If I had any bravado whatsoever, I’d leave the article at that. But here’s the long explanation.
Inside one of its walls is the long, meandering, subterranean-feeling Casement Museum, which tracks all that history from back when it was the site of a wooden fort called Algernourne in 1609 all the way through to when Jefferson Davis was held prisoner there after the Civil War and on to the shiny-gun-metal of present day. It also has a corner exhibit on Poe’s time at the base, which consisted of a mannequin at a desk and a large placard. I adored it.
But, like you’re inclined to do at a historic coastal fort, I wanted to see the vantage point from the walls, so I ascended a set of steps near the entrance of the museum. At the top, I expected a few replica cannons, maybe some flags, perhaps a view of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay.
Instead I found graves. Pet graves.
So there I was, on a Poe mission, inadvertently finding cats in walls.
The tombstones were in a line on the wall as far as I could see, like they were defending it. The styles varied, and I saw some that dated to the 1930s. I followed the line, treating them like paving stones. Every once in a while they wended across the remnants of batteries.
It was, in fact, the pet cemetery for the fort, as well as some of the surrounding residential areas. Like I said, the walls encompassed an entire town. Lives were spent there, both human and animal. They say more than 400 animals ended up in those walls, with the oldest marker dating to 1936, although it’s surmised that interments go further back than that. The current fort structure goes back to 1834, after all.
As long as they don’t try to come back for them, I guess.