2 oversize boxes (1 cu.ft.)
About Fort Constitution
Fort Constitution, originally known as Fort William and Mary (or Castle William and Mary), was built in 1632 on the island of New Castle, New Hampshire, at the mouth of the Piscataqua River, to protect and defend Portsmouth Harbor. Through several centuries, from the colonial era to the mid-twentieth century, the post served as a trading port, a target of warfare, and a training ground for the military.
Initially established to regulate commerce in the colonial era, Fort Constitution became a center of rebellion several months before the battles of Lexington and Concord ushered in the American Revolution. On December 14, 1774, the day after Paul Revere brought news from Boston, Massachusetts to Portsmouth, New Hampshire of British forces heading toward the harbor, crowds swarmed the streets in a popular uprising. Some four hundred men headed to the fort where the commander, Captain Cochran, blocked the entrance and ordered fire. Nevertheless, the rebels seized the captain, captured the king’s flag, and took the gunpowder. The subsequent day, the men joined by several militia units, retook the fort, and secured cannons, muskets, and other arms.
After the United States government acquired the land from the state of New Hampshire in 1791, Fort Constitution continued to be used as a military stronghold. In the early 1800s, following the establishment of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, the federal government oversaw the construction of several brick buildings, and renovations that doubled the height of the fort walls. The government also renamed the post Fort Constitution and equipped it with a garrison and artillery. In the War of 1812, the government maintained forces and erected Walbach Tower on the site. During the American Civil War, while troops were stationed at the fort to train and safeguard the site from invasion, construction ensued. Due to military advancements, however, plans to build an extensive, three-tiered granite edifice were curtailed.
Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, Fort Constitution remained in operation and under further renovations. In the late 1800s, and early 1900s, fortifications were built outside of the original section. During the Spanish American War, World War I, and World War II, mines were installed to safeguard the harbor. Finally, in 1961, the state of New Hampshire regained custody of the site, and in 1973, Fort Constitution earned a position on the National Register of Historic Places.
About the Fort Constitution Collection
The bulk of the collection consists of records generally between the 1840s and 1860s, around the time when Ordnance Sergeant James Davidson served at the fort. He left behind correspondence (including circulars and invitations); personnel records (such as muster rolls, orders, court proceedings, and reports); inventories and requisitions (for fuel, food, clothing, ordnance, and other provisions); and financial records (such as payrolls, expenditures, and invoices).
References and Suggested Readings:
John Derhak, “The Portsmouth Uprising of 1774 and the Crowd Actions at Castle William and Mary: A Case Study of a Popular Uprising in Colonial British America,” Master’s thesis, University of New Hampshire, 1991.
For further information on the 1774 uprising, see The Capture of Fort William & Mary.
Search in the online catalog using the term “Fort Constitution Historic Site (N.H.)” for historic structure reports.
|f.10||Circulars. November 22, 1848 and April 19, 1850.|
|f.11||Invitations, October 31, 1864 and December 16, 1867.|
II. Personnel Records
|f.13||Lists of commissioned officers of the New Hampshire Volunteers and their clothing at Fort Constitution. No date.|
|f.14||Account of shoes delivered. October 10, 1861.
List of shoes delivered. June 9, 1862.
|f.15||General and Special Orders:
November 9, 1839; September 31, 1848; November 13, 1848; December 13, 1849; May 31, 1850; June 17, 1850; May 20, 1852; July 21, 1852; November 6, 1852; November 19, 1852; December 14, 1852; June 14, 1861; July 3, 1861; May 15, 1862.
|f.16||Proceedings of a Garrison Court Martial convened at Fort Constitution, NH: December 3, 1850, March 8, 1851.
Proceedings of Garrison Court Martial at Fort McHenry: March 26, 1853.
|f.17||Court proceedings, no date.|
|f.18||Muster Roll of Steward, Wardmaster, Cooks, Nurses, and Matrons, attached to the Hospital at Fort Constitution NH. October 31, 1848 to December 31, 1848; August 31, 1849 (partial document); February 28, 1853 to April 30, 1853.|
|f.19||Morning Report of Surgeon at Fort Constitution, August 8, 1861.
