The Third System of Coastal Defense, 1816-1867

jrweaver

Private
Joined
Dec 9, 2020
This may be well known to those on this site, but I thought I'd provide a list of Third System coastal defense forts. These were virtually all used during the Civil War, either as mustering points, training sites, POW installations, or actually used in battle. There were 42 new-construction forts and several appurtenant structures that made up the defensive works. The Army identified them from northeast to southwest, then up the Pacific Coast. I'll use the same order.
Fort Knox, Bucksport, ME: Fort
Fort Popham, Popham Beach, ME: Fort
Fort Gorges, Portland, ME: Fort
Fort Scammel, Portland, ME: Fort
Fort Preble, Portland, ME: Fort
Fort McClary, Kittery, ME: Fort
Fort Constitution, Portsmouth, NH: Fort
Fort Warren, Boston, MA: Fort
Fort Winthrop, Boston, MA: Tower and Batteries
Fort Independence, Boston, MA: Fort
Fort at Clarks Point (Taber), New Bedford, MA: Fort
Fort Adams, Newport, RI: Fort and Redoubt
Fort Trumbull, New London, CT: Fort
Fort Schuyler, New York, NY: Fort
Fort Totten, New York, NY: Fort
Fort Tompkins, New York, NY: Fort
Fort Richmond (Battery Weed), New York, NY: Fort
Fort Hamilton, New York, NY: Fort and Redoubt
Fort at Sandy Hook (Hancock), Sandy Hook, NJ: Fort
Fort Delaware, Pea Patch Island, DE: Fort
Fort Carroll, Baltimore, MD: Fort
Fort Monroe, Hampton, VA: Fort
Fort Calhoun (Wool), Hampton, VA: Fort
Fort Macon, Atlantic Beach, NC: Fort
Fort Caswell, Oak Island, NC: Fort
Fort Sumter, Charleston, SC: Fort
Fort Johnson Tower, Charleston, SC: Tower
Fort Pulaski, Tybee Island, GA: Fort
Fort Clinch, Fernandina Beach, FL: Fort
Fort Taylor, Key West, FL: Fort
Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas, FL: Fort
Fort Pickens, Pensacola, FL: Fort
Fort Barrancas, Pensacola, FL: Fort
Advanced Redoubt, Pensacola, FL: Fort
Fort McRee, Pensacola, FL: Fort
Fort Morgan, Mobile, AL: Fort
Fort Gaines, Mobile, AL: Fort
Fort Massachusetts, Ship Island, MS: Fort
Fort Pike, New Orleans, LA: Fort
Fort Wood (Macomb), New Orleans, LA: Fort
Battery Bienvenue, New Orleans, LA: Battery
Tower Dupre, New Orleans, LA: Tower
Proctor's Tower (Fort Beauregard), New Orleans, LA: Tower
Fort Jackson, New Orleans, LA: Fort
Fort Livingston, New Orleans, LA: Fort
Fort Point, San Francisco, CA: Fort
Ten Gun Battery, San Francisco, CA: Battery
Fort Alcatraz, San Francisco, CA: Fort
Black Point Battery, San Francisco, CA: Battery
Lime Point Battery, San Francisco, CA: Battery
Battery Stevens, Columbia River, OR: Battery

Of course there were many older forts and towers that were upgraded to serve as part of the system. This list includes only new construction. A classic example of an older fort that was upgraded as part of the system was Fort Moultrie in Charleston, SC.
 

jrweaver

Private
Joined
Dec 9, 2020
This is all my content, but it wants you to go to my Facebook page. I hope that's not too much of an inconvenience. I'm still learning how to interact with the site.
Just click on "Watch on Facebook" and it will take you to the page I put together for my book.
 

111thNYSV

Corporal
Joined
Jul 23, 2019
Location
Rochester NY
About 5 years ago I went on a motorcycle trip with my dad up in the north east. We stumbled upon Fort Knox in Maine. Being History buffs we had to stop and take the tour. Neat place for sure. I learned that only one cannon was fired twice. Once to commemorate the Nation's 100th birthday and again to commemorate one of the long time soldier who was stationed there. Both times caused a massive amount of shattered windows across the river in Bucksport. If you're ever driving down Route 1 in Maine, I would suggest stopping by and also going up the Penobscot Narrows Bridge which is right next door. Its a nice view from the top.
 

