Forts and the soldiers that have manned them have impacted and shaped New Castle from its earliest days. Forts were built to protect the Island from pirates, Indians, the British, the Spanish and finally the Germans in WWI and WWII. They also served to bring new blood to the island of New Castle. Many soldiers met and married local women and stayed.
Fort Point on Great Island has always been an active military site guarding the entrance to Portsmouth Harbor and is the oldest continuously occupied military site in the US.
1631- The first settlers arrived in 1623. They brought with them a cannon and a military man, Capt. Walter Neal. The first fort was called "The Castle."
1666- The fort was rebuilt with a timber blockhouse and was called "The New Castle."
1774- On Dec. 14 & 15 the first overt act of the Revolutionary War took place here. The British ship Scarborough came into the harbor, dismantled the fort and seized 2 vessels with provisions. The people of New Castle took the cannons from Jerry's point to Portsmouth for safe keeping.
1809- During a July 4th celebration, 10 people died when 350lbs of ammunition caught fire & exploded.
1814 - Walbach Tower, War of 1812. Fearing a British invasion, the Martello tower, called Walbach Tower, was built.
1840 - Improvements were made which included the granite gun platforms. It is basically the structure we see today.
1861 - At the start of the Civil War the fort was manned with a 150-man detachment.
1862 - the construction on the massive granite wall was begun; this work was halted in 1867.
1897 - With the Spanish American War becoming imminent, a gun battery was built under Walbach Tower and the harbor was planted with 21 underwater mines.
The site of Fort Stark, on the southeast point of New Castle Island known as Jerry's Point, or Jaffrey's Point, has been fortified in one form or another since 1746, when Battery Cumberland, consisting of nine guns (32-pounders), was located here to defend against the French. The exact location of these guns has never been determined, but probably on the northeast tip of the peninsula.
1660 - Land granted to Jeremiah Walford (hence the name Jerry's Point).
1746 - Guns moved from Fort William and Mary to Jerry's Pt. by Theo Atkinson. They were mounted on platforms and were 16, 24 and 32 pounders and called Battery Cumberland.
1775 - Fort built at Jerry's Point by the State of NH out of sod, earth and stone walls.
1783 - General Assembly to find a suitable person be appointed to remove the barracks from Jerry's Point.
1792 - George Jaffrey complained to the Senate & House that he still had not received his land back.
1815-1812 - 120 men under command of William Marshal who helped build Walbach Tower.
1887- Jerry's Point Lifesaving Station built and manned. A new station was built on Woods Island, ME in 1908.
1901-1905 - During the Endicott Period, renamed Fort Stark after General Stark; named after NH Militia Rev. War general, John Stark.
1940-1944 - WW2 harbor defense of Portsmouth. Fort garrisoned by 22nd Coast Artillery Regiment. Harbor Entrance Control Post constructed on top of Battery Kirk.
1948 - Deactivated.
1950 - Turned over to the US Navy.
1953-1980 - Naval Reserve Training unit used the fort for weekly drills.
1978-1983 - Deeded to State of NH.
Known today as the Great Island Common, the land served originally as the town forest, where early residents were allowed to cut down one tree each year. The U.S. Army began acquiring the land in 1909 through several deeds, eventually totaling 32.3 acres. The purpose of the reservation was to be an artillery post and a center for the anti-aircraft intelligence service for Portsmouth Harbor.
1909 - US Army acquired the land through several deeds and it was called New Reservation.
1914 - WW1 used for anti-aircraft training with three 3 inch AA guns.
1937 - Renamed New Castle Military Reservation, providing a home for the 22 Artillery Regiment.
1941 - Renamed Camp Langdon after General Langdon.
1948 - Army transferred 27 acres to US Navy for retraining command, complete with officers club.
1963 - Transferred to the town of New Castle; renamed the Common.