Location: Chesapeake Avenue at the Chesapeake Bay
Enjoy a stunning view across the mouth of the Severn River at the beachfront street-end park at Site 9. Discover how Eastport’s now-vanished fort and the Marquis de Lafayette protected the town of Annapolis from the British fleet.
Near Site 9, at the end of Eastern Avenue, is the site of one of three forts built to defend Annapolis Harbor from British raids during the Revolutionary War.
Built in 1776, the fort had major defenses of trenches, earthen ramparts and 15 cannons. In 1781, when Lafayette was stationed at Annapolis, his troops made the fort fully operational. The trenches provided cover for troop movements between the ramparts and the water's edge.
During the Civil War, the fort served as a hospital for Union soldiers recovering from smallpox. No trace of the fort remains today.
Lafayette's troops camped some distance from the fort on Benjamin
Ogle's Horn Point Farm, at the near end of the Spa Creek drawbridge.
Site 9 is at Horn Point, looking across the Severn River to Greenbury Point where this area’s first English immigrants landed in 1649. They were Puritans, and they established a settlement called “Providence.”
In 1776, the Committee of Safety built three forts to protect Annapolis Harbor from the British fleet. One was on Windmill Point on what is now Naval Academy grounds, the second was across the Severn River, and the third was at Horn Point. Cannon fire from these three points could threaten any ship sailing up the river from the Bay. The forts were only in use for two years.
Artist's concept of the fort at Horn Point after 1794
The Fort at Horn Point was built along what is now Eastern Avenue, to the right of this site. Protected by trenches with earthen ramparts backed by three-inch-thick timbers, its 15 cannons were manned by three Maryland companies of “Matross,” or gunner’s mates.
In 1781, the Marquis de Lafayette bivouacked his troops in Annapolis on their way to meet General Washington at the siege of Yorktown. Their encampment was on Benjamin Ogle’s Horn Point farm on the knoll overlooking Spa Creek near where the bridge is today. Lafayette’s artillerymen returned the Fort at Horn Point to fully operational status. His troops dug trenches from the encampment to the fort. These trenches provided cover for troops moving to and from the ramparts. They also led to the water’s edge where boats off-loaded supplies shipped across the harbor from the City Dock.
Fort Horn again saw service during the War of 1812 where its position could protect the City of Annapolis and prevent the British from landing and marching on Washington.
During the Civil War, the Fort served as a hospital for contagious diseases, mostly smallpox patients. It served as an adjunct to the military hospital at the Naval Academy. The smallpox patients were Union soldiers freed from prison camps in the South. The patients recovered quickly, thanks in part to the fresh fruits and vegetables harvested from the surrounding gardens and orchards owned by a farmer named Richard Swann.
After the war, Swann bought the old fort for $20.
No trace of the old fort is visible today, and the surrounding neighborhood is comprised of upscale waterfront homes. More information about the fort is available in a monograph entitled: “Sentinel of the Severn: The Fort at Horn Point.” It’s available at the Museum.