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Wadsworth, fort

The outbreak of hostilities with the Native Americans in the early 1640s necessitated establishing some kind of defensive structure on Staten Island, in order to defend the few colonists who lived there. In 1641, the colonial government decided to build “a small redoubt at as little expense as possible” for that purpose. It is unlikely that the plan was carried out, as there are no further references to it throughout the 1640s. - In 1656, following the 1655 Peach War, new plans for a fort emerged. Hendrick van der Capelle, absentee patroon of Staten Island, ordered captain Adrian Post “to erect a fort on said island pursuant to the order sent over, into which he and [the colonists] can retire in case of another such hostile attack on the part of the Indians.” This suggests that Van der Capelle furnished captain Post with specific instructions as to how the fort was to be built. Yet the plan appears to have been aborted when the danger of Indian attacks abated. Further colonization of Staten Island stalled until the issue of ownership was resolved. From 1661 onwards the island was settled under the direct jurisdiction of the West India Company and efforts to defend the island were again taken up. In 1662, the colonists were protected by a small garrison of six soldiers and a year later the Amsterdam directors urged Stuyvesant to take proper care of the defence of the mouth of the Hudson River, although they later admitted that their instructions were based on incorrect information. Nevertheless, in April 1664, Stuyvesant reported back that the problem had to some extent been taken care of: both New Utrecht and the as yet unnamed village on Staten Island were previous summer against an attack by wild barbarians provided with suitable blockhouses which are built by putting beam upon beam and for their better defence are each furnished with two or three light pieces, of which one or two are stone pieces; the hamlet on Staten Island, being the weakest and too far to be assisted in time, is enforced with ten soldiers for its greater safety. - At the end of the eighteenth century the location just behind Signal Hill was used for other fortifications, which gradually developed into the complex now named Fort Wadsworth. The village, later named Oude Dorp (Old Town), was located a few hundred meters to the south, at South Beach, probably close to Ocean Avenue.

build start

1663

build end

1663

period

1663

material wood
historical name

Wadsworth, fort

Flagstaff, fort

blockhouse, fort

function blockhouse
location State Island

Literature

  • Jacobs, J., Dutch Colonial Fortifications in North America 1614-1676 (Amsterdam, 2015)