Historic Fort O'Brien
Built in 1775 immediately after the first naval battle of
the American Revolution took place offshore, Fort O'Brien
was a four-gun battery that guarded the mouth of the Machias
River in cooperation with Fort Foster on the eastern side.
British forces destroyed the fort in the same year. This
state historic site is one of few Maine forts active during
three wars - the American Revolution, War of 1812 and Civil
War. Fort O'Brien's layout was altered several times over
the 90 years it was active on this site. But the fort's important
role in protecting the Machias River and its towns remained
unchanged. It was refortified in 1777.
From 1808 - 1818, this was a four-gun crescent-shaped earthwork
fort. In 1814 the British captured the fort and burned the
barracks. It was returned in 1818.
the middle of the earthworks of the Civil War era battery
is a bronze cannon known as a "Napoleon" or 12-pounder.
It fired 12 pound cannonballs, spherical case shot, or
cannister, the latter being made up of numerous small pieces
of iron that tore through infantry formations or a ship's
rigging at close range. This cannon tube weighs 1216 pounds
and was made at the Ames Manufacturing Company of Chicopee,
Massachusetts in 1862. It originally sat on a wooden carriage
that weighed an additional 1128 pounds. In optimal conditions,
this gun could fire a ball 1600 yards, just enough to reach
across the mouth of the Machias River.
Fort Machias (1863 - 1865) was a Civil War five-gun earthworks
fort built next to the ruins of Fort O'Brien. Well-preserved
earthworks which overlook Machias Bay were erected for a battery
of guns in 1863. In 1923, the United States Government deeded
the site of both forts to the State of Maine.
The Foster Rubicon
bronze tablet, mounted on a stone on the east side of Route
93 between here and Machias, reads:
Near this spot, in June 1775, the men of Machias, confronted
by a peremptory demand backed by armed force that they should
furnish necessary supplies to their country's enemies, met
in open air council to choose between ignoble peace and all
but hopeless war. The question was momentous and the debate
was long. After some hours of fruitless discussion, Benjamin
Foster, a man of action rather than words, leaped across this
brook and called all those to follow him who would, whatever
the risk, stand by their countrymen and their country's cause.
Almost to a man the assembly followed and, without further
formality, the settlement was committed to the Revolution.