Fort Delaware State Park is located on Pea Patch Island in the Delaware River, and was a Union fortress dating back to 1859. It was originally built to protect the ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia. It is accessed by a ferry out of Delaware City. Fort Delaware has a bleak history due to the unjust treatment of Confederate prisoners of war during the Civil War. Furthermore, Fort Delaware served the United States from 1813 to 1944, at which time it was closed down, and declared surplus property. In 1947 the United States turned the ownership of Pea Patch Island with its Fort Delaware over to the state of Delaware.
With Delaware turning a blind eye on Pea Patch Island it didn’t take long for the elements, scavengers and vandals to wreak havoc on the island. In 1950 the Fort Delaware Society was formed and they began to maintain and restore the now designated Fort Delaware State Park.
Restoration funds were not forthcoming, so, in 1958, the Fort Delaware Society issued a public appeal to other organizations to adopt a room in the fort, restore it, and furnish it in a historic manner.
The Council of Polish Societies adopted two rooms and decided to name them after Captain Stanislaus Mlotkowski Memorial Brigade Society. Captain Mlotkowski was born in occupied Poland in 1829. His gallant attempts to free his native land, Poland from the brutal Russian Czarist rule in 1848 was fruitless and he immigrated to the United States and settled in Philadelphia.
With the outbreak of the Civil War and having prior military experience he was appointed a first-lieutenant in Independent Battery A, Pennsylvania Light Artillery and was sent to Fort Delaware. He was promoted to captain in 1862 and was discharged in 1865.
It should be noted that the Virginian political prisoner Rev. I.W.K. Handy, wrote in his diary: “He treats the Rebels with kindness: cordially shakes hands with the Confederate officers, and admits a prisoner not only has a right to try to make his escape, if not on parole, but that his duty to his government requires him to do so. His fairness, his respect for the rights of others, and his determination to recognize the goodness of human beings were exemplary.”
Wilmington, Delaware can take pride in having the fourth oldest Civil War Round Table in the United States and the facts that they provide for those who are interested in the Civil War are invaluable.
MAY GOD BLESS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Today’s TSD History Corner comes from Alex F. Wysocki, who is a Veteran of WWII, served in the Pacific Theater and was part of the original occupation of Japan. He has a passion for the history of state he was born in, Delaware.