On the Road to 1812

A guide to the forts and batteries that saw action in the War of 1812 across Maine.

By Larry Glatz

Maine’s coast saw sustained action during the War of 1812, and forts and batteries were thrown up to defend against British attack. The following sites are both historically important and easily accessible. They also are among the most interesting and scenic destinations in the state.

Fort McClary State Historic Site, Kittery Point
Along with Fort Constitution across the bay on New Castle Island in New Hampshire, Fort McClary was designed to protect Portsmouth Harbor and its naval shipyard. The original fort of 1808 was rebuilt and expanded several times over the years. The imposing blockhouse that now dominates the park was built about 1846, but several structures from the War of 1812 era remain. The most notable of these are the earthworks and granite wall of the battery, the original brick powder house, and the riflemen’s quarters.
During the War of 1812, Fort McClary served primarily as a recruiting rendezvous and training ground for federal artillery units. Several hundred York County men who drilled here fought in a number of the critical battles along the Canadian frontier in 1813 and 1814.

Fort Sumner and Fort Allen Parks, Eastern Promenade, Portland
With its commanding vista of Casco Bay, Munjoy Hill has been the site of numerous military installations, beginning with Fort Sumner and the works later known as Fort Allen, built during the Revolution. At the time of the War of 1812, the old fort served as a recruiting and training facility for federal troops. The exact location of the blockhouse is unknown, but it was most likely near Fort Sumner Park on North Street, between Melbourne and Quebec streets.

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A retired teacher of English and theater, Larry Glaz has compiled and edited several historical volumes. He won the Maine Historical Society’s James Phinney Baxter Award for Historical Writing in 2005.

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