In addition to the natural strength of the heights upon which Fort Norton was built was the Oostanaula River to the west. Attackers would be forced to cross the river and deploy into line of battle under fire from not only Fort Norton, but also the mutually supporting works of Fort Attaway and Fort Stovall, as well as emplacements at the present location of the Rome-Floyd County Library.
Contrary to modern perception, most Civil War forts were primarily earthen fortifications and Rome’s forts were of typical construction. A line of earthworks (trenches) would be dug on the military crest of the hill, slightly down slope from the actual crest. These trenches usually connected a series of artillery emplacements known as redoubts, allowing movement of men and material between these points. Trenches are still visible today on the site of Fort Norton.
Fort Norton was armed with 32 pound costal armament plus 7 eight-inch seacoast howitzers and 19 embrasures for light field artillery pieces.
On November 10th, 1864, General Sherman issued orders from a home in downtown Rome to General John Corse, “tonight destroy all public property not needed by your command, all foundries, mills, workshops, warehouses, railroad depots, or other storehouses convenient to the railroad, together with all wagon shops, tanneries or other factories useful to the enemy. Destroy all bridges immediately, then move your command to Kingston.” Many contemporary reports agree that Fort Norton was among the first destroyed.