American Coast Defense Forts

A Mighty Rodman Cannon Fires at Fort Adams circa 1890.

Seacoast forts were the nation's primary means of strategic defense from the 1790's until World War Two. Almost every seaport on the east coast had at least one fort to protect it at one time or another. Visting historic seacoast forts is a lot of fun because finding them can be challanging and they usually have pleasant suprises for both military buffs and casual tourists who seek and find them. Another desireable feature of this kind of tourism is that seacoast forts are usually in close proximity to pleasant seaside communities. Happy Hunting!

16-Inch Gun at Aberdeen Proving Ground

Rob's Fort Page

Certifiable Genius, World Traveller and International Man of Action Rob Duchesneau shares his wisdom with us mortals.

And from the Coast Defense Study Group - List of ALL United States Coast Artillery Batteries from 1890 - 1950.

Coast Artillery Corps Branch Insignia

Page Index

New England Mid-Atlantic South Gulf Coast West Coast Related Websites

Coast Defense Forts of New England

This page provides detailed information about forts in the New England region. All of these forts are located near pleasant seaside communities and and are well worth the effort to visit them. The forts listed below provide a good sample of the more important ones but those desireing more detailed information are referred to the above page.

Fort Knox in Prospect, Maine (opposite Bucksport) is the best fort in northern New England. Well worth the trip if you are traveling "down east". An excellent photo of a mounted 15-inch Rodman gun at Fort Knox is HERE. There is also a Satellite Image of the fort.

Blockhouse at Fort McClary.

Fort McClary is located in Kittery, Maine and helped defend Portsmouth, New Hampshire from colonial times until the Spanish-American War. There's no website but we do have a good photograph taken in the late 1800's showing the fort's block house with three 15-inch Rodmans and two 10-inch Parrott rifles. Satellite Image courtesy of

Fort Constitution is located on Newcastle Island near Portsmouth, New Hampshire and has been an active United States Military installation since the 1790's. (After World War Two it was given by the Army to the Coast Guard.) This article is a detailed history of the fort written by the Army Corps of Engineers and has a lot of information to compensate for its lack of asthetic appeal. More about the military history of Portsmouth can be found HERE. Satellite Image.

Fort Independence is located on Castle Island in Boston, Massachusetts. The site has been fortified since Colonial times and Fort Independence is one of the best preserved 3rd System forts in the country. Satellite Image.

Fort Warren is the second largest fort in New England. It served as a prison during the Civil War and has a resident ghost. Satellite Image courtesy of

Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island

Fort Adams Trust Homepage Official homepage of the organization charged with preserving and restoring Fort Adams.

Unofficial Fort Adams Website Features an extensive history of the Fort.

David Mann's Fort Adams Website Loaded with information and images. Highly recommended.

Fort Griswold is in Groton, Connecticut and was captured by the British during the American Revolution and is one of the best preserved 18th Century forts in the country. The website features a photo tour of the fort.

Coast Defense Forts of New England


Forts of the Mid-Atlantic

Fort Delaware, Pea Patch Island, Delaware.

New York's Forts A comprehensive listing of ALL military installations in New York State from Colonial times to the present.

Fort Schuyler is used as a college campus and houses a maritime museum. Sattelite Image

Fort Totten is located in Queens, New York and was home of the Army Corps of Engineers in the late 1800's. Fort Totten served as an active Army post until the early 1990's.

Gate to Fort Jay on Governor's Island c. 1920 and c. 1990.

Governor's Island Although it is a relatively small island, Governor's Island in New York Harbor has been historic for over three centuries. It has two early American Forts both in excellent repair. Find out more about this fascinating place. Another Governor's Island site. Regional Planning Association's Governor's Island Website Another GI Website Aerial Photo courtesy of Terraserver.

Fort Hamilton

Battery Weed at Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island
Aerial Photo of Battery Weed

Fort Tilden defended the approaches to New York Harbor in both world wars. Fort Tilden was also a Nike missile base from 1956 to 1972. The site features many illustrations and diagrams of 20th century American seacoast defenses.

Fort Hancock Located on Sandy Hook in New Jersey, Fort Hancock was the first large Endicott period fortification to protect the approaches to New York Harbor. Retained as Nike missile site until the early 1970's, Fort Hancock is now the largest and one of the best preserved forts spanning from the Spanish-American War through the Cold War. Fort Hancock is a must see for any fortification enthusiast.

Fort Mifflin has protected Philadelphia since the Revoultion. Aerial Photo

Fort Delaware is another great American fort fighting for survival. The site features an excellent aerial photo of the fort. Satellite Image courtesy of Terraserver.

Fort Miles A Second World War vintage fort which guarded Deleware Bay.

Fort McHenry is one of the most famous forts in the United States and was the birth place of our national anthem. There's also a page about the Rodman Guns at the fort. Aerial Photograph.