Joshism

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 30, 2012
Location
Jupiter, FL
Seeing your list emphasizes what a massive investment the country made in developing its defenses. Shows a level of determination and commitment, doesn't it?

Yes and no. Lots of money spent on lots of forts, but most of them were built very slowly and some still weren't finished by the start of the Civil War.

For example, Fort Pulaski was under construction from 1829 to 1847.
 

Sbc

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Location
Easley, South Carolina
Yes and no. Lots of money spent on lots of forts, but most of them were built very slowly and some still weren't finished by the start of the Civil War.

For example, Fort Pulaski was under construction from 1829 to 1847.
Absolutely! The projected monetary estimate in 1821 was $10,425,887.51. That's an amazing sum of money!
Any idea of the labor involved? Military? Civilian? Or in slave states any forced labor? Not trying to sidetrack the thread with moral issues, just curious about the long time lines to completion.
 

jrweaver

Private
Joined
Dec 9, 2020
About 5 years ago I went on a motorcycle trip with my dad up in the north east. We stumbled upon Fort Knox in Maine. Being History buffs we had to stop and take the tour. Neat place for sure. I learned that only one cannon was fired twice. Once to commemorate the Nation's 100th birthday and again to commemorate one of the long time soldier who was stationed there. Both times caused a massive amount of shattered windows across the river in Bucksport. If you're ever driving down Route 1 in Maine, I would suggest stopping by and also going up the Penobscot Narrows Bridge which is right next door. Its a nice view from the top.
Fort Knox is a real gem! I really like the redoubts - casemated traverses - overlooking the external batteries. They are unique in American forts. The long tunnels to the batteries are also impressive, and the counterscarp galleries are beautiful!

6-5 Knox Casemated Traverse Rev02.jpg
 

jrweaver

Private
Joined
Dec 9, 2020
These were massive construction projects, and many were going on simultaneously. A great percentage of our national resources went into building these forts, and most of the Corps of Engineers were involved. It is no surprise that it took a lot of years to build the system.
A good question. Yes, in the slave states, slave labor was predominant. In fact, this changed the complexion of the demographics of enslaved people. The government worked through contractors to build the forts, under the supervision of a military engineer (after the Fort Gaines debacle). The contractor hired the slaves, and moved them to various construction sites as forts were completed and new forts begun. The major problem with this was that many more male slaves were needed for the construction than female slaves, resulting in the break-up of many families. Note that the slaves used generally had some bricklaying experience, such as building plantation buildings. The brickwork of these forts, however, was far more complex and the slaves received a much higher level of training in the brickwork. This resulted in teams of very skilled masons, enslaved, who participated at a high level in the construction of these forts.
In the non-slave states, contractors were also used. The labor, however, was not enslaved people. They, too, became very skilled masons and often moved with the various fort sites. The big difference, of course, was that their move would be voluntary and they could, if finances allowed, bring their families with them.
After the Emancipation Proclamation, the government tried to hire the former slaves as free men. The work was very tough, and many were not interested, leaving the military with a problem. The people they could force into doing this work were imprisoned soldiers - not POWs, that wasn't allowed, but soldiers who had committed crimes. Detention barracks were set up at a number of sites and these soldiers worked at building the forts.
In addition, the garrison often worked on the completion of the forts, especially putting on the finishing touches after the contractor had finished or was no longer available. Also, modifications to the forts - there were many - were often performed by the garrison. The Confederate States also used the garrison for work on uncompleted forts, a prime example of that being Fort Massachusetts on Ship Island, Mississippi.
 

Sbc

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 18, 2015
Location
Easley, South Carolina
These were massive construction projects, and many were going on simultaneously. A great percentage of our national resources went into building these forts, and most of the Corps of Engineers were involved. It is no surprise that it took a lot of years to build the system.

