“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)

Star Fort

Guardian of Winchester

Civil War Trails Star Fort Marker image. Click for full size.
October 4, 2008
1. Civil War Trails Star Fort Marker
Inscription.  Three times during the Civil War, Star Fort played a major role in the defense of Winchester. Union Gen. Robert H. Milroy’s troops began constructing the fort in January 1863 on the site of artillery emplacements Confederate Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s men had built in 1861. Milroy, a fervent abolitionist, used stone from the nearby home of U.S. Senator James Mason, author of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. Star Fort commanded the Martinsville Turnpike and the Pughtown Road.

In June 1863, Gen. Robert E. Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia here in his second invasion of the North. On June 14, in the Second Battle of Winchester, Confederate Gen. Richard S. Ewell’s corps spearheaded Lee’s advance, forcing Milroy into the Winchester forts. Gen. Jubal A. Early’s division captured West Fort and shelled Star Fort, which fired in return. “The guns in the Star Fort greeted them,” wrote one of Milroy’s soldiers, “with shell after shell planted among them with astonishing precision.” Milroy withdrew that night. Most of his men surrendered at Stephenson’s Depot the next day, then were held temporarily
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at Star Fort. A year later, on July 24, 1864, Union Gen. George Crook fought a delaying action here while retreating north after the Second Battle of Kernstown.

Star Fort figured prominently in the Third Battle of Winchester on September 19, 1864, when detachments of Early’s cavalry and horse artillery held it to guard his army’s left flank. Union Col. James M. Schoonmaker’s cavalry brigade twice charged the fort, then dismounted and stormed it. Schoonmaker received the Medal of Honor for his actions.
Erected 2008 by Virginia Civil War Trails and Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Forts and CastlesWar, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails series list. A significant historical month for this entry is January 1863.
Location. Marker has been reported missing. It was located near 39° 12.409′ N, 78° 9.87′ W. Marker was near Winchester, Virginia, in Frederick County. Marker was on Fortress Drive, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker was at or near this postal address: 508 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 location. Third Battle of Winchester (within shouting distance of this marker); Constructing Star Fort (about 300 feet
Close-up of Map on Marker image. Click for full size.
October 4, 2008
2. Close-up of Map on Marker
away, measured in a direct line); Second Battle of Winchester (about 300 feet away); Civil War Earthworks (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named Second Battle of Winchester (about 500 feet away); Lord Fairfax (approx. ¼ mile away); Fort Collier (approx. 0.6 miles away); George Washington in Winchester (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Winchester.
More about this marker. On the lower left the marker features portraits of Gen. Robert H. Milroy, Gen. Jubal A. Early and Col. James M. Schoonmaker. On the upper right of the marker is a map detailing troop movements and positions during the Second Battle of Winchester.
Regarding Star Fort. The Star Fort site is owned by the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation and is in first phase of the restoration and interpretation of the site. The Foundation will be implementing the plan in the coming years with the goal of having the site open to the public by 2011.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Markers Discussing Star Fort
Also see . . .  Senator James Murray Mason. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress (Submitted on October 4, 2008.) 
Additional commentary.
1. Marker no longer at this location
Star Fort is open to the public
Star Fort Marker image. Click for full size.
October 4, 2008
3. Star Fort Marker
and in doing so the sign was blocking the entrance to the site so it was removed. Inside there are 5 additional signs covering the history of the fort.
    — Submitted May 13, 2017, by William Glahn of Winchester, Virginia.
Gen. Robert H. Milroy image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress
4. Gen. Robert H. Milroy
Gen. Jubal A. Early image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress, January 17, 2012
5. Gen. Jubal A. Early
Col. James M. Schoonmaker image. Click for full size.
Library of Congress
6. Col. James M. Schoonmaker
Credits. This page was last revised on September 19, 2020. It was originally submitted on October 4, 2008. This page has been viewed 4,534 times since then and 159 times this year. Last updated on May 14, 2018. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on October 4, 2008.   4, 5, 6. submitted on September 18, 2020, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 8, 2023