The inside of Fort Massachusetts on West Ship Island.
West Ship Island is one of the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s barrier islands and part of the Gulf Island National Seashore. It is located 12 miles off the coast from the Biloxi/Gulfport area. Once only known as Ship Island, in 1969 Hurricane Camille cut it in half creating two islands.
The fort is located on the island, although never formally named is called Fort Massachusetts. One of the first acts of the Civil War happened here shortly after Mississippi ceded from the Union when the Mississippi Militia took possession of the island and fort. The only battle that the fort as ever envolved in happened on July 9, 1861, when the Union’s USS Massachusetts came within firing range, and a 20-minute exchange of cannon fire ensued. This is also where the 2nd Louisiana Native Guard was stationed, a regiment of mostly enslaved men that fled slavery to join forces with the Union fighting for their freedom.
Copyright 2019 Susan Rissi Tregoning
June 6th, 2019
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