Georges Island

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History

Georges Island is home to Fort Warren, an important military base from the time of the Revolutionary War through World War II. This stone and granite octagonal fort was heavily armed with the most advanced weaponry available at the time to protect Boston from enemy invasion by sea. Fort Warren also served as a military prison during the Civil War, housing Union deserters and captured Confederate soldiers. The most famous prisoner was Alexander Hamilton Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate.

Fun fact: The song that became The Battle Hymn of the Republic was written here. Borrowing a melody from an old Methodist tune, it was originally a Union marching song called John Brown. New words were eventually written, and it became the best-known song of the Civil War era.

Georges Island is also home to a great ghost story, the Lady in Black. As the legend goes, the wife of a Confederate soldier imprisoned at Fort Warren was determined to free her husband. So she made the arduous journey from Georgia to Massachusetts armed with a pistol and dressed as a man. She rowed a boat over to the island, snuck inside the prison and squeezed through the small cell window. They made an escape attempt but were soon discovered. The wife drew her pistol, but a guard knocked it out of her hand, and it went off and shot her husband instead. She was considered a spy and her punishment was death by hanging. The wife's last request was to be executed in women's clothing, but the closest thing they had at Fort Warren was a black robe. According to the story, the wife has wandered the island in it ever since. To hear the official version of the story of the Lady in Black, meet at the "Dark Arch" during regularly scheduled times.

highlights

In season, Georges Island has a plethora of things to do for the whole family. Among the regularly scheduled activities are ranger-and-scholar-led tours, Civil War dress-up days and lawn games, vintage baseball game reenactments, and fort building with giant blocks. Other special events include Rock the Fort concerts, live children's entertainment, military bands and parades, kayaking and SUPing (stand-up paddleboarding), fly casting, and compass and map essentials classes. Check the online schedule for upcoming events.

Cover photo by David Chiu via Flickr

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