Fort Monroe Army Base in Hampton on map

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Fort Monroe Army Base in Hampton, VA Virginia Military Bases

 

Fort Monroe was an Army installation from 1781 until September 2011 when it was deactivated as a result of the 2005 BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission). Its major tenant, TRACDOC (Training and Doctrine Command) was relocated to JBLE (Joint Base Langley-Eustis) at Fort Eustis, VA. On November 1, 2011 President Obama declared Fort Monroe a National Monument under the Antiquities Act. The National Monument Park is located at the end of the peninsula where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Hampton Roads River in Hampton, VA. This location is part of an area that is plentiful in historical parks and monuments from the early colony of Jamestown, to the early American settlement of Williamsburg, to the French-Indian war areas of Yorktown and the entire area was paramount during the Civil War (1860 to 1865).

History

In 1608 the English explorer, Captain John Smith, on his way to the settlement of Jamestown, came ashore at the spot that would become Fort Monroe and stated that the area was ideal as a little isle for a castle and that the area brought him great comfort. The nickname for Fort Monroe is Old Point Comfort that remains to this day. In 1609 the settlers built a wooden fortification named Fort Algernourne (1609 – 1612).

 

In 1619 a Dutch ship, the White Lion, brought 30 Bantu African indentured servants from Angola to Old Point Comfort. Two among the first Africans were named Antonio and Isabella. In 1624 Isabella game birth to the first African child born in America.

 

The site was continually the home to future forts. The Fort at Old Point Comfort was built in 1632 and destroyed by a hurricane in 1667. Fort George was built in 1728 and destroyed by a hurricane in 1749. The buildings inside the fort that remained were continued in force until 1775. In 1781 a battery was built on the ruins of Fort George. In 1819, under declaration of President James Madison, the stone and brick fort construction began on what became the largest stone fort ever built in America. Construction was completed in 1834 and featured a moat completely encompassing the inner structures. It is the namesake for President James Monroe.

 

An Army Engineer, 1st Lt. Robert E. Lee, was stationed at Fort Monroe, 1831-1834, and was instrumental in the final construction stage. Lee was the future Confederate General that surrendered to General Grant at the end of the Civil War at Appomattox Court House in April 1865.

 

American Civil War Era (1860-1865) major events included:

In December, 1860 South Carolina seceded from the Union, followed by Virginia in 1861. Fort Monroe remained part of the Union. On May 27, 1861, the post commander, Major General Benjamin Butler issued the Fort Monroe Doctrine that declared any slaves reaching the fort as contraband of war, not to be returned to bondage and made free men. 1862 saw the naval Battle of Hampton Roads between the first ironclad warships CSS Merrimack and USS Monitor. This battle ended usage of wooden warships. President Lincoln came to Fort Monroe during the war and declared that Norfolk, VA needed to be recaptured as Union territory. In April 1865 the Civil War ended with the surrender of the remaining Confederate troops by General Robert E. Lee to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in Appomattox, VA. On April 26, 1865 Confederate President Jefferson Davis was captured and imprisoned for 3 days in the Fort Monroe casement. He was then moved to more humane quarters where he stayed until released on bail in May 1867.

 

In 1892 Fort Monroe became the training site for military artillery. In 1973 Fort Monroe converted from being CONARC (Continental Army Command) to TRADOC.

Additional Historical Structures on Fort Monroe

 

    Old Point Comfort Lighthouse was erected in 1802 and remains in use today.

    Church of the Centurion was consecrated in 1858 and remains in use today.

    Hotels erect for tourists and dignitaries were all built on the same site since 1822, in the following order: First Hygeia Hotel (1822-1862); Second Hygeia Hotel (1868-1896); First Chamberlain Hotel (1896-1920) and the Second Chamberlain Hotel (1928-2003). The Chamberlain was renovated from 2003 to 2008 when it reopened as a senior citizen retirement home.

    The Casement Museum was opened in 1953 and remains a focal point of the Fort Monroe National Monument Park with its supplies and displays of artifacts spanning several hundred years.

    September 15, 2011 Fort Monroe was deactivated as a military installation and ownership returned to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

    November 1, 2011 Fort Monroe was declared a National Monument Park and opened on November 4, 2011.

 

Population

The current population of non-military civilians is composed of senior citizens living in the renovated Chamberlain Hotel and anyone that will rent houses and apartments inside the old fort. Rental property has only just begun and so precise numbers are currently not available.

Summary

 

Fort Monroe National Monument Park is open to the public as renovations of 170 buildings continue. Housing quarters within the old fort area are available as rental property. The historical value of Fort Monroe is priceless and tourists from around the world now have the opportunity to learn the story of where exploration began and how it progressed and survived through colonial years to become one of the 50 United States of America.

