Alcatraz Essay example

4129 Words Mar 7th, 2014 17 Pages
Alcatraz Island has quite a distinct history. Many people know that Alcatraz served as a federal prison, but most are reluctant to know that this island served as fort. Built before the Civil War, it served two main purposes. First, that it was to guard the San Francisco bay area from enemy ships against a foreign invasion, and second, to hold hostage prisoners of war or POW's as they were called. In this report, I'll show you how this fortress came to be a federal prison, why it is no longer in operation today, and most importantly, to show why it was built in the first place. When the great Gold Rush of 1849 first started, California grew from what would be considered a small, unpopulated state, into what it is now. California is now one …show more content…
These structures stand among the island's many natural features - gardens, tidepools, bird nests, and bay views beyond compare. (1) Fortress Alcatraz ran in operation from 1850 - 1933. It served as San Francisco's only major defense. It started off with only eleven cannons, that were transported onto the island in 1854. By the early 1860's, Alcatraz had 111 cannons. Some were enormous, firing a fifteen-inch ball weighing over 450 pounds. Defenses included a row of brick enclosed gun positions called case mates to protect the dock; a fortified gateway or a Sally Port to block the entrance road; and a three-story citadel on top of the island. This served both as an armed barracks and as a last line defense strategy. Even though Alcatraz was built to withstand a foreign invasion, its most important use was during the Civil War, 1861 - 1865. Seeing as it was the only completed fort in the entire bay, it was vital in the protecting from Confederate Raiders. Early in the war, ten thousand rifles were moved to Alcatraz from the State armory, to prevent them from being used by southern sympathizers. The crew of a Confederate privateer were among the first inmates to be held within The Rock. Alcatraz's notoriety as a penitentiary overshadows its earlier, and longer use by the Army. Surprisingly, this small island once was the

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