Fort Wadsworth is a former United States military installation on Staten Island in New York City, situated on The Narrows which divide New York Bay into Upper and Lower halves, a natural point for defense of the Upper Bay and Manhattan beyond. Prior to closing in 1994 it claimed to be the longest continually garrisoned military installation in the United States. Divided into several smaller units, including Fort Tompkins and Fort Richmond, its present name was adopted in 1865 to honor Brigadier General James Wadsworth, who had been killed in the Battle of the Wilderness during the Civil War. Fort Wadsworth is now part of the Staten Island Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area, maintained by the National Park Service.
The first use of the land for military purposes was as the site of a blockhouse built by Dutch settler David Pieterszen de Vries in 1636 on Signal Hill , which was burned in an Indian raid of the Peach Tree War in 1655. The site is said to have been continuously garrisoned since another blockhouse was built in 1663, which survived at least through 1808. During the American Revolution the area became known as Flagstaff Fort; captured by the British in 1776, it remained in British hands and was expanded until the war's end in 1783. It became the responsibility of New York State in 1806, at which time four forts were built on the site with state resources, being ready for service in 1808 though incomplete. These included the red sandstone Forts Richmond and Tompkins, on the sites of the current forts but of different design, and Forts Morton and Hudson, with positions for a total of 164 guns in the four forts. Fort Tompkins at that time included a red sandstone enclosure containing the 1663 blockhouse. Although these forts were contemporary with the federal government's second system of seacoast fortifications, they were not part of the federal program. Federal rebuilding of Forts Richmond and Tompkins did not begin until 1847.
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