Arlington in Arlington County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
A Defensive Artillery Fort
Fort Ethan Allen had emplacements for 36 guns.
The forts that formed the Defenses of Washington were placed at half-mile intervals, supplemented with artillery batteries and rifle pits, making a nearly continuous connection between them. The armaments were chosen for their range of fire and positioned to ensure that the line of defenses had no gaps. The strategy worked—no Confederate attack on Washington succeeded.
The 20-pounder Parrott rifle (replica) in front of you—like other field guns—was portable, transported on a gun carriage, and called into service where needed.
What Ammunition Did They Fire?
A spherical shape (cannon ball) made from a desne material such as iron: it smashed its target.
A thin-walled metal cylinder filled with lead pellets and sawdust: it turned a cannon into a giant shotgun, scattering the contents in all directions.
Hollow casings filled with black powder or powder and shot: casings burst into large pieces.
What Is Artillery
Guns, howitzers, and mortars
These cannons fire ball-shaped ammunition from barrels with smooth interior bores.
These cannons shoot elongated, bullet-shaped projectiles from barrels with spiral-grooved boxes. Typically, rifled artillery is more accurate and can fire longer distances than smooth-bore cannons.
Fort Ethan Allen's artillery inventory in 1865 included:
three 6-pounder guns
four 24-pounder guns
three 32-pounder guns
two 8-inch howitzers
three 32-pounder howitzers
three 10-poundr Parrott rifles
eleven 30-pounder Parrott rifles
six 12-pounder Napoleon guns
four 10-inch mortars
two 24-pounder Coehorn mortars
The term "pounder" refers to the weight of the ammunition the cannons fired. The range of fire for most cannons is approximately one mile.
Positioning the Guns
Fort Ethan Allen's configuration of guns would have been similar to this one at Fort Lincoln in Washington, D.C.
How many men did it take to fire a cannon?
Firing a cannon was an art requiring skilled team effort. A well-drilled gun crew, consisting of seven men
6 and 7 cut fuses and distribute rounds to 5, who carries them to 2. 1 sponges barrel. 2 puts round in gun. 1 rams round into barrel while 3 closes vent with thumbnail. G sights the gun and gives commands.
1 and 2 step clear. 3 pricks cartridge with priming wire. 4 hooks lanyard to primer, puts primer in vent, and moves to the rear. G stands clear.
3 steps clear. G gives the command, and 4 pulls lanyard, firing the gun.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Forts and Castles • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Defenses of Washington series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1865.
Location. 38° 55.441′ N, 77° 7.449′ W. Marker is in Arlington, Virginia, in Arlington County. Marker is on North Old Glebe Road north of North Ridgeview Road, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3829 North Strafford Street, Arlington VA 22207, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers The View in 1865 (here, next to this marker); A Defensive Stronghold, Heavily Armed (within shouting distance of this marker); A Bastion-Style Fort Is a Mighty Fortress (within shouting distance of this marker); Welcome to Fort Ethan Allen (within shouting distance of this marker); Protecting the Fort (within shouting distance of this marker); Lives of the Soldiers (within shouting distance of this marker); Communications along the Defensive Line (within shouting distance of this marker); Fort Ethan AllenWhat to Look For (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Arlington.
Credits. This page was last revised on May 10, 2020. It was originally submitted on January 27, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 164 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on January 27, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 3. submitted on April 25, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 4, 5, 6. submitted on April 23, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 7, 8. submitted on April 25, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.