American Civil War in the News is a edited review of American Civil War related news and articles, providing collection of hand-picked 1861-1865 era history.

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Civil War Forts & Fortifications

Latest hand-picked Civil War news and articles.

Photos: Inside the military fortress that guarded New York harbour during the Civil War
It was built to guard New York Harbor from the Confederates during the Civil War. But the embrasures that anchored cannons to the stone floors of Fort Totten, in Queens, New York never faced enemy fire. 150 years after the fortress went under construction, its eroding walls are a haunting reminder of American history. Plans for the Fort Totten Water Battery at Willet's Point were initially prepared by Captain Robert E Lee in 1857. After Congress appropriated $155,000 for its construction, the first block of granite was laid - five years later.

Historians hunt for Civil War-era passage that could have run from Fort Totten to Bronx
The visitors have heard the legend about an escape passage built between Fort Totten in Queens, to Fort Schuyler in the Bronx, where the Long Island Sound and the East River meet. Historians and park rangers say it's a myth: The technology to build a tunnel under 100 feet of water didn't exist at the time. But myth has been stirred up by clues like dead-ending corridors and walled-up chambers in both forts. David Allen enjoys exploring the Throgs Neck fort's complex maze of underground tunnels, and recently he discovered a passage that seems to go under the bay headed for Fort Totten. The tale motivated the History Channel to run a segment on it.

Guardian of Savannah: Fort McAllister, Georgia, in the Civil War and Beyond
Fort McAllister sits upon the banks of the Great Ogeechee River south of Savannah, Georgia and it formed a firm bulwark against Federal efforts to invade Savannah from the sea and to combat blockade runners. Built of mud and dirt, it may have appeared simple but it was a cunningly powerful defense against attacking gunboats including Union ironclads. To that end, the fort was never taken by naval forces and stayed in Confederate control until General Sherman's land-march from Atlanta to Savannah. In "Guardian of Savannah" military historian Roger S. Durham offers an in-depth account of Fort McAllister's role in the Civil War.

State, federal officials forming the future of Fort Monroe
Transferring ownership of an Army fort is a huge task, particularly when the place has as much military history as Fort Monroe. State and federal officials are starting to hammer out specifics, aiming to sign an agreement that would define how the 570-acre peninsula will be managed after 2011 when the Army leaves. The strictest rules would apply to everything within the stone fort built in the 1830s. The Casemate Museum, constructed inside the cavernous stone halls of the fort, preserves the cell where Confederate President Jefferson Davis spent months in captivity after his capture.

Fort Huger, abandoned Confederate fort, to open as a park   (Article no longer available from the original source)
An abandoned Civil War fort used by Confederate soldiers to fend off Union boats from sailing up the James River will be reborn as a historic park. An opening ceremony will also celebrate Fort Huger's inclusion to the Virginia Landmarks Register. Isle of Wight County officials have worked to transform the slave-built fort into a park. "You just don't have these things everywhere, and having them brought back to life is even rarer," Patrick Small said. Built in 1861, the fort was designed to blunt an invasion of Union boats from sailing up the James River to the Confederate capital Richmond. The fort has been undisturbed since May 1862.

Fort Sumter Tours investing in improvements
Fort Sumter Tours Inc. plans to add a roof, a ramp, hurricane moorings and an 80-foot extension to its dock on Patriots Point. The company, which has ferried tourists to Fort Sumter, a Civil War-era island citadel in Charleston Harbor, since 1961, filed for state permits on the project. The improvements are part of a slew of promises that the tour company made to win 10-year contract from Uncle Sam. The birthplace of the Civil War comes with a bounty: In the decade ending in 2005, Fort Sumter Tours collected $26.1 million in ticket sales and concessions.

Archaeological Digging - Mapping System Unearths Fairfax History
After years of shoveling his way through archaeological digs John Rutherford made his biggest discovery sitting in a cubicle in Fairfax County. He was scouring 1937 photographs of Centreville on his computer screen when the star-shaped outline of a Civil War fort came into view. The fort is invisible in contemporary aerial photos. But those early images - 215 high-resolution pictures taken by a U.S. govt photographer from the sky as part of an agricultural surveying effort - offer a view virtually unchanged since the Civil War. "It was mind-boggling." The photographs stir more than nostalgia: The fort discovery stopped a planned housing project on the site.

