Fort Edgecomb

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Fort Edgecomb
Fort Edgecomb Davis Island Maine-4.jpg
Fort Edgecomb is located in Maine
Fort Edgecomb
Fort Edgecomb is located in the US
Fort Edgecomb
Location On Davis Island in the Sheepscot River, Edgecomb, Maine
Coordinates 43°59′37″N 69°39′26″W / 43.99361°N 69.65722°W / 43.99361; -69.65722Coordinates: 43°59′37″N 69°39′26″W / 43.99361°N 69.65722°W / 43.99361; -69.65722
Area 3.1 acres (1.3 ha) (original)
less than one acre (1991 increase)
Built 1808 (1808)
Architectural style Octagon Mode
NRHP reference # 69000020 (original)
91001814 (increase)
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 1, 1969
Boundary increase December 22, 1991

Fort Edgecomb, built in 1808–1809, is a two-story octagonal wooden blockhouse with restored fortifications located on Davis Island in the town of Edgecomb, Lincoln County, Maine, United States. It is the centerpiece of the Fort Edgecomb State Historic Site.[1] It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969, with its boundaries increased to create a historic district in 1991.[2][3]

Description[edit]

Fort Edgecomb is located on Davis Island, actually a peninsula jutting into the Sheepscot River across from the village center of Wiscasset. Davis Island is separated from the mainland by a short neck, and Fort Edgecomb is located at the island's southern end. Its most prominent feature is an eight-sided blockhouse, whose second floor is larger than its first, measuring 30 feet (9.1 m) compared to 27 feet (8.2 m). The ground floor walls have loopholes through which muskets could be fired, while the upper level had portholes for firing cannons.[2] Although the blockhouse is the most visible feature, the fort's main armament was a water battery to defend the river. This battery originally had five cannons, including a 50-pounder columbiad and four 18-pounder smoothbore cannons. Each cannon was in its own bastion, with the bastions arranged in three tiers. The blockhouse also had two carronades, which were a relatively short cannon of large bore.[4]

History[edit]

The fort was built as part of the second system of US fortifications, guarding the then-important port of Wiscasset, then one of the largest shipbuilding centers in New England. A war scare with the British over US trade with France during the Napoleonic Wars sparked the building of these forts, along with Thomas Jefferson's Embargo Act of 1807, which closed US ports and vessels to foreign trade. The fort's construction was supervised by US Army engineer Moses Porter, later commander of the Regiment of Light Artillery. Although the fort was built for defense, its first use (as with most of Maine's second system forts) was to enforce the embargo. This embargo was not popular with Maine's merchants, and it is said that one of two times Fort Edgecomb's cannon were fired was in salute at James Madison's inauguration[2] on 4 March 1809 (or, less tactfully, to celebrate his lifting of Jefferson's embargo). Eventually the War of 1812 broke out. The cannons were also fired on 14 February 1815, when word was received of peace with the British.[4]

During the War of 1812, this post saw considerable activity, holding British prisoners of war, many of them brought to Wiscasset harbor by American privateers. In 1814, Fort Edgecomb became an important base in defending against a possible British attack on mid-coast Maine. It remained manned until 1818, and was reactivated during the Civil War.

The Friends of Fort Edgecomb celebrated the bicentennial of the fort on 13 June 2009, on the grounds of the fort.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Fort Edgecomb State Historic Site". Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Donald Holmstrom, Historian. "Fort Edgecomb". National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form. National Park Service. Retrieved March 15, 2016.
  3. ^ "Fort Edgecomb (Boundary Increase)". NPGallery Digital Asset Management System. National Park Service. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Bradley, Robert L., PhD (1981). "The Forts of Maine, 1607-1945: An Archaeological and Historical Survey," Maine Collection, Book 6. Maine Historic Preservation Commission. pp. 25–27.
  • Smith, Joshua M. Blockhouse & Battery: A History of Fort Edgecomb (Edgecomb, ME: Friends of Fort Edgecomb, 2009)
  • Smith, Joshua M. Borderland Smuggling (University Press of Florida, 2006)
  • Smith, Joshua M. "Maine's Embargo Forts," Maine History, Vol. 44, No. 2 (April 2009), 143-154.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Roberts, Robert B. (1988). Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 0-02-926880-X.
  • Wade, Arthur P. (2011). Artillerists and Engineers: The Beginnings of American Seacoast Fortifications, 1794-1815. CDSG Press. ISBN 978-0-9748167-2-2.