Union soldiers called this Confederate guardian of the James River, Fort Darling. On May, 15 five Federal vessels, including the famous ironclad Monitor; attacked the fort but were driven off. The unsuccessful attack prevented Richmond from being shelled early in the war, and the presence of the fort was a deterrent to other Union naval forays up the James. The fort and surrounding area served as the Confederate Naval Academy and Marine Corps Camp of Instruction during much of the war. Exhibits along a self-guiding trail give details of the fort's history.