Fort Monroe Casemate Museum
20 Bernard Road, Hampton, VA, USA
126.96.36.199/museum/museum… - (757) 788-3391
Fort Monroe Casemate Museum Hampton Reviews
Freedom's Fortress is an amazing history lesson in Hampton Roads May 10, 2008
The Casemate Museum on Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia is an amazing site of ultra-historic significance. Fort Monroe is surrounded by a tidal-based moat and has several large gun emplacements overlooking the strategic entrance to Chesapeake Bay and the land approach from the west. It is situated at the confluence of the James River and the Chesapeake Bay. Fort Monroe is also known as "Freedom's Fortress" since many slaves who escaped the South during the American Civil War were protected at the Fort.
In 1608, Captain John Smith recognized the importance of building a fort at Point Comfort, as described by English colonists. In 1609 they built Fort Algernourne at the same location of present-day Fort Monroe, with the mission of protecting the approaches to the Jamestown colony just upriver.
Fort Monroe was completed in 1834, and is named in honor of U.S. President James Monroe. The six-sided stone fort is the only one of its kind left in the United States that is still an active Army post, but has been selected by the BRAC Commission to be closed by September 2011.
The Casemate Museum traces the history of this decisive point from the early settlers who built a wooden triangle fort here, through the time of Robert E. Lee when he was a lieutenant engineer building the current stone and brick fort, until the modern area when it was a coastal defense battery and Army post still used by TRADOC (Training and Doctrine Command) today. Fort Monroe was also used as the artillery school for the Army until the school moved to Fort Sill, OK.
The displays of the Casemate Museum trace back through the history, re-creating several details that shaped America. For instance, there is a room with a window where the famous poet Edgar Allen Poe wrote his most famous poem "The Raven" in 1844. The room has a model of both Poe and a Raven. There is also the Casemate used as a jail for Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, after he was captured by the Union Army during the Civil War. The cannon displays and other artifacts were impressive and well-preserved.
The ramparts and parapets are covered in cannon emplacements with only 2 access points across the huge tidal-based moat. There is also a large flagpole and the Old Point Comforet Lighthouse nearby. The house where Robert E. Lee lived when he was a engineer lieutenant before leading the the Confederate Army as a revered general, is still in use as military quarters today.
Fort Monroe overlooks Fort Wool (originally named Fort Calhoun). Fort Calhoun was built on a 15 acre (61,000 m²) artificial island southeast of Old Point Comfort in Chesapeake Bay. Fort Calhoun in conjunction with Fort Monroe played a crucial role for the Union forces during the American Civil War. In addition to aiding in controlling entrance to Hampton Roads and the Chesapeake Bay, prisoners were confined in Forts. After the Civil War Fort Calhoun was renamed Fort Wool for Major General John Ellis Wool (Union Army), who captured Norfolk early in the Civil War.
Historic Fort Monroe and the Casemate Museum should be on the "Must see" list for any history buffs traveling through the Hampton Roads area of Virginia.
Part of the Casemate Museum and Fort Monroe, Virginia travel blog
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