Fort William Henry (Pemaquid Beach, Maine)

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For the fort of the same name in New York, see Fort William Henry.
Fort William Henry
Stone Castle of Fort William Henry, Pemaquid Beach, ME.jpg
Replica of Fort William Henry in 1909
Fort William Henry (Pemaquid Beach, Maine) is located in Maine
Fort William Henry (Pemaquid Beach, Maine)
Nearest city New Harbor, Maine
Coordinates 43°52′39″N 69°31′29″W / 43.87750°N 69.52472°W / 43.87750; -69.52472Coordinates: 43°52′39″N 69°31′29″W / 43.87750°N 69.52472°W / 43.87750; -69.52472
Area 1 acre (0.40 ha)
Built 1692
Governing body State
NRHP Reference # 69000021[1]
Added to NRHP December 1, 1969

The Fort William Henry is located in the village of New Harbor in the town of Bristol, Maine. The fort was the largest in New England.[2] The fort was originally built in 1692 but destroyed four years later by New France in the Siege of Pemaquid (1696). The fort was rebuilt in 1908. The fort was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 1, 1969. Fort William Henry is now operated as a museum about the fort's history.

Fort William Henry is part of the Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site, which also includes the archaeological excavations of 17th and 18th century village buildings and a museum with excavated artifacts found on the site, including musket balls, coins, pottery and early hardware.


The first fort on this site was Abraham Shurte's Fort (1630 - 1633), a palisaded trading post that was burned down by pirates under Dixie Bull. The next fort built was Fort Pemaquid was then built (1633 - 1676), which was destroyed in the Northwest Coast Campaign (1676) during King Philip's War.

Fort Charles[edit]

After the Northeast Coast Campaign (1677) during King Philips War, another fort was established with the Treaty of Casco (1678), this third fort was named Fort Charles (1677 - 1689).[3][4] Captain Anthony Brockholst (Brockholes), in March 1689, Brockholst was left in command of Pemaquid, Maine. Fort Charles was captured in the Siege of Pemaquid (1689) during King William's War. The English regained their authority over the region by building Fort William Henry.

King William Henry[edit]

Fort William Henry was built in 1692 during King William's War. The English constructed it to defend against the French and Wabanaki Confederacy of Acadia. The English built Fort William Henry as a fortress to protect the northern boundary of New England. (Castine, Maine was an Acadian settlement, which marked the southern boundary of Acadia.)[5] Massachusetts government used one third of its budget to build the fort.[6]

Construction of the fort was ordered by Massachusetts Governor Sir William Phips and cost £20,000 to build. The English colonial militia leader Benjamin Church assisted in the construction.[7] The fort was built with walls that were 10 to 22 feet in height and a stone bastion which was 29 feet in height. The fort was armed with 20 cannon and a garrison of 60 soldiers.[8]

The fort was attacked by a combined force of French and Native Americans in the Siege of Pemaquid (1696). The English were forced to surrender the fort and abandon the Pemaquid area. Benjamin Church avenged the destruction of the fort with the Raid on Chignecto (1696) in Acadia.

Fort Frederick[edit]

View of Fort House and foundation remnants of Fort Frederick

After Father Rale's War, Colonel David Dunbar, Surveyor-General of the King's Woods, rebuilt the fort in 1729-1730, renaming it Fort Frederick.[9]

During King Georges War, Fort Frederick was attacked during the Northeast Coast Campaign (1745). At the same time, Penobscot and Norridgewock attacked Fort Frederick at Pemaquid.[10] They took captive a woman, which alarmed the garrison but she escaped. The fort withstood two attacks in 1747.[11]

During the French and Indian War, the fort was decommissioned in 1759 after a new Fort Frederick was built on the St. John River the previous year.

In 1775, the town dismantled the fort to prevent it from becoming a British stronghold during the Revolutionary War.

During the War of 1812, the waters off Pemaquid Point saw the capture of HMS Boxer by the USS Enterprise on September 5, 1813. The fort was occupied by the British twice during the War of 1812.[12]

The state acquired the site in 1902, and in 1908 rebuilt the tower of Fort William Henry under guidance of historian John Henry Cartland, using many original stones. In 1993, the site was designated a National Historic Landmark.

See also[edit]