In 1911, when the original Panama Canal fortifications
were being built, the Canal Zone included the western edge and
the northern tip of what is now Colon in the area known as
Manzanilla Point. Fort DeLesseps was constructed on this
strip of land, in the vicinity of the Washington Hotel.
name in honor of Brigadier General Charles H. Morgan, was
established at Fort DeLesseps. Two 6-inch rifles (Model
1908, M II) on barbette mounts (BC Model 1910) were installed at
the battery. Battery construction was started in 1913 and
completed in 1916.
traverse of 360° and range of 15,000 yards, the guns of Battery
Morgan supported guns on either flank (Battery Kilpatrick, Fort
Sherman, and Battery Weed, Fort Randolph) in protecting the
Atlantic approaches from attacks by light naval vessels,
including minesweepers and submarines.
of Battery Morgan were regularly fired for practice in 1916,
1917, and 1918, but were then placed in caretaker status and
were not fired again until 1942. A total of 112 rounds
were fired by the No. 1 Gun and 144 by Gun No. 2. They
were last fired on 17 March 1944 and thereafter were not manned.
the Fort DeLesseps area being released to the Republic of
Panama, the guns of Battery Morgan were dismounted and
scrapped. The battery area is presently deserted and no
use is being made of the facilities that remain. ("193rd
Inf Bde (CZ) Pamphlet 8701, "World War I Fortifications of
the Panama Canal")
This fort was built on land which had belonged to the original
Panama Railroad. It was located on Limon Bay at the
northwest corner of Colon. The Hotel Washington, whose
windows were shattered when the 6-inch rifles were fired, was
just across the street. There was a barge wharf on the
Limon Bay side and sidings directly off the Panama Railroad's extension
beyond the Cristobal/Colon passenger station. Rail
movements were handled by the Panama Railroad. ("Military
Railroads on the Panama Canal Zone", by Charles S.
Small, November 1982)
Armament at Fort DeLesseps:
2 - 6" Barbette Mount
A small installation
located adjacent to the Hotel Washington within the city of
Colon., Fort DeLesseps was named in 1911 in honor of Count
Ferdinand de Lesseps, the 'builder' of the Suez Canal and the man
who let the French atempt to build the Panama Canal.
The property on which Fort DeLesseps was constructed was acquired
by the U.S. Army from the Panama Railroad Company.
Jurisdiction over the post, however, was never formally ceded to
the United States.
The Coast Artillery
post, whose population is 1936 was 190, included eight sets of
Captains' quarters, a Headquarters barracks which accommodated 84
men, three quadruplexes for Noncommissioned Officers, a 200-seat
'Recreation Pavilion', and a 3-bed medical station. These
properties, in addition to the guns of Battery Morgan, were
located on an area comprised of 3.7 acres.
The 1955 'Treaty of
Mutual Understandings and Cooperation with the Republic of Panama'
provided for the transfer to the Republic of Panama of Fort
DeLesseps, which was no longer considered "required for canal
("An American Legacy In
Panama", HQ U.S. Army Garrison - Panama)