(Fort Island Battery)

6400 Hog Island Road, Philadelphia, PA

(215) 685-4167

Status: Historical Fort: Paranormal Investigations Available



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Philadelphia was founded by Quakers who – for religious reasons – objected to war and military defense. Therefore, no defensive structures were constructed initially nor was any militia raised until Benjamin Franklin did so during King George’s War. The militia was disbanded immediately after the war.

In the 1750’s – due to escalating tensions in the colonial world – plans were drawn up for a fort on Mud Island to protect the city from attacks from the Delaware River but construction was not began.

In the early 1770’s Philadelphia was the largest and busiest British port in North America and it was thought a fort was needed to help direct ship traffic in and out of the port. Construction was begun in 1771; but at a snail’s pace.

With the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution following the fort was finally completed in 1776. Again, it took Benjamin Franklin to light the match under everyone’s asses for lack of a better phrase. Mifflin, with Fort Mercer, were designed to control the actions of the British Navy on the Delaware River.

The British took Philadelphia by land, though, in 1777 and laid siege to Mifflin. Part of the British attack was the largest bombardment in of the entire war. This bombardment killed 250 of the 400+ American soldiers holding the fort against over 2,000 British soldiers. In November of 1777 American forces were forced to evacuate the fort.

Although Fort Mifflin was rebuilt and refurbished many times over the 2+ centuries since it never saw military action again.

It was used as a prison in the Civil War for Confederate POWs, political prisoners and Union soldiers convicted of crimes such as desertion.

The fort was decommissioned in 1962 and ceded to Philadelphia; it is now used as an educational historic landmark. The US Army Corp of Engineers still maintain a base here making it the oldest operational US military fort in the Country.


Paranormal Activity

The most famous (infamous) ghost of the fort is that of the faceless man. He is seen all over the fort.

Most agree this ghost is William H Howe; who is often portrayed as a psychotic murderer and evil spirit. In actual fact, Mr Howe was a Union marksman whose reputation was that of bravery. He contracted dysentery but did not leave the battlefield until the rest of his regiment left after their tent was burned down.

Howe was then confined to bed by a doctor. One night his enrolling officer – with 2 other men; all drunk – showed up at Howe’s house. Mr Howe fired 2 shots into the crowd to disperse them. Unfortunately, both shots struck the enrolling officer killing him. Howe was imprisoned in the infamous Eastern State Penitentiary while he awaited trial. Despite his pleads for leniency he was sentenced to death and executed at the fort.

A bag was put over his head before he was hung which is why his apparition is perceived as faceless.

A piercing woman’s scream rips through the fort morning, noon and night suddenly and unexpectedly.

Apparitions of soldier eternally cleaning their guns are often seen.

Other apparitions of the fort’s former residents are also seen in all areas of the fort grounds.

Disembodied voices are often heard including entire conversations. Light anomalies are frequently seen, photographed and video taped.

Other Activity: phantom smells; touches, pokes and prods by unseen presences; electrical disturbances; cold spots; unexplained noises and feelings of not being alone and being watched.