Some forty years ago two individuals met and fell in love at a place called Fort Mifflin. Those two people happen to be my mom & dad. Fast forward 31 years and I got to take Peter to a place that not only started my family but was like a second home for me growing up.
Fort Mifflin is located just north of the Philadelphia Airport, a short drive off of Interstate 95 (known as i95 by locals), right next to the Delaware river. Classified by many as a hidden gem of Philadelphia, the fort does not get enough recognition for its part in the revolutionary and civil wars and has been long forgotten by many historians and locals alike.
I have had the privilege of watching Fort Mifflin evolve over the last few decades from a home of reenactors to a location where individuals hold weddings or even fundraisers. In 2008, the team from Ghost Hunters aired their investigation into the numerous ghost stories that are told between visitors and volunteers throughout the years. Growing up there I am no different than most of the individuals who have worked at Fort Mifflin. I have many personal ghost stories, that can turn a non-believer into a believer, but I also have over 30 years of being around this historical location to understand that it just comes with the territory.
Going back as a tourist isn’t that difficult for me, as Fort Mifflin offers their guest the privilege of walking around the grounds on their own time. Each building has a plaque with in-depth information about the significance and history of the building. Inside the Fort, you will find buildings such as the officers quarters, blacksmith shop, artillery shed and much more. Inside the soldiers’ barracks, you will find a display of artifacts and information related to the bombardment that happened in 1777.
You can see the writing of William Howe on the wall of casemate #11 or explore the casemate where Ghost Hunters found their most vivid thermal evidence. You can climb the wall and watch as the British fight the Colonist in the siege of the Fort or listen to music with a cup of cider in the soldiers’ barracks; there is always something to learn and discover at the Fort.
While the Fort is open to the public most weekends, they do offer special events for the public such as Siege weekend in November or Freedom Blast on July 4th weekend where you can see live reenactments. And if you just want to learn about the ghost of Fort Mifflin then check out their Candle Light Ghost tours or spend the night and sleep with the ghost.
I might be biased to some degree, but Fort Mifflin has a lot to offer for anyone looking for a little excitement whether it’s through the paranormal or not.
A quick history lesson:
The history of Fort Mifflin starts sometime around 1775, where it was secured by the Americans from the British troops. In 1777, American troops interfered with the British Naval operations to give Washington and his troops time to move into Valley Forge. On the morning of November 10, 1777, the British sieged the fort with cannon fire in an attempt to gain traction from their failed attempts of re-supplying, starting what is now known as the largest bombardment of the Revolutionary War. Five days after the start of the ambush from British troops, the men were soon faced with over 200 cannons firing at them in a bombardment that would lead to the evacuation of the fort, not before the men lite it ablaze in retaliation.
After the revolutionary war, Fort Mifflin was repaired and active again in 1863. During this time the Union and Confederacy were forced to find locations to house thousands of prisoners after the breakdown of prisoner exchanges. Fort Mifflin was converted to hold military prisoners during this time like many other buildings and locations throughout the country. Confederate prisoners captured during the Battle of Gettysburg were taken to Fort Mifflin in July of 1863. Many of the prisoners stayed at Fort Mifflin on short terms before being moved to a larger prison.
One of the most famous prisoners at Fort Mifflin during this time was William H. Howe. In 1863 Howe was arrested for desertion of his post with his regiment, during his arrest gunfight broke out and officer Abraham Bertolet was killed by a gunshot to the chest. Howe was moved to Fort Mifflin where he was held during his trial. In February 1864 Howe attempted an escape with over 200 prisoners from casemate #5 and because he was found to have led the attempted escape he was then put into solitary confinement in casemate #11 until the end of his trail. Howe was then moved to Eastern State Penitentiary in April of 1864 but subsequently brought back to Fort Mifflin where he would be hanged on the gallows in August of 1864. Howe is the only known prisoner to be executed at the Fort during the civil war and one of three executions to take place during the history of the Fort.
The Portly Passengers provides plus size inclusive travel tips and advice for anyone who is looking to explore the world. From seat sizes on airplanes to exploring museums, restaurants, and nature Melissa & Peter have the experience and stories to help guide you through it.