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Explore Fort Delaware and Pea Patch Island

About Fort Delaware

(Information courtesy of Delaware State Parks)

Fort Delaware, the Union fortress dating back to 1859, once housed Confederate prisoners of war. It was originally built to protect the ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia.

Visitors take a ½ -mile ferry ride from Delaware City to Pea Patch Island. A jitney provides transport from the island dock to the granite and brick fortress. Here, costumed interpreters take you back to the summer of 1864.

Fort Delaware is part of The Delaware History Trail! You'll find Fort Delaware's History Trail sign near the Fort's ticket office and gift shop, located at 45 Clinton Street in Delaware City. Download your passport today and start discovering what makes the First State great!

Fill your day with hands-on history. Help the blacksmith hammer out new parts for a cannon or work with the laundress. Be on hand when the 8-inch Columbiad gun fires a live gunpowder charge! See a replica of Pea Patch Island as it appeared in 1864 and artifacts from the Island's past.

Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy in our picnic area - tables and grills are provided. Drink machines are available on the island, but there is no concession stand, so please bring your own food if you wish to enjoy a meal during your visit. Chips and other packaged snacks may be purchased at our gift shops.
Explore the Natural Treasures of Pea Patch Island

Pea Patch Island is a summer home to nine different species of herons, egrets and ibis. The remote marshes provide an outstanding habitat for one of the largest wading bird nesting areas on the East Coast. A hiking trail and its observation platform provide opportunities for photography and nature study.

 

 

 

 

 

About Fort Delaware

(Information courtesy of Delaware State Parks)

Fort Delaware was a busy place during the summer of 1864. The lives of the Union soldiers, Confederate prisoners, and civilians going about their daily business on Pea Patch Island are recreated by our own first-person interpreters. Find the similarities and differences between their lives and yours as you travel back in time.

The Fort Delaware Laundresses

Visit the laundry and meet Julia Gunning, one of the fort's laundresses. Help her wash clothes the 19th-century way! You'll need plenty of elbow grease as you learn the proper use of a scrub board. And it's not all wash tubs and flat irons. You may also find out some interesting tidbits of gossip.

Esau, Blacksmith Apprentice
and Free Man


Dozens of African Americans helped to build and operate Fort Delaware during the Civil War. This is an intimate look at the history of African Americans in Delaware. It is a story of struggle and triumph over slavery.

The Ordnance Sergeant:
Keeper of the Guns


Have a chat with Edmund Bryan, the only regular army soldier posted to Fort Delaware in the summer of 1864. As the Ordnance Sergeant, he is in charge of all the ammunition in the fort. Take a look inside the ordnance store room to see if you can find the sergeant at work.

Infantry Drill

Drill for the soldiers took place almost every day, sometimes for hours on end. Officers needed orderly formations that could react almost instantly to a command. Here's a chance for you to see and learn why drilling was so important.

Great Escapes

Hear the stories of escape attempts from the prisoners themselves. From the spectacular escapes, to the unsuccessful attempts, the POWs' methods ran the gamut from daring and ingenious to downright foolish.

Dig In - The Food of the Enlisted Men at Fort Delaware

Everyone enjoys a good meal; the soldiers of the Civil War and Fort Delaware were no different. Come to our enlisted men's kitchen to see the cooks hard at work preparing different types of food for their comrades.

Guts, No Glory - The Hospital at Fort Delaware

Hear tales of the differences between working here at the hospital and working on the field in the camps of the army. You'll also learn about the difficulties faced by everyone in the hospital, from the highest surgeon, to the lowliest POW patient.

(Source: Delaware State Parks)

   Forts Ferry Crossing operated by the Delaware River and Bay Authority.