Fort Conanicut

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Fort Conanicut (1776-1824) - A Patriot Revolutionary War Fort first established as Dumpling Rock Battery in 1776 near Jamestown, Newport County, Rhode Island. Captured by the British in late 1776 and occupied by them until 1778 as Fort Dumpling Rock. Occupied by French forces 1780-1781. Occupied by Patriot and then U.S. forces as Fort Conanicut from 1780-1800. Rebuilt as a casemated tower in 1798 known as Fort Dumplings, abandoned by 1824 and by 1898 was in ruins. The ruins were Dynamited in 1898 to make way for the gun batteries of Fort Wetherill.

British Plan for a Four Gun Battery at Dumpling Point
Fort Conanicut (Dumplings Tower circa 1870)
Fort Wetherill 1941, Site of Fort Conanicut in Lower Right

History of Fort Conanicut

Fort Conanicut was first established by Patriot forces in 1776 on a large rock outcrop between West Cove and Fort Cove on Conanicut Island. The fort was armed with eight 18-pounder guns.

All three of the Patriot works on Conanicut Island were then occupied by the British, from the time they landed at Newport, in December, 1776, until the 8th of August, 1778. These works included Beaver Tail Fort, Beaver Head Fort and Fort Conanicut were all improved by the British. Anticipating the fall of the island to the French, the British spiked the guns, destroyed the magazines, abandoned the works, and retreated to Newport.

The french briefly placed troops on Conanicut Island in 1778 but withdrew them when the British fleet appeared. Both the French and British fleets were damaged in a hurricane and the French did not return until 1780. The French stayed until June 1781 when they departed for what would become the Siege of Yorktown.

In 1798 the United States embarked on the construction of a series of coastal forts to defend major ports known as the First System forts. Directly across from Fort Conanicut construction began on the massive Fort Adams and at the same time construction began at Fort Conanicut on a casemated stone tower fort, about 80 feet above the water and 15 to 20 feet tall. The construction of this tower, Fort Adams and other fortifications on the bay were superintended by Major Louis Toussard, a French engineer who had served with the American forces during the Revolution. The new tower was briefly called Fort Louis after him and later called Fort Dumplings. The tower was in use during the War of 1812 but by 1824 it had been abandoned.

The tower ruins were dynamited in 1898 to make way for Battery Varnum, Battery Cooke and later the dual Mine Primary Stations on the new Fort Wetherill.

Fort Conanicut Name Progression

Current Status

Location of Old Battery at the Site of the Primary Mine Station Remains

No remains of the tower can be see but some remains of the earthworks may still exist around the site of the dual primary mine station (the primary mine station is gone now but an earth berm and two concrete instrument supports are still in place). There is interpretive signage at the site that explains the history of the old fort and the newer batteries.

Location: Fort Wetherill near Jamestown, Newport County, Rhode Island.

Maps & Images

Lat: 41.47823 Long: -71.35793

See Also:



Visited: 1 Jun 2012

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