Fort Delaware is located along the Delaware Bay, one mile east of Delaware City. It is also know by locals as Pea Patch Island because of a local legend about the origins of the island. The legend has it that a ship carrying peas ran aground on a river shoal and the peas sprouted, which started the formation of the island. Construction on Fort Delaware was completed just two years before the Civil War and was to become a military POW camp.
The pentagon-shaped building covers approximately six acres, the 32- foot-high walls vary from 7 feet to 30 feet in thickness, and the complex is surrounded by a moat 30 feet wide. The entrance is very imposing, with a drawbridge crossing the moat and torches on each side of the gate.
When you walk through the front gate of the fort, you get chills. If you listen closely, you may hear something from the past. Living conditions were extremely harsh for the prisoners. An estimated 3,000 of them died here, so it is no wonder that it is considered one of the most haunted places in the Northeast. In the dungeon, there have been reports of unexplained noises. People have heard moaning and chains banging.
There have been reported sightings of Confederate soldiers running under the ramparts—it has been speculated that these may be images of prisoners trying to escape. There have been many pictures taken at Fort Delaware that have unexplained features in them. Some have orbs, some have shadowy mists, and some have claimed to capture the ghost of a Confederate soldier standing in a doorway.
There is also a cemetery on the island where most of the soldiers who died there were buried, and it is also a noted haunted area. Fort Delaware is now a state park. In September and October, they have candlelight ghost tours that have been quite eventful for the people brave enough to take them— some have had their own brush with the supernatural whether it be a strange photograph they took or spotting something ghostly.
When talking to any of the employees or the people who do the reenactments at the fort, they all seem to have a few strange stories to tell. The spirits on the island are not harmful, but it is sad that, after all this time, they are still prisoners there. Apparently, for them, the war never ended.
Written by — Joanne Davis
DELAWARE CITY, DELAWARE