Historic and Quaint Forts of North America

An account of the most famous fortifications of North America is, in realty, a cross section of the military history of the continent; and whatever ingenuity there may be in this method of presenting the conspicuous deeds of valor of the American people will, it may be hoped, add interest to the following pages.

So many races of men have wrestled for the North American continent in, historically speaking; so brief a space of time! We behold the Indian in possession though we do not know who was his predecessor in holding the land, though the mounds of the Middle West, notably Illinois and Arkansas, point to a race of a higher culture and more developed knowledge of building than the red men had. There come the Spanish with their relentless persecutions of the natives. There come the English, French, Dutch, Swedish. And the claims of each clash, to at length give way – despite the military acumen of the French – to the steady, homebuilding genius of the English.

Of the strongholds which the Spanish built to maintain their title to this part of the world there remain such substantial relics as the old fort at St. Augustine, annually visited by thousands of people, and that at Pensacola, Florida. The French are best remembered by their works at Quebec. Of the defensive works of the Dutch, on the Hudson, or the Swedes, on the Delaware, nothing remains The English were not great builders of forts; they were essentially tillers of the soil. The most important English military work of early Colonial days in America was Castle William (Fort Independence), Boston harbor.

To the French with their restless explorers and indefatigable missionaries to the Indians must be ascribed the credit of most completely grasping the physical conditions of the North American continent and of formulating the most comprehensive scheme for military defense of their holdings. The French forts extended in a well organized line from the mouth of the Saint Lawrence west and south through the Great Lakes and down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico. They originated and executed, all things considered, the most daring and comprehensive military project ever conceived on the continent of North America.

Source: Quaint and Historic Forts of North America, By John Martin Hammond, 1915, J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, London

Forts, History,

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