Fort Christina

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Fort Christina (1638-1680s) - A Swedish Colonial Fort established in 1638 near Wilmington, New Castle County, Delaware. Named Fort Christina after Christina, Queen of Sweden, who was 12 years old at the time. The fort was captured and renamed Fort Altena by the Dutch in 1655. Held by the Dutch until 1664 when the English took over. Abandoned in 1680s.

History

Fort Christina Map During the Dutch Siege of 1655.
(A) Fort Christina; (B) Christina Creek; (C) town of Christina Hamn; (D) Tennekong Land; (E) Fiske Kil (now Brandywine Creek); (F) Snake Battery, of four guns; (G) Gnat Battery, of six guns; (H) Rat Battery, of five guns; (I) Fly Battery, of four guns; (K) Timmer Öland (Timber Island); (L) kitchen; (M) position of the besiegers; (N) harbor; (O) mine; (P) reed flats; and ‘Comp’= Companies of Dutch soldiers.

The site of the first permanent Swedish settlement in 1638. The colony became known as New Sweden and the fort erected was known as Fort Christina. The Swedish expedition was headed by the Dutchman Peter Minuit, who had been hired by the New Sweden Company to guide the expedition from Sweden in December 1637.

The expedition consisted of 50 men, in two vessels (the Kalmar Nyckel and the Fogel Grip), that landed at a natural pier of rocks that jutted into the Christina River at its confluence with the South River.

In 1651, the Dutch under Peter Stuyvesant established Fort Casimir at present-day New Castle, only 7 miles south of Fort Christina. In 1654, the Swedes captured the Dutch Fort Casimir under the orders of Governor Johan Risingh. The capture of Fort Casimir inflamed the Dutch, who then prepared to completely drive out the Swedes.

In 1655, the Dutch under Peter Stuyvesant recaptured Fort Casimir and laid siege to Fort Christina. The fort surrendered 16 days later without bloodshed. The Swedish colonial presence was ended and the fort was renamed Fort Altena by the dutch. (details of the action and surrender are given in Carson, "Dutch and Swedish Settlements on the Delaware", PaMHB:13‑15).

The fort remained under New Netherlands until the English took over in 1664. Under English rule, the fort fell into disrepair and had all but disappeared by the end of the 1680s.

Fort Union (1813-1814)

During the War of 1812, Fort Union was constructed on the site of old Fort Christina to provide protection for Wilmington and the mills that were located there. This was a state militia fort and not a part of the Second System coastal fortifications.

Current Status

The site is now a part of Fort Christina State Park, with a large black granite monument which was created by Carl Milles and dedicated in 1938, as a gift from the people of Sweden to the people of the United States. A heavy concrete bulkhead extends along the river bank, covering all but a portion of the Rocks, and probably much of the fort site. Nearby is the New Sweden Centre, located at the Kalmar Nyckel Shipyard, 1124 East 7th Street, Wilmington, DE 19801 302.429.0464.

Location: Fort Christina Park, Wilmington, New Castle County, Delaware.

Maps & Images

Lat: 39.73712 Long: -75.53846

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