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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Near Winchester in Frederick County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Constructing Star Fort

"It was hard work"

 
 
Constructing Star Fort Marker image. Click for full size.
By Pete Skillman, January 21, 2017
1. Constructing Star Fort Marker
Inscription.  Union Gen. Robert H. Milroy and his division entered Winchester on January 1, 1863. The abolitionist general, who vowed to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation aggressively, soon set to work strengthening the town's defenses. His soldiers rotated various tasks, spending one day per week working on Winchester's defenses, three days on guard duty, and three days dedicated to various camp chores. The schedule meant that on any given day during the first half of 1863, approximately 1,000 Union soldiers labored on Winchester's defenses. The strengthened Fort Garibaldi (renamed Fort Milroy) and West Fort and constructed Star Fort here. The fortification originated in 1861 as a series of gun emplacements.

The construction of Star Fort, called "the large fort," not only offered Milroy a sense of security but also satisfied his sense of justice. Some of the construction materials, in particular the limestone used for the footings on which the artillery pieces stood, came from the home of former U.S. Senator James M. Mason, author of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law. "Today the walls of Mr. Mason's house were pulled down," Winchester resident
Constructing Star Fort Marker image. Click for full size.
May 17, 2014
2. Constructing Star Fort Marker
Cornelia McDonald wrote in her diary on January 20, 1863. "They have taken the stones ... to build their fortifications."

Milroy's soldiers found the labor here grueling. A soldier in the 18th Connecticut Infantry wrote that they were "working on the fort and rifle pits, with axe, pick and shovel. ... Many of the boys had never used or handled that kind of tools. It was hard work."

(captions)
(left photo) Gen. Robert H. Milroy Courtesy Jonathan A. Noyalas Collection

(right photo) Sen. James M. Mason Courtesy Library of Congress

(map) Map of Winchester, June 13-15, 1863, with Union forts Courtesy Library of Congress
 
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Forts or CastlesWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list.
 
Location. 39° 12.363′ N, 78° 9.864′ W. Marker is near Winchester, Virginia, in Frederick County. Marker can be reached from Fortress Drive 0.1 miles north of North Frederick Pike (U.S. 522), on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 512 Fortress Drive, Winchester VA 22603, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of
Robert Huston Milroy<br>Officer of the Federal Army<br>(Maj. Gen. from Nov. 29, 1862) image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress
3. Robert Huston Milroy
Officer of the Federal Army
(Maj. Gen. from Nov. 29, 1862)
by Brady's National Photographic Portrait Galleries between 1860 and 1865.
this marker. Second Battle of Winchester (within shouting distance of this marker); Third Battle of Winchester (within shouting distance of this marker); Civil War Earthworks (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Second Battle of Winchester (about 300 feet away); Lord Fairfax (approx. ¼ mile away); Fort Collier (approx. 0.6 miles away); George Washington in Winchester (approx. 0.6 miles away); 2nd Battle of Winchester / 3rd Battle of Winchester (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Winchester.
 
James M. Mason<br> U.S. Congressman and Senator from Virginia image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress
4. James M. Mason
U.S. Congressman and Senator from Virginia
by Mathew B Brady, approximately 1823-1896
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 19, 2020. It was originally submitted on January 21, 2017, by Pete Skillman of Port Deposit, Maryland. This page has been viewed 429 times since then. Photos:   1. submitted on January 21, 2017, by Pete Skillman of Port Deposit, Maryland.   2. submitted on January 23, 2017.   3, 4. submitted on September 18, 2020, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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Jan. 18, 2021