Saw this from my seat on a flight from Norfolk VA, to Cincinnati OH. I had to bring it home to share with you. Fort Monroe, Phoebus VA: Following the War of 1812, the United States again came to realize the importance of protecting Hampton Roads and the inland waters from attack by sea, and construction was begun in 1819 on what would become the largest stone fort ever built in the United States. The fort, designed by Simon Bernard, features a moat completely surrounding the inner structures. As a young first lieutenant and engineer in the U.S. Army, Robert E. Lee was stationed there from 1831 to 1834, and played a major role in the final construction of both Fort Monroe and its opposite, Fort Calhoun. The latter, later renamed Fort Wool, was built on a man-made island called the Rip Raps across the navigational channel from Old Point Comfort in the middle of the mouth of Hampton Roads. The fort was briefly used to detain Black Hawk.

When construction was completed in 1834, Fort Monroe was referred to as the "Gibraltar of Chesapeake Bay." The fort accomplished this mission by mounting an impressive complement of the most powerful artillery of the time, 32-pounder guns with a range of over one mile. In conjunction with Fort Calhoun (later Fort Wool), this was just enough range to cover the main shipping channel into the area. (Decommissioned after World War II, the former Fort Wool on Rip Raps is now adjacent to the southern man-made island of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, initially completed in 1957).