Fort Delaware State Park

Delaware City, Delaware

Access to Fort Delaware is by ferry.

Timeline of the Civil War at Fort Delaware

Civil War Timeline

Date Event
1813 State of Delaware deeds island to U.S. government
1815 First earthwork fortification built
1819 Construction of masonry fort begun
1823 Fort completed
1831 Fire destroys most of fort
1833 Rest of fort demolished, plans laid to rebuild
1839 Operations halted over land ownership lawsuit filed by a Dr. Gale, of NJ
1847 Congress appropriates $1 million for new fort, lawsuit on-going
1848 Arbitrator rules in favor of original Delaware ownership, construction begun
1851 Foundations completed. Setting of pilings takes entire $1 million and further work suspended until study made as to cost-feasibility of completing fort.
1854 Congress decides to spend another $1 million and work begun again
1856 Secretary of State Jefferson Davis advises Senate that the project will cost another $750,000 if fort is to be finished by 1859. Congress approves the appropriation.
1859 Fort completed at a total cost of nearly $3 million
1860 One company of Marines occupies the fort
1861 After Confederates fire on Fort Sumter, the Commonwealth Artillery of Pennsylvania moves into fort
April 1861 After Battle of Kernstown, VA, 250 Confederate prisoners arrive at fort
May 1861 20 32-pounder Columbiad and 20 howitzer cannon arrive and installed
June 1861 Commissary General of Prisons inspects and orders enough barracks for 2,000 prisoners to be built
July 16, 1861 Prisoners escape at night
July 19, 1861 200 prisoners make night escape. Guard boat sent to patrol around island.
October 1861 Colnel Delvin D. Perkins becomes Commanding Officer of fort
1863, January 17 British Consul sends letter of protest to U.S. Secretary of State Seward regarding harsh conditions of British prisoners who had been captured while trying to run Union naval blockade and sent to fort
1863, April 25 Brigadier General Albin A. Shoepf becomes Commanding Officer of fort
Summer 1864 60 Confederate officers, including 7 generals, are sent to be held prisoner under Confederate guns in Charleston Harbor and near Fort Wagner, SC, in retaliation for similar actions by Confederates with Union prisoners. Soon, number increased to 600 Confederate prisoners. Group forever known as "the Immortal Six-Hundred".
June 1864 8,000 prisoners on island
July 13, 1864 Confederate Exchange Agent Robert Ould sends letter of protest to his Union counterpart over the conditions and treatment of prisoners
October 1864 Prison population drops to 6,498 and never goes higher than 9,318 again
October 1864 Smallpox epidemic strikes. Will eventually kill over 200 prisoners and guards.
April 4, 1865 100-gun salute fired to celebrate fall of Richmond
January 1866 Last prisoner, Burton S. Harrison, Jefferson Davis' personal secretary, released. General Shoepf mustered out, goes to work for U.S. Patent Office.
1870 Garrison withdrawn, small caretaker force remains
1896 Congress appropriates $600,000 to install 3 16-inch disappearing guns in south end of fort
1898 16-inch guns installed; several 3-inch batteries placed around island
1903 Garrison, minus small caretaker force, is again removed
1917 Fort garrisoned during WWI
1919 All troops, less 100, removed
1941 December 7th, a company is sent to the fort
1943 Disappearing guns removed
1944 Fort abandoned
1945 Island declared surplus property
1947 Island transferred to State of Delaware
1951 Established as State Park