Fort Delaware State Park

Delaware City, Delaware

Access to Fort Delaware is by ferry.
Call the Park Office for this season's schedule.

Prison Camp Trail

"They are about finishing a chapel (sic) which will add very much to the beauty of the now small village on this island. One room in it is to be set apart as a reading room for the officers. It is an Episcopal Church and a very pretty building of wood in Gothic style."

From a letter by fort surgeon Washington G. Nugent, December 1, 1863

No Atheists in Prison Camps

The old saying "There are no atheists in foxholes" may well have applied at Fort Delaware during its tenure as a prison. The conditions and the ceaseless threat of death no doubt served as a constant reminder of the morality of prisoner and jailer alike. Both the men of the garrison and the prisoners demonstrated great faith in God. They attended religious services and bible classes. They organized religious aid societies to comfort the sick and dying. They built a chapel.

In 1863, prisoners built the wood frame Gothic structure which served as an Episcopal Church for more than ten years. One of the many trying ironies of their existence as prisoners of war was the fact that even after they built the chapel, the prisoners were not allowed to gather there, denied the opportunity to seek solace in the church of their own construction. By the 1880s, the chapel was abandoned and the structure was subsequently destroyed by a hurricane.

The human drama that took place on Pea Patch Island during the Civil War can never be forgotten.

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