Craney Island Fort

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Craney Island Fort (1813-1815, 1862) - A U.S. Army Second System coastal fort established in 1813 during the War of 1812 by General Robert B. Taylor on Craney Island in present day Portsmouth City, Virginia. Unsuccessfully attacked by British forces in 1813. Abandoned at the end of the war in 1815. Reactivated as a Confederate post in 1862 during the U.S. Civil War abandoned later in 1862.

Craney Island Fort History

Craney Island stood at the entrance to Norfolk harbor and during the War of 1812. It provided the first line of defense against any enemy ships attempting to enter the harbor. Fort Craney was a part of the defenses that included two redoubts and the fort itself. The armament on the island in June 1813 included two 24-pounder cannon, one 18 pounder cannon and four 6 pounder cannons. The garrison included 400 Militiamen, one company of riflemen, two companies of light artillery and some 150 seamen from the USS Constellation.

Destruction of the Merrimac at Craney Island

Craney Island was attacked on 22 Jun 1813 by a British fleet advancing on Norfolk and Portsmouth. British forces planned to assault the island from two sides with about 800 men by land and by 500 men landing from barges. The British were driven back by accurate fire from the fort and the USS Constellation's gunners. The British suffered some 81 casualties and four barges sunk. The defenders reported no casualties. The British fleet was turned back and Norfolk was saved.

The Fort was abandoned in 1815 at the end of the war.

Early in the U.S. Civil War Confederate forces placed 20 guns on Craney Island. Norfolk itself surrendered without a shot fired to Union forces under General John E. Wool on 10 May 1862. On 11 May 1862 the Confederate Ironclad CSS Virginia was trapped near the island and blown up by her crew to prevent it from being captured by advancing Union forces.


Current Status

Destroyed, site is now part of the U.S. Navy Fuel Depot, Portsmouth City, Virginia. Map point may not be accurate.


USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry:

  • Name: Craney Island Fuel Depot Type: Class: Military ID: 2512154
  • Location: Portsmouth City, Virginia, US, FIPS Code: 51740
  • Latitude: 36.8884137, Longitude: -76.3598805, Elevation: 10 Map: Norfolk North
  • As Of: 17 Nov 2008
Source: U.S. Board on Geographic Names

Location: Craney Island Fuel Depot, Portsmouth City, Virginia.

Maps & Images

Lat: 36.8884137 Long: -76.3598805

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