|Newport, Rhode Island|
|Type||Coastal Artillery Post|
|Controlled by||United States|
|In use||1799-1824; 1841-1953|
|Captain John Henry|
|Nearest city||Newport, Rhode Island|
|NRHP Reference #||70000014|
|Added to NRHP||July 28, 1970|
|Designated NHLD||December 8, 1976|
Fort Adams in Newport, Rhode Island, was established on July 4, 1799 as a First System coastal fortification. Its first commander was Captain John Henry who was later instrumental in starting the War of 1812.
The first Fort Adams was designed by Major Louis de Tousard of the Army Corps of Engineers. This fort mounted 17 cannon and was garrisoned during the War of 1812 by Wood's State Corps of Rhode Island militiamen.
After the War of 1812, there was a thorough review of the nation's fortification needs and it was decided to replace the older Fort Adams with a newer and much larger fort. The new fort was designed by Brigadier General Simon Bernard, a Frenchman who had served as a military engineer under Napoleon. Bernard designed the new Fort Adams in the classic style and it became the most complex fortification in the Western Hemisphere.
Construction of the new fort began in 1824 and continued at irregular intervals until 1857. From 1825 to 1838 construction was overseen by Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Gilbert Totten, the foremost American military engineer of his day. In 1838 Totten became chief engineer of the Army and served until his death in 1864.
The new Fort Adams was first garrisoned in August 1841, functioning as an active Army post until 1950. During this time the fort was active in five major wars (the Mexican-American War, American Civil War, Spanish-American, World War I and World War II) but never fired a shot in anger.
From 1848 to 1853, Fort Adams was commanded by Colonel William Gates, a long serving veteran of both the War of 1812 and the Mexican War. The fort's garrison was ordered to California and many of the soldier's lost their lives when the steamer SS San Francisco was wrecked, but not sunk, in a North Atlantic storm on December 24, 1853.
The War Department was concerned about the political sympathies of Marylanders during the Civil War, so the United States Naval Academy was moved in 1861 from Annapolis Maryland to Fort Adams. In September 1861, the academy moved to the Atlantic House Hotel in Newport and remained there for the rest of the war.
Among the midshipmen assigned to the Naval Academy while it was at Fort Adams was Robley D. Evans who was wounded at Fort Fisher, North Carolina in 1865, commanded the battleship Iowa during the Spanish-American War and later commanded the Great White Fleet on the first leg of its epic around the world voyage. Among Evans' classmates at Fort Adams were future Rear Admiral Charles Sigsbee, who commanded the Battleship Maine, and future Captain Charles Vernon Gridley who commanded the cruiser Olympia at the Battle of Manila Bay.
In 1862 Fort Adams became the headquarters and recruit depot for the 15th Infantry Regiment. This regiment, along with several others, was organized into a regiment of three eight-company battalions, with the 3rd Battalion formed at Fort Adams in March 1864.
As time went by, the fort's armament was upgraded to keep up with technological innovations. Major kinds of ordnance used at the fort included muzzle loading cannon in the 19th century, breech loading, rifled artillery pieces in the early 20th Century and anti-aircraft guns during and after World War II.
Thornton Wilder, author and playwright, whose 1973 novel Theophilus North is set in Newport, served a three-month enlistment in the Army's Coast Artillery Corps at Fort Adams during World War I. Wilder rose to the rank of corporal in the Army.
Fort Adams also served as the headquarters for all fortifications in Narragansett Bay, as well as, a training center in both world wars.
In the Second World War a peak strength of over 3,000 soldiers were assigned to the Harbor Defenses of Narragansett Bay. In September 1940 the 243d Coast Artillery Regiment of the Rhode Island National Guard was mobilized and sent to Fort Adams to reinforce the Regular Army's 10th Coast Artillery (United States). The two regiments garrisoned several coast defense forts and anti-aircraft installations under the Harbor Defenses of Narragansett Bay. As the war progressed, the number of troops was gradually reduced to about 500 by the end of the war in 1945.
