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Fort Monroe, Virginia

The Illustrated London News, vol. 38, no. 1090, pp. 499-500.

May 25, 1861


The secession of Virginia from the Union was not a mere formality, but was soon followed by overt acts of hostility on the part of the Virginians. Besides taking Harper's Ferry, and thus closing the Western Railroad, they compelled the United States' Navy officers at Norfolk to burn eleven men-of-war, including the famous Merrimac, and to blow up the munitions, stores, and docks at that yard, to prevent their falling into the hands of the Secessionists. But the naval force of the Federal Government is still tolerably strong in those waters, and is able, it would appear, to blockade the mouth of the James River, by holding Hampton roads, and to keep open the Potomac. In this service the ships of war will be supported by Fort Monroe, at Old Point Comfort. Fort Monroe, which is still garrisoned by United States' troops, situated on the north point of the mouth of James River, and is about one mile from Fort Calhoun, on the Ripraps. This fort is a large and strong military post. The walls are more than a mile in circuit, very thick and high, surrounded by a moat, which is from sixty to one hundred feet wide, with eight feet of water, drawbridge, and outer batteries. It mounts some three hundred heavy guns, has mortars for throwing shells, and is provided with furnaces for making the shot red hot. The range is about three miles. The walls inclose about seventy-five acres. The parade-ground is in the centre, and all round it are the barracks. Being well planted with trees, it is a pleasant shady place in summer. Outside the moat is a fine walk, with a view of the sea. In this fort is the famous fifteen-inch gun designed by Major Rodman, U.S.A., which is supposed to be the largest piece of ordnance

Page 500

ever cast whole. An officer from Fort Monroe says that there are now 1300 men in the fort, that the guns are in good order, and everything is as desirable as it should be for order successfully to withstand a six months' siege.

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