Brooklyn Boro

Col. Craig Martin becomes commander at Fort Hamilton

Brooklyn fort is NYC’s only military base

July 16, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
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Col. Craig Martin assumed command of the U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hamilton — the only remaining active military base in New York City — on Tuesday, taking over for Col. Andrew Zieseniss.

“I look at this audience and it’s fulfilling for me because this is a diverse population as this city and our nation is,” said Martin at the change-of command ceremony at the almost 200-year-old fort, which is bordered by Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights. “It proves we can come together as a city in Brooklyn and New York City and at Fort Hamilton and achieve great things.

“People are the number one business to the Army. They are the number one priority. We take care of our soldiers, civilians and our families. They are critical, and without them we can’t accomplish anything. They make up communities,” he said.

Zieseniss, who held the post for two years, spoke about some of the hardships the area has faced, including the housing crisis last year and the COVID-19 pandemic, along with positives, such as the youth program created on the installation last fall.

“We repurposed our small staff and started to think outside of the box to work through an unprecedented challenge,” said Zieseniss. “We pushed hard to improve programs and infrastructure under fiscal constraints and we made significant progress in protecting this installation. Most importantly, we try to instill a sense of pride for those that live and work on this post.”

Col. Craig Martin spoke to reporters at the ceremony. Photo courtesy of Fort Hamilton

“Col. Zieseniss has led Fort Hamilton with great honor and distinction,” said U.S. Rep. Max Rose (D-Southwest Brooklyn-Staten Island). “While Col. Martin has big shoes to fill, I have the utmost confidence he will do so admirably.”

“I join the Garrison Fort Hamilton family and our entire community in thanking Col. Andrew Zieseniss for his service and wish him well in his next assignment,” said Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis (R-Bay Ridge-Staten Island). “We welcome Col. Craig Martin to Brooklyn and look forward to working with him.”

Fort Hamilton as we know it today was built between 1825 and 1831, although an earlier, smaller fort on the site helped defend New York Harbor against the British during the Revolutionary War and again during the War of 1812.

Among those who served at the fort were Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, who later fought against the U.S. and for the Confederacy; and Abner Doubleday, who served for the Union during the same Civil War. Indeed, during the 1840s, Lee, at that time a captain serving with the Army Corps of Engineers, was tasked with shoring up the defenses of the fort.

The streets at the fort are named after famous generals, beginning with George Washington, and two are named for Lee and Jackson. Mayor Bill de Blasio and U.S. Reps. Yvette Clarke and Max Rose have asked for the streets named for Lee and Jackson to be renamed because of the generals’ association with the Confederacy.

As for Major Gen. Abner Doubleday, he’s controversial for another reason. In the early 20th century, he was generally credited with inventing baseball in Cooperstown, N.Y., in 1839. Modern scholars discount this idea, which is not supported by evidence.

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