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

Fort Ward

1861-1865

 
 
Fort Ward Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 1, 2008
1. Fort Ward Marker
Inscription. This stairway leads up the west wall of Fort Ward between the Northwest Bastion (to the left) and the Southwest Bastion (to the right). Fort Ward had 14 cannon emplacements along this area of the wall that created overlapping fields of fire. Infantry soldiers armed with rifle muskets stationed between the cannon emplacements made this wall of the fort a formidable obstacle to attack. A self-guided tour begins at the ceremonial gate.

The initial construction of Fort Ward was completed in September 1861. The fort was built to protect the approaches to Union-occupied Alexandria via the Leesburg Turnpike (King Street) and Little River Turnpike (Duke Street).

By late 1864, the perimeter of the earthwork fort had been enlarged from 540 yards and 24 gun positions to 818 yards and 36 guns. Fort Ward was the fifth largest stronghold in the Defenses of Washington and was considered a model of 19th-century military design and engineering. The fort was named for Commander James Harmon Ward, the first Union naval officer to die in the Civil War. It was dismantled by December 1865.

Defenses of Washington
The only battle fought in the Defenses of Washington occurred in July 1864, when General Jubal A. Early's Confederate forces attacked Fort Stevens, located approximately seven miles north of the White House.

At
Defenses of Washington image. Click for full size.
October 8, 2006
2. Defenses of Washington
Close-up of Map on Marker
the end of the Civil War, the forts and batteries were dismantled and the materials sold at auction. Fort Foote, the last remaining earthwork fort in the Defenses, was deactivated in 1878.

Today, extant remains of many of these fortifications can still be found. The above map shows the 37-mile network of Union forts that protected the Federal Capital. The Defenses of Washington was the most extensive fortification system constructed in the Western Hemisphere.
 
Erected by City of Alexandria - Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Defenses of Washington, and the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
 
Location. 38° 49.808′ N, 77° 6.154′ W. Marker is in Alexandria, Virginia. Marker can be reached from West Braddock Road, on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Located in the Fort Ward Historic Site. Marker is at or near this postal address: 4301 West Braddock Road, Alexandria VA 22304, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Bombproof (within shouting distance of this marker); Powder Magazine and Filling Room (within shouting distance of this marker); Northwest Bastion (within shouting distance of this marker); Entrance Gate to Fort Ward
Fort Ward Marker near the Stairway image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 1, 2008
3. Fort Ward Marker near the Stairway
(about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Fort Ward (about 300 feet away); Southwest Bastion (about 300 feet away); Profile of Fort (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Fort Ward (about 400 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Alexandria.
 
More about this marker. On the left below the title is an engineering diagram of the main part of Fort Ward, with the location of the stairway indicated in blue. On the right above the Defenses of Washington section is a map showing the fortification chain around Washington, D.C. A small caption in the center states, Please help preserve Fort Ward for future generations by walking only on designated pathways. Climbing upon the fragile earthen walls of the fort is very destructive to the site.
 
Also see . . .  Fort Ward Historic Site. (Submitted on May 15, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
 
Categories. Forts, CastlesWar, US Civil
 
Soutwest Bastion image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 1, 2008
4. Soutwest Bastion
Looking south from the stairways along the ditch of the fort, the base of the Southwest Bastion forms an angle in the earthworks. The hedges here mimic the location of the abatis which stood just outside the fort beyond the ditch.
Exterior of the Nortwest Bastion image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 1, 2008
5. Exterior of the Nortwest Bastion
The Northwest Bastion is in considerably better shape than the Southwest Bastion. The ditch and glacis outside the fort are evident, to the left. Note the height of the bastion's parapet on the right.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,156 times since then and 29 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   2. submitted on .   3, 4, 5. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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