Fortress Monroe

Fortress Monroe was a massive military citadel built on a curling peninsula of land at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, near Hampton, Virginia. Construction began on the hexagonal-shaped fort of stone and brick in 1819, after the War of 1812. It took twenty-five years to complete the sixty-three-acre Fortress Monroe, built mostly with slave labor. 

This 1862 diagram notes that the fort's granite walls were thirty-five feet high and the moat surrounding it was seventy-five to one hundred fifty feet wide. The tide ebbed and flowed in the moat eight to ten feet daily. At that time, the fort housed 2,250 soldiers and  371 guns ringed its walls. 

Long before Fortress Monroe was built, the first African slaves were brought to the English colonies in 1619 in the waters off that curling peninsula. 

Fort Monroe still stands today, deemed a national monument and made part of the National Park Service in 2011.


Image: Library of Congress

© Susan VanHecke 2024