Fort Monroe National Monument

Fort Monroe http://www.nps.gov/fomr/planyourvisit/hours.htm is a new National Park Area.  The ranger at Jamestown told us about it.  Before the explorers arrived this area was known to the natives for its rich natural resources.  In 1609 the first fortification was built here.  The 1802 Old Point Comfort Lighthouse was a British observation post during the War of 1812.  It is the oldest operating lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay.  Fort Monroe was started in 1819 and named for President James Monroe.  This fort really interested our family.  First it took 15 years to built this, the largest stone fort in the United States.  The fort has six sides and a tidal moat.  Edgar Allen Poe served  here as an enlisted man under the name Edgar A. Perry from 1827-1829.  Robert E. Lee oversaw the construction starting in 1831.  His first son was born here in 1932.  The design used an arch system to support and distribute the weight of the ceiling and the walls in this sandy soil.   The fort position was ideal for controlling the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.  In 1861 slaves started to arrive to find safety here. It has been called “Freedom’s Fortress.”   In the Casemate Museum we learned  so much.  The Confederate President Jefferson Davis had been held here in a casemate.  A casemate is a fortified artillery emplacement  or an armored structure where guns are fired.  The casemates here make up the walls around the fort.   President Lincoln resided here while planning the attack on Norfolk in 1862.   Marcus and Cali completed the Junior Ranger Program.  This fort is the most complete we have seen.  It may be because it was used as an military base until 2011.  What a cool place we are glad we didn’t miss!

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