“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Annandale in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Masonís Hill

Masonís Hill Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, April 5, 2008
1. Masonís Hill Marker
Inscription.  During the Civil War, Confederate Col. J. E.B. Stuart used Masonís Hill and nearby Munsonís Hill as outposts for the First Virginia Cavalry from late July to the end of Sept. 1861. Capt. Edward Porter Alexander of the Signal Corps established a signal station on Masonís Hill. On the Mason residenceís observation tower, he installed a six-foot “astronomical glass” to observe Washington, D.C. The telescope could “count the panes of glass in the windows in Washington.” Confederate spy E. Pliny Bryan, of Maryland, was to signal messages from his District rooming-house window to the station. Before this scheme could be implemented, however, the Confederates abandoned Masonís Hill.
Erected 2000 by Department of Historic Resources. (Marker Number T-50.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) series list. A significant historical month for this entry is September 1861.
Location. 38° 50.267′ N, 77° 9.8′ W. Marker is in
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Annandale, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Marker is at the intersection of Columbia Pike (Virginia Route 244) and Maplewood Drive, on the right when traveling north on Columbia Pike. It is at the bus stop at the Mason District Governmental Center. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6507 Columbia Pike, Annandale VA 22003, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Mount Pleasant Baptist Church (approx. 0.3 miles away); a different marker also named Mason's Hill (approx. 0.6 miles away); Historic Green Spring (approx. 0.9 miles away); Action At Annandale (approx. 1.4 miles away); The Cannon (approx. 1.7 miles away); J.E.B. Stuart at Munsonís Hill (approx. 1.8 miles away); Little River Turnpike (approx. 1.9 miles away); Baileyís Crossroads Civil War Engagements (approx. 1.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Annandale.
Also see . . .  General Edward Porter Alexander. Multi-page article by Colonel Jack Travis on The Cape Fear War Roundtable website. “Being on the staff of General Beauregard, Alexander was given an unusual assignment to do some secret service work. The Confederates needed more information on the movements and troop strength of the Federal army. Alexander created a system of spies and methods of receiving their information. He appointed E. Pliny Bryan,
Masonís Hill Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, April 5, 2008
2. Masonís Hill Marker
of Maryland, as his chief spy. With Bryan in Washington, DC, Alexander could receive signal messages. Bryan would get a room in a hotel that Alexander could see from Mason Hill in adjacent Virginia with his telescope, and would signal Alexander with a coffee pot reflecting from the sun or movement of the window drapes. This method worked extremely well. The famous Rose OíNeal Greenhowe, Augusta Morris, and Mrs. Baxley were in this system of spies. Unfortunately, this all ended. The Federals got suspicious and arrested them all. However, they were later released due to insufficient evidence.” (Submitted on April 5, 2008.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on April 5, 2008, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 2,498 times since then and 62 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on April 5, 2008, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 24, 2024