FORT DELAWARE

45 Clinton Street (Address of Ferry Dock), Delaware City, DE

(302) 834-7941

Status: Historic Fort; Living Museum; State Park; Bird Sanctuary

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History

Fort Delaware is a former harbor defense fort and Civil War Prison located on Pea Patch Island in the Delaware River. Its main purpose was to stop any enemy from penetrating the harbors of Wilmington and Philadelphia.

Pea Patch Island was seized by the US Government from a private citizen after he refused to sell when a French engineer identified it as a primary defensive site.

The sea walls – as well as a wooden fort – were built during the War of 1812. The wooden fort was demolished in 1821.

Construction was begun on a star shaped fort at some point in 1817; its main purpose was defense of Philadelphia before a force could get near the city itself. Despite numerous issues with building on the silt the fort was operation in 1825.

In 1831 a fire damaged the fort – parts of the old fort can still be seen in the seawall – and a new fort needed to be built. The pentagonal fort there today was originally built between 1848 and 1860. Its foundation goes down 40 feet in places to avoid the shifting ground that plagued the last fort.

During the Civil War, the fort held Confederate POWs up to and including Generals. By the end of the war the fort held 33,000 men. 2,500 prisoners died during captivity from such causes as smallpox, tuberculosis and diarrhea. 109 Union soldiers and 40 civilians also died at the fort during this period.

The fort was kept garrisoned through the rest of the 19th Century but eventually went into a caretaking mode until the advent of World War I when it was garrisoned again briefly. World War II also saw soldiers in the fort again after the attack on Pearl Harbor but when that war ended the fort was declared surplus and closed down for good.

The State of Delaware acquired the site from the US Government and eventually created the Fort Delaware State Park which encompasses the entire island. The Park functions as a living museum as well as a bird sanctuary.

In October of each year haunted tours are offered at the fort.

 

Paranormal Activity

Although this location is considered the most haunted places in the State there are very few details as to what exactly can be found.

A female apparition has been seen walking through the wall of the Officer’s Kitchen and is thought to also be responsible for calling out people’s names and saying – the ever popular – “Get Out!”

The prisoners lived and died in terrible conditions as the Geneva rules for POWs had not been created yet. It is easy to understand how they can be very angry and destitute; not to mention plain old miserable. While individual ghosts have not been identified thousands died here and pretty much every possible form of paranormal and haunted activity has been witnessed here over the years.

The ghost tours come in a 3 hour and a 5 hour version so if you’d like to experience the many ghosts of the Fort its just a click or call away.