Photographs of Fort Wellington - Page Two
Right: The view from the top of the earthworks, looking
southeast across Highway 2 and the St. Lawrence River to
the modern dockyards of Ogdensburg, New York. Just
visible in the foreground is the fireproof tin-shingled roof of
the caponiere. This structure projects into the dry ditch in
front of the southern earthwork of the Fort. Its walls are
pierced with rifle loopholes, which would have allowed the
garrison to fire on attacking forces attempting to breach the
wooden palisade fence located in the ditch.
At this point, the St. Lawrence River is approximately one
mile wide and artillery from either side of the River could
easily hit targets on the other side. At the time of the Fort's
construction, the riverbank was a short distance past
Highway 2. In the second half of the nineteenth century,
the riverfront was filled in and a rail yard and rail ferry
terminal constructed. The wooden structure in the water
on the right of this view is the modern remains of the ferry
Right: Rifle loopholes from inside the caponiere. The
caponiere is a dark, damp and unpleasant place.
Right: The front (south) facade of the blockhouse from
inside the caponiere tunnel. The blockhouse has only one
entrance, with two gigantic, wooden doors. Inside the
blockhouse, a well dating from the 1790s is hidden beneath
the floorboards and was intended to provide freshwater to
the garrison if it were besieged inside the building.
Right: The southwestern corner of the earthworks from
in front of the blockhouse door. The cannon is an original
24 pounder gun which, with its mate in the southeastern
corner, was probably installed as early as 1813. It fired a
variety of projectiles, but the main ammunition was an
eponymous 24 pound solid iron ball. With a range of
more than one mile, this gun could destroy any ship
passing on the River or building located on the American
shore of the St. Lawrence River. When General
Wilkinson's army passed this way in November, 1813, the
army marched disembarked from its boats and marched
through Ogdensburg rather than risk the fire of these guns.
On the right in the foreground is one of the Fort's two ten
inch mortars. These guns fired an exploding shell to a
range of well over one mile. The Fort's main well is in the
Right: The opposite view. In the left foreground is the
southwest 24 pounder gun. It can rotate on its carriage
through 150 degrees, and is so finely balanced that one
person can easily rotate the whole gun. Until the late
1980s, this gun was fired daily in the summer at noon.
The author recalls that it may have been fired with live
ammunition regularly in the late 1970s and, on one
noteworthy occasion, in 1980. On the parade in front of
the blockhouse are the two ten inch mortars and the
pathway from the blockhouse to the caponiere tunnel. The
latrine is on the right.
The third floor of the blockhouse is a large, open room
with two doors on each wall. These enter the wooden
machicolated gallery which projects from the wall. On
one occasion, in the depths of winter when no one had
been in the blockhouse for weeks and the fort was locked
up, the alarms on each of these eight doors started going
off, one after the other. This was doubly troubling since
the doors had all been sealed shut for the winter. When
staff investigated, they found all eight doors hanging open.
The Fort and the blockhouse were locked tight at the
time, and the alarm on the main door to the blockhouse
had not been tripped.