Fort Carroll, Maryland

Fort Carroll was built to defend Baltimore shortly before the Civil War. This site features some rare color photos of the fort. Aerial Photograph.


Forts of the South

Fort Pulaski, Georgia.

Fort Washington The fort which protected our nation's capitol for over a century.

Fort Monroe is America's largest fort and has been continously garrisoned by the Army for over 150 years. This is a link to the Unofficial Fort Monroe site which will have a number of links of related interest to Fort Monroe. Aerial Photograph.

Fort Norfolk is a small second system fort in Norfolk, Virginia. Aerial Photograph.

Fort Macon is a small but noble fort in North Carolina. Excellent photos. Satellite Image.

Fort Moultrie was the site of an active fort from colonial time until World War Two. It is now a National Historic Site and has one of the best collections of Civil War vintage heavy artillery in the country. Satellite Image.

Fort Sumter National Monument

Fort Sumter was where the Civil War began. Aerial Photograph.

National Park Service Webpage on Coastal Defense Forts in Georgia and Florida

Fort Pulaski is located near Savannah, Georgia and served on both sides during the Civil War. Although we have yet to find a comprehensive website for Fort Pulaski we did find a Detailed Description of the Seige of Fort Pulaski. View a Satellite Image of Fort Pulaski.

Fort Jackson Protected Savannah before Fort Pulaski was built.

Fort Clinch

Fort Clinch If you like forts and the natural beauty of the Florida coast - Fort Clinch is for you. Satellite Image.

Castillo de San Marcos (a.k.a. Fort Marion) is located in beautiful Saint Augustine, Florida. It is the oldest intact permanent fortification in North America. In its history, spanning four centuries, it has served three nations (Spain, Britian and the United States) and endures as a major tourist attraction. An excellent Satellite Image of the fort courtesy of Terraserver.

Fort Zachary Taylor in Key West, Florida was manned by the Union Army throughout the Civil War. Fort Taylor has one of the largest collections of Civil War Era Heavy Artillery in the country. Check out the 360 Degree Virtual Tour, Aerial View and Satellite Image.

Key West Martello Tower


Gulf Coast Forts

Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas, Florida

Fort Jefferson is a fort, a prison and a tropical island! (Great photos too!) Daniel Hughes has travelled all over the country in search of great photographic subjects and chose Fort Jefferson. Satelite Image.

Fort Jefferson Links

Fort Barrancas in Pensecola, Florida

Coastal Fortifications of the Gulf of Mexico Great Forts, Photos and Links! A MUST for Fort Fans!

Fort DeSoto is an Endicott period fort built to defend Tampa Bay, Florida. It has some of the very few remaining Endicott era artillery pieces on display.

Fort Livingston in Louisiana was never completed but is still worth visiting.

Panoramic Views of Fort Pike, Louisiana

Forts Jackson and St. Philip defended the approaches New Orleans on the Mississippi River. This article tell about the history of the forts during the Civil War.

History of Fort Jackson and Aerial Photograph.


West Coast Forts

Fort Point Viewed from the Golden Gate Bridge
(Image Copyright, and Courtesy of,
Joe Jankovic.)

14-inch Gun at Fort MacArthur, California.
Fort MacArthur If you like Endicott period forts you'll love this site!

Fort Point (aka. Fort Winfield Scott) If you left your heart in San Francisco - make sure you visit this fort while you're looking for it. This website contains many fine photos, like the one above, by Joe Jankovic.

Alcatraz is best known as a prison but it was originally built as a fort.

Satellite Image of the Presidio of San Francisco. Find the gun emplacements of this historic military base.

Columbia River Forts This site has information about three forts which protected the Columbia River from the late 1800's through World War Two.

Fort Casey is an Endicott period fort at the entrance to Puget Sound.


Related Websites

An organization by and for fortification buffs. The best resource for reprints of historic fortification publications.

North American Fortifications A comprehensive listing of forts in North America.

American Coast Artillery Bibliography Courtesy of the U.S. Army Military History Institute.

Army Corps of Engineers Explosive Ordnance Disposal Program. This site contains background information on selected sites for "remediation" of explosives and other hazardous materials left over from prior government usage. Brief histories of the sites are provided. This site is not entertaining but may be informative if they list a particular fort you're intersted in.

F.U.D.S. (Formerly Used Defense Sites) is another Corps of Engineers site. It features information on many obscure former military sites (including fort sites, of course). Have fun!

Fort Taylor, Key West, Florida by Seth Eastman

Seth Eastman Fort Paintings In the late 1800's Seth Eastman (1808 - 1875), best known for his scenes of the American West, was commissioned to paint a series of views of several American forts. This is an index of works of art in the Capitol building in Washington which includes several of the Eastman paintings.

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