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A thesis prepares as a requirement for membership in 

Maryland Beta Chapter 

John Andrews, Jr, 

April 23, 1937 


First conceived In 1819, and later built beginning 
in 1847, Port Carroll, which was to form one of the defensive 
units of Baltimore City, was "built in the center of the 
Patapsco Elver, near Sparrows Point. Pormed of stone masonry, 
brick and concrete, it was to carry a heavy armament of from 
S26 to 350 guns, Dae to the changing times and circumstances, 
it never reached this stage. The fort underwent changes in 
design so often that it was not until 1900 that it was 
completed, having even then only 6 guns. Shortly afterwards, 
being completely antiquated by the advanced methods of warfare, 
it was abandomed. 

The fort was an artiflcal Island In the middle of the 
river, its stone walls resting on a platform supported on 
piling, and Its interior filled with earth. It was to be 
built In four stories, but was only completed In one. 

Today it is totally deserted. Many ideas have been 
thought of to put the site to some useful purpose, but 
nothing has been done. Unwanted even by those who control it, 
the War Department, what the future has In store for It no 
one knows. 






With, the progressive development of the science of 
warfare over a century ago, the then present defenses of the 
city of Baltimore became rather Inadequate for It's protection. 
As Baltimore was one of the growing industrial and maritime 
centers of this nation, a means was sought of solving this 
problem of the defense of the city, and the solution was 
found in the ereetlon of a fort at the entrance to the 
Baltimore harbor, in the center of the Eatapsco River, This 
fort was called Fort Carroll, so named in honor of Charles 
Carroll of Carrollton, one of the signers of the Declaration 
of Independence, and one of the most famous of Maryland's 

Fort Carroll, at the time It was begun, was 
destined to be one of the best engineering works of it's kind. 
Had it not been outpaced by the changing trends of warfare, 
it would have been able to successfully resist the best naval 
guns of that period. Then too, it's faces look down the 
channel along which ships must come, and the fire from the 
guns that would have been on these sides could have raked 
the ships from stem to stern. It's heavy, thick stone walls 
could have withstood the poundings of the largest guns, and 
it's own complement of armament could have sent to the 
bottom more than one of the attackers. Indeed, from it's 
appearance, it seems to be one of those stanch piles of the 
middle ages that have so well stood the tests of time. 


As early as 1819, a fort In the lower Patapsco was 
proposed. At this time, the Board of Commissioners for 
Reoonnoltering the Chesapeake Bay drew tip sketches for a 
fort that was to he built in three teirs and a platform. 
The artillery for this proposed works was to consist of 159 
pelces, to be mostly distributed on the teirs. It was to 
have garrisoned 835 men In the case of an attack, and of 
these men, 318 were to be artillerists. As a peace time 
establishment it waa to garrison 60 men. However, this 
proposal was not acted upon, possibly because no need was 
felt for It, 

In 1839, Colonel Joesepb G. Tot ten, who was then 
Chief of Engineers of the U.S. Army again recommended a 
strongly garrisoned fortress to be erected off of Sollers 
Point in the Patapsco, as had been proposed in 1819, He 
pointed out the fact that the only defensive works between 
Baltimore and the Chesapeake Bay was Port McHenry. He also 
went bo far as to draw up plans for this fortress, and his 
plans formed the basis of the design that was finally adopted. 
This recommendation was made every year until 1846 by 
Colonel Totten in his annual oongessional report. 

Baring this same period, a petition was made to 
the Senate of the 26th Congress, for the erection of 
fortifications on the site before mentioned, by several of 
the leading citizens of Baltimore. All of this probably had 
the desired effect, for on March 6, 1846, the State of 
Maryland ceded land on which to erect the fort to the 


United States, it "being specified that this land was to be 
used for military purposes only, and Congress appropriated 
$30,000 to begin the construction of the batteries. 

Preparations were made for beginning the work in 
1847, under the direction of Major C.A. Ogden of the U.S. 
Corps of Engineers. Surveys were made and construction sheds 
and storehouses were built. On March 1, 1848, the actual 
construction was begun, and in November of that year, Major 
Ogden was relieved of the super intendenoe of the work by 
Captain and Brevet-Colonel Robert E. lee. 

