Pea Patch Island is located in the center of the Delaware River and is home to Fort Delaware. It was built in 1859 and originally designed to protect the port of Philadelphia. This role changed during the Civil War when the fort was used to house Confederate prisoners. When the US Military became interested in building Fort Delaware on the island, a sole inhabitant, Dr. Henry Gale, was forced to give up his land by the state legislature. After the original star-shaped fort was burnt down in 1831, the pentagon-shaped fort was built between 1848 and 1859. The fort was particularly tough to secure in the soft island soil. Over 2 million bricks were purchased locally for the project. The size and shape of the structure was an architectural feat for its day and time. By 1863, the &#039;bull pen&#039; was built. This became a barracks for prisoners of war. Nearly all Confederates that were captured at Gettysburg were imprisoned here. At the start of the war only about 10,000 men lived on the island. By the end of the war that number had tripled. The prison had a very high mortality rate, mainly due to smallpox. Legend has it that 52 prisoners died by trying to make the mile swim to escape the island. Today the fort is owned by the United States government and is part of Fort Delaware State Park. The island is only accessible by ferry and offers daily tours. Ghost tours are a new attraction offered nearly every night. Once a year the island hosts the start of a triathlon, while participants imitate the escapees and must swim from the island to the shore. All of the islands events aim to educate visitors on the rich history of the island.
Backstory and Context
The Battle of Gettysburg was one of the prominent confrontations of the Civil War. The battle lasted from July 1-3 in 1863. Robert E. Lee, a Confederate General, gathered his army around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This was a result of the approach of George G. Meade, Union General, and his forces. This was the second attempt of Lee's army to invade the North. The battle consisted of back and forth fighting at various locations around Gettysburg. The Southern army failed to beat the Union defenses. On the last day of the battle, Lee and his forces attacked the Union on Cemetery Ridge. This became known as Pickett's Charge and resulted in massive Confederate loss. Many men captured at this battle were imprisoned at Fort Delaware.
For fun facts about the Battle of Gettysburg visit: http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/gettysburg/assets/ten-facts-about/ten-facts-about-gettysburg.html