Fort Niagara: Wikis

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Colonial Niagara Historic District
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. National Historic Landmark
View of Fort Niagara from the Ontario side of the Niagara River
Location: Youngstown, NY
Nearest city: Niagara Falls
Coordinates: 43°15′42″N 79°03′49″W / 43.26167°N 79.06361°W / 43.26167; -79.06361Coordinates: 43°15′42″N 79°03′49″W / 43.26167°N 79.06361°W / 43.26167; -79.06361
Area: 250 acres (100 ha)
Built/Founded: 1726
Governing body: New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation
Added to NRHP: October 15, 1966[1]
Designated NHL: October 9, 1960[2]
NRHP Reference#: 66000556

Fort Niagara is a fortification originally built to protect the interests of New France in North America. It is located near Youngstown, New York, on the eastern bank of the Niagara River at its mouth, on Lake Ontario.

Contents

Origin

Fort Niagara is rich in history.

René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle built the first structure, called Fort Conti, in 1678. In 1687, the Governor of New France, the Marquis de Denonville, constructed a new fort at the former site of Fort Conti. He named it Fort Denonville and posted a hundred men under the command of Capt. Pierre de Troyes, Chevalier de Troyes. The winter weather and disease was severe, and all but twelve perished by the time a relief force returned from Montreal. It was decided in September of 1688 to abandon the post and the stockade was pulled down. In 1726, a two story "Maison a Machicoulis" or "Machicolated House" was constructed on the same site by French engineer Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Lery. It was called the "House of Peace" or trading post to appease the Haudenosaunee, or Iroquois. The name used today, "The French Castle" was not used until the 19th Century. The fort was expanded to its present size in 1755 due to increased tensions between French and British colonial interests.

British control

The fort played a significant part in the French and Indian War, and fell to the British in a nineteen day siege in July 1759, called the Battle of Fort Niagara. The French relief force sent for the besieged garrison was ambushed at the Battle of La Belle-Famille, and the commander of the post, Pierre Pouchot, surrendered the fort to the British commander, Sir William Johnson, who initially led the New York Militia. The Irish-born Johnson was not the original commander of the expedition, but became its leader when General Prideaux literally lost his head, stepping in front of a mortar being test-fired during the siege. The fort remained in British hands for the next thirty-seven years.

Fort Niagara served as the Loyalist base in New York during the American Revolutionary War for Colonel John Butler and his Butler's Rangers, a Tory militia in the command of the British Army. Lt. Col. William Stacy, a high-ranking officer of the Continental Army, was captured at the attack on Cherry Valley, New York by Butler's Rangers. He was held captive at Fort Niagara during the summer of 1779.[3] Niagara become notorious for drinking, brawling, whoring, and cheating. Crude taverns, stores, and bordellos sprouted on "the Bottom", the riverside flat below the fort.[4]

"The French Castle"

Though Fort Niagara was ceded to the United States after the Treaty of Paris ended the American War of Independence in 1783, the region remained effectively under British control for thirteen years. Only after signing of the Jay Treaty did American forces occupy the fort in 1796. In the interim, United Empire Loyalists fleeing persecution in the new USA were given land grants, typically 200 acres (81 ha) per, in Upper Canada and some were sustained in the early years partly by aid from the military stores of the fort. The British captured Fort Niagara during the War of 1812, on the night of December 19, 1813. British forces relinquished it to the United States with the Treaty of Ghent. It has remained in US custody ever since.

Later use

The name "Old Fort Niagara" which is associated with the fort today does not refer to its age but to distinguish the colonial-era fortress from its more modern namesake. The post-Civil War era saw the building of "New Fort Niagara" outside the original walls of the fort. Following the Civil War, masonry forts were abandoned for the style of military camp we now know (masonry fared poorly under bombardment). The newer Fort Niagara contained a thousand-yard rifle range, access to rail lines, and access to large industrial areas (Niagara Falls and Buffalo). Fort Niagara was used to train troops for the Spanish-American War and World War I, and during World War II as an induction center and later a POW camp for 1,200 German soldiers captured in North Africa. After WWII, the fort served as emergency housing for returning veterans. During the Korean War, the fort was used as for the headquarters for anti-aircraft artillery and later Nike missiles. The US Army officially deactivated Fort Niagara in 1963. Military presence on the site continues with the United States Coast Guard still operating at "The Bottoms" making Fort Niagara one of the longest continuously run military bases in the United States, 1726-presentday.

