At the start of the Civil War the U.S. War Department recognized the strategic importance of George's Island and promptly commissioned a granite fortress with ten foot thick walls and endless miles of underground labyrinths of dungeons and rooms and quarters. After its completion one visitor remarked that it surpassed the Rock of Gibralter in its fortification. As the war wound on in 1861, war captives soon were brought north to George's Island Fort Warren.
Harbor historian, Edward Rowe Snow related one of the most popular of "ghost stories" of all the islands - "The Lady in Black."
According to one version of this legend, a young Confederate naval officer named Samuel Lanier was captured and imprisoned in Fort Warren's "corridor of dungeons." In a daring rescue attempt, his bride of a few weeks disguised herself as a man and, packing a pistol, rowed across to George's Island one stormy night. Although she managed to rendezvous with her husband at the prison, the two were discovered trying to dig an escape tunnel. Desperate, the wife aimed her pistol at Commander Dimmick, but it exploded, killing her husband instead. Our would-be heroine was sentenced to death as a spy, and chose for her hanging dress a robe made from the fort's black mess hall drapes. Ever since, so the story goes, the ghost of the Lady in Black has haunted Fort Warren, frightening away soldiers from their sentry duty during the long, lonely night. And apocryphal though the tale may be, as the wind howls through Fort Warren's mysterious corridors and turret staircases, echoing in its vaulted chambers and dungeon cells, all the ghosts of the Civil War still seem very much alive.
I, too, have traveled the corridors, dark and musty, with a trustworthy flashlight in hand. By day, little light penetrates the twists and steps of the labyrinths; by night , well, maybe someone could tell you more, not I.