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

(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.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
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 this marker. Second Battle of Winchester (within shouting distance of this marker); Third Battle of Winchester
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(within shouting distance of this marker); Civil War Earthworks (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Star Fort (was about 300 feet away but has been reported missing. ); a different marker also named Second Battle of Winchester (about 300 feet away); Lord Fairfax (approx. mile away); Fort Collier (approx. 0.6 miles away); George Washington in Winchester (was approx. 0.6 miles away but has been reported missing. ). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Winchester.
Categories. Forts or CastlesWar, US Civil

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Credits. This page was last revised on February 26, 2020. This page originally submitted on January 21, 2017, by Pete Skillman of Port Deposit, Maryland. This page has been viewed 351 times since then and 24 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on January 21, 2017, by Pete Skillman of Port Deposit, Maryland.   2. submitted on January 23, 2017. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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