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A Must See Place in Delaware For History Buffs
I went back to the Summer of 1864 today. After 3 days of fighting in 1863 at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Robert E. Lee was forced to withdraw his troops to Virginia. Union casualties in the battle numbered 23,000, while the Confederates had lost some 28,000 men–more than a third of Lee’s army.
But what to do with the prisoners of war that the Union had taken? That's where Fort Delaware comes in. Pea Patch Island, equidistant from New Jersey and Delaware, was the site of an 1831 fort that had been destroyed by fire and rebuilt by 1859. It soon became home to 12,500 prisoners of war. This is where our visit to 1864 Fort Delaware commences. (Note- The present island is much larger today, due to dumping of dredging from an earlier deepening of the Delaware River Channel for large container ships.)
The Fort became a mini-city, with apartments for Union officers and their families, and commodius quarters for captured officers. Enlisted prisoners soon occupied wooden dormitory like buildings outside the protective granite walls of the fort. Workers such as cooks and laundresses commuted daily by boat from nearby Delaware City (just as we did today from the Delaware State Parks dock).
The ... more
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