Fort Monroe Army Base in Hampton on map

Fort Monroe

 

Fort Monroe was designed by the French military engineer Brigadier General Simon Bernard, Fort Monroe (sometimes called Fortress Monroe). It was created as part of the Third System of coastal defenses outlined by Congress after the War of 1812. Fort Monroe is a unique historically and geographically. The Hamptonians and Virginians are both  proud of the attraction that currently serves as an Army installation with a rich cultural and military history.

 

Location

Fort Monroe is located on Old Point Comfort where the Hampton Roads Harbor meets the Chesapeake Bay.

Continental Park, Fort Monroe, VA 23651

History

Fort Monroe was built between 1819 and 1834, but the history of fortifications on the site goes back much further. As early as 1608, Captain John Smith recognized the importance of building a fort at Point Comfort, as the English colonists called this land. In 1609 they built Fort Algernourne here, with the mission of protecting the approaches to the colony at Jamestown. Throughout the colonial period, there were other fortifications at this site, but none lasted very long.

 

When the United States entered the War of 1812 against Great Britain, the young nation soon found that its old systems of defense were inadequate to protect its coasts and port cities. The capture and burning of Washington, D.C. in 1814 was a hard lesson. But from that experience grew a new system of coastal defenses, of which the first and largest was Fort Monroe.

 

Fort Monroe’s original mission was to protect the entrance to Hampton Roads and the several port cities that had access to its waters. The fort accomplished this mission by mounting an impressive complement of the most powerful artillery of the time, 32-pounder guns with a range of over one mile. This was just enough range to cover the main shipping channel into the area. In 1824, the fort received another important mission when it was chosen as the site for the Army’s new Artillery School of Practice.

 

During the Civil War, Fort Monroe was quickly reinforced so that it would not fall to Confederate forces. In cooperation with the Navy, troops from Fort Monroe extended Union control along the coasts of the Carolinas. Several land operations against Confederate forces also were mounted from the fort, notably the battle of Big Bethel in June 1861, Major General George McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign of 1862 and the siege of Suffolk in 1863. In 1864 the Army of the James was formed at Fort Monroe. Fort Monroe is also the place at which Major General Benjamin Butler made his famous “contraband” decision, by which escaping slaves reaching Union lines would not be returned to bondage.

 

Over time the armament at the fort was improved, taking advantage of new technologies. In addition, the fort controlled several subinstallations around Hampton Roads, making the area one of the most heavily defended in the United States. By World War II Fort Monroe served as headquarters for an impressive array of coast artillery guns ranging from 3-inch rapid fire guns to 16-inch guns capable of firing a 2,000 pound projectile 25 miles. In addition, the Army controlled submarine barriers and underwater mine fields. But this vast array of armaments was all made obsolete by the development of the long-range bomber and the aircraft carrier.

 

After the operational armament was removed, Fort Monroe received a mission that it still maintains to this day. Since World War II the major headquarters that have been stationed here have all been responsible for training soldiers for war. Since 1973 Fort Monroe has been home to the Training And Doctrine Command, which combines the training of soldiers with the development of operational doctrine and the development and procurement of new weapons systems. Fort Monroe continues to have an important effect on the history of our nation and the Army.

 

Recent History

 

Efforts were made by local and state officials to keep Fort Monroe from closing, but in September 2011, pursuant to the decision by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), the Army will vacate the property.

 

In May of 2005, pursuant to enabling legislation, Hampton City Council created the Hampton Federal Area Development Authority (FADA). The Hampton FADA was created to enable more efficient cooperation with the federal government in the event of a closure or realignment of any of the City’s federal installations pursuant to the federal Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990, and to increase the value of federal installations in Hampton by promoting the development of federal employee housing, including military housing, office buildings and other infrastructure through increased coordination between the military, private industry, and academic and research institutions located in the City and Hampton Roads area.

 

Under BRAC law, there were specific requirements and timelines to follow in developing a reuse plan, thus the City of Hampton began the process by, for example, working with various consultants, appointing a Planning Steering Committee, and holding a community Charette to get input from citizens on the future of Fort Monroe. The City of Hampton, in conjunction with the Hampton FADA, Commonwealth of Virginia, and other important stakeholders, created a draft reuse plan.

 

To continue the careful planning of the reuse of Fort Monroe and because most of the property will revert to the Commonwealth of Virginia, in 2007 the Virginia General Assembly created the Fort Monroe Federal Area Development Authority (FMFADA), comprised of 18 members, including 7 members appointed by the Hampton City Council.

In August 2008, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine signed the Fort Monroe Reuse plan, a document which outlines the general provisions, opportunities and challenges associated with the future reuse of the fort.

 

With 2011 just around the corner, the FMFADA and the City of Hampton have much work to do to ensure the best and highest reuse of Fort Monroe. In June, the city and the FMFADA agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlining the next critical steps in determining the state of the infrastructure at Fort Monroe. This is an important step in further exploring the city’s interest in providing municipal services on the property once the Army vacates it.

