The underground stockade of Fort Sewall, with surrounding parklands
|Part of||Marblehead Historic District (#84002402)|
|NRHP reference #||75001908|
|Added to NRHP||April 14, 1975|
|Designated CP||January 10, 1984|
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. It was rebuilt with a blockhouse in 1775 during the American Revolution.
After the American Revolution, the federal government took over the property. During the War of 1812, on April 3, 1814, the USS Constitution, perhaps the most famous American ship of war ever to sail, took shelter under the guns of Fort Sewall from a pursuing pair of British frigates, the Tenedos and the 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.
- National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "Fort Sewall". Essex Heritage. Retrieved 2014-01-16.
- "Massachusetts - Fort Sewall". American Forts Network. Retrieved 23 April 2016.
- Thomas, Matthew (2013). Historic Powder Houses of New England: Arsenals of American Independence. Charleston SC: History Press. p. 105. ISBN 9781626192423.
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