To enforce the Embargo Act in 1809 Sackets Harbor saw a military presence stationed in the area. The first military action was in June 1812 when five British ships were fought off by the U.S. Brig Oneida and U.S infantry shore batteries.

This convinced the US military to create a ring of defenses around Sackets Harbor to protect the village and the shipyard at Navy Point, with Fort Tompkins across from the shipyard and the Basswood Cantonment. Fort Tompkins was a blockhouse with twenty guns and the Basswood Cantonment was a garrison for the troops consisting of two parallel row barracks. In 1813 Fort Virginia with sixteen guns and Fort Volunteer were also built. Fort Volunteer is where Madison Barracks was later built.

In May of 1813 the British attacked once again and landed a group of troops on Horse Island and headed for Sackets Harbor. The US troops feared defeat and destroyed all supplies and naval stores and retreated to Fort Volunteer, but the British could not overcome the entrenched US troops and they instead retreated.

In the summer of 1814, more “forts” were added with a ring of earthworks connecting them all. Beside Fort Volunteer was Fort Pike. The Basswood Cantonment was enlarged and renamed Smith Cantonment. The British did not attack and by the end of the year eight ships had been built at the Navy Point Shipyard.

In 1874 the shipyard was abandoned but the naval station continued being minimally used. It was renamed the New York State Naval Militia Training Center after 1915 but stopped being used altogether in 1954.

The Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Park covers the area where the Naval Station was as well as the Fort Tompkins site, remnants of Fort Kentucky, and some portions of the May 1813 battlefield. Some traces of Fort Pike still remain at Madison Barracks.
For pics and info on the Sackets Harbor State Park trails go to this official site and this site.

Also see:
Sackets Harbor
Madison Barracks
Sackets Harbor Village Historic District


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  • sackets_harbor_battlefield.txt
  • Last modified: 2018/12/06 17:17
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