Fort Adams’ construction began in 1824 after a countrywide assessment was made of all coastal ports. It was determined that, as the deepest port closest to Boston, Narragansett Bay needed a larger fortification than the current one which was built in 1799. Simon Bernard, a Frenchman who served as an engineer in Napoleon’s army, was tapped to design the new fort. It took over 30 years to construct, but when Fort Adams was completed it was (and still is) one of the largest and most complex fortifications in the country.
The residents across the bay were not always fond of the soldiers at the fort. The constant drilling involved firing extremely loud canons during all times of the year. There was even an instance of an inebriated soldier killing a civilian with a misguided shot.
The only way for a ground attack to be mounted was from the south. The designers used earth to cover the stone bastions so that the fort looked invisible when viewing it from the south.
At the ready
Peek a Boom
The inside of the fort you could see the layers of protection
After WWII, all soldiers were removed from Fort Adams and it was left to the elements. You could see how the elements of New England had reclaimed much of this historic landmark.
Large decorative molding was the mark of a high-ranking officer. This was most likely the CO’s quarters.
Nature finds a way
This looked to be a crack in the old cistern that collected the fort’s rain water
An additional floor was built on the south side in 1901 after the Spanish-American War. It suffered a bad fire in the 70’s and was partially torn down.
The whole fort was designed to repel an enormous ground attack. The slits in the walls were all intended for musket fire in case the enemy reached the outside retaining wall.
If enemy troops breached the wall, opposing musket fire would funnel them into tunnels. At that point, they’d be trapped and annihilated.
The outer wall
Not only did the mounds of earth help conceal Fort Adams, but also absorbed canon and musket fire from the enemy
A view the enemy wouldn’t want to have
Every turn was meant to minimize flanking maneuvers by attacking troops. It was easy to see why the fort was never fired upon.
Underneath the fort is a maze of “listening tunnels”. In case the enemy attempted a mining exercise, soldiers were stationed underground to listen for any activity.
Soldiers stationed at the fort had to know every foot of these tunnels. They were made to navigate them in pitch darkness in case they were ever forced to engage in hand-to-hand combat with enemy soldiers. Every precaution was taken when building Fort Adams, even though a shot was never fired in anger at it.
Supposedly the fort is haunted by some of its former occupants. There are ghost hunting tours organized once a year by the RI Paranormal Research Team. You could definitely feel eyes on your back in some of the corridors.