Fort Phoenix

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Fort Phoenix
Fort Phoenix.JPG
Fort Phoenix is located in Massachusetts
Fort Phoenix
Fort Phoenix is located in the US
Fort Phoenix
Location Fairhaven, Massachusetts
Coordinates 41°37′26″N 70°54′11″W / 41.62389°N 70.90306°W / 41.62389; -70.90306Coordinates: 41°37′26″N 70°54′11″W / 41.62389°N 70.90306°W / 41.62389; -70.90306
Built 1775
NRHP Reference # 72000120[1]
Added to NRHP 9 November 1972

Fort Phoenix is an American Revolutionary War-era fort located at the entrance to the Fairhaven-New Bedford harbor, south of U.S. 6 in Fort Phoenix Park in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. The fort was originally built in 1775 without a name, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. Just off the fort in Buzzards Bay was the first naval engagement of the American Revolution, the Battle off Fairhaven on 14 May 1775.[2][3]

On 5-6 September 1778, the fort was destroyed by the British when they raided the harbor. A force under Major Israel Fearing drove off the British, both at the fort and when they attempted an attack on the town the next day. The fort was then renamed Fort Fearing.[4] In 1784 it was given the name "Fort Phoenix" after the mythical bird that rose from its own ashes.[5][4]

Battle off Fairhaven Plaque, Fort Phoenix

The fort was rebuilt in 1798, and rebuilt again in 1808 with 12 guns with Commonwealth resources, contemporary with but not part of the second system of US fortifications.[6]

In the War of 1812, HMS Nimrod bombarded the fort on 13 June 1814 when the local militia refused to surrender some guns. After an exchange of fire Nimrod sailed away. Local accounts differ as to whether she launched boats carrying a landing party that were driven off, or not. This event is confused in some references with an attack by the same ship on Falmouth on 29 January 1814.[7][8][9]

The fort currently has five iron cannons mounted on reproduction wooden carriages. The cannons are Model 1819 24-pounders and were all made in the 1820s.

There is also a smaller cannon at the fort which was captured by the Continental Marines during the raid on Nassau in the Bahamas in 1776. This raid was the first amphibious landing on foreign soil by United States Marines.

The fort was rebuilt with a new powder magazine and regarrisoned with eight guns in the Civil War.[6]

During World War II an Anti-Motor Torpedo Boat (AMTB) battery of four towed 37 mm guns was at the fort.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ Recapture of Falcon’s Prizes: The First Naval Encounter of the War, 14 May 1775
  3. ^ First Naval Skirmish of the American Revolution
  4. ^ a b Fort Phoenix at
  5. ^ "Fort Phoenix - Fairhaven, MA". Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  6. ^ a b c "Southeastern Massachusetts - Fort Phoenix". American Forts Network. Retrieved 22 April 2016. 
  7. ^ Fort Phoenix at
  8. ^ "Falmouth Stood Up to the British", Cape Cod Times, 26 January 2014
  9. ^ Roberts, Robert B. (1988). Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States. New York: Macmillan. p. 407. ISBN 0-02-926880-X.