Fort Wood (2)

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Fort Wood (2) (1811-1937) - A Second System star shaped fort completed in 1811 on Bedloe's Island, in New York Harbor. Named after Bvt Lieutenant Colonel Eleazer Derby Wood (1873-1814). Abandoned by the Army in 1937.

Statue of Liberty on Fort Wood Base
Fort Wood with Manhattan in the Background and Castle Williams on the right, 27 Feb 1933


Originally constructed as a Second System fort between 1809 and 1811. The fort was built as a 12 pointed star shaped fortification to mount 24 guns. The post was garrisoned and abandoned several times before 1849. During this period it expanded to mount 77 guns and garrison up to 350 men. In 1849, the post was temporarily turned into an immigrant examining station.

U.S. Civil War (1861-1865)

Fort Wood was re-garrisoned on 18 Jan 1861, just before the outbreak of the U.S. Civil War. During the war, the fort was listed as a prisoner of war post with the most prisoners held at 108. No escapes and 3 deaths were recorded. At the conclusion of the U.S. Civil War the post was placed in caretaker status.

With the presentation of the Statue of Liberty to the United States in 1884, the old granite star fort was selected as the base for the statue. The statue was erected in the center of the old fort and dedicated on 28 Oct 1886. Fort Wood itself was reestablished in November 1886 and occupied the remainder of the island. Fort Wood became a recruiting center in April of 1899.

General Order 45, 1894 declared Fort Wood as sub-post of Fort Columbus across New York Harbor. General Order 40, 1902, expanded the Fort Wood reservation to include the whole of Bedloes Island including the Statue of Liberty. In General Order 30, 1904 the post was designated for one company of Signal Corps troops and as a sub-depot for storage of Signal Corps material.

On 30 Jul 1916, a series of explosion at the close by Black Tom Wharf in Jersey City severely damaged the post and did $100,000 damage to the Statue. The explosions were deemed to be an act of sabotage on American ammunition supplies by German agents even though America had not yet entered World War I.

Fort Wood was used as a coastal defense fort and depot during World War I and after the war, by troops that patrolled New York Harbor. In 1924, the Statue and the old Fort Wood base were declared a National Monument and in 1933 they were transferred to the National Park Service. The U.S. Army abandoned the post in 1937.

During World War II the Coast Guard maintained an observation station on the old Fort Wood statue base and after the war, the remaining military buildings were torn down.

Current Status

Must See! Now a part of Statue of Liberty National Monument on Liberty Island. The original star fort serves as the base for the Statue of Liberty. The last fort buildings were removed during the 1950s and the land converted into Liberty Park.

Location: Liberty Island, New York County, New York.

Maps & Images

Lat: 40.68926 Long: -74.04456

GPS Locations:

See Also:


  • Roberts, Robert B., Encyclopedia of Historic Forts: The Military, Pioneer, and Trading Posts of the United States, Macmillan, New York, 1988, 10th printing, ISBN 0-02-926880-X, page 594-596
  • Speer, Lonnie R., Portals to Hell:Military Prisons of the Civil War, Stackpole Books, 1997, Mechanicsburg, PA, ISBN 0-8117-0334-7, 410 pages, page 326.


Visited: 15 Aug 2010

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