Number of rations drawn in Hospital, July 25-August 9, 1861.
|f.20||Morning Report of Captain G.H. Gillis, Milford Volunteers, Stationed at Fort Constitution.
August 23, 1861.
August 24, 1861.
August 30, 1861.
September 23, 1861.
|f.21||Board of Health permission slips. ca. 1850s; August 29, 1858.|
|f.22||Post Return of Fort Constitution NH commanded by Captain James Davidson, NH Volunteers, for the month of: May 1862; July 1862; September 1862.|
|f.23||Officers of the 9th Infantry, no date.|
|f.24||Members and Descriptions of the Public Buildings at Fort Constitution NH, September 30, 1871.
Description and Inventory of Fort Constitution, no date.
|f.25||Bayonet Exercise, no date.|
III. Inventories and Requisitions
|f.1||Invoice of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores, turned over:
November 1852. 2 copies.
April 8, 1856.
August 25, 1857.
July 31, 1863.
July 31, 1863.
May 26, 1864.
July 22, 1865.
|f.2||Invoice of Quarter Masters Stores at Fort McClary, ME, placed in charge of John Campbell for safe keeping for Quarter Masters Department. No date.|
|f.3||Requisition of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores for the Post of Fort Constitution, August 9, 1852; July 14, 1862.|
|f.4||Return of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores, received issued and remaining on hand in Comp. K 3d Artillery during the Quarter ending 30thJune 1853.
Received, Fort Constitution NH, this 16th day of June 1863, of James Davidson Ordnance Sergeant, U.S. Army, the following Ordnance and Ordnance Stores.
Quarterly Return of Ordnance and Ordnance Stores, Received, and Issued, and Remaining on hand at Fort McClary, ME, for the Quarter ending June 30, 1863.
|f.5||Clothing and camp equipage received at Fort Constitution NH, May 24, 1862.
Statement of Clothing Drawn from the United States. July 1, 1862.
Quarterly Return of Clothing, Camp and Garrison Equipage. September 13, 1862.
|f.6||Invoice of Hospital Stores and Furniture turned over at Fort Constitution, NH, this 5th day of October 1853 to Ordnance Sergeant James Davidson.|
|f.7||Abstract of Stationary issued at Fort Constitution NH in the Quarter ending: December 31, 1860; December 31, 1861.|
|f.8||Requisition for Stationary, for Ordnance Sergeant James Davidson, in the service of the United States, stationed at Fort Constitution NH Commencing January 1, 1851, and ending December 31, 1851.|
|f.9||Provision Return for Captain James Davidson.
August 1-7, 1861.
June 1-7, 1862.
June 8-14, 1862.
June 15-21, 1862.
June 22-30, 1862.
August 1-2, 1862.
August 3-5, 1862.
August 6-9, 1862.
August 10-16, 1862.
August 17-23, 1862.
August 24-31, 1862.
September 1-7, 1862.
|f.10||Requisition for Fuel, for James Davidson of the Ordnance Sergeant, in the service of the United States, stationed at Fort Constitution.
|f.11||Abstract of Fuel issued at Fort Constitution NH, in the Quarter ending:
June 30, 1855.
September 30, 1855.
June 30, 1856.
June 30, 1857.
December 31, 1857.
September 30, 1858.
June 30, 1859.
September 30, 1860.
|f.12||Quarterly Return of Quarter Masters Stores, Received, and Issued, at Fort Constitution NH, during the Quarter ending: September 30, 1854; June 30, 1855; December 31, 1855; December 31, 1856; September 30, 1857; March 31, 1858; September 30, 1858; June 30, 1859; December 31, 1860.|
|f.13||List of Quarter Masters Stores expended, in public service at Fort Constitution NH under the direction of Ordnance Sergeant James Davidson U.S. Army, during the Quarter ending: June 30, 1862.|
|f.14||Quarterly Return of Provisions Received, Issued, and Remaining on Hand, at Fort Constitution NH during the Quarter ending: December 31, 1862.|
|f.15||Quarterly Return of Commissary Property, Received, Issued, and Remaining on hand at Fort Constitution NH during the Quarter ending: September 30, 1854.|
|f.16||Abstract of Materials Expended or Consumed at Fort Constitution NH during the Third Quarter of 1853.|
|f.17||Inventory of Part I: Artillery, Small Arms, Ammunition and other Ordnance Stores, and Part II: Tools and Materials, 1853-1854.|
|f.18||Received from Bot. Capt. H.B. Field, August 8, 1853.
