Forgotten Forts Series - Fort Madison


Sergeant Major
Jun 21, 2012
Louisville, KY
Fort Madison is an earthwork fortification located in the small town of Castine, Maine. Originally built as a earthern and masonry "Second System" fort it was constructed for the purpose of protecting Penobscot Bay from foreign threats. Construction of Fort Madison, which was named for President James Madison, began in 1808 with the construction of a main 4 gun battery, a blockhouse, and a masonry barracks for the garrison.
Fort Madison 2.jpg

Fort Madison saw action during the War of 1812 when British forces descended on Maine. Prior to the British arrival in September of 1814 the American garrison at the fort spiked the guns and withdrew to Portland along with the forts stores and supplies. British forces quickly occupied Fort Madison renaming it Fort Castine. The British would hold the fort until hostilities ended in 1815 when it was once again turned over to the United States.
Fort Madison 1.jpg

Following the War of 1812 the fort was renamed Fort Porter and was upgraded with new batteries and its armament being increased to 9 guns. However as the threat of aggression from foreign nations subsided the fort was thought to be no longer needed and abandoned in 1819. However, after the outbreak of the American Civil War the fort was once again garrisoned. As was the case with so many undefended ports along the eastern seaboard there came fear of raids from privateers and the Confederate Navy. This fear brought about the construction of a new earthwork fortification that mounted 5 guns in 1863 on the site of old Fort Madison. Once again the fort had its name changed, this time to Fort United States. The fort was garrisoned through the end of the war and was finally abandoned in late 1865 for the final time. It never fired a shot in anger during its Civil War service.

Today the fort, once again named Fort Madison, is ran by the state of Maine as the Fort Madison State Historic Site. It is open to the public daily. Visitors can tour the Civil War-era earthworks that overlook the bay. There is also a single cannon on display. In the town of Castine there is also a monument dedicated to the 157 men from the small town that volunteered for service during the American Civil War.

Also be sure to check out all other "forgotten forts" in the Forgotten Forts Series Index (Link Below)