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Fort Constitution

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I always thought it would be fun to live on the east coast when I studied American History in school. There are so many historical landmarks and sites to see. When people visit this side of the country, they want to see the obvious places like Boston, Washington DC, and New York City. Yet, living in upstate New York, we have the ability to make short drives throughout New England and discover some of the less talked about historical sites. One of these sites that I recently stumbled upon is Fort Constitution, located in New Castle, NH.

Fort Constitution
Jenny deMars

Fort Constitution is located on the northeast corner of New Castle Island, near Portsmouth. The fort overlooks the Piscataqua River and the Atlantic Ocean. It has an interesting history, playing a role in many wars, including the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. 

The site was previously named Fort William and Mary, a colonial defensive post set up by the British in 1632 to guard access to Portsmouth Harbor. This fort also stored British gun powder and other militia items. During the American Revolution, New Hampshire conducted its first act of open rebellion against the British at this fort, after receiving word from Paul Revere, that a royal order had been made not to allow the export of gun powder and other arms to America. On December 14th and 15th, 1774, patriots of New Hampshire raided the fort to seize the gun powder. Some consider this the first overt act of the revolutionary war and that some of the seized supplies were used in the Battle of Bunker Hill. The following link offers a thorough history: http://www.nhssar.org/essays/FortConstitution.htm

In 1791, New Hampshire gave the fort to the federal government to protect Portsmouth. The fort was rebuilt and completed in 1808. At that time, it was renamed Fort Constitution. It was then used during the War of 1812, as a training site during the Civil War, and was protected by mines in the Spanish American War, WW1 and WWII. What remains of the fort is now open as a state park. Besides the historical value, the grounds are beautiful. There are underground tunnels which you can access and the fort offers spectacular views of the ocean. You can also see Portsmouth Harbor Light, the only lighthouse on the mainland of New Hampshire, which was constructed in 1877. If you are in the area, this is a destination worth checking out.

The park is open year-round from 8am to 4pm and free to the public. 

For more information:

Address: 25 Wentworth Road, New Castle, NH 03854

Phone: 603.271.3556

Websites to visit:

http://www.nhstateparks.com/fortconstitution.html

http://www.library.unh.edu/special/index.php/fort-constitution-papers

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