Some difficulty was evidently encountered in 1849 
as to proper ownership and title to the land, for there is 
a record of the leasing land for the fort, thru Major C.A. 
Ogden, from one Augustine Taney. Prom this it might be assumed 
that Taney thought that the United States had encroached 
on his water rights and on this basis based his claim. As 
the records Bpecify the leasing of lands for the fort, it is 
not to be supposed that what land was leased was any other 
than that on which the fort was constructed. 

Prior to this time, the fort had been called Camp 
Carroll, but on November 4, I860, the post was officially 
named Port Carroll by the War Department in it r s General 
Order no. 38, Headquarters of the Army. 

Every year from 1848 up to 1864, Congress made 
appropiations to carry on the work. It never appropiated 
at any one time sums greater than $100,000, but the total 
amount that it did authorize for the construction up to 


July 2, 1864 was |l t 375, 000, Howhere near this amount was 
spent on the fort during these years, as reports show up to 
the ena of the fiscal year 1887 only |l,125,779 # 18 was used* 
It is quite probable that the unused money was returned to 
the U.S. Treasury. 

The work was carried on slowly thru the 1850*8, with 
probable interruptions in 1855 and in 1857, when the plans 
for various parts of the fort were revised. In 1852 , Colonel 
Robert E. Lee was relieved of the construction work to go to 
West Point as It's superintendent, and he was succeeded by 
Captain H. Br ewer ton, also of the Army Engineers. Around 
1857, It was decided that to the fort proper a permanent 
wharf should be added, and the plans for this were drawn and 
submitted and it's construction begun. Subsequent revisions 
were made during the following years, and these unaoubtly 
did not add to the speed of the construction. 

After the work had been almost halfway completed, It 
was found that the whole structure was settling, and on August 
5, 1865, orders were given by the Chief of Engineers of the 
War Department to abandom the project to erect fort Carroll. 
There is also another reason to explain the incomplete stage 
of the forts construction, and that Is that much of the stone 
prepared for it's walls was built into a similar fort, the 
RipRaps, in Hampton Roads, Virginia. 

Work, however, did not completely oease. It 
continued thereafter slowly or intermittently during many 
years, and the work of the construction changed hands several 
times, transferlng from Captain Brewerton to Lt. Col. Charles 


N. Turnbull ana then later to Colonel William P. Cralghill. 
Itarlng the time that the fort was in charge of Colonel 
Craighill, and the higher authorities had decided not to 
"build the fort higher in masonry, he suggested that what 
masonry then stood he covered with earth, that was then "being 
removed from widening and deepening the nearby channel, to 
the proper thickness, and thus convert the fort into an 
earthwork. This plan was not accepted as Congress was not 
then in a receptive mood for doing anything with works of 
defense, and so Fort Carroll stood for many years in it's 
incompleteness an eyesore and an object of derision to the 
passersby who knew nothing of it's possibilities. 

The design had been outgrown by the changing trends 
in military tactics and weapons, ana so in 1887, it was 
proposed to modify the plan of the fort so as to enable it to 
recleve the heaviest rifled guns of that time, protected by 
masonry and armor. This work was authorized and the 
remodeling of the existing work was carried out slowly and 
was ultimately completed on September 30, 1900, when the fort 
became one of the garrisoned posts of the United States Army. 
This date marks the end of any actual construction on the 
fort as a military work. 

Fort Carroll is located in the middle of the 
Pa taps co River, on a bar known aB So Hers Point Flats. It 
lies about six miles from the entrance of that river into the 
Chesapeake Bay and about four or five miles below the modern 
city of Baltimore. It is situated about four or four and a 


half miles below the historic Fort MoHenry, and is from forty 
to fifty yards from the Craighlll ohannel, the channel that 
leads to Baltimore. Prom the map below can "be seen it's 
position in relationship to Sollers Point and to Hawkins Point, 
those stretohes of land that lie nearest to it . The "bearings 
given in this map are taken off of the exact center of the 
island on whioh the fort rests, and at this date their 
precision is to be doubted, as the time at whioh they were 
asertained was in 1849 # 

OfiiL. T/tyt o/Z&_ 

(-OCftTtoM o^ f%xr CaesaotL (V)d 

FO*r r*cri€Nfil 

setemHS *»*" 


