Following the War of 1812, the U.S. Government began the planning for construction of a system of fortifications to be used as coastal defense. Because of the Island’s natural deep-water harbor and its location along a major shipping route, Ship Island was essential to the protection of both New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The island was listed as a U.S. Military Reservation in 1847, and authorization was given to begin construction of a fortification 8-9 years later.
The funding was appropriated for construction in 1857, which included a budget of $100,000 dollars to build a fortification on the Island.
The fort’s design provides nearly 360-degree view of the surrounding water and land approaches. The large casemates were designed to hold numerous cannon below while supporting a second upper tier of larger 15 inch guns as pictured below. Arches along the east side of the fort served as shelter, magazines and kitchen for the fort's garrison.
Bearrs, E. (1984). Historical Resource Study: Ship Island, Harrison County, Mississippi, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida/Mississippi. National Park Service, Department of Interior. Denver: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Bearss, E. (1984). Historic Structure Report: Administrative and Historical Data Sections; Fort on Ship Island “Fort Massachusetts” 1857-1935, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Harrison County, Mississippi. National Park Service, Department of Interior. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Unknown. (1862) View of Ship Island, Louisiana. Harpers Weekly.