— 1862 Peninsula Campaign —
Fort Monroe is the largest stone fortification ever built in the United States. Construction began in 1819 and continued for 15 years. Second Lt. Robert E. Lee served as an engineer at Fort Monroe from 1831 to 1834.
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 sits 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
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 here. 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.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • Forts and Castles • War, US Civil • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Virginia Civil War Trails series lists.
Location. 37° 0.152′ N, 76° 18.594′ W. Marker is in Fort
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. 12-Pounder Howitzer (here, next to this marker); Eprouvette Mortar (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Fort Monroe (a few steps from this marker); Lantaka (a few steps from this marker); The Old Cistern (a few steps from this marker); Austrian 6-Pounder Gun (a few steps from 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). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fort Monroe.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. This marker has replaced the linked marker. It has different formatting and slightly different content.
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 53 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on February 8, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.