Massachusetts Governor Thomas Pownall sought to plug the mouths
of Maine's key rivers so as to keep the French and Indians
well inland. In January 1758, he wrote to William Pitt, Prime
Minister of England about the advantages of this site, then
called Wasaumkeag Point.
"A Fort at Penobscot River would be of utmost importance...
It would take possession of the very fine Country... It would
effectively drive off the Remains of the Noridgwoak and Penobscot
Indians as it would break up their Hunting and Fishing. It
would take possession of the finest Bay in North America for
large shipping just at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy and would
be advancing the Frontiers of his Majesty's Dominions."
The following year, Pownall led a group of 400 men who established
and built a fort here, naming it after the governor. While
the fort never fired a shot in anger, its protective presence
encouraged Anglo-American settlement in the Penobscot region.
In 1775, British forces seized the fort's cannons and powder.
Later, a regiment of Continentals burned the blockhouse and
filled in much of the ditch system to prevent the British
from occupying the fort.
The only record of the fort's style and construction is a
plan drawn by an unknown artist (rendered above) that includes
such detail that it was likely drawn by someone who had knowledge
of the fort.
Revolutionary War veteran Joesph P. Martin never saw the fort,
but in 1828 he recorded a description apparently passed on
to him by someone who had been there.
It was a regular fortification,
four square flankers, with a block house in the centre. It
was surrounded by a ditch 15 feet wide at the top and five
feet at the bottom, and probably 8 feet deep. The outer side
of the ditch was 240 feet, and the brest[works] within the
ditch 90 feet. A block-house was erected within the Fort 44
feet square with flankers 33 feet on the side... The block-house
was of square timber, dovetailed at the corners. It was of
two very high stories--the lower story used as a barraks;
the upper story jutted over the lower 2-1/2 or three feet.
.. In this room were 10 or 12 cannon. The roof was hipped,
with a centry box on the top. The houses of the officers were
situated between the fort and the bank of the river.