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Fort Monroe, Hampton, Virginia

     On a lovely, sunny winter’s day, off we went on a day trip to one of my favorite places to visit, Fort Monroe, named in honor of President James Monroe. The fort is on an island near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.

Fort Monroe - myfriendDebbie.com

     As you cross the bridge you first see Point Comfort, named by the English settlers who founded Jamestown.

     Construction on Fort Monroe began in 1819 and was completed in 1834.  It is the largest stone fortification in the United States on 565-acres.  It was built to protect the Hampton roads waterway from an enemy naval attack and was known as the Gibraltar of the Chesapeake.  The fort is seething with history and as often as we have visited the fort, there is always more information to learn.

     As you approach the entrance the fort, you wonder if your vehicle will actually make it through the arched brick opening  It seems too small.

     We made it through!

Fort Monroe - My Friend Debbie

      The first sight we saw was the building known as Quarters No. 1.  President Abraham Lincoln was the fort's commanding general and this was his quarters. He planned the Union assault on Norfolk from here in 1862.

     Next stop:The Casemate Museum.  A casemate is a chamber in the wall of a fort for use as a gun position, storage, or a living quarters.

Fort Monroe - My Friend Debbie

     Robert E. Lee was assigned to Fort Monroe in 1831 as a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers and served as the second-in-command of the detachment that was completing the construction of the fort. He brought his wife Mary Custis Lee. Mary was related to George and Martha Washington. Their first son was born at Fort Monroe.

Fort Monroe - My Friend Debbie

Robert E. Lee's Quarters

Fort Monroe - My Friend Debbie

Mary Custis Lee

Edgar Allan Poe was stationed at Fort Monroe and was quickly promoted to the rank of Sergeant Major of artillery.

Fort Monroe - My Friend Debbie

Edgar Allan Poe

Jefferson Davis was imprisoned in the Fort after the Civil War ended.  He was falsely accused of having plotted the assassination of President Lincoln, the mistreatment of Union prisoners of war, and treason.

Fort Monroe - My Friend Debbie

Jefferson Davis

Family living quarters were also established within the fort. Families continued to occupy these casemates until World War II.

Fort Monroe - My Friend Debbie

Fort Monroe - My Friend Debbie

     Fort Monroe's Civil War history is notable because it became known as Freedom's Fortress in 1861 when three black men sought sanctuary from slavery.  The fort's Union commander, Major General Benjamin Butler, let them stay, word spread and some 10,000 escaped slaves flocked to Fort Monroe and became the backbone of Hampton's first generation of freed blacks.

     Fort Monroe is no longer an active military base after 188 years.  The homes that were built to house the enlisted personnel plus offices are available for rent.  Fort Monroe is owned by the State and President Obama confirmed the Fort as a national monument.

Fort Monroe - My Friend Debbie

One of the many homes available for rent at Fort Monroe.

Fort Monroe - My Friend Debbie

Elaine and Barry and the home they rent on Fort Monroe.

Fort Monroe - My Friend Debbie

Old Point Comfort Lighthouse

The lighthouse built in 1802 is the oldest standing structure on Fort Monroe and is the oldest operating lighthouse on the entire Chesapeake Bay.

Fort Monroe - My Friend Debbie

Chapel of the Centurion--Dedicated in 1858

The Chapel was dedicated in honor of the Roman centurion Cornelius, the first gentile converted to Christianity.

A pet cemetery is also on the fort.

Fort Monroe - My Friend Debbie

The Chamberlin, located on Historic Fort Monroe, is now completely renovated and serves as waterfront senior living apartments.

Fort Monroe - My Friend Debbie

We left Fort Monroe with a more reverent feeling about our forefathers, many with strong Christian beliefs, who helped shape our country. 

Fort Monroe and the Casemate Museum located in Hampton Virginia, are free and open to the public.

Copyright © 2008-2015 DeeDee MacDonald

Reader Comments...
2012-02-02 19:30:52
"Dee Dee - nice travelogue. Fond memories of the Chamberlin. Dick & Ann"
        - Dick

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