Travels of Phil & Leo

Father & Son Road Trips

Pea Patch Island DE * August 23, 2002

     We drove to Fort Delaware on our way home from Washington DC. Fort Delaware sits on Pea Patch Island, in the middle of Delaware Bay. You have to take a boat to get there. It is one of a series of three forts built in the 1800s to defend Delaware Bay, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Camden, and the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal; the other fortifications being Fort Mott on the New Jersey side, and Fort DuPont in the Diamond State.

    We didn't have time to visit Fort DuPont or Fort Mott, that will be for another time. We did get to spend a good deal of time at Fort Delaware, and got to nose around a bit at the entrance to the original Chesapeake and Delaware canal, which dates back to 1829.


     The present Fort Delaware was built between 1848 and 1860. It was the third attempt to build a fort on Pea Patch Island, a tough task to engineer as the island is subject to tidal flooding. The fort stayed in service until after World War II, when it was given over to the state of Delaware.
     Fort Delaware was a notorious Union prisoner of War camp during the Civil War. While the number of deaths due to disease and malnutrition numbered in the thousands, the percentage of prisoners dying  was far less than Andersonville in the South or even that of  the Elmira NY prison.

     Fort Delaware is the home of the only still firing 8" cannon from the Civil War years. This cannon is also the largest Civil War artillery piece still operating today. With an effective range of 3.5 miles, and the opposite shores being only one mile away, it was no wonder that no hostile ship ever tried to force its way past Fort Delaware.

     Fort Delaware is staffed by knowledgeable Civil War Re-enactors who work in costume and in character. $6.00 gets you the boat ride to all three forts, admission is free..... a great value and there is much of interest to see. You can explore the forts and grounds pretty much as you please, and the staff is very happy to share what they know.

     Look below for more links about Fort Delaware and Fort Mott, and of course, the travels of Phil & Leo.

Left: The Delafort, the quick boat  that runs between Delaware City, Fort Delaware, and Fort Mott.
Right: The old Chesapeake & Delaware canal, viewed from the first lock at Delaware City DE.



Left: Second floor, North wall- Leo and a cannon
Right: Third Floor, North wall- a series of cannon. Chemical plants in background
Courtyard for the northwest corner. The western section of the fort was built after the civil war, and is not open to the public. Third Floor, Eastern Wall- The concrete squares are drains to collect rainwater for the fort's consumption.
Upper and Lower Left: Store room as it appeared in Civil War era
Upper and :Lower Left: Armory as it appeared in Civil War era
Note that the crates read Frankford Arsenal


The Prison Times, volume 1, no. 1, Fort Delaware, April 1865, consists of 4 unnumbered folio pages, handwritten in ink. This first, and only, edition of the Prison Times was produced by Confederate prisoners at the Fort Delaware Federal prison camp on Pea Patch Island, Delaware.

Each page is divided into three columns, with a serious (if tongue-in-cheek) attempt made to follow the standard newspaper format of the time. For example, "advertisements" appear on the first page, right column, and similarly on the second page. These are apparently for genuine services, such as "tailoring," and "washing and ironing," offered by named members of particular divisions in the prison camp. The other columns on the first page are titled "Our Paper" and "Miscellaneous." The second page has a masthead, "Salutatory," and "Our Prison World." On the third page are "Local," "A Good Work," "Christian Association Directory," and "Debating Clubs. The last page includes "Original Poetry" and "Barracks Directory."
Image: Caption Following Image: Caption Following
The Prison Times. (pp. 1 and 2)

The motto of the newspaper, under an image of a clock showing five minutes past six, is En temps et lieu (literally, "in time and place"), positioned with the paper's title on the first page.

Edward R. Rich, who had been a prisoner at Fort Delaware, wrote about this newspaper in his Civil War memoir, Comrades! :

"One of the most remarkable productions of Fort Delaware was the Prison Times, a newspaper published in April, 1865, by Capt. Geo. S. Thomas, 64th Georgia Regiment, and Lieut. A. Harris, 32d Florida. It was written in a small but very clear handwriting by Capt. J. W. Hibbs, of the 13th Virginia Cavalry [sic], who proved himself a most expert penman." 1

The editorial staff made it plain (on page 2 in the section headed "Salutatory" in the left-hand column) that they hoped the paper would be a short-lived enterprise:

Image: Caption Following

Image: Caption Following

The Prison Times. (pp. 3 and 4)

"Trusting that the difficulties of conducting an enterprise of this kind under the circumstances are duly appreciated by an intelligent public, we send forth this our first number hoping that ere we can have time to issue many numbers our prison times will be discontinued forever and our patrons and ourselves be far away in our loved Sunny South."

Indeed, Rich confirms that:

"Prison Times, Vol. 1, No. 1 died almost as soon as it was born, for the ink was scarcely dry on its pages ere the news of Lee's surrender, reached Fort Delaware, and with the hopes of a speedy parole, the publication of the paper was suspended. It had, indeed, a short life; but it was full of interest to its readers, and should anyone whose eye glances over these pages have a copy of it, they will surely prize it as a treasured memento of their Prison life in Fort Delaware." 2

Prison Times was accessioned late in the second half of the nineteenth century by the New-York Historical Society's Manuscripts Department. This copy is one of four known to be extant.

1.   Edward R. Rich, Comrades! (Easton, Md.: S.E. Whitman, 1898) p. 120.
2.   Rich, p. 124

Welcome to the Official Fort Delaware Society Webpage
Fort Delaware State Park -- Delaware State Parks
Fort Delaware
Finn's Point Home Page
Fort Delaware site photos
Fort Delaware Prisons, Paroles & POWs Fort Delaware "Starvation In A Land Of Plenty".
Excerpts From Swann's "Prison Life At Fort Delaware"
Fort Mott State Park
Fort Delaware -- Thumbnail Tour
Fort Delaware apparitions!
Something Fishy At Fort Delaware
History of Fort Delaware Escape From Fort Delaware
CSN Prisoners at Fort Delaware.
Unlikely Allies : Fort Delaware's Prison Community in the Civil War.
Fort Delaware The "Andersonville" of the North
 Civil War Memorial The Immortal 600
Swann - Prison Life at Fort Delaware
Fort Mott
Fort DuPont State Park Delaware City, Delaware (Delaware State Parks)
Bits of Blue and Gray - Fort Delaware on Peach Patch Island - My Favorite Place  

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Phil Cohen
Leo Ortiz