Fort Monroe

 

Fort Monroe was designed by the French military engineer Brigadier General Simon Bernard, Fort Monroe (sometimes called Fortress Monroe). It was created as part of the Third System of coastal defenses outlined by Congress after the War of 1812. Fort Monroe is a unique historically and geographically. The Hamptonians and Virginians are both  proud of the attraction that currently serves as an Army installation with a rich cultural and military history.

 

Location

Fort Monroe is located on Old Point Comfort where the Hampton Roads Harbor meets the Chesapeake Bay.

Continental Park, Fort Monroe, VA 23651

History

Fort Monroe was built between 1819 and 1834, but the history of fortifications on the site goes back much further. As early as 1608, Captain John Smith recognized the importance of building a fort at Point Comfort, as the English colonists called this land. In 1609 they built Fort Algernourne here, with the mission of protecting the approaches to the colony at Jamestown. Throughout the colonial period, there were other fortifications at this site, but none lasted very long.

 

When the United States entered the War of 1812 against Great Britain, the young nation soon found that its old systems of defense were inadequate to protect its coasts and port cities. The capture and burning of Washington, D.C. in 1814 was a hard lesson. But from that experience grew a new system of coastal defenses, of which the first and largest was Fort Monroe.

 

Fort Monroe’s original mission was to protect the entrance to Hampton Roads and the several port cities that had access to its waters. The fort accomplished this mission by mounting an impressive complement of the most powerful artillery of the time, 32-pounder guns with a range of over one mile. This was just enough range to cover the main shipping channel into the area. In 1824, the fort received another important mission when it was chosen as the site for the Army’s new Artillery School of Practice.

 

During the Civil War, Fort Monroe was quickly reinforced so that it would not fall to Confederate forces. In cooperation with the Navy, troops from Fort Monroe extended Union control along the coasts of the Carolinas. Several land operations against Confederate forces also were mounted from the fort, notably the battle of Big Bethel in June 1861, Major General George McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign of 1862 and the siege of Suffolk in 1863. In 1864 the Army of the James was formed at Fort Monroe. Fort Monroe is also the place at which Major General Benjamin Butler made his famous “contraband” decision, by which escaping slaves reaching Union lines would not be returned to bondage.

 

Over time the armament at the fort was improved, taking advantage of new technologies. In addition, the fort controlled several subinstallations around Hampton Roads, making the area one of the most heavily defended in the United States. By World War II Fort Monroe served as headquarters for an impressive array of coast artillery guns ranging from 3-inch rapid fire guns to 16-inch guns capable of firing a 2,000 pound projectile 25 miles. In addition, the Army controlled submarine barriers and underwater mine fields. But this vast array of armaments was all made obsolete by the development of the long-range bomber and the aircraft carrier.

 

After the operational armament was removed, Fort Monroe received a mission that it still maintains to this day. Since World War II the major headquarters that have been stationed here have all been responsible for training soldiers for war. Since 1973 Fort Monroe has been home to the Training And Doctrine Command, which combines the training of soldiers with the development of operational doctrine and the development and procurement of new weapons systems. Fort Monroe continues to have an important effect on the history of our nation and the Army.

 

Recent History

Efforts were made by local and state officials to keep Fort Monroe from closing, but in September 2011, pursuant to the decision by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), the Army will vacate the property.

 

In May of 2005, pursuant to enabling legislation, Hampton City Council created the Hampton Federal Area Development Authority (FADA). The Hampton FADA was created to enable more efficient cooperation with the federal government in the event of a closure or realignment of any of the City’s federal installations pursuant to the federal Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990, and to increase the value of federal installations in Hampton by promoting the development of federal employee housing, including military housing, office buildings and other infrastructure through increased coordination between the military, private industry, and academic and research institutions located in the City and Hampton Roads area.

 

Under BRAC law, there were specific requirements and timelines to follow in developing a reuse plan, thus the City of Hampton began the process by, for example, working with various consultants, appointing a Planning Steering Committee, and holding a community Charette to get input from citizens on the future of Fort Monroe. The City of Hampton, in conjunction with the Hampton FADA, Commonwealth of Virginia, and other important stakeholders, created a draft reuse plan.

 

To continue the careful planning of the reuse of Fort Monroe and because most of the property will revert to the Commonwealth of Virginia, in 2007 the Virginia General Assembly created the Fort Monroe Federal Area Development Authority (FMFADA), comprised of 18 members, including 7 members appointed by the Hampton City Council.

In August 2008, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine signed the Fort Monroe Reuse plan, a document which outlines the general provisions, opportunities and challenges associated with the future reuse of the fort.

 

With 2011 just around the corner, the FMFADA and the City of Hampton have much work to do to ensure the best and highest reuse of Fort Monroe. In June, the city and the FMFADA agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlining the next critical steps in determining the state of the infrastructure at Fort Monroe. This is an important step in further exploring the city’s interest in providing municipal services on the property once the Army vacates it.