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Fort Washington in Prince George's County, Maryland — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Fort Washington Park

 
 
Fort Washington Park "You are here." image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, January 5, 2008
1. Fort Washington Park "You are here."
Inscription. Fort Washington Park is the site of the first permanent fort constructed between 1814-1824 to guard the Potomac River approach to our Nation's Capital. Today the park offers many recreational opportunities and programs. Explore the historic sites and enjoy the natural areas of this 341-acre reserve.
 
Erected by National Park Service - U.S, Department of the Interior.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Defenses of Washington marker series.
 
Location. 38° 42.776′ N, 77° 1.924′ W. Marker is in Fort Washington, Maryland, in Prince George's County. Marker is on Fort Washington Road, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. The park is south of Washington, D.C. on the east bank of the Potomac River, opposite Fort Hunt Park and the George Washington Parkway on the west (Virginia) bank. From the Capital Beltway (I-95/495), take Indian Head Highway (Md. 210) south to Fort Washington Road and follow National Park Service signs west to the park entrance. Marker is at or near this postal address: 13551 Fort Washington Road, Fort Washington MD 20744, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Battery Decatur and Disappearing Guns (within shouting distance of this marker);
Entrance to the "second fort," completed in 1824 . image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, January 5, 2008
2. Entrance to the "second fort," completed in 1824 .
One in a system of masonry coastal fortifications erected prior to the Civil War, this was the only such "permanent" fortification protecting the National Capital until 1872. Its original 24 pounder cannon could effectively control the narrow river passage. Reinforced with 32 pounders during the Civil War, it was never challenged by the Confederate Navy.
Capital Guardian (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Capital Guardian (about 300 feet away); a different marker also named Capital Guardian (about 300 feet away); Main Gateway (about 700 feet away); The Northwest Demi-Bastion (about 800 feet away); “Warburton Manor” (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Water Battery (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fort Washington.
 
More about this marker. The marker is inside the park on the path between the main parking lot and the visitor center.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Fort Washington Park virtual tour by markers.
 
Also see . . .
1. Civil War Defenses of Washington. (Submitted on January 6, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. (Submitted on January 6, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
Draw bridge viewed from northeast dry moat. image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, January 5, 2008
3. Draw bridge viewed from northeast dry moat.

3. Fort Washington. National Park Service site on the Fort. (Submitted on January 6, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.) 

4. Firing a 32-Pdr Seacoast Gun. YouTube video of the firing of a 32-pdr seacoast gun at Fort Delaware. Similar pieces armed Fort Washington prior to and during the Civil War. (Submitted on January 6, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.) 
 
Additional comments.
1. Fort Washington in the Civil War
From "Mr. Lincoln's Forts: A Guide to the Civil War Defenses of Washington," by Benjamin Franklin Cooling III and Walton H. Owen II:

The initial design of the fort was drafted by Pierre L'Enfant, better known for his layout of Washington, D.C. At the start of the Civil War the fort was in caretaker status, and not manned. Fearing southern sympathizers would overtake the fort (and thus blockade the capital city), a detachment of forty Marines were sent to garrison the fort on January 5, 1861. Later in the war detachments of regular U.S. Artillery batteries served at the fort.

After the Civil War, the fort was again abandoned. In 1896 the site was reactivated and used as the center once again for the defenses of Washington. Six 10-inch disappearing guns sat in concrete fortifications
Potomac River passage. View toward Fort Hunt Park on Virginia shore. image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, January 5, 2008
4. Potomac River passage. View toward Fort Hunt Park on Virginia shore.
around the old masonry fortification. The Fort linked in with similar installations at Fort Leslie J. McNair and Fort Myer (Arlington National Cemetery). Only after World War II were military operations ceased at the site.
    — Submitted January 6, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.

 
Categories. Forts, CastlesNatural FeaturesNotable EventsWar of 1812War, Spanish-AmericanWar, US CivilWar, World IWar, World IIWaterways & Vessels
 
Interior of fort, seen from northwest ramparts. image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, January 5, 2008
5. Interior of fort, seen from northwest ramparts.
Civil War era gun mounts long abandoned, but a single 24 pounder cannon remains on display in background.
View looking north toward Washington, D.C. image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, January 5, 2008
6. View looking north toward Washington, D.C.
The abandoned gun mounts in the foreground belonged to the fort's "Water Battery", the lowest of its three gun tiers during the mid-1800s. The inlet to Swan Creek is off to the right.
The face of Fort Washington from the river's edge. image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, January 5, 2008
7. The face of Fort Washington from the river's edge.
Fort Washington's Waterside Trail image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, January 5, 2008
8. Fort Washington's Waterside Trail
The waterside woodland ecology of Fort Washington Park and associated recreational-educational opportunities.
"Warburton Manor" - the Digges plantation image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, January 5, 2008
9. "Warburton Manor" - the Digges plantation
The "first fort" (Fort Warburton, a stockade with 13 guns, located somewhere below the site of the existing fort) was erected on Digges's property in 1807. It was abandoned by its defenders when a Royal Navy squadron approached in August 1814, days after a British force (marching overland from the Patuxent River) routed the Americans and burned the National Capitol. Note the deteriorating concrete structure in the background of the photo, one of eight, modern "Endicott System" batteries erected inland from the second fort and active from the 1880s until 1921 when coast artillery operations ceased and Fort Washington became home to the 12th U.S. Infantry Regiment and other units until it was closed entirely in 1946.
Fort Washington viewed from the George Washington Parkway near Fort Hunt Park, Virginia image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller
10. Fort Washington viewed from the George Washington Parkway near Fort Hunt Park, Virginia
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on January 5, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 2,462 times since then and 67 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on January 5, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on January 6, 2008, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   10. submitted on August 17, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
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