Tour of the Defenses of Washington DC

Tour – Historic Civil War Defenses of Washington DC

Historic Tour of the Defenses of Washington DC

One never knows what one will find if you rummage around the United States' attic...
Fort Ward Gate Alexandria Virginia
Fort Ward Gate
Alexandria Virginia
Driving around the "DMV" - District, Maryland & Virginia - one will often see signs of the US Civil War -  National Park Service signs that announce a fort such as Fort Davis or Fort Foote or Fort Totten with little but a few earthworks mounds to see and hardly any sign of what was there over 150 years ago.  Yet by the end of the war, there would be 68 forts along with some 90 artillery batteries that would be the defense of the perimeter of the Capital City of Washington DC.  Major General John G. Barnard was the engineer who designed most of these fortifications. He is often called the "Father of the Defenses of Washington DC".
Fort Stevens Washington DC
Fort Stevens
Washington DC
  Today, only a few of those fortifications and artillery batteries still exist in more than just those signs and mounds of earth -  Fort Stevens in Washington DC and Fort Ward in Alexandria, Virginia are two that have been conserved in entirety or partially to show part of  the Defenses of Washington DC.

National Park Service Presents a Tour

It was 1938, the 75th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg during the US Civil  War.  It was when the Civil War was something fresh in the minds of the people who experienced it,  the National Park Service provided a tour of "the Defenses of Washington DC"  From that tour here is a twenty page booklet that was provided to those who took the tour. (Be patient - the book may take a bit to load)
The book "Images of America - Fort Myer" contains over 200 historical photographs.  They were selected from new research among the archives of America.  An autographed / personalized copy is available.   Order yours TODAY!
A typical civil war fortification entrance

Fort Whipple Virginia

In A typical civil war fortification entrance reading books like "The Civil War" by Buce Catton, one would never know about the Defenses of Washington.  Missing from that work are the names of General John Gross Barnard,  General Amiel Weeks Whipple and many more who contributed to defending the US Capital. It was after the first battle of Bull Run or First Manassas, depending on which side of the Mason Dixon line you're on,  that General McClellan surveyed the defenses of Washington and decided that additional fortifications were needed.  Even though the Arlington Line - a series of fortifications and batteries located on western side of Washington, DC - were in place, the defeat that the Union troops took got the Union leadership into action. The result was in some cases a fort was placed as a secondary line of defense - one was Fort Whipple, named for the General who had commanded the defenses of Washington from the Custis-Lee Mansion.   His desire to get into the fighting took him to Fredericksburg and later Chancellorsville where he was shot by a sharpshooter while sitting on his horse in May of 1863. Assessments made from the extensive plans for this fort that overlooked the valley where Washington DC lay, was this was the ideal fort and set the model for ones that would follow.  In the book, "Images of America - Fort Myer" the plans for this fortification and other related information is presented as the first 100 years of  history of this fort, later named Fort Myer, in honor of the US Army's first Signal Officer - General Albert J. Myer, is told.