The recent deactivation of Fort Monroe as a military installation and its transfer back to the Commonwealth of Virginia calls to mind the fort’s rich history. This history is well documented in the archives of the Library of Virginia. The Executive Papers of Governor Wilson Cary Nicholas contain a letter from President James Madison dated 29 May 1816 on the need to protect the Chesapeake Bay and fortify Old Point Comfort (Accession 41612). The Executive Communications to the Speaker of the House of Delegates include a letter from Secretary of War John C. Calhoun to Governor Thomas Mann Randolph in 1821 regarding the cession of the fortifications under construction at Old Point Comfort and the shoal called Rip Raps (Accession 36912, Miscellaneous Reel 5389). The archives also preserve a quartermaster letter book from the 1830s describing the day-to-day operations of the fort during that time period (Accession 24542, Miscellaneous Reel 475). A recently discovered letter from John Grant, acting engineer and draftsman for the Potomac Department, to Captain Matthew Fontaine Maury of the Advisory Council of Virginia contains Grant’s map illustrating Fort Monroe and nearby Fort Calhoun (Accession 50135). The fort continued to protect the Bay during the First and Second World Wars. The papers of George Edward Barksdale note the experiences of a soldier in the Army Medical Reserve Corps stationed at Fort Monroe during the First World War (Accession 22796). In 2005, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission placed Fort Monroe on its list of recommended closures. Information on this part of the fort’s history can be found in the records of Lieutenant Governor Timothy M. Kaine, who served on Governor Mark R. Warner’s Virginia Commission on Military Bases (Accession 42396).
-Craig S. Moore, State Records Appraisal Archivist