Fort Jefferson Redux

I’ve started experimenting with low-light photography, at least where there are no options.  I now routinely carry a tiny tripod, which made these interior shots possible.  Each step in that circular staircase is made of a single piece of stone.

Long hallway of brick arches on gun deck of fort.

Hallway of gun deck of Fort Jefferson.

View looking up circular slate stairwell in fort.



  1. Jim Taylor

    If I read the bottom picture correctly, it was built for right-handed people/defenders. Assuming that attackers would be coming UP the stairs, and the defenders were holding the high ground, a right handed swordsman (certainly unlikely to be a swordswoman) would have a clear swing. But the right-handed attackers coming up the stairs would have to use their swords backhanded.
    Jim T

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Jim T – I think that’s right. I’d forgotten that, but I’m pretty sure I’ve heard/read that before – the structure facilitates the majority handedness for defenders and disadvantages the attackers. Pretty tricky, eh? Of course, if your life depended on fending off a sword-wielding attacker, you’d get pretty tricky pretty quickly.

  2. John Whitman

    Isabel – how old is Fort Jefferson? I ask that because brickwork fortresses don’t generally stand up well to cannonballs and became even more obsolete with the advent of riffled artillery pieces and naval guns.

    1. Isabel Gibson

      John – Construction started in December of 1946, but at the start of the Civil War it wasn’t finished yet. I believe it was used as a war-fighting installation during the Civil War and then as a military prison until 1869. From what I understand about its firing capacity and reach, it may never have come under fire.

    1. Isabel Gibson

      Marilyn – How delightful to have a monastery in Portugal in the memory mix! Wiki tells me that Fort Henry was built about 30 years earlier than Fort Jefferson (although the latter’s construction period did drag on, and it was never truly finished). I, of course, have no idea how quickly building methods changed at that point.

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