Nestled at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, Fort Monroe played a pivotal role in ending slavery in America, when it became known as "Freedom's Fortress" during the Civil War. On May 23, 1861, three enslaved African American men rowed to the fort in search of freedom. Union General Benjamin Butler declared the men “contraband of war,” and refused to return them to slaveholders. More than 10,000 African Americans from the region escaped to Fort Monroe over the course of the war, denying the Confederacy the use of their labor in the production of materials to support the Southern war effort. In addition to its rich history, this site on the Old Point Comfort Peninsula also contains more than two miles of rare undeveloped Chesapeake shoreline with a wide range of recreational opportunities.
More about Fort Monroe
Fact Sheet Protecting and Connecting Our Nation's Treasured Park Landscapes National parks are key to protecting and connecting our most revered places.
Fact Sheet Protecting Fort Monroe In November 2011, President Obama responded to broad and deep public support of using his executive powers to preserve 324 acres of the Old Port Comfort peninsula, declaring Fort Monroe a national monument.