Walking Tours of Fort Monroe
Contact: Kirsten Talken-Spaulding, 757-722-3678
Fort Monroe, Va. - To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Union General George B. McClellan and the Army of the Potomac at Fort Monroe, the National Park Service, in partnership with the Fort Monroe Authority, will offer a guided walking tour of Fort Monroe National Monument at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 31. The tour, entitled "Fort Monroe: Freedom's Fortress in the Spring of 1862," is free and open to the public and reservations are not required. Meet the Park Ranger at Outlook Beach parking lot on Fenwick Road, just outside the east gate of the fort. For additional information contact the National Park Service at 757-722-FORT (3678).
The tour will visit several historic sites within Fort Monroe and offer a glimpse into the Civil War history of one of the most important Union strongholds in the South. Focusing on the events leading up to the spring of 1862 and the start of General George B. McClellan's famous Peninsula Campaign, the 90-minute tour will explore a number of topics, including the fort's role as a major Federal garrison during the first two years of the Civil War; General Benjamin Butler's famous "contraband of war" decision that ultimately turned the area around the fort into a home for thousands of escaped slaves; the legendary Battle of the Ironclads in the Hampton Roads waters surrounding Fort Monroe; and the arrival of McClellan and his 120,000 man army to the fort in late March of 1862. The program also will delve into some of the interesting personalities associated with Fort Monroe and discuss what life was like for the soldiers stationed inside this important Federal garrison, as well as the local civilians' reactions to the Federals' occupation of Hampton Roads.
Fort Monroe National Monument is one of America's newest National Parks. Though an active military base from the time it was garrisoned in 1819 until it deactivated in September 2011, Fort Monroe is perhaps best-known for its role in the Civil War. Named after President James Monroe and later nicknamed "Freedom's Fortress," Fort Monroe was the site of General Benjamin Butler's "contraband decision" in 1861, which provided a pathway to freedom for thousands of enslaved people during the Civil War and served as a forerunner of President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. It was also the staging area for General George B. McClellan's 1862 Peninsula Campaign. After the war ended, former Confederate President Jefferson Davis was imprisoned at the fort for two years.
This partnership program is the first of a series that will be offered at Fort Monroe as part of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Check the park's website at www.nps.gov/fomr for the schedule of additional programs. Also within Fort Monroe is The Casemate Museum; the museum is free & open daily from 10:30am to 4:30pm.
Did You Know?
At one time military families who lost beloved pets while stationed at Fort Monroe could bury their animal companions in a pet cemetery on the top of the fort walls. Today this closed cemetery is the final resting place for over 400 military pets and War Dogs.