The fort Is hexagonal In shape, and is built on an 
artificially cons true tea Island, in fact, it f i walls themselves 
forming an integral part of the island, "being it's boundaries. 
Occupying 3.4 acres. It was originally intenaed to have ^alls 
approximately 60 feet high and to have from 925 to 350 guns. 
It was to be "built In three telrs in casemates, which are 
"bomhproof ohambers occupied "by cannon, and one telr in "barbette, 
surmounting the three telrs In casemates, a "barbette being an 
open platform or earthen mound on which cannon are mounted. 
Being arranged in this form gave the fort a great deal of 
effective fire power. It was for this reason that the fort 
was so designed, as against the older "but more prevalent type 
of fortification as the "bastion type, which was In general one 
in which the cannon were mounted in the open on projections 
extending from the main walls of the fort. At this period 
there was a great deal of controversy raging "both in this 
country and in Europe as to whioh type of fortifications was 
the best. The following quotation, taken from an English work 
on fortifications, by Sir Howard Douglas, and maae by M, 
Montalembert, a French engineer. Is In favor of the polygonal 
system, or German system. It runs, "His observation is, that 
the safety of places depends on the covered fires whioh they 
can oppose to the attack of the works. * I flatter myself T , 
he says, f that I have succeeded In gathering together within 
a small space the greatest fire of artillery and musketry of 
whioh any idea can be formed, with apertures so multiplied 
that the men may breathe witk as much freedom as In the open 
air. ....... It will not be possible to doubt that the 


double batteries of guns and the triple batteries of musketry, 
are so usefully placed in the fortress that they will be capable 
of destroying and reducing to dust all of the methods of attack 
that an attacker can form against them: hence the impregnability 
of such fortress necessarily follows". The essential principle 
of the Montalembert system is that the artillery of the place 
should always be superior in number to that of the attackers. 
For this he proposed to construct, in masonry, vast casemated 
works, having several stages or telrs of guns completely 
protected from the fire of the enemy. These facts probably 
greatly infulenced the designer of the fort, as it was to be 
completely built on essentially this same principle, then so 
prevalent in western Germany, as for instance. Port Alexander, 
at Coblentz. 

While the polygonal design was retained, the work was 
only carried up to above the first teir of casemates, into the 
second teir, In connect Ion with the subsequent revisions 
of plan, the second teir was afterwards removed, and from this 
point the work was converted into a more modern battery. These 
later batteries were more or less a reversion to the old 
bastion type of fort, which seemed to spring into new favor 
after the polygonal system had been found to have many 
disadvantages under actual warfare conditions. Some of these 
disadvantages were, first, the angle of fire from the guns was 
limited, and that the size of the guns was restricted by space 
requirements, and secondly, the complement of men required to 
handle these guns was too great to permit efficient operation 
in the comparitively small enclosures. 


As the fort was built in the middle of the river on 
land totally submerged to a depth of from twelve to fifteen 
feet, it actually is an island artificially formed. The 
first step in this construction was the building of the outer 
walls to form the boundaries of the island. These walls are 
of granite masonry supported on a wooden grillage at the mud 
line, which in turn rests on a triple line of piling driven 
as far as it would penetrate into the underlying gravel, 
about twenty seven feet. Operations were handled from two 
construction platforms, one on each side of the wall. The 
top of these platforms were slightly above the water level 
and each was supported on three lines of piling driven only 
into the sand and mud of the river bottom. The masonry of 
the underwater section of the wall was laid with the aid of the 
diving bell, the general design of which is shown on the sketch. 

This diving bell was a hollow \ // 
shell without a bottom, of a 
suffioent size to permit men 
to work inside. It worked on 
the principle that the air in 
the top of the bell was 
compressed and retained, thus 
preventing the water from 
rising In the bell more than 
a limited extent. This 
supply of air was constantly 
replenished by means of a 
hand air pump. The bell 

7 5 


f/C U<*tN6 



Itself was raised anft lowered by means of a portable, hand 
operated orane which moved on wooden rails on the working 

The general character of the initial construction 
as described above, as well as the general form of the fort 
and island, is shown on the plan on Plate A, It may be added 
here, as It is not given on the plate, that the length of 
each side of the fort is 241.5 feet. 