Story of Fort Johnson hard to tell as shore, history erodes
Anyone visiting the 2 sites where the Civil War began couldn't find the contrast more jarring. Fort Sumter is a national historic monument, maintained by the federal government with the goal of interpreting the Civil War. But Fort Johnson, from which those shots were fired, is owned by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources which isn't in the history business. If visitors know where to look, they can find a small stone marker to explain that the historic mortar shot was fired nearby. Reason: The site where the actual first shot came from has eroded away into the water 50-75 yards from the shore.

Early day military forts and camps dotted Oklahoma landscape
Nearly 50 military forts and camps dotted the landscape of Oklahoma during 19th century. Some still exist. The oldest forts are Fort Gibson and Fort Towson. Both established in 1824 to guard against intertribal warfare as eastern tribes were moved into Indian Territory. Confederate forces occupied Fort Towson 1863-1865, directing all military operations in Indian Territory, including psychological warfare. They used a printing press propaganda to keep the American Indians on the Confederacy side. It was at Fort Towson that General Stand Watie and the last organized Confederate force surrendered.

Man found site of a Civil War-era Confederate fort?   (Article no longer available from the original source)
In April of 1863, Fort Burton, a Confederate fort built on the banks of the Atchafalaya River, was captured by Union forces. The capture of "Butte-a-la-Rose" allowed Union boats access to the Red River and led to the capture of Shreveport, opening the door to Texas. Later the location of the Butte La Rose fort slipped into oblivion. Some say the Atchafalaya River shifted course and washed away the site. Harold Schoeffler came across a 1914 map that showed a former Confederate fort used as a cemetery. Another man did further research, uncovering a map that showed coordinates. "I put it in my GPS, hooked it to a boat and went out there."

Civil War trenches are part of the landscape   (Article no longer available from the original source)
This time of year, historians look back to the first weeks of 1865, when General William Tecumseh Sherman`s federal bluebellies were marching toward Fayetteville. The federal army swept through South Carolina toward its goal of squeezing the life out of the Confederacy. The end of the Civil War was only weeks away. This is a report on one aspect of Fayetteville`s response as Sherman`s hard-bitten veterans loomed over the horizon. A response to an invading army was to dig trenches. By the fifth year of the Civil War, digging was as much a part of fighting as shooting. Given a few hours, armies shovel elaborate trenches and artillery gun positions.

Differing views emerge on whether Collierville site was Civil War fort   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Is it or isn't it? The Appeal asked archaeologists, historians and relic hunters if they think an old earth embankment in Collierville is a Civil War fortification. The answer is expected to come from an archaeological dig. The results may determine whether the landowners scrape away the U-shaped mound or sell the site for preservation. "I've seen a million ponds. This is the real thing. This is a Civil War fort," said archaeologist David Dye. "My expertise is not in Civil War archaeology. But I've seen a lot of archeological sites. This seems to be a Civil War fort. Other people who know more about Civil War forts have looked at it and agree."

Historian seeks protection for first lost Union fort
A small brick fort in Charleston Harbor that is sometimes confused with Fort Sumter also played a role in the opening of the Civil War and should be preserved, according to a historian studying the site. Castle Pinckney, finished in 1809, is located on an island across the channel from Fort Sumter, where the opening shots of the American Civil War were fired in April 1861. Before the bombardment, Pinckney was seized by 150 Confederate forces without a fight, making it, not Sumter, the first Union fortification lost in the war, said historian Christopher Ziegler.

Fortified Civil War history - Defenses of Washington: 68 major forts   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The big map on the wall at the Fort Ward Museum shows where the forts were in the Defenses of Washington. 68 major forts circled Maryland, Virginia and the District during the Civil War. Most of the forts are gone, but Alexandria's Fort Ward has been restored to a level that can convey its history. "Special about our site is that we are the only place in the D.C. area where you can see an actual restoration of a Civil War fort. When you visit here, you can see about 90% of the original fort walls." The Defenses were built starting at the outbreak of the war, because the District was almost defenseless against an attack from the Confederate Army.

Photographic images of American Civil War Fortifications   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Fortifications, great and small, played a crucial role throughout the Civil War. Hostilities opened on April 12, 1861 with the onset of the bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor. From that point to the end of the war, the construction and reduction of fortified positions absorbed considerable amounts of time, effort, by both combatants. Large masonry seacoast fortifications were not the only works involved. Both sides built numerous entrenched and reveted positions to dominate strategic locations. Some were large, involved earthworks mounting impressive armaments of heavy cannon.