A good question. Yes, in the slave states, slave labor was predominant. In fact, this changed the complexion of the demographics of enslaved people. The government worked through contractors to build the forts, under the supervision of a military engineer (after the Fort Gaines debacle). The contractor hired the slaves, and moved them to various construction sites as forts were completed and new forts begun. The major problem with this was that many more male slaves were needed for the construction than female slaves, resulting in the break-up of many families. Note that the slaves used generally had some bricklaying experience, such as building plantation buildings. The brickwork of these forts, however, was far more complex and the slaves received a much higher level of training in the brickwork. This resulted in teams of very skilled masons, enslaved, who participated at a high level in the construction of these forts.
In the non-slave states, contractors were also used. The labor, however, was not enslaved people. They, too, became very skilled masons and often moved with the various fort sites. The big difference, of course, was that their move would be voluntary and they could, if finances allowed, bring their families with them.
After the Emancipation Proclamation, the government tried to hire the former slaves as free men. The work was very tough, and many were not interested, leaving the military with a problem. The people they could force into doing this work were imprisoned soldiers - not POWs, that wasn't allowed, but soldiers who had committed crimes. Detention barracks were set up at a number of sites and these soldiers worked at building the forts.
In addition, the garrison often worked on the completion of the forts, especially putting on the finishing touches after the contractor had finished or was no longer available. Also, modifications to the forts - there were many - were often performed by the garrison. The Confederate States also used the garrison for work on uncompleted forts, a prime example of that being Fort Massachusetts on Ship Island, Mississippi.
Thanks for the information
 

Irishtom29

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Location
Kent, Washington
Fort Knox is a real gem! I really like the redoubts - casemated traverses - overlooking the external batteries. They are unique in American forts. The long tunnels to the batteries are also impressive, and the counterscarp galleries are beautiful!

View attachment 384333
Fort Knox is most interesting to me for it's counterscarp galleries and excellent glacis and covered way. Late Third System engineers seemed quite taken with polygonal forts.

81C88AAF-07C9-4174-8B1C-58688775A16E.jpeg


AED47E4E-E162-4F36-AD07-C2DAE2AA6D1A.jpeg


723311A4-330F-4F8E-878B-5631F7E4A583.jpeg
 

jrweaver

Private
Joined
Dec 9, 2020
That's the last Third System fort that I found! I had seen pictures of the blockhouse and thought that was all that was there. My wife and I were shopping in Kittery, and I suggested that we go out to Kittery Point to see the blockhouse. My wife said fine, and we drove out. As we were walking to the site I saw the masonry of the fort and stopped in my tracks. I said, "That's a Third System fort!" My wife said, "I thought you knew all the Third System forts!" I replied, "So did I!"
 

Lubliner

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
That's the last Third System fort that I found! I had seen pictures of the blockhouse and thought that was all that was there. My wife and I were shopping in Kittery, and I suggested that we go out to Kittery Point to see the blockhouse. My wife said fine, and we drove out. As we were walking to the site I saw the masonry of the fort and stopped in my tracks. I said, "That's a Third System fort!" My wife said, "I thought you knew all the Third System forts!" I replied, "So did I!"
Unsure of your familiarity of the Official Records, at the beginning of the war in April of 1861, reports were sent in giving each fort a grade on whether completed, armament, how near completion, etc. and I think expenditure to date, and location, of course.
Lubliner.
 

jrweaver

Private
Joined
Dec 9, 2020
Unsure of your familiarity of the Official Records, at the beginning of the war in April of 1861, reports were sent in giving each fort a grade on whether completed, armament, how near completion, etc. and I think expenditure to date, and location, of course.
Lubliner.
I didn't realize that - Thanks! I have spent a lot of time in the Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers each year. That gives similar, but different, information. I also have spent a lot of time at NARA College Park where they have drawings submitted by the engineer on site showing the level of completion. The annual reports also include armament charts which give the numbers of each type of weapon at each fort, and which ones are mounted and which ones are not. Very interesting.
I will look at the Official Records for the grading that you mentioned. That sounds like it will be very interesting!
 
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