This week we are traveling to the North into Delaware, one of the first states to be settled. We’ve talked about strange monsters that lurk in the woods, creepy hotels, and haunted prisons, but today, we travel to a military base.
Fort Delaware has been inactive for a while now, but that only means it doesn’t serve as a harbor defense facility. It is definitely active with lots of paranormal activity. The military has own Peas Patch Island since the 1810s. They seized the land from a person named Doctor Gale, who had been using the space as his own personal hunting grounds.
The French would then build the fort in order to protect the state from the Confederates and other types of enemies. Captain Samuel Babcock, in 1812, oversaw the work to make the fort stronger. They strategically placed seawalls and dikes, and they started building the star fort in 1817.
However, because of damage and other delays, the construction took a lot longer to finish than what was originally expected. Captain Delafield created the second version of the fort, which is the pentagonal one that remains there today, between 1848 and 1859 even though they didn’t declare it as finished until 1868.
Today, it is believed that Fort Delaware is one of the most haunted areas in the state, and its dungeons are probably the most active area. Prisoners were kept there without any water or beds. They were forced to sleep on the floor along with the filth and vermin, so it’s safe to say that disease and death were very common.
During the Civil War, the Fort went from protector to prison, and the prison became home to Confederate prisons, along with convicted federal soldiers, and local political prisoners. The first prisoners were held in empty powder magazines, sealed off casements, and two small rooms in the sally port. You can still see the names of Confederate soldiers carved in the walls of those rooms. Brigadier General Johnston Pettigrew was the first Confederate general to be housed there. Throughout the war, around a dozen generals were held captive there.
They eventually built barracks and a hospital on the grounds. One set of barracks was for the Confederate POWs and the other was for Union soldiers who stood guard over the POWs. Most of the Confederates who were captured during the battle of Gettysburg were held here.
By the end of the war, the fort had held around 33,000 prisoners. Of those, about 2,500 died. A smallpox outbreak in 1863 killed 272 of the prisoners. Lung inflammation killed 243. Various types of diahrrea killed 315. Around 215 prisoners died from malaria and/or typhoid. Other causes of death included erysipelas (47), pneumonia (61), and scurvy (70). Five of the prisoners drowned and seven others were shot to death. Also, 109 Union soldiers died on the grounds, as well as 40 civilians.
A lot of people have said that they have noticed shadow figures and full-body apparitions in the dungeons and it is very common to hear voices echoing throughout the halls. Some people have even heard chains rattling.
A team of ghost hunters has even gathered quite a bit of spooky evidence from the space. It was featured on their show, “Ghost Hunters.” They caught a thermal image of a person peeking around a corner at them. One of the investigators can be seen being pulled back in some of their video clips, which you can find online. He said that something was pulling on his jacket when this happened. You can also hear the sound of chains echoing throughout the dungeon as well. Shadowy figures can also be seen darting around the space.
If you’re brave enough, you can take a tour of Fort Delaware. It’s three hours long and happens rain or shine. The only way it will be canceled is if the weather makes it dangerous for boat travel.