Fort Hunt in Fairfax County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
The Last Defense
óFort Hunt ó
British warships took advantage of the width and depth of the Potomac River to sail up from the Chesapeake Bay during the War of 1812. Existing defenses were too weak to stop them from shelling Alexandria.
Aware that the nationís Capitol was still vulnerable 73 years later, President Grover Cleveland ordered Secretary of War William C. Endicott to evaluate the nationís coastal defenses.
The military decided to build coastal artillery batteries on both sides of this bend in the Potomac, one at Fort Washington – visible across the river – and another at Fort Hunt – located just uphill from this point.
In 1898 the Spanish-American War broke out, and work on the two forts was accelerated as a defense against the formidable Spanish navy. The forts could fire upon enemy naval forces up to three miles down the Potomac.
A minefield was added in between the forts to force ships to slow down and stay within firing range.
No hostile shots were fired from either fort during the war. Both forts were abandoned by the military and given to the National Park Service in the 1930s.
[Two line renderings of the Potomac River Valley south of Washington, D.C. ]
The Spanish-American War era maps to the right show the detailed planning involved to prevent an invasion
In the 1897 map to the far right, arcs and red lines mark the firing ranges of each fort.
Key Sites along the Potomac:
1 Washington, D.C.
2 Alexandria, Virginia
3 Fort Hunt
4 Fort Washington
5 Mount Vernon
The American military issued a passcode (above) of red and white lanterns to avoid firing on friendly ships at night.
Copy of a daily passcode order:
Fort Washington, Md.
July, 9th, 1898.
Countersign: Balls Bluff
By order of Lt.Col. Mechling.
[signed:] Percy Dalihyner
2nd Lt., Pa. Vol. Inf.
Erected 2011 by George Washington Memorial Highway - National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Location. 38° 43.023′ N, 77° 2.682′ W. Marker is in Fort Hunt, Virginia, in Fairfax County. Marker is at the intersection of George Washington Parkway and Fort Hunt Road, on the right when traveling north on George Washington Parkway. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Alexandria VA 22308, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Fort Washington—The Capitalís Guardian Protecting America's Legacy (approx. 0.2 miles away); Battery Sater (approx. 0.2 miles away); Beyond What You See Today (approx. 0.4 miles away); Fort Hunt Park (approx. 0.4 miles away); People and the Land (approx. 0.4 miles away); P.O. Box 1142 (approx. 0.4 miles away); Civilian Conservation Corps (approx. 0.4 miles away).
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
Also see . . .
1. Fort Hunt, VA. (Submitted on August 16, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Fort Hunt Park. U.S. Historic District - U.S. National Register of Historic Places (Submitted on August 16, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
3. Board of Fortifications (Endicott Board). (Submitted on August 16, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
Additional keywords. Battery Robinson; Battery Slater; Battery Porter;
Categories. • Forts, Castles • War, Spanish-American • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 15, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 537 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 16, 2011, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.