The Military on Fishers Island

“At the close of the 19th century, a dramatic shift occurred. Fishers Island moved from the margins of the region’s military history to the center of its strategic map. The first signs were small. In 1885, the Army began utilizing Fishers as a military training site, sending a rifle team from Fort Trumbull, New London, for target practice on the western tip of the Island. In a little more than a decade, the western tip would be among the most heavily fortified sites on the US coast, protecting New York City and Connecticut’s strategic ports.”

~ Quote from “Guardian of the Sound” by Pierce Rafferty and John Wilton (1998).

Aerial of Fort H.G. Wright looking down at main reservation, January 18, 1934. The photo was taken from an altitude of 8,000 feet from a dirigible. Courtesy of NARA. Museum Collection.

Fort H.G. Wright, a US Army coast defense fort, was established on Fishers Island in 1900 on land purchased by the government in 1898. The fort remained active through World War II but was shuttered and subsequently put on caretaking status in 1949. The Big Guns of Fort Wright were relegated to the status of pop guns in the new, post-World War II age of atomic bombs and guided missiles.

This section is dedicated to highlighting all aspects of Fort H.G. Wright’s history. Selections from the Museum’s extensive archive of fort-related images will be posted here in thematic galleries.

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F.I. Sketchbook 2005


In the full sweep of Fishers Island’s history, there is no artist more synonymous, more closely associated with Fishers Island than Charles B. “Charlie” Ferguson. The main show features images from two of Charlie's sketchbooks which functioned as illustrated diaries that were filled with daily activities, nature observations, personal notes, and lots of art—drawings, sketches, and watercolors—in various states of completion.

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