Forgotten Forts Series - Fort Adams


Sergeant Major
Jun 21, 2012
Louisville, KY
First off, I've been getting some really thoughtful feedback ladies and gents and really appreciate it. As long as you keep saying you enjoy these posts and giving positive feedback it I'll keep this "series" going.

Fort Adams is an irregular pentagon shaped fort located near Newport, Rhode Island. It was named after President John Adams and was first garrisoned in 1799. The original fort consists of a single tier of casemates with additional works outside the fort to guard its landward side added later. Before the ACW Fort Adams was on caretaker status until January 1861 when the fort was reactivated. Early in the war Fort Adams had the unusual job of housing part of the United States Naval Academy as it had been moved from Annapolis when it was unclear as to if Confederate forces could take Maryland. This would last until late September of 1861 when the academy would again be moved.


For the remainder of the the war Fort Adams would serve as HQ to the 15th U.S. Infantry and would also serve as a recruiting center. For a period the fort was commanded by Brig. General Robert Anderson, of Fort Sumter fame, in efforts to calm the general as he had been in bad health ever since the Fort Sumter affair in late 1860 and 1861. His command would prove short lived as he would soon retire.

Fort Adams 1.jpg

For the rest of the war Fort Adams would continue to serve as a recruiting station and as a coastal defense post but never fired a shot in anger.

Fort Adams would continue to serve as a coastal defense fortification until 1950 when it was handed over to the US Navy and then the state of Rhode Island in 1965. Today Fort Adams is a state park and is open to the public. Unfortunately I've never even been to Rhode Island but all reports indicate this is a very well taken care of piece of American military history and is worth the trip to visit.


Here is the link to the previous post from my Forgotten Forts Series. In it you'll find the links to all the other forts I've featured.

If you have the time please give me a little feedback I love hearing what you all have to say. Anything I can improve on or what more of you would like to see.
Oct 3, 2005
I went to Fort Adams a few years ago. It's a very large fortification: Ft. Sumter could fit easily inside its parade ground. A lot of the buildings are in poor condition, and not open. It's actually the older granite part of the fort which has survived the best.
There are tours and exhibits about the life of the garrison there. The consensus seemed to be it was a comfortable post.
A fun part of the tour is getting a flashlight and exploring the network of tunnels leading to the outer ring fortifications. My kid got a "tunnel rat" tee shirt!

The fort is featured in Thornton Wilder's book about Newport: Theophilus North.


2nd Lieutenant
Dec 19, 2006
Worcester, MA
Did General Rochambeau's troops camp on that site during the American Revolution? I was there this past summer. It looks like they did not stay on that site.

John Hartwell

Forum Host
Aug 27, 2011
Central Massachusetts
Used to attend the Newport Folk Festival each year, held on the ground in front of the North Gate. A very impressive place, though I don't believe the fort was open to the public at that time. I haven't been there since '77 -- must go back.