Maine - Fort McClary

Fort McClary

On first approach, visitors are greeted by the imposing granite wall constructed starting in 1864, intended to upgrade the existing fort to a modern Civil War battlement. The war ended before the fort could be upgraded, and indeed the fort never came into use, so that effort was abandoned after only a "V" in the back was built with a single redan (the pointy bit facing me in the first photo).

This is supposed to be a portal leading out only, for rifle fire, but here I peer in at my peril.

A powder room was built into the granite wall. Well, not that kind of powder room. The kind also called a "magazine." And not the kind of magazine you read in a powder room. Gunpowder was to be stored in here.

Inside the redan. Ready... aim... at the Volvo.

The original 1808 powder house, which was supposed to be replaced by the 1864 lavatory powder storage room.

Another original 1808 building (Rifleman's House), but missing anything other than walls.

Anything else from 1808 is either a stone footprint of ruins, or a semi-orderly pile from the original fortress wall. The first two photos feature the former barracks building.

The star of the fort is the 1844-1846 blockhouse, a now outdated concept where troops inside could fire in all directions from various openings. This worked well when the enemy couldn't shoot from long distances at obvious targets, so didn't make much sense by the end of the 19th century. Since this was no longer a fort, the house survived. This particular one is a hexagon, but some notable Canadian examples are square.

Officers' quarters on the top level. Not in the best condition, but quite a view.

It's quite a journey down to the bottom of the blockhouse where there was yet another "magazine." Considering the other buildings were powder houses, this must have been the artillery storage. Always wise not to store both in the same place, just in case.

The caponier is another structure from the days before modern artillery. It was built across the trench surrounding the fort (in this case, the area between the outer wall and Pepperrell Cove). If enemy troops attempted to storm the walls, riflemen in the caponier could pick them apart in either direction as they tried to make it across the line of fire. Put enough rifles together and a steady barrage of bullets would ensure that method is short-lived.

Brickwork photos of the entrance and the two crossfire tunnels.

An angry face stares me down from the far end of the caponier. The face is even angrier toward the outside, where wide portals permit cannon fire and certainly would discourage the enemy from attempting to storm the caponier head-on (you know, to avoid all those rifles on the sides).

With a little more light, the face is much calmer.

Heading back out of the caponier toward the blockhouse.

Looking east along the old (upper) and new (fenced) walls, near the cove.

I'll just throw all these beautiful oceanic views at you. Pepperrell Cove is to the east, where all the boats are. Out toward the Atlantic Ocean, Whaleback Light is on the east (Maine side) south of Wood Island, which is to the left in the fourth photo from the vantage of Fort McClary. Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouse is to the west and very much in New Hampshire, on the coast of New Castle Island. The last photo shows more of New Castle Island and its eponymous town.

Head west to Kittery
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