Arlington in Arlington County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Welcome to Fort Ethan Allen
Fort Ethan Allen defended the southern approaches to Chain Bridge, one of the three Potomac River crossings that Confederate troops could have used to invade Washington. Unlike many Civil War sites, Fort Ethan Allen saw no major battles—but that does not diminish its value. The fort's very existence deterred an assault. The Confederate Army never launched an attack that captured the nation's capital.
"The possession of Chain Bridge communication with the opposite shore of the Potomac . . . was essential to the operation of our forces in Virginia and to the prestige of our arms."
—General John G. Barnard, U.S. Army, 1871
Chain Bridge from Washington, D.C., 1865
Military control of the bridge began in 1861 so that Union soldiers could maintain communications and troop movements across the Potomac between Washington and Union-held territory in Virginia.
In late May 1861, President Lincoln approved his
Defenses of Washington
Washington, D.C., was the most heavily fortified city in the Union during the Civil War. By the war's end, 164 forts and batteries formed a 37-mile defensive parameter.
Fort Ethan Allen
The fort was strategically located on high ground between Pimmit Run and Gulf Branch, a natural ravine. Surrounding land was cleared of trees to open sight lines in all directions.
Fort Marcy also protected Chain Bridge, while it and Fort Ethan Allen protected each other. Ditches and rifle pits connected the two forts and their fields overlapped.
The strategic importance of Chain Bridge was reflected in the degree of protection it received on both sides of the Potomac.
Location. 38° 55.419′ N, 77° 7.463′ W. Marker is in Arlington, Virginia, in Arlington County. Marker is on North Strafford Street east of North Old Glebe Road, on the right when traveling west. 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 are within walking distance of this marker. A Defensive Stronghold, Heavily Armed A Bastion-Style Fort Is a Mighty Fortress (here, next to this marker); Fort Ethan Allen (within shouting distance of this marker); A Defensive Artillery Fort (within shouting distance of this marker); The View in 1865 (within shouting distance of this marker); Saegmuller Public School (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Protecting the Fort (about 400 feet away); Lives of the Soldiers (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Arlington.
Categories. • Bridges & Viaducts • Forts, Castles • War, US Civil •
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Credits. This page was last revised on April 23, 2019. This page originally submitted on January 27, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 74 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on January 27, 2019, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 3, 4, 5. submitted on April 20, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 6. submitted on April 21, 2019, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.