The outer wall is of granite masonry, laid in the 
coursed Ashler style, all courses being of uniform two foot 
thickness. The first seven courses are ten feet wide, and are 
laid with vertical faces. The next five courses, which 
brought the wall well above the water line, are of varying 
width, and the outer face is on a batter of one in two. From 
this point on, the outer wall Is eight feet wide, and is again 
laid with a vertical face. Above the eighth course, the wall 
Is faced on the Inside with a brick and concrete lining. Some 
details of the wall construction are shown on the sections on 
Plate B. 

After the outer walls had been brought above the 
water line. Initial steps were taken towards filling the 
enclosed area. Sheet piling of seasoned oak timber was driven 
adjacent to the inner face of the wall. This was driven to 
a firm penetration and out off approximately at the water line. 
Behind this a platform 62 feet wide and supported on 17 lines 
of piling was built. All piling was capped with squared 
timbers on which a solid timber deck was laid. The fill was 
then made from material dredged from the river bed. The 


dredge used In these operations was of a bucket type mounted 
as a pendulum on a fixed mast on a scow, and was operated by 
a steam winch. The material for the fill was loaded into mud 
soows and taken into the the inolosure thru an opening left in 
the outer wall especially for that purpose. This opening was 
subsequently closed when the filling had reached a stage 
permitting this to be done. The height of the finished fill 
was approximately six feet above the mean low water. 

The inner walls and casemates were built directly 
on the 62 foot platform, and were of briok filled with concrete. 
Plate C shows in detail the construction of the casemates as 
originally designed and partially built. The casemates 
consisted of a series of low vaulted chambers with connecting 
openings. Each chamber was to be the emplacement of a cannon, 
which was to fire thru a loophole in the outer wall. Photo 1 
shows a view looking thru one of these casemates. Attention 
is oalled to the heavy thick walls and partitions, and to the 
concrete slab floors. The floor of the first teir of casemates 
as built coincided with the finished level of the Interior fill. 
In this view, at the end of the series of chambers, can be the 
loophole in one of the chambers at the angle of the two walls. 
In the intersection of all the walls, which were all exactly 
the same with the exception of the side on which were the 
barracks, was a circular stairoase, leading to the upper teirs, 
as can be seen in Photo 3. immediately in back of these 
stairways were the magiaine chambers, where powder and shot 
were stored. These rooms are totally enclosed except for one 
small arched doorway, and were provided with slate slabs as 



Photo ' 1 

Photo 2 


as floors instead of concrete. Ventilation was provided by 
slits which extended entirely thru the walls with two right 
angle turns • Several of these rooms can be seen in plan at 
the ends of the barracks on Plate D. Also shown are the circular 
staircases and the ventilation slits mentioned. 

Photos 3 and 4 show two views of an end casemated 
chamber. On the left wall of Photo 3 can be seen one of the 
ventilation slits which led to a room directly on the opposite 
side of the wall. The remains 

of a gun track can be seen on 
the floor toward the rear of 
chamber, the loopholes, one of 
which is shown in Photo 4, are 
immediately to the right of 
this track. These loopholes 
were provided with iron 
shutters that could be closed 
when desired. Photo 3 also 
shows the high grade of 
brickwork, all the walls and 
partitions of the casemates 
being laid in English bond* 




Photo 3 

Photo 4 


One side of the fort formed the barracks, as shown 
on Plate D. The main entranoe to the fort led thru this side. 
As originally designed, the first floor of the "barracks was to 
contain the storerooms, the washing and ironing rooms, the 
kitchens, and several bedrooms. Mess rooms were to be on the 
second floor, while the third and fourth floors were to be 
mainly given over as sleeping chambers. Photo 5 shows the 
interior wall of the first floor of the barracks, with the 
main entrance in the center. A view leading thru the entranoe 
to the outside is shown in Photo 6, and the main entranoe 
gateway also shown in Photo 7 from the landing wharf. 