Reenactors dressed in British 1812 uniforms at Old Fort Niagara

In 1931 after nine years of lobbying for repairs and preservation by local citizens a formal operating license between Old Fort Niagara Association and the U.S. War Department establishes rights to preserve and operate the fort. In 1949, Congress transferred Father Millet Cross National Monument (a small memorial at Fort Niagara) to the State of New York.[5] In 1960 the fort was among the first sites designated as National Historic Landmarks.[2] [6][7]

Today

Fort Niagara has been renovated and now serves as Fort Niagara State park and museum. The restored fort is the scene of frequent historical reenactments of 18th century battles that took place on the site, as well as period dances, fundraisers and other special events. Fort Niagara is a State Historic Site known as Old Fort Niagara State Historic Site.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. http://www.nr.nps.gov/.  
  2. ^ a b "Colonial Niagara Historic District". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. 2007-09-12. http://tps.cr.nps.gov/nhl/detail.cfm?ResourceId=400&ResourceType=District.  
  3. ^ Campbell, William W.: Annals of Tyron County; or, the Border Warfare of New-York during the Revolution, J. & J. Harper, New York (1831) pp. 110–11, 182.
  4. ^ Taylor, pg. 102
  5. ^ National Park Service. "Antiquities Act: Monument List". http://www.nps.gov/history/archeology/sites/antiquities/MonumentsList.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-08.  
  6. ^ National Park Service; National Historic Landmark Survey, New York. Retrieved June 6, 2007.
  7. ^ John H. Conlin (1986). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Fort Niagara" (PDF). National Park Service. http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NHLS/Text/66000556.pdf. Retrieved 2009-06-22.   and Accompanying 23 photos, exteriors and interiors.PDF (3.55 MB)

References

Taylor, Alan, The Divided Ground, 2006, ISBN 0-679-45471-3

External links

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

FORT NIAGARA, an American fortification, on the E. side and at the mouth of Niagara river, opposite the Canadian village of Niagara, or Niagara-on-the-Lake. Fort Niagara has a reservation of 288 acres, with fairly modern equipments, several historic buildings of the time of French and of British possession, in one of which, the old magazine (1757), William Morgan was imprisoned in 1826. Fort Niagara was long, especially during the French occupation of Canada, one of the most important forts in North America, being the key to the Great Lakes, beyond Lake Ontario. "This immense extent of inland navigation," says Parkman, "was safe in the hands of France so long as she held Niagara. Niagara lost not only the lakes but also the valley of the Ohio was lost with it." A fort built (1675) by Gabriel Edouard, chevalier de Nouvel (1636-1694), was soon destroyed, as were Fort Conti and the trading post built by La Salle in 1679; Fort Denonville, built in 1687 by Jacques Rene de Bresay, marquis de Denonville, governor-general of Canada, in his cruel campaign against the Iroquois, was abandoned in 1688, after the garrison, commanded by Pierre de Troyes (d. 1687), had been wiped out by an epidemic. The first Fort Niagara, to be so named, was built in 1725-1727 at the instance of Charles le Moyne, 1st baron of Longueil (1656-1729), and became a very important military and trading post; the fort was rebuilt by Captain Pouchot (1712-1769) in 1756, but in July 1 759, after a siege of about sixteen days, it was surrendered to Sir William Johnson by Pouchot, who wrote a Memoir upon the Late War (translated and edited by F. B. Hough; 2 vols., 1866). On the 14th of September 1763 a British force marching from Fort Schlosser (about 2 m. above the Falls; built 1750) to Fort Niagara was ambushed by Indians, who threw most of their captives into Devil's Hole, along the Niagara river. In July 1764 a treaty with the Indians was signed here, which detached some of them from Pontiac's conspiracy. Joseph Brant, John Butler, and, in general, the Indians of north-western New York favouring the British during the American War of Independence, made Fort Niagara their headquarters, whence they ravaged the frontier, and many loyalists and Indians took refuge here at the time of General Sullivan's expedition into western New York in 1779. The fort was not surrendered to the United States until August 1796. In the War of 1812 it was bombarded by the guns of Fort George (immediately across the river in the town now called Niagara, then Newark 1) on the 1 3 th and 14th of October 1812; was the starting-point of the American expedition which took Fort George on the 27th of May 1813; and on the 19th of December 1813 was surprised and taken by assault - most of the garrison being killed or taken prisoners - by British troops under John Murray (1774-1862), who had previously retaken Fort George. After the close of the war, on the 27th of March 1815, Fort Niagara was restored to the United States, and a garrison was kept there until 1826. The fort was regarrisoned about 1836.

See F. H. Severance, Old Trails on the Niagara Frontier (Buffalo, 1903), Parkman's works, especially Montcalm and Wolfe (2 vols., Boston, 1884), and The Conspiracy of Pontiac (2 vols., Boston, 1851), and a pamphlet by Peter A. Porter, A Brief History of Old Fort Niagara (Niagara Falls, 1896).


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