Jersey City in Hudson County, New Jersey — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
Fort Gibson: Oyster Banks to Batteries
The earliest fort on this site was built in 1794. Great Britainís navy had been seizing American merchant ships and forcing their sailors into service on British vessels. Congress decided that the nationís most important harbors should be defended in case war broke between Great Britain and the United States. Charles Vincent, a French engineer, was hired to construct defenses in New York Harbor. He chose tiny Oyster Island (as Ellis Island was then called), known only for its oyster banks, shad fishing and as the location for a battery of eight cannons. Tensions rose again between the two countries when a British frigate fired on the USS Chesapeake in 1807, leading President Thomas Jefferson to further improve the nationís defenses and rebuilt many of its early forts.
Colonel Jonathan Williams, a grandnephew of Benjamin Franklin, oversaw the construction of the brick and stone structure, the remains of which you see here. The new fort was completed only months before the outbreak of the War of 1812. During this war British prisoners were housed on Ellis Island, but the fort was never attacked. In 1814, the fort was named after Colonel James Gibson, a 33-year-old officer killed at the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812.
Erected by National Park Service.
Location. Touch for map. Marker is located on the north side of Ellis Island, near the American Immigrant Wall of Honor. Marker is in this post office area: Jersey City NJ 07304, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Fort Gibson: Ammunition to Immigration (here, next to this marker); Fort Gibson: The Other Ellis Island Story (a few steps from this marker); Fort Gibson: Uncovering the Past (a few steps from this marker); The American Immigrant Wall of Honor ģ (a few steps from this marker); Fort Gibson: Defending the Approaches (a few steps from this marker); Fort Gibson: The New York Harbor System (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named The American Immigrant Wall of Honor ģ (within shouting distance of this marker); Delaware Indian Burials (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Jersey City.
More about this marker. The right side of the marker contains a portrait of Col. James Gibson, courtesy of the Delaware Public Archives, Division of History & Cultural Affairs, Dover, DE.
Categories. • Forts, Castles • War of 1812 •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 9, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 435 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on November 9, 2011, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.