Fort Monroe, Old Point Comfort Lighthouse, and Fort Wool (Hampton, Virginia)

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lelliott19

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Fort Monroe was named in honor of President James Monroe, and became the largest stone fort in the United States. Surrounded by a moat, the six-sided bastion is also the largest fort, by area, ever built in the United States. Construction began in 1819 and was complete in 1834. The stone walls are up to ten feet thick and the moat is eight feet deep, earning Fort Monroe the nickname "Gibraltar of Chesapeake Bay."

In 1816, in response to identified inadequacies in seacoast defenses during the War of 1812, Secretary of War George Graham appointed a board of military experts to design a new system of coastal fortifications. Bvt. Brigadier General Simon Bernard headed up the elite board which made its report in 1818. This group recommended a "Third System" of seacoast forts, construction of which began in 1819 with Fort Monroe at Old Point Comfort.

As part of the Harbor Defenses of the Chesapeake Bay, Fort Monroe and Fort Wool originally guarded the navigation channel between the Chesapeake Bay and Hampton Roads—the natural roadstead at the confluence of the Elizabeth, the Nansemond and the James rivers. Until disarmament in 1946, the areas protected by the fort were the entire Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River regions, including the water approaches to the cities of Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland, along with important shipyards and naval bases in the Hampton Roads area. Fort Monroe was decommissioned on September 15, 2011 and is now open to the public.
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Located just outside the stone walls and surrounding moat of Fort Monroe, is the Old Point Comfort lighthouse. Built in 1802, it is the oldest structure at Fort Monroe. During the War of 1812, the tower was used as a lookout by a British invasion force while they attacked Washington, DC. It is the second oldest light in the Chesapeake Bay and the oldest one that is still in use. The lighthouse is property of the US Coast Guard and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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Quarters No. 1 is a historic officer's quarters at Fort Monroe. Designed as a residence for Fort Monroe's commanding officer, it served as headquarters from 1819 to 1907. The original section was built in 1819, and consists of a three-story, central block, double pile residence with flanking, two-story wings in the Federal style. Abraham Lincoln used the building as his residence May 6-11, 1862 while planning the attack on Norfolk.
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When we visited in late April 2019, a restoration was underway on the exterior of Quarters No. 1 - the Gothic railings and balusters on the porches were being replaced; sections of siding were under repair; and columns were being replaced/repaired.
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In Barbette cannon emplacements. The fort has a continuous barbette tier of cannon emplacements on the roof, but only a partial casemated tier in the fort, mainly on the southwestern and southern fronts. Intended for a garrison of 600 troops in peacetime and up to 2,625 troops in wartime, the initial design provided for up to 380 guns and was later expanded to 412 guns, however, the fort was never fully armed.
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bdtex

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lelliott19

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Here's a pretty cool old thread on Fort Wool
Fort Wool stands almost directly across the navigation channel from the Old Point Comfort lighthouse. As a young 1st Lieutenant of Engineers in the U.S. Army, Robert E. Lee was stationed at Fort Monroe from 1831 to 1834. During this time, he played a major role in the final construction Fort Monroe and Fort Calhoun (later named Fort Wool). Fort Calhoun (Wool) was built on a man-made island called the Rip Raps across the navigation channel from Old Point Comfort lighthouse, in the middle of the mouth of Hampton Roads.
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Fort Wool is only accessible by water. We traveled aboard the Miss Hampton II which is the only vendor providing a stop and tour of Fort Wool. The cruise lasts 3 hours and, at only $27 adult/$17 child (regular fee) its a GREAT value. (They also offer military and senior discounts.) https://www.misshamptoncruises.com/
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As mentioned earlier in the thread, Fort Wool (previously known as Fort Calhoun) was constructed upon the man-made island known as "The Rip Raps" under the direction of 1st Lieutenant of Engineers Robert E. Lee.

Lee was stationed at the fort from 1831 to 1834. During his time there, he resided at Quarters 17.
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According to interpretive signage, dated 1868: "Robert E. Lee, future Confederate General, was stationed at Fort Monroe 1831-1834 as a Lieutenant of Engineers. He had almost complete charge of construction and put the finishing touches on the fort. Lee's first child was born here in 1832."
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Built in 1823, Quarters 17 is a two-story, six-bay, brick building with a rear ell in the Federal style. It has a three-story full façade front Tuscan order porch on both the first and second level. Now known as "Lee's Quarters," Quarters 17 serves as the current National Park Service Headquarters.
 
