Georges Island was the busiest of Boston's islands during the Civil War. Its strategic location and granite Fort Warren, guarding The Narrows, the shipping channel into Boston’s inner harbor, and the Nantasket Roads channel to the south, made it Boston’s main line of defense against enemy invasion. The fort also served as a recruiting and training camp for Massachusetts regiments of the Union Army. Fort Warren’s most important wartime function was as a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp, beginning in October 1861, with the arrival of 155 political prisoners and over 600 military prisoners.
The highest-ranking civilian prisoner at Fort Warren was Alexander H. Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederacy, who was held at the fort from May 25-October 13, 1865. On May 28, 1865, Stephens described the initial impact of his imprisonment:
Prepared by Jane Triber, 2005
Last updated: February 26, 2015