During the War of 1812, it was seized by British forces attacking Hampton. This prompted the later construction of Fort Monroe, which prevented it from falling into Confederate hands during the Civil War. It was one of the few lighthouses to not suffer any damage during the conflict.
While the lighthouse has been altered cosmetically, its structure has stayed the same since 1802. It was automated in 1972, upon which ownership of the keeper's house was given to the US Army. It remains an active beacon to this day. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.