Fort Sewall

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Fort Sewall
Fort Sewall Stockade.jpg
Fort Sewall bombproof
Fort Sewall is located in Massachusetts
Fort Sewall
Fort Sewall is located in the United States
Fort Sewall
LocationMarblehead, Massachusetts
Coordinates42°30′32″N 70°50′30″W / 42.50889°N 70.84167°W / 42.50889; -70.84167Coordinates: 42°30′32″N 70°50′30″W / 42.50889°N 70.84167°W / 42.50889; -70.84167
Part ofMarblehead Historic District (#84002402[1])
NRHP reference #75001908[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPApril 14, 1975
Designated CPJanuary 10, 1984
Fort Sewall Tercentenary Marker.jpg

Fort Sewall is a historic coastal fortification in Marblehead, Massachusetts. It is located at Gale's Head, the northeastern point of the main Marblehead peninsula, on a promontory that overlooks the entrance to Marblehead Harbor. Established in 1644, it is one of the oldest English coastal fortifications in the United States. It was named after Samuel Sewall, a Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice.[2] It was rebuilt with a blockhouse in 1775 during the American Revolution.[3]

After the American Revolution, the federal government took over the property. During the War of 1812, on April 3, 1814, USS Constitution took shelter under the guns of Fort Sewall from a pursuing pair of British frigates, Tenedos and Endymion. Despite lacking the ammunition and powder needed to sink or drive off the two frigates, the fort's garrison was able to bluff the British by running out all of their guns and acting as though they were preparing to attack. Faced with a 36-gun frigate and the defensive batteries of a fort, the British elected to retreat, none the wiser.

During the Civil War, Massachusetts troops were garrisoned at Fort Sewall, 12 pieces of artillery were mounted to defend Marblehead Harbor, and a few Confederate prisoners of war were held here.[4]

The fort was turned over to the town in 1922, and is now open as a public park.[2] It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ a b "Fort Sewall". Essex Heritage. Retrieved 2014-01-16.
  3. ^ "Massachusetts - Fort Sewall". American Forts Network. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
  4. ^ Thomas, Matthew (2013). Historic Powder Houses of New England: Arsenals of American Independence. Charleston SC: History Press. p. 105. ISBN 9781626192423.