Photo 5 


Interlor walls and 
partitions of the barracks 
were also of brlok, but of a 
much lighter construction. 
The wall facing the Interior 
of the fort as shown In Photo 
5 was laid in Flemish bond. 
The drainage from the interior 
of the fort was conveyed thru 
piping to a series of six 
sewers which were built under 
the barracks, and passed thru 
openings into the outer wall. 
A section thru one of these 
sewers is shown on Plate B. 

A wharf was provided 
opposite the main gate as a 
means of entry Into the fort. 
This wharf was a masonry 
platform, about 25 feet square, 
built on piling In the same 

fte in* 1 5 t-i 6owo. 


Photo 6 


photo 7 

manner as the fort. It was 
connected with the entrance 
gate by a hinged wooden 
gangplank that could be 
dropped when necessary. Photo 
8 pictures the wharf and the 
side of the fort containing 


Photo 8 

the barracks* ana Photo 7 also shows where the wooden gangplank 
was to be. 

It Is not altogether el ear as to how the fort was 
to he supplied with water » but at some time or another an 
artesian well was bored in the center of the fortress and 
there were also prorided what appears to he cisterns located 
below the floor level in several of the barrack chambers. 
These were evidently built after this portion of the fort had 
been completed* for there are signs of the floors removal. 
There were also installed sometime later than the building 
of the casemates three water tanks in one of the casemates 
sides. The cisterns were probably used for washing water and 


^ r 


A L 


Photo 9 

Photo 10 

the tanks for drinking purposes. The artesian well was not to 
he used except in the case of an emergency. Photos 9 and 10 
show views of the cisterns and of the water tanks. 

As has been previously mentioned, the original work 
was never carried beyond the second teir of casemates, and in 
1887, when decision was made to modify the existing structure, 
all of the masonry above the first teir was removed on all 
except the two southern sides, and a layer of asphalt 1c 
material was spread over the roof of the first teir. On the 
two southern sides of the fort, the masonry was removed down 
to the fourteenth course of outer wall. All of the stone that 
was taken off was deposited in the river immediately in front 
of the walls. On the two southern sides the mountings for 
three batteries were built. Each of these batteries contained 
two guns, one with 12", one with 5", and one with 3" cannon. 

Galleries and magixines were built below the 12" 
gun emplacements, construction being in brick and oonorete 


wlth steel and concrete arched roofs. The exterior faces of the 
galleries are of stone masonry. Provisions were made for 
handling ammunition by the use of overhead tramways and 
elevators to the gun platforms* 

Plate E shows in detail the construction of the 
12" gun battery* A concrete parapet 6.5 feet high was built 
in front of the gun platforms and the space between these 
parapets and the outer wall was filled with dredged material. 
Photo 11 is the front of the 12" battery viewed from the 
interior of the fort. The connecting upper gallery between 
the two guns in this battery is shown in Photo 12. It is on 
this gallery that the ammunition was delivered from the 
elevators, whioh were loaded from the lower gallery which 
Is shown in Photo 13* This is taken thru the passageway 
between the ammunition chambers on the left and the elevators 
on the right. 

The two smaller batteries were placed on the side 
adjacent to the 12" battery, their mountings being much 
simpler, and they having no provision for the meohanloal 
handling of ammunition. As in the case of the larger battery, 
the ammunition was stored below the gun platforms, and was 
carried by hand to the guns up open stairways. The general 
plan of these batteries, as well as the 12" battery is shown 
on Plate F, 

In addition to the major items of construction as 
outlined above, a power house, range finders, and other 
equipment necessary for the proper operation of the fort, 
as Indicated In Plate F t was built. 




Fhoto 11 

Photo IS 

Photo 13 


Al though the fort was officially completed on 
September 30, 1900, and became one of the posts of the 
United States Army, it was never garrisoned by more than 
a skeleton force. Within a very few years, it became 
practically obsolete as a means of coast defense. 

In 1905, a revocable license was granted by the 
War Department to the Department of Commerce and Labor for 
the occupation of part of the fort by a lighthouse keeper. 
From this it may be assumed the fort's lighthouse was built 
at that time, together with a frame building for the 
lighthouse keepers living quarters, 

Evidence of the decreasing importance of Fort 
Carroll as a military reservation is shown by the fact that 
in 1908 it became a sub-post of Port McHenry, and in 1911 
a sub-post of Fort Howard, In 1920, it was finlally 
abandomed as a military post. During these years it was 
occupied by only a few enlisted men acting as caretakers. 
In March, 1921, the equipment of the post was transferred 
to Fort Howard. 

