Fort Warren is the kid of prison Confederate soldiers didn’t want to leave. Not convinced? Two soldiers were caught breaking back in after escaping during the Civil War. Fort Warren is located on George’s Island, seven miles from Boston. The U.S. Government picked the strategic spot to the build the Fort to protect Boston Harbor.
It was first used as a training camp in 1858 then turned to a Civil War prison in 1862. At Fort Warren, food was plentiful: crews in the kitchen could bake up to 3,000 loaves of bread a day. One prisoner wrote a letter to his family telling them he gained 13 pounds! Out of the 2,400 prisoners, only 13 passed away from natural causes. When the bugle horn rang every morning, prisoners were allowed to read, write and play games like baseball, football and tag. Not a bad set up, right? The last prisoners were released in 1866 after the end of the Civil War.
The grounds sat still for several years after the state bought the land in 1957. About thirty years later, in 1996, it became part of the National Harbors Recreation Area, which includes 34 islands with over 150 things to do. From camping, fishing, and running the Islands are worth exploring. Ferries leave from Boston Harbor.
Rangers present at some of the islands to lead tours and of course serve as history books. Jerry McCormack leads tours of Fort Warren and has the longest standing history of the island. He started spending time here when he was a mere 10 days old. His father was the head of maintenance for 25 years and this was their first father-son outing. Jerry knew his heart belonged with history after growing up in it, he knows every in and out of the island. He, or another ranger, will show you everything from the kitchen, housing and defense tactics. There largest canon on the island needs 42 men to crew, and could shoot a 1200 pound canyon 129 miles.
Get ready to get your history on!
For ferry tickets visit: http://www.bostonharborislands.org/