The year 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the US Civil War. A few days in April of 1861, Fort Sumter had surrendered after continual pounding of artillery on the fortification... Those in Washington DC, when they heard of this, began to make plans to erect fortifications which would "Defend the Capital" in case of attack by the Confederates. Jefferson Davis had already been inaugurated as President of the Confederacy and slowly the secession of Southern states had begun. The two river crossings - Aqueduct Bridge and Long Bridge were among the first to have fortifications put in place. By the war's end, 70 fortifications and 90 artillery batteries would surround Washington, DC. Among those would be Fort Whipple - built in 1863 and named after General Amiel Weeks Whipple, it occupied the high ground at Arlington Heights overlooking the Nation's Capital. In essence it was the second line of defense, backing up Fort Cass as part of the Arlington Line. Arlington House, also known as the Custis-Lee mansion was the headquarters for all the defenses of Washington during the US Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln would cross the Potomac River to meet here with General Whipple to get briefed on the progress of the actions. All of the fortifications and batteries are very well located, diplayed and discussed in a book written and recently updated entitled "Mr. Lincoln's Forts" by Benjamin Franklin Cooling III and Walton H. Owen II. In the book - "Images of America - Fort Myer" you will also find more about this historic time in America and the developments, events, people and views that impacted the US Army, the United States of America and the world.
After the fall of Fort Sumter, South Carolina to the Confederates, it was decided that the Nation's Capital was in need of defenses. Among the first fortifications were built were the ones at the three crossings of the Potomac River - Chain Bridge (Fort Ethan Allen), Aqueduct Bridge (Fort Corcoran) and Long Bridge (Fort Jackson). Over time the Arlington Line of fortifications developed beginning at the Potomac and encircling the western side of the Capital on the Virginia side. The line consisted of about 30 forts, augmented by interwoven artillery batteries. Among this extensive line of fortifications was Fort Cass (originally called Fort Ramsay) that was built in August 1861 within the 1,100 acres of the Custis-Lee estate. It was a lunette which had emplacements for 13 artillery pieces - guns. Constructed by the 9th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the name of the fortification was later changed to honor Colonel Thomas Cass, the regiment's first commander who was killed in 1862.