With the abandonment of the fort, permission was 
given to the Department of Commerce and Labor, in a revocable 


license, permission to use the entire reservation for 
lighthouse purposes. Then the present automatic lighthouse 
was built, doing away with the need of a lighthouse keeper, 
and thus leaving the fort completely unoccupied, save for a 
legendary cat, who was said to haunt the fort for many years. 
The frame building that was the abode of the lighthouse 
keeper was destroyed in 1924 by a fire. 


On several occasions In the past fifteen years, the 
War Department attempted to dispose of the property, but 
due to the stipulation in the original deed of the land from 
the State of Maryland that the land was to be used for 
military purposes only, no final action was ever taken to 
carry this out* 

During 1921, Mayor Broening of Baltimore suggested 
that upon the site of Fort Carroll it might be advisable to 
erect a large statue of Lord Baltimore, rivaling in siae that 
of the Statue of Liberty in Hew York, This idea had been 
concieved earlier, by Mayor Mahool, in 1909. In addition, 
there was to be a huge electric sign reading "Welcome to 
Baltimore". However, nothing was ever done about this. 
Also later was proposed to put a radio station there, but 
again interest was not aroused. 

The fort is a reminder of the changed aspects of 
warfare. It would have been able, with it f s original design, 
at the time of the design, to be among the most powerful of 
defensive units. This was demonstrated by the fact that Fort 
Stunt er, in Charleston harbor, a fort very much of the same 
kind as Fort Carroll, was attacked by the powerful fleet of 
Admiral Dahlgren in the Confederate War, and was almost 
totally uninjured. Today, however, it is a different story. 
Bo fort of any type Is of any value t Ho mere pile of earth 
and masonry can today withstand the batterings and poundings 
of modern aircraft and long range guns. And so It Is, with 
time as with man, progress has been made, and leaves In it's 


wake, those relics of the past* 

Abandoned for human occupancy, Fort Carroll Is 
occasionally visited by ouriousity seekers or pionicers , but 
during most of the time it shows no signs of any life and. 
In fact, is the tomb of many land birds driven out over the 
river during storms. But it still remains in a remarkably 
good state of preservation and the almost untouched lines 
of it's masonry bear silent witness to the excellence of it's 
design from a structural standpoint and the unquestionable 
high standard of workmanship which was used in it's building. 


• r- • 

Panoramic view of Fort Carroll 

This is a view looking toward the southern sides 
of the fort. On the left is the "barracks, and on the right 
the 12" gun emplacements. The small "building in front of the 
gallery on this side is the power house. In front of the 
"barracks, on the ground, are what is evidently part of one 
of the range finder towers. Far in the distance can "be seen 
Sparrow's Point. 



1- Files on Fort Carroll-Pratt Library, Baltimore, Md. 

Article from the Sunday Sim, "by Douglas F, Woolley-1929 

2- Maryland Historical Magazine, March 1906 

Artiole- f Baltlmore and it's Defenses, Past and Present 1 
by Genera! William P. Craighlll 

3- History of Baltimore City and County-1881 

by J. Thomas Scharf 

4- Guide to Baltimore, hy Allan K. Bond-1921 

5- f A Treatise on the Modern System of Fort if loat Ions 1 1859 
by Sir Howard Douglas (English) 

6- War Department 

Historioal section of the Intelligence Department 
Mr, G-winn 

7- Office of the Adjutant-General, U.S. Army 

Old "Records Department. 



/ Power House 

2 Light Ho Keeprrs Qrs. 

3 S'ouad Room 
4- Ci sterns 

5 Hitch en & Mess Room 

Range Finders 

B Bott Towson 
B"! " Winchester (Arnnsttadj 
B" « McFurland ■■ , 

M" Mine Field // 

T.5 Tide Sta. M[ 

B.M Bench Morh \\ 


Towson 2-tZ"N.D. 

Heart 2-5"BP 

Augastin 2- 3" B.P. 


Baltimore, Md. 

( 'Ol 

att Auuus>tin 

S M ?v -isi 

Butt Ton/Son