A view of the West Ship Island coastline from atop Fort Massachusetts.
Fort Massachusetts is located on West Ship Island, one of the Mississippi Gulf Coasts barrier islands. Part of the Gulf Island National Seashore, it is located 12 miles off the coast from the Biloxi/Gulfport area.
Mississippi’s first act of war after seceding from the Union was to take possession of the island and fort. The only battle that the fort was ever involved 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. It is also where the 2nd Louisiana Native Guard, a regiment of mostly enslaved men that had fled slavery to join forces with the Union, was stationed.
Copyright 2019 Susan Rissi Tregoning
June 6th, 2019
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