Fort Delaware State Park Things to Do

  • Fort Delaware
    Fort Delaware
    by KiKitC
  • Fort Delaware
    Fort Delaware
    by KiKitC
  • Things to Do
    by KiKitC

Best Rated Things to Do in Fort Delaware State Park

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    Grab your free 'Orders of the Day'

    by tpangelinan Written Aug 23, 2003

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    Victorian Dancing

    Here is a copy of the activities scheduled at the Fort the day we visited.

    August 23, 1863

    11:30 8" Colombiad Cannon Demonstration
    Tickets for this were $2.00, (12 & under free)

    12:30 Civil War Games

    1:15 Interpretive tour. Given by characters in costume of 1863!

    1:30 Victorian ballroom dance lessons in Enlisted Mess Hall. (for watching pre registration is required)

    2:30 Another Cannon Demonstration

    3:30 African-Americans at Fort Delaware

    4:30 Bread making, 3000 loaves per day, in 1863 was hard work.

    These are typical functions going on at the Fort every day! Go check it out.

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    Fort Delaware

    by KiKitC Written Jul 2, 2009

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    Fort Delaware
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    Pea Patch Island, as it was known to the locals, was a private hunting ground for Dr. Henry Gale. In 1794, the French military engineer Pierre Charles L’Enfant surveyed the island as an ideal location for a river defense fort. The US military offered Gale $30,000 for the island, but Gale refused. The military then appealed to the Delaware State Legislature, and the island was seized from Dr. Gale on May 27, 1813.

    Construction began in 1817, but a fire destroyed the original structure. By 1833, the original structure was torn down, and the fort that stands today began construction between 1848 and 1859. At the time, it was the largest fort in the United States. The fort is surrounded by a deep moat, with revolving cannons on all sides.

    In 1862, during the Civil War, the island was used as a prison for Confederate prisoners of war. Originally, the fort was designed to hold 2,000 prisoners, but by 1863, the number had surged to over 10,000. Wooden barracks were built on the parade grounds to house the prisoners, 212 men to each, and 54 barracks. Some 2,900 prisoners died at Fort Delaware as a result of disease.

    The State of Delaware acquired the fort in 1947 and opened Fort Delaware State Park. Access to the island is by ferry only, leaving from Delaware City in Delaware or Fort Mott in New Jersey. (see transportation tips)

    The Fort Delaware Historical Society has had a huge hand in the restoration of the fort. There are many areas that are functioning as they did in 1864. Restored rooms with historical information signs, and many times a period reenactor to describe and answer questions about life at the fort in 1864.

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    POW Barracks

    by KiKitC Written Jul 2, 2009

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    Prisoners at Fort Delaware
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    55 wooden barracks were built on the parade grounds to house over 10,000 Conferate Prisoners of War. All of the original barracks have gone with time, but the Fort Delaware Society has had one rebuilt using the same plans as the originals.

    Visitors can enter the barracks and see the cramped quarters and loosely constructed wooden panels. 212 men were housed in each of these barracks.

    Historical reenactors are sitting in the barracks. The reenactors here have used actual journal and diary information to research the background of someone that was actually housed or imprisoned here. When in character, they are convincingly this other individual.

    We met three Conferate POWs, one from Alabama, and two from Virginia. All three were captured at the Battle of Gettysburg. The soldier from Alabama was the only one of his regiment still alive, and he attributed his life-saving to his being a Free Mason. An officer on the other side saw his secret masonic sign and ordered he not be killed.

    If you're really a Civil War buff, start talking 1864 politics with these gentlemen. You may never see American History the same again.

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    The Enlisted Men's Building

    by KiKitC Written Jul 2, 2009

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    Mess Hall
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    A lot of restoration has been done to room within the fort that housed and served the enlisted men.

    You can visit the kitchen and mess hall, as it would have been in 1864. The flags around the mess hall properly display 35 stars...the number of states in the Union at the time of the Civil War.

    The ordance room, where all weapons are stored or repaired. If Sergeant Bryan is around the ordance room at the time, ask him about the different artillery and weapons used at the fort.

    The issue room is where men got necessary goods, such as uniforms, soap, bandages...whatever. We had a chance to meet the "issuer" who showed us the many boxes of supplies readily available to the men here.

    The infirmary is set up with beds and potions on the wall. This was the minor injury infirmary...as it was explained to me. If the injury was more serious, or required surgery, there was another area they would bring them.

    All those enlisted men make a lot of dirty clothes. You can visit the laundry area.

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    The Officer's Building

    by KiKitC Written Jul 2, 2009

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    Library
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    When the fort was turned over to the state in 1947, much of the fort was vandalized. Piles of plaster had fallen from the ceilings. The Officer's Building has been remarkably restored and furnished...even with some of the original pieces!

    In the officer's building, you will see how the "upper class" of the fort lived. Many of the officers brought there family to the fort as well.

    You can visit the Staff Offices, where documentation was kept, and meetings held. The rooms are furnished just as they were in 1864. We met a reenactor here who explained that everything in the fort is red in color to depict it was army. He also taught us the when speaking with the reeanctor, you should ask them to "take off their hat" if you wish to ask a question of modern day information.

    The officer's Kitchen was running, as Miss Susan Byrne was preparing the Captain's favorite dishes. The wood burning stove was going full blast, and it was really warm in there...

    The laundry area was huge...I've never had much interest in this area anyway...

    The Officer's Quarters were amazing. We were guided through the rooms by a period housekeeper. She explained how who slept where, what activities were held in the sitting room, the Captain's son's favorite toys and desk (on display). We even learned about he rope bedding that the officer's had...

    The library is full of information. Unfortunately, the area was only open to viewing from the outside...maybe next time I'll get a reenactor there to discuss politics with.

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