Portland in Cumberland County, Maine — The American Northeast (New England)
Why build Fort Allen?
"He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns,* and destroyed the lives of our people."
Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
*including Portland! October 18, 1775, British Royal Navy Captain Henry Mowat bombarded and burned this almost defenseless town for nine hours. Parson Samuel Deane dryly notes in his diary, "The town destroyed: fine day." Memory of this devastating assault endured.
Fear of another attack In 1814, the British capture several coastal Maine cities. Once again, threats loom. 5,000 militiamen add to their defences, building a lower waterfront battery. Then, in just 20 days, they furiously erect Fort Allen on this high ground. The remains of this earthworks battery, designed to hold eight guns, are visible in front of you. The British, facing six forts defending the harbor, never assaulted.
"an Outrage exceeding in Barbarity & Cruelty every hostile act practiced among civilized Nations"
George Washington writing to John Hancock about this assault on October
Who was Allen?
In 1813, the U.S. brig Argus, one of only twenty U.S. Navy ships, wreaks havoc off the coast of England. Its 27-year old commander, William Henry Allen cleverly paints the Argus in British colors and destroys eighteen vessels in one month, more than any sea captain on either side.
In his final battle, Allen stayed at his station after a 32-pound ball smashed his knee. The British buried him with full military honors.
October 27, 1814: local militia named Fort llen in honor of Master Commandant Henry Allen.
Young patriot and war hero
Where's the fort?
Hint: It was a simple earthen gun battery. See the berms, colored green in this 1904 photo? That's the fort. The gap in the middle was cut in the 1890 to create a path to the scenic overlook.
Erosion has reduced its size, yet today, Fort Allen's over 200-year-old remnants are clearly visible in front of you.
Did you know?
Six forts defended Portland Harbor in the War of 1812, three Federal and three Massachusetts state militia.
The state's earthwork forts (Allen, and nearby Burrows and Lawrence) were all named for deceased naval heroes. Only Fort Allen remains.
Erected by Friends of the Eastern Promenade.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Forts and Castles • Patriots & Patriotism • War of 1812 • War, US Revolutionary • Waterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the Former U.S. Presidents: #01 George Washington series list. A significant historical date for this entry is July 4, 1776.
Location. 43° 39.942′ N, 70° 14.459′ W. Marker is in Portland, Maine, in Cumberland County. Marker is at the intersection of Eastern Promenade and Morning Street, on the right when traveling north on Eastern Promenade. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 49 Eastern Promenade, Portland ME 04101, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The story of Fort Allen Park (here, next to this marker); Civil War guns (a few steps from this marker); Portland Maine Fort Allen Park GAR memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); 20,000 Civil War veterans tent here (within shouting distance of this marker); 1893 Bandstand (within shouting distance of this marker); Portland Maine Fort Allen Park USS Portland Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); 9/11 Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Honoring those who served (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Portland.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 21, 2021. It was originally submitted on November 21, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 81 times since then and 48 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on November 21, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.