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lelliott19

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In the center of Fort Monroe, can be found the Parade Ground
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(Image from NPS)
Located at the NW corner of the parade ground is the 15-inch Rodman prototype cannon produced in 1860 and affectionately known as the "Lincoln Cannon."
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It is amazingly large!
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I've learned from experience that our CWT cannon guys like to see the muzzle markings, so here they are. At the top, registry number “1” and at the bottom, initials “T.J.R.” for Thomas J. Rodman.
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And the foundry stamp right trunion markings: “F.P.F.” (Fort Pitt Foundry) and “K.R.&Co.” (Knap, Rudd and Company.)
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Check out the size of the cannonball. The weight of the projectile was over 300 pounds.
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bdtex

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Fort Wool stands almost directly across the navigation channel from the Old Point Comfort lighthouse. As a young 1st Lieutenant of Engineers in the U.S. Army, Robert E. Lee was stationed at Fort Monroe from 1831 to 1834. During this time, he played a major role in the final construction Fort Monroe and Fort Calhoun (later named Fort Wool). Fort Calhoun (Wool) was built on a man-made island called the Rip Raps across the navigation channel from Old Point Comfort lighthouse, in the middle of the mouth of Hampton Roads.View attachment 305763
Fort Wool is only accessible by water. We traveled aboard the Miss Hampton II which is the only vendor providing a stop and tour of Fort Wool. The cruise lasts 3 hours and, at only $27 adult/$17 child (regular fee) its a GREAT value. (They also offer military and senior discounts.) https://www.misshamptoncruises.com/
View attachment 305764View attachment 305762
I would love to do that.
 

lelliott19

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Also located inside Fort Monroe, is the "Casemate Museum," which I'll cover in a separate thread. :thumbsup:

A few travel tips for folks who might be planning to visit Fort Monroe:

1. There is no fee to enter Fort Monroe. There are three one-lane vehicle entrances to the inside of the Fort. It is decommissioned so there are no guards and no gates to pass through.
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2. Vehicle entrances look like the picture below. Be advised that the lights will change to green from the weight of your car. We didn't realize this. We thought they were red to keep cars out so we first walked in. It's a nice walk, but keep in mind that it is quite large, so you might rather drive in, park, and walk around.
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3. All total, Fort Monroe proper and the surrounding land encompasses 565 acres. There are nearly 200 historic buildings; 8 miles of waterfront; 3.2 miles of beaches on the Chesapeake Bay; 110 acres of submerged lands; and 85 acres of wetlands.
4. Outlook Beach is a beautiful public beach with great views of the Chesapeake Bay. Lifeguards provided by the City of Hampton are on duty 10am – 6pm Memorial Day through Labor Day. There is no fee to enjoy Outlook Beach.
5. The old officer's club is now Paradise Ocean Club. Memberships & day passes, available for a fee, allow the public can enjoy the waterfront pool, beach access, cabana rentals, beach chairs/umbrellas, food/bar service, and live music.
 
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Awesome thread!!!Bill
Thanks Bill!
I wish I had taken more photos during that time.
Thanks for adding some great images to the thread!

I almost forgot to post this picture. This a remaining example of the circular traces used by either the Lincoln gun or a similar cannon. General Wool ordered the Lincoln gun placed back in barbette along the parapet soon after the duel between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia. The remaining example is located in Jefferson Davis Park upon the wall of Fort Monroe. Here's my picture.
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And here's a better one showing the location from the blog "To the Sound of the Guns", Walk Around the Lincoln Gun: 15-inch Rodman Prototype, January 16, 2012. https://markerhunter.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/15-in-rodman-prototype-photos/
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bdtex

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Fort Wool is only accessible by water. We traveled aboard the Miss Hampton II which is the only vendor providing a stop and tour of Fort Wool.
I absolutely love that picture. Great thread. Thanks to @ami for featuring it.
 
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