Fort Ontario

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Fort Ontario (1755-1946) - First established in 1755 by the British during the French & Indian War. Located at the mouth of the Oswego River on the east bank overlooking Lake Ontario in Oswego County, New York. Transferred to New York State in 1946.

Fort Ontario Sally Port
Fort Ontario Gun Battery Firing
Fort Ontario Exterior

French & Indian War (1754-1763)

A west view of Oswego and Fort Ontario with General Amherst's camp at Lake Ontario in the year 1760

The original British fort, named Fort of the Six Nations, was erected in 1755, during the French & Indian War. This fort complemented Fort Oswego and Fort George on the west side of the Oswego river mouth. All of the British fortifications at the mouth of the Oswego River were captured and destroyed by French forces under the Marquis de Montcalm on 14 Aug 1756. The British rebuilt Fort Ontario in 1759 as a large earth and timber fortification with outlying redoubts and a dry moat.

Revolutionary War (1775-1783)

Fort Ontario Site Marker

The British abandoned Fort Ontario in 1777 and American troops from Fort Stanwix destroyed the fort in July 1778. The British reoccupied and rebuilt the fort in 1782 and held it until the Jay Treaty took effect in 1796. American forces reoccupied the fort but did little to maintain or improve it.

War of 1812 (1812-1814)

Fort Ontario was again captured and destroyed by the British in May 1814 during the War of 1812.

The fort was re-garrisoned and rebuilt by American troops starting in 1838 to help protect the Northern Frontier against possible British invasion. The improvements were earth and timber works with barracks and officer quarters designed for a garrison of about 120 men.

Fort Ontario Interior - 1840s Buildings

U.S. Civil War (1861-1865)

Fort Ontario 1868 West Guardhouse
Fort Ontario Civil War Era Casemates

Worried about the possibility of British intervention on the side of the Confederates, Fort Ontario was further improved during the U.S. Civil War by Union forces. The improvements initiated included replacing the earthworks with vertical stone walls and two guardhouses flanking the entrance. The improvements were not completed by the end of the war. The 1860s stone fort contained five bastions, a stone sallyport, two guardhouses. two sets of casemates and two rifle galleries.

Fort Ontario 1905 Guardhouse

Improvement continued until 1870 when Congress cut off funding. The old fort was abandoned in 1901 but new construction outside the walls began in 1903 and expanded the post to battalion size. A row of duplex officer's quarters ringed the outside of the old fort and located across the exterior parade were additional enlisted barracks. Starting in 1928, the old fort was pressed into service to provide recreational and family housing facilities in the old buildings. In 1941 there were about 125 buildings active on the post.

World War II (1941-1945)

During World War II the post served as an emergency refugee center for victims of the Holocaust. After the war, the fort was transferred to the State of New York as veterans housing. In 1949 the State began the development of the site as a State Historic Site.

Current Status

Must See! Restored to the 1868-1870s period. Part of the Fort Ontario State Historic Site, Oswego, Oswego County, New York. Period cannons occupy some of the bastions and many of the buildings have period furnishings.

Location: Fort Ontario State Historic Site, 1 East Fourth St., Oswego, Oswego County, New York.

Maps & Images

Lat: 43.465833 Long: -76.508056

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Visited: 27 Jul 2012

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