Fort Schuyler is a preserved 19th century fortification in the New York City borough of The Bronx, that houses a museum, and the Marine Transportation Department and Administrative offices of the State University of New York Maritime College. It is considered one of the finest examples of French-style fortifications. The fort was named in honor of Major General Philip Schuyler of the Continental Army. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976 (as District #76001206).
Fort Schuyler was one of many forts built along the east coast of the United States in the aftermath of the War of 1812 (with the British Empire) when it became brutally apparent that the US coast was poorly defended against foreign invasion. Fort Schuyler was dedicated in 1856 after only 75% completion, and was strategically positioned to protect New York City from naval attack through Long Island Sound; guarding the eastern entrance to New York Harbor. It is located on Throgs Neck in the southeastern tip of the Bronx at a point where the East River meets Long Island Sound. Fort Totten faces it on the other side of the river. Their interlocking batteries created a bottle-neck of defenses against ships attempting to approach New York City. Fort Schuyler, at its peak, boasted 440 guns. Later, it would be fitted with various other pieces throughout the ever-modernization of coastal defense artillery, once including 10" and 12" guns on disappearing carriages installed on the roof and on the peninsula around the fort. Coastal artillery emplacements at the fort lasted until 1935.
During the American Civil War, Fort Schuyler held as many as 500 prisoners of war from the Confederate States Army and military convicts from the Union Army. It also included the MacDougall Hospital which had a capacity of 2,000 beds. The fort was poorly constructed and its well water became brackish (contaminated with salt water). Fort Schuyler was also a location where units heading to war would rendezvous and be outfitted and trained before being deployed. Such units include the 5th New York Volunteer Infantry "Duryee's Zouaves," and the 69th and 88th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiments (the 1st and 2nd Regiments of Meagher's "Irish Brigade (US).") From January 1863 until July 1865, the Fort itself was garrisoned by the 20th Independent Battery, New York Volunteer Artillery, a unit originally recruited to fight in the war as part of the Anthon Battalion of Volunteer Light Artillery. Duty at the fort was reported to be a dull assignment as the men took the roles of guards and hospital stewards, not artillerymen.. From July until August 1865 the Fort was garrisoned by companies A, B, C, F, G, H and I of the Anderson Zouaves (companies D, and E being assigned to Fort Wood on Bedloes Island), upon their return from service with the VI Corps of the Army of the Potomac and duty in the defenses of Washington, D.C. The Anderson Zouaves finally mustered out from Fort Schuyler on August 30, 1865.
In 1934, Fort Schuyler was decommissioned by the U.S. Army, and by 1938 its conversion into a college, The New York Public Nautical School, was completed. The college, which was founded in 1874, still occupies the site, and in 1948 was one of the original 29 founding schools to be incorporated into the State University of New York as the State University of New York Maritime College.
In 1986, a portion of Fort Schuyler was dedicated as the Maritime Industry Museum. The museum houses exhibits of both the maritime industry and the history of Fort Schuyler, and is open to the public on weekdays.