Fort Halifax, 1754-1766

ME 486-001

Fort Halifax was built in 1754 at the Kennebec and the Sebasticook Rivers confluence by Gershom Flagg & Sons for the Province of Massachusetts. It served as the frontline of defense during the French & Indian War until decommissioning in 1766. Initially, it started as a star-shaped fort designed by John Winslow; however, when Colonel William Lithgow took command in 1755, he quickly made a case for abandoning the original plan and reconfiguring the building elements already erected to a fort plan closer to Fort Western and Fort Shirley.

Excavations of the site began with Rev. Timothy Otis Paine in the 1850s, who was able to identify some of the structures and palisade lines of the fort. There were further excavations until 1977, when Dr. Robert Bradley of the MHPC conducted a small survey at the fort in preparation for new drainage. Then in 1987, the Great Flood lifted the blockhouse and floated it down the Kennebec River. In 1987 & 1988, Leon Cranmer of the MHPC conducted excavations to ascertain the blockhouse’s original location in preparation for reassembling it. Also, in 1988, a survey was done on the site as part of the Upper Kennebec Archaeological Survey, prompting further excavations in 1989, 1990, 1991, 1994, and 1995, all led by Leon Cranmer from the MHPC. All these excavations have answered the major questions surrounding Fort Halifax: its location, size, and building arrangement.

Ft Halifax Inset 2 - Copy
Inset from Thomas Johnston Map of 1754 
Massachusetts Archives

Fort Halifax RMD picture  
Painting by Ruth Major DeWildes