people live, work, play, and learn.

Casemate Museum, Fort Monroe
The Casemate Museum chronicles over 400 years of history at Old Point Comfort including that of Fort Monroe, the largest stone fort in the United States. the exhibits are housed in casemates or "fortified chambers" within the fort's walls and showcase the social and military of the site.
Erected by Fort Monroe Authority.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansForts and CastlesWar, US CivilWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, the Former U.S. Presidents: #18 Ulysses S. Grant, the Former U.S. Presidents: #19 Rutherford B. Hayes, the Former U.S. Presidents: #20 James A. Garfield, and the Lighthouses series lists.
Location. 37° 0.134′ N, 76° 18.545′ W. Marker is in Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia. Marker is on Bernard Road 0.1 miles east of Mathews Lane, on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 20 Bernard Rd, Fort Monroe VA 23651, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Lee's Quarters (a few steps from this marker); 3 – Inch Ordnance Rifle (within shouting distance of this marker); 12-Pounder Howitzer (within shouting distance of this marker); Spanish 1-½ Pounder (within shouting distance of this marker); Lantaka (within shouting distance of this marker); Confinement of Jefferson Davis (within shouting distance of this marker); Honoring Dr. John J. Craven (within shouting distance of this marker); Lieutenant John Trout Greble (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fort Monroe.
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Credits. This page was last revised on February 8, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 8, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 48 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on February 8, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.
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Mar. 6, 2021