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Fort Smallwood was established when the Federal government purchased the property in the 1890s. The fort was completed in 1896.  It was named for Revolutionary War Maj. Gen. William Smallwood (1732–1792), commander of the "Maryland Line" regiment in the Continental Army who later became fourth governor of Maryland (1785–1788).

 

It is the location of Battery Hartshorne, named on November 18, 1902 in honor of Captain Benjamin M. Hartshorne Jr., 7th U. S. Infantry, who was killed on January 2, 1902, in action with insurgents near Lanang, Samar, Philippine Islands during the Philippine–American War. Two six-inch disappearing carriage guns were mounted here from 1900 to 1927.  It is mostly sealed from public access.  A second gun battery is completely gone.

 

Fort Smallwood was part of the modern network of outer harbor defenses to pretest Baltimore from the perceived threats from Spain during the Spanish-American War era.  The others were Fort Howard on North Point in southeastern Baltimore County, Fort Armistead at Hawkins Point on the Baltimore City-Anne Arundel County Line of 1919 and Fort Carroll on an artificial island in the middle of the Patapsco River, just south of Baltimore.

By 1927 the War Department decided that the coastal defenses were no longer necessary and by 1928, the fort’s guns had been removed.  The property was then acquired by the City of Baltimore for use as a public park.   In 2006 the park became part of the Anne Arundel County park system.

 

VFW Post 2462 is named for Fort Smallwood.

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