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

Fort C.F. Smith

Defending the Capital

Fort C.F. Smith Civil War Trails Marker image. Click for full size.
February 2, 2008
1. Fort C.F. Smith Civil War Trails Marker
Inscription. Fort C.F. Smith was constructed in early 1863 as part of the expansion and strengthening of the capitalís defenses that continued throughout the Civil War. With Forts Strong, Morton and Woodbury, Fort C.F. Smith formed the outer perimeter of the fortifications that protected the Aqueduct Bridge of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (located near the site of the present-day Francis Scott Key Bridge). Fort C.F. Smith was built as a lunette with a southern and western face and two flanks, as well as a cremaillere line on the north side to protect it from attack up the ravines from the river. A road that crossed Spout Run and proceeded up the hill to Fort Strong entered Fort C.F. Smith from the east. To provide clear lines of fire for this and adjacent forts, all of the trees for miles around were cut down, and much of the lumber was used in the construction of the fortifications and support structures.

Fort C.F. Smith was built complete with barracks, mess halls, kitchens, officersí quarters, a barn and a headquarters building. When the fort was decommissioned in 1865, all of these accessory buildings were removed. No visible above-ground evidence of these buildings remains today.

(Sidebar): Charles Ferguson Smith was born in Philadelphia on April 24, 1807, and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1825. Later, while
Close Up of the Fort Plan and Map of Defenses image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, November 22, 2009
2. Close Up of the Fort Plan and Map of Defenses
he was commandant there, two of his students were Ulysses S. Grant and William T. Sherman. Smith also fought in the Mexican War (1846-1848) and, after the outbreak of the Civil War, was promoted to brigadier general. On February 15, 1862, during Gen. Ulysses S. Grantís siege of Fort Donelson, Tennessee, Smithís division breached the defenses and prompted the Confederate surrender. When Grant was asked for terms, Smith suggested “unconditional and immediate surrender,” a phrase that made “Unconditional Surrender Grant” famous throughout the North. Smith, promoted to major general on March 21, 1862, temporarily commanded the army when Grant was accused of drunkenness. Smith died on April 25, 1862, after a seemingly minor non-combatant injury.
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, the Defenses of Washington, and the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 38° 54.08′ N, 77° 5.307′ W. Marker is in Arlington, Virginia, in Arlington County. Marker can be reached from 24th Street North. Touch for map. Marker is in Fort C.F. Smith Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2411 24th Street North, Arlington VA 22207, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of
Fort C.F. Smith Marker image. Click for full size.
February 2, 2008
3. Fort C.F. Smith Marker
Looking South
this marker. A different marker also named Fort C.F. Smith (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Fort C.F. Smith (about 700 feet away); a different marker also named Fort C.F. Smith (about 800 feet away); The Dawson-Bailey House (approx. 0.3 miles away); The Dawson-Bailey Spring Site (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Bay-Eva Castle Site (approx. 0.4 miles away); Fort Strong (approx. 0.4 miles away); Maywood (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Arlington.
More about this marker. On the lower left of marker is a photo captioned "Fort C.F. Smith Headquarters, 2nd New York, August, 1865 -Courtesy Library of Congress" and on the upper right is a photo of Charles Ferguson Smith. The marker also features a sketch captioned "Barnard Sketch of Fort C.F. Smith" and a map captioned "Barnard topographic map showing northwest portions of the Arlington Line (1871).
Also see . . .  Walking Tour. Fort C.F. Smith Park Walking Tour Brochure (345k) PDF (Submitted on February 2, 2008.) 
Categories. Forts, CastlesWar, US Civil
Officers at Fort C. F. Smith image. Click for full size.
4. Officers at Fort C. F. Smith
"Officers of Company F, 2d New York Artillery at Fort C. F. Smith." (Civil War photographs, 1861-1865 / compiled by Hirst D. Milhollen and Donald H. Mugridge, Washington, D.C. : Library of Congress, 1977. No. 0763)
Fort Well image. Click for full size.
February 2, 2008
5. Fort Well
This shallow crater is the remains of a Civil War era well dug to provide water to the fort.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 2, 2008. This page has been viewed 1,695 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on February 2, 2008.   2. submitted on January 9, 2010, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.   3. submitted on February 2, 2008.   4. submitted on February 9, 2008.   5. submitted on February 2, 2008. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
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