Don’t Let Governor Erase Fort Ontario

To the Editor:

As a former member of the Fort Ontario Guard, I would like to emphasize the importance of Fort Ontario’s role in the history of the United States. From 1755 to the end of the Second World War, the fort defended the mouth of the Oswego River and its access to Lake Ontario and beyond.

The British in 1755, realized the strategic location off the bluff on the northeast corner of the Oswego River, they wanted to control and deny the water routes to their rival, France. In 1756, Fort Ontario served as battleground between the two Titans, Britain and France, during their quest for control of North America. The French won the battle and destroyed the Fort Ontario in August, 1756. The British returned in 1759 and constructed a much larger garrison to control this vital area.

Twenty years later, during the American Revolution, the British used the fort as a base for the Iroquois Nation to raid American settlements. In 1778, the Americans burned the fort in an effort to prevent additional raids into the Mohawk Valley. The British returned in 1782 and rebuilt Fort Ontario again, it remained in their possession until 1796, even though there was aborted attempt by American forces in 1783 to destroy the fort once again, the so called last action of the Revolutionary War.

In 1814, during the War of 1812, the British destroyed Fort Ontario in a attempt to help prevent the flow of supplies to nearby American bases on Lake Ontario. The fort remained dormant until the present structure was started in 1839, to answer British threats from Canada.

During the Civil War, the Fort Ontario was used as a training facility for units joining the Army of the Potomac, but during the early part of 1862 the British threat increased from Canada. There was a real fear by the Lincoln Administration that it Britain sided with the Confederacy, she would invade the northern border states. Fort Ontario quickly regained its attention as a bastion of defense for the United States. A year later, during the New York Draft Riots, important records were secured in Fort Ontario until order was restored in New York City.

After the Civil War, Fort Ontario continued to be an active military post that actually increased in size in the years before World War I. It continued to base Army troops until the end of World War II and housed Jewish refugees from Europe.

What these politicians do not realize is that there Fort Ontario played a long role in the history of the United States, Are we going to allow a pen from Governor Paterson to erase Fort Ontario? A sad affair, after considering the blood that was spilled on the site. I ask you to join myself and others not to let the fort fall in the hands of budget cuts from Albany. My fear is that if Fort Ontario is closed it will never be re-opened and that all the progress in the restoration will be lost, as well as some of your tax dollars that helped pay for the improvements.

David D’Arcy
301 East 65th Street
Savannah, Georgia 31405