Received at Boston, Massachusetts, January 6, 1863.
Received Fort Constitution, April 13, 1869.
|f.19||Abstract of Articles Transferred at the Post of Fort Constitution NH in the Quarter ending: March 31, 1863.|
IV. Financial Records
|f.20||Pay Roll of the Company of NH Volunteers Stationed at Fort Constitution, ca. 1861.
Muster and Pay Roll of the Company of Volunteers Stationed at Fort Constitution, ca 1861.
Muster Roll, Captain James Davidson Company in the Sea Coast, Guards of New Hampshire Volunteers, 1862.
|f.21||The United States, in Account Current, with Ordnance Sergeant James Davidson, U.S. Army, for Expenditures at Fort Constitution NH on Account of Contingencies of the Army, Quarter Masters Department, in the Quarter ending:
December 31, 1853.
June 30, 1854.
March 31, 1855.
June 30, 1855.
December 31, 1855.
March 31, 1856.
September 30, 1856.
March 31, 1858.
June 30, 1858.
September 30, 1858.
June 30, 1859.
December 31, 1859.
June 30, 1860.
December 31, 1860.
December 31, 1861.
|f.22||The United States, on Account of Army Subsistence at Fort Constitution NH, in the Quarter ending: December 31, 1853; June 30, 1854; September 30, 1854; September 30, 1855; September 30, 1856; September 30, 1857; December 31, 1857; September 30, 1858; December 31, 1859; June 30, 1860; December 31, 1861; June 30, 1863; October 23, 1863.|
|f.23||Abstract of Disbursements on Account Contingencies at Fort Constitution NH by James Davidson Ordnance Sergeant U.S. Army, for Army Subsistence, in the Quarter ending: September 30, 1854; June 30, 1855; September 30, 1855; March 31, 1859; September 20, 1860; March 31, 1863; June 30, 1863.|
|f.24||Voucher of Disbursements in Subs Department at Fort Constitution, September 30, 1853; October 31, 1853; November 14, 1853. 2 copies; September 30, 1854; December 31, 1854; June 30, 1855; March 31, 1857; June 30, 1857; June 30, 1858; March 31, 1859; September 30, 1863.|
|f.25||Abstract of Disbursement of Contingencies in Subs Department at Fort Constitution NH by Ordinance Sergeant, James Davidson U.S. Army in Charge of Fort, in the Quarter ending: June 30, 1863. 2 copies.|
|f.26||Estimate of Funds Required for the Service of Quarter Masters Department at Fort Constitution. April 1855; April-May 1855; 3rd quarter of 1858.|
|f.27||Monthly Summary Statement, December, 1861.|
|f.28||Abstract of Articles Purchased at the Port of Fort Constitution NH during the Quarter ending: December 31, 1854; September 30, 1856; September 30, 1858; March 31, 1860; June 30, 1860; September 30, 1860; March 31, 1863.|
|f.29||Purchase Receipts from the United States, October 14, 1853. 2 copies; May 20, 1855; May 20, 1855. 2 copies; September 30, 1858; March 31, 1860; June 30, 1860; June 30, 1862; December 31, 1862. 2 copies;September 30, 1863.|
|f.30||More receipts, September 30, 1849; October 1, 1848; December 31, 1852; November 16, 1853; January 14, 1854; February 22, 1862; May 13, 1862; July 19, 1862.|
|f.31||Invoices from James Davidson, Esq. 1853; 1854; 1863.|
|f.32||Account Book, 1841-1881.|
|f.33||Articles of Agreement, between George Gibson, Commissary General of Subsistence and John K. Graham, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for food and provisions, October 25, 1845.|
|f.34||Statement of Difference arising on settlement of the accounts of Ord. Sgt. James Davidson, 1861-1863.|
|f.35||From the Treasury Department, for James Davidson, October 21, 1857.
From the United States, for the services of James Davidson, between April 1-June 30, 1858.
From Ordnance Office, War Department, receipt of requisition of items, June 23, 1863.