In 1953, the Army transferred ownership of Fort Adams to the Navy, which still uses some of the grounds for family housing. In 1965, the fort, and most of the surrounding land, was given to the state of Rhode Island for use as Fort Adams State Park. In 1976, Fort Adams was declared a National Historic Landmark. In 1994, the Fort Adams Trust was formed, which provides guided tours at the fort and oversees ongoing restoration work at the fort.
From the early 1950s until the mid-1970s Fort Adams fell victim to neglect, the elements and vandalism.
Through the efforts of State Senator Eric O'D. Taylor, in the 1970s Fort Adams was cleaned up and open for tours and was used for the filming of the PBS television movie The Scarlett Letter. The tour program was cancelled about 1980 due to budget cutbacks by the State of Rhode Island.
In the early 1990s, Fort Adams was subjected to an environmental remediation program which made the fort safe for public access. About this time, the Fort Adams Trust was formed to oversee public programs and restoration of the fort.
In 1995 the Fort Adams Trust began giving tours at the fort from May to September. Since that time, the fort has had several areas of the fort restored as well as having its land defenses cleared of overgrowth.
In 2012, the park was the official venue for the America's Cup World Series in Newport.
Notable Persons Associated with Fort Adams
- Robert Anderson - Commander of Fort Sumter and Civil War general
- John G. Barnard - Army engineer, Civil War general and Superintendent of West Point.
- Alexander Dallas Bache - Army engineer and Superintendent of the United States Coast Survey.
- Pierre G. T. Beauregard - Confederate Civil War general.
- Simon Bernard - General under Napoleon and designer of Fort Adams.
- Ambrose Burnside - Civil War general, Governor of Rhode Island and United States Senator.
- Fox Conner - AEF Operations Officer if First World War and mentor to Dwight Eisenhower.
- George W. Cullum - Civil War general and Superintendent of West Point.
- Henry A. du Pont - Medal of Honor recipient, president of the Wilmington & Northern Railroad Company and United States Senator.
- Dwight Eisenhower - Vacationed at Fort Adams while he was president.
- William P. Ennis - Army lieutenant general born at Fort Adams.
- Robley D. Evans - Navy rear admiral and commander of the Great White Fleet.
- John G. Foster - Civil War general.
- William Gates - long serving Army officer.
- John Henry - First commander of Fort Adams and adventurer.
- Henry Jackson Hunt - Civil War general.
- Lyman Lemnitzer - Army general and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- John B. Magruder - Confederate Civil War general.
- Franklin Pierce - General, Senator and President of the United States.
- William S. Rosecrans - Civil War general.
- Isaac Ingalls Stevens - Civil War general.
- Thomas W. Sherman - Civil War general.
- Joseph G. Totten - Oversaw construction of Fort Adams and Chief Engineer of the United States Army.
- Louis de Tousard - Revolutionary War hero and designer of the first Fort Adams.
- Thornton Wilder - Author. Parts of his book Theophilus North were inspired by his experiences while stationed at Fort Adams during the First World War.
- William Griffith Wilson - Best known as "Bill W". Founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Stationed at Fort Adams during the First World War.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.
- "Fort Adams". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-06-29.
- Ann Johnson, "Material Experiments: Environment and Engineering Institutions in the Early American Republic," Osiris, NS 24 (2009), 53-74.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fort Adams.|
- Official site
- Fort Adams, Newport Neck, Newport, Newport, RI at the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER)
- Fort Adams, Battery Bankhead, Brenton Point, Newport, Newport, RI at HAER
- Fort Adams, Battery Belton, Brenton Point, Newport, Newport, RI at HAER
- Fort Adams, Battery Reilly, Brenton Point, Newport, Newport, RI at HAER
- Fort Adams, Battery Talbot, Brenton Point, Newport, Newport, RI at HAER
- Fort Adams, Redoubt Jail, Newport, Newport, RI at HAER
- Fort Adams, Redoubt, Brenton Point, Newport, Newport, RI at HAER
- Fort Adams, Stables, Brenton Point, Newport, Newport, RI at HAER
- Fort Adams, Warehouse Building No. 74, Newport, Newport, RI at HAER
- Fort Adams, Warehouse Building No. 93, Newport, Newport, RI at HAER
- view the History of Fort Adams in streaming video
- Fort Tours: Fort Adams, RI