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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Alexandria in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Fort Lyon

 
 
Fort Lyon Marker Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, May 31, 2008
1. Fort Lyon Marker
Inscription. In this vicinity stood Fort Lyon, the major fortification on the left flank of the Federal defenses guarding the city of Washington during the Civil War. Named in honor of Brig. Gen. Nathaniel Lyon, the fort covered an area of nine acres with its forty gun-emplacements. New York, Massachusetts and Ohio troops garrisoned here controlled the Hunting Creek valley, the Little River Turnpike. and the railroad depot as well as the town of Alexandria. On 10 June 1863, President Lincoln personally inspected the damage caused by the spectacular explosion of the fortís powder magazine.
 
Erected 1998 by Department of Historic Resources. (Marker Number E-102.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Defenses of Washington marker series.
 
Location. 38° 47.567′ N, 77° 4.588′ W. Marker is near Alexandria, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Marker can be reached from North Kings Highway (Virginia Route 241) 0.7 miles north of Richmond Highway (U.S. 1), on the right when traveling north. Click for map. It is in the upper Kiss & Ride parking lot of the Huntington Avenue Metro station. Marker is in this post office area: Alexandria VA 22303, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this
Fort Lyon Marker Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, May 31, 2008
2. Fort Lyon Marker
marker, measured as the crow flies. The Cameron Valley (approx. 0.7 miles away); Defenses of Washington (approx. 0.8 miles away); Fort Willard (approx. 0.9 miles away); a different marker also named Fort Willard (approx. 0.9 miles away); a different marker also named Defenses of Washington (approx. 0.9 miles away); Fort Ellsworth (approx. 1.1 miles away); Alexandria National Cemetery (approx. 1.2 miles away); "Pursuers of Booth the Assassin" (approx. 1.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Alexandria.
 
Also see . . .  Death of General Lyon. This marker at Wilson's Creek Battlefield marks the death of General Lyon, whom the fort is named after. (Submitted on June 3, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Additional comments.
1. Fort Lyon Particulars
From Mr. Lincoln's Forts: A Guide to the Civil War Defenses of Washington, by Benjamin Franklin Cooling III and Walton H. Owen II:

The fort was laid out in September 1861 by Major John Newton. The fort became the second largest in the system. Covering an area of nine acres with a perimeter of 937 yards, it was placed on a plateau spur with a commanding view of Hunting Creek and Telegraph Road. The main function of the fort was to prevent Confederate occupation of the
Fort Lyon Marker at the Upper Kiss & Ride Parking Lot Photo, Click for full size
By J. J. Prats, May 31, 2008
3. Fort Lyon Marker at the Upper Kiss & Ride Parking Lot
high ground (near the modern Metro stop) from which Alexandria could be shelled.

The fort was built mostly by the work of the 27th New York Volunteer Infantry. In addition elements of the 16th New York Infantry, 26th New York Infantry, 34th Massachusetts Infantry, 3rd Battalion New York Artillery, 107th New York Infantry, and 142nd Ohio National Guard occupied the fort at different times during the war.

The armament consisted of ten 32-pounder guns, ten 24-pounder guns, seven 6-pdr guns, two 10-inch mortars, and four 24-pounder mortars. These were arranged in five bastions.
    — Submitted May 31, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.

2. The Magazine Explosion
The explosion noted occurred on June 9, 1863. A detail from the 3rd New York Artillery Battalion was managing ammunition and happened to be refilling shells with powder. The process required the existing powder, which had been exposed to moisture, to be removed with wooden spoons. The detail commander, concerned at the slow progress, issued metal priming wires to speed the removal. A spark from one of the priming wires rubbing against the cast iron shell case set off the explosion. Twenty-one were killed in the blast and another ten injured.

Remains of the magazines are reported to stand nearby.
View to the north and Alexandria Photo, Click for full size
January 15, 2011
4. View to the north and Alexandria
From Huntington Station metro. The Washington Monument visible in distance to the left of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial.
    — Submitted May 31, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.

 
Categories. Forts, CastlesWar, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,332 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on , by J. J. Prats of Springfield, Virginia.   4. submitted on . • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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