Belle View near Alexandria in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Fort Willard Park
Fort Willard Park contains significant earthworks and archaeological remains of a fort built in 1862 by the Union Army. It was one of 63 forts that were built surrounding the District of Columbia during the Civil War as part of the Defenses of Washington. Fort Willard is located on a high point overlooking low ground along the Potomac River. When the landscape was cleared of trees the fort commanded a clear view to the Potomac River.
Fort Willard was constructed at the end of 1862 as Redoubt “D” to Fort Lyon by detachments of the 34th Massachusetts Infantry. It was later named in honor of Colonel George L. Willard, who was killed at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. Fort Willard was the southernmost fortification in the Defenses of Washington.
Major John Gross Barnard of the Corps of Engineers was in charge of construction of the Washington defenses. Fort Willard was built as a lunette with a ditch and parapet facing to the south and open to the rear with no ditch on the north side. Today you can still see the earthen fortifications, cannon platforms and the remains of a bombproof (bomb shelter) and magazine
After the Civil War, the site lay fallow for many years. In the 1930s the Belle Haven subdivision began to be developed and the fort site was reserved in an area that eventually became Fort Willard Circle. The relative isolation of this site within a quiet residential neighborhood has allowed for the archaeological and cultural features at Fort Willard Historic Site to remain relatively undisturbed and only subject to the natural processes of erosion and tree growth.
Regiments garrisoned at Fort Willard included:
• 34th Massachusetts Infantry
• 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery
• 10th New York Heavy Artillery
• 1st Wisconsin Heavy Artillery
Erected by Fairfax County Park Authority.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Defenses of Washington series list. A significant historical date for this entry is July 2, 1863.
Location. 38° 46.981′ N, 77° 3.959′ W. Marker is near Alexandria, Virginia, in Fairfax County. It is in Belle View. Marker can be reached from Fort Willard Circle. The marker is located at the Fort Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6625 Fort Willard Circle, Alexandria VA 22307, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Fort Willard (here, next to this marker); Defenses of Washington (here, next to this marker); Belle Haven Park (approx. 0.2 miles away); Mount Eagle Mansion (approx. half a mile away); Parapet and Gun Platforms (approx. 0.6 miles away); These Trees (approx. 0.7 miles away); a different marker also named Defenses of Washington (approx. 0.7 miles away); Historic Jones Point (approx. 0.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Alexandria.
More about this marker. The right side of the marker displays three graphics captioned Plan of Fort Willard, U.S. Army, Office of the Quartermaster. Courtesy National Archives & Records Administration, Engineering Drawing of Fort Willard. Courtesy National Archives & Records Administration and Captain Patrick H Ray of the 1st Regiment Wisconsin Heavy Artillery ordered a uniform jacket, reinforced pants, and one set of rank insignia from a military supplier on King Street in Alexandria. Courtesy Wisconsin Historical Society Archives.
Also see . . . Fort Willard Historic Site General Master Plan. JPEG of the plan (Submitted on October 8, 2011.)
Credits. This page was last revised on January 27, 2023. It was originally submitted on October 8, 2011. This page has been viewed 1,524 times since then and 347 times this year. Last updated on August 10, 2020. Photos: 1. submitted on October 8, 2011. 2, 3. submitted on August 9, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 4, 5. submitted on October 8, 2011. 6. submitted on September 12, 2020, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 7. submitted on October 8, 2011. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.