Fort Delaware/Fort Dupont State Park
PO Box 170
Delaware City, DE 19706
The park office is located south of Delaware City just
off Route 9. Hours are 8 a.m. to sunset, year-round.
The voice telephone number is 302.834.7941.
Fort Delaware State Park is located on Pea Patch Island,
which is in the Delaware River between Delaware and New
Jersey (one-half mile from Delaware). To reach the island,
use The Delafort ferry boat which departs the dock adjacent
to the park office at the end of Clinton Street in Delaware
City. Delaware City, Delaware is located on the north side
of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, off Route 9.
The fort is a good distance from the boat dock, but there is
a jitney (no cost) to save you a long, hot walk.
I had learned earlier that a couple of our family members
were imprisoned at Fort Delaware during the Civil War and
thought I would like to know more about the prison facility.
Fort Delaware is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays,
Sundays and holidays, end of April through September. From
Mid-June through Labor Day, the park is also open Wednesdays,
Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is a fee
for the boat transportation to Pea Patch Island.
The Fort Delaware Society was founded in 1950 as a private,
nonprofit-organization, the all-volunteer society is
dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Fort
Delaware. Their office is located in the Fort Dupont State
Park about a mile or so from downtown Delaware City. For
information or research requests, write or call:
Fort Delaware Society
PO Box 553
Delaware City, DE 19706.
The voice telephone number is 302.834.1630.
The Fort Delaware Society maintains a roster of those who
were imprisoned on the island during the Civil War. Carr
Bowers McClenny and James Madison McClenny were both
prisoners of war at Fort Delaware. Among the first
prisoners to be placed in Fort Delaware were 250 of
Stonewall Jackson's men, captured at the Battle of
Kearnstown, VA during March, 1862. Eighteen months later,
there were 12,500 prisoners. Over 3,000 of the prisoners
died on the island from war wounds, diseases and malnutrition.
The prisoners were kept in one-story, wooden buildings
located on the marshland outside the fortress. Over the
period of time, 33,000 Civil War prisoners were there.
The Union and Confederacy posted various claims to how
many prisoners escaped, but apparently it was less than
500. One prisoner was shot and killed by a young Union
soldier who was severely chastised. Many died from the
exposure and diseases.
The fortress which dates back to 1859, was originally built
to protect the ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia. The
fortress is built of brick and granite and is surrounded by
a moat. Park interpreters will tell you anything you wish
to know. The calendar of events included artillery demos,
restoration activities, medical practices of the 1860's,
living history prison life, open hearth cooking and more.
Here are some pictures of Fort Delaware.
Map of the Island
Wall of the Fort
Interior of the Fort
Pea Patch island is a summer home to nine different species
of herons, egrets and ibis. The marshes provide habitat
for one of the largest wading bird nesting areas on the
east coast. A trail and observation tower provide you with
opportunities for photography and nature observation.
Take a picnic lunch as there is a picnic area. Tables and
grills are provided and soft drinks, snacks and water are
available on the island. Alcohol is not allowed. There are
no trash facilities and you are asked to remove all your
trash from the island when you leave. There is a restroom
Fort Delaware also offers Candlelight Ghost Tours on some
Friday evenings during July, August and September. The
tour lasts about 90 minutes and costs $ 12 per person.
Reservations are required. Call (302) 834-7941 to make