|About the Book|
Long Islands FortressDeemed unfit for settlement, and inhabited only by the Montaukett Indians, the Montauk Peninsula was used as pastureland for thousands of cattle, sheep, goats, and horses for communities on the East End of Long Island from the 1660s into the early part of the 20th century. However, with the outbreak of the American Revolution in 1775, Montauk became significant to the defense of our country, especially to the New York tri-state region.With advances in technology over the years, the chances of frequent and more intense enemy attacks increased, and the need for fortifications near and on Long Island grew in significance. The British occupied Long Island during the Revolution, confiscated numerous head of cattle at Montauk, and kept a huge bonfire going on the site of the present lighthouse at Montauk Point to guide ships in the Royal Navy safely around its rocky shores. British ships anchored in Gardiner%u2019s Bay threatened the Montauk region during the War of 1812. At the conclusion of the Spanish-American War in 1898, Colonel Theodore Roosevelt and some 30,000 troops came to the plains of Montauk to recuperate from the effects of diseases contracted while fighting in Cuba.With the development of airpower in the years preceding World War I, a Naval Air Base was constructed at Montauk in 1917 in the vicinity of Fort Pond. During the years 1922-1924, Camp Welsh functioned as a National Guard camp at Montauk.World War II brought increasing threats of airpower and submarine attacks, necessitating the use of Montauk lands by the Army, Navy, and Coast Guard. Camp Hero was constructed in 1942, armed with several 16-inch guns capable of hitting targets up to 30 miles away. The lighthouse itself was taken over by Army and Coast Guard personnel and became part of the Eastern Coastal Defense Shield. A fire control tower containing radar equipment was built on the property and used to survey the surrounding waters for the presence of Nazi submarines. The old fishing village at Fort Pond Bay was removed by the Navy to make way for a torpedo testing range. Buildings in the area, including the impressive Montauk Manor, were taken over for military use, making Montauk a true military town.During the Cold War era following World War II, Montauk became home to the Air Force and the installation of sophisticated radar equipment at Camp Hero, able to detect aircraft at distances of almost 300 miles.An American Gibraltar is a examination of the hamlet of Montauk, Long Island as it rose from a tranquil and desolate outpost for farm animals to a formidable Rock of Gibraltar, fortified by armed forces to help protect not only Long Islanders but neighboring coastal ports and cities such as New London, New Haven and New York City. Montauks role in each conflict, from the Indian wars of the 1600s to the Cold War years following World War II, varied in intensity, but its overall contribution to the fabric of American history serves to enhance the fact that Montauk has been and continues to be a very special place with a truly remarkable history.