Fort Delaware is now closed for the season. We look forward to seeing you when we reopen in the Spring of 2022.
Travel back in time with a first-person interpreter dressed in period clothing and experience what we think life was like during the Civil War. Meet park staff members dressed as soldiers, commanders, the fort blacksmith, and others who may have lived in the fort during the war.
View the island from the ramparts at the top of the Fort and watch the Columbiad cannon fire. Park staff tell the story of the gun and how it was loaded and fired. You'll feel the percussion from the firing and smell the burnt black powder during this engaging program!
The island where Fort Delaware is located is also home to the Pea Patch Island Nature Preserve. This nature preserve contains a heronry where herons, ibises, and egrets nest. Hike the Prison Camp Trail to see the heronry, and climb the Heronry Overlook to see birds in the trees across the marsh.
Take a walk around the exterior of the fort to see the structure’s unique design and construction from all angles. Every part of Fort Delaware was built for a specific purpose.
Situated on Pea Patch Island in the middle of the Delaware River, Fort Delaware was initially constructed in the mid-1800s to protect Wilmington and Philadelphia from enemy attack. Fort Delaware served that role through WWI. The fort was among the most state-of-the-art in the nation when it was completed and housed prisoners of war during the Civil War due to its relative isolation. Within the walls of Fort Delaware, visitors can also see Battery Torbert. Along the Prison Camp Trail lies the entrance to the mine casemate that controlled the mines that were deployed in the river in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Pea Patch Heronry is one of the largest mixed species nest colony for herons, egrets, and ibis in the eastern United States. Other nesters that can be found on the island include osprey and bald eagles. Paranormal tours are offered in the fall and living history interpretation is offered year-round.
The State of Delaware deeded Pea Patch Island, located in the Delaware River between Delaware and New Jersey, to the U.S. government in 1813, and construction of Fort Delaware was completed around 1859.
Originally built to protect the ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia, Pea Patch Island also became a Union prison camp during the Civil War, housing up to as many as 12,595 Confederate prisoners of war at one time. Manned only briefly during World Wars I and II, the island and fort were finally abandoned and declared surplus property in 1944, when ownership was transferred back to the State of Delaware. Fort Delaware became a state park in 1951.
Today, costumed interpreters take you back to the summer of 1864 -- tour the parade ground, officers' quarters, barracks, kitchen, blacksmith shop and ordnance room, hear stories of great escapes, and watch as the Fort's Columbiad cannon fires a live gunpowder charge! Engage with fort historians dressed in period clothing, and hear stories of those who lived at the fort in 1864. Fort Delaware is well-known for “ghostly” activity and has been featured on Ghost Hunters and other television shows. Paranormal tours are offered in the fall.
Pea Patch Island is a summer home to nine different species of herons, egrets, and ibis. The remote marshes provide an outstanding habitat for one of the largest wading bird nesting areas on the East Coast. A hiking trail and its observation platform provide opportunities for photography and nature study. The Prison Camp Trail traverses part of this area and features a bird observation tower along the trail.
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
This program will highlight some of the major battles and events in the western theater of the war, which include some of the most important events of the entire conflict. Though it is often overlooked, the western theater provides some incredibly fascinating stories. Fort Delaware State Park is partnering once again with the Brandywine Hundred Library to offer outreach programming related to Fort Delaware and the American Civil War. All programs are in-person, and will be held at the Brandywine Hundred Library. Free
Tuesday, December 14, 2021
Ever wonder what Fort Delaware is all about? Come find out in this special program! We will talk about how Fort Delaware was built, and why, and about its special use during the American Civil War. This program will be held via Zoom. It is a free program, but participants must register in advance by calling our park office at 302-834-7941, or by emailing Jake at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, January 11, 2022
Fort Delaware is known as a Civil War-era prisoner of war facility. It also served, though, as a holding center for civilian prisoners. In this program, we will tell stories of the civilian prisoners at Fort Delaware, and examine the site's legacy as a military prison. This program will be held via Zoom. It is a free program, but participants must register in advance by calling our park office at 302-834-7941, or by emailing Jake at email@example.com.
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
The American Civil War is one of the most cataclysmic events in United States History. Could you have stopped it before it started? Find out in this interactive, choose-your-own-adventure style program! This program will be held via Zoom. It is free, but participants must register in advance by calling our park office at 302-834-7941, or by emailing Jake at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday, February 1, 2022
The American Civil War was a cataclysmic event which involved the use of countless weapons. Though most of the firearms used during the Civil War were muzzle-loading, it is also the first American war that involved the use of breech-loading weapons in large numbers. In this program, we will talk about some of the major weapons used during the Civil War and how they were used. This program will be held via Zoom. It is a free program, but participants must register in advance by calling our park office at 302-834-7941, or by emailing Jake at email@example.com.