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MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Alexandria, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Fort Ward

1861-1865

 
 
Fort Ward Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 1, 2008
1. Fort Ward Marker
Inscription. On May 24, 1861, when Virginia's secession from the Union became effective, Federal forces immediately occupied Northern Virginia to protect the City of Washington, D.C. After the Confederate victory at the Battle of First Bull Run (First Manassas) in July 1861, the Federal government began construction of a defense system to guard the Union capital. By the end of the war in 1865, the Defenses of Washington consisted of 162 forts and batteries, with emplacements for 1,421 guns.

The initial construction of Fort Ward was completed in September 1861. The fort was built to protect the approaches to Union-occupied Alexandria via the Leesburg Turnpike (King Street) and Little River Turnpike (Duke Street).

By late 1864, the perimeter of the earthwork fort had been enlarged from 540 yards and 24 gun positions to 818 yards and 36 guns. Fort Ward was the fifth largest stronghold in the Defenses of Washington and was considered a model of 19th-century military design and engineering. The fort was named for Commander James Harmon Ward, the first Union naval officer to die in the Civil War. It ws dismantled by December 1865.

Defenses of Washington
The only battle fought in the Defenses of Washington occurred in July 1864, when General Jubal A. Early's Confederate forces attacked Fort Stevens, located approximately seven
Wayside along the Walkway to the Fort Musuem image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 1, 2008
2. Wayside along the Walkway to the Fort Musuem
miles north of the White House.

At the end of the Civil War, the forts and batteries were dismantled and the materials sold at auction. Fort Foote, the last remaining earthwork fort in the Defenses, was deactivated in 1878.

Today, extant remains of many of these fortifications can still be found. The above map shows the 37-mile network of Union forts that protected the Federal Capital. The Defenses of Washington was the most extensive fortification system constructed in the Western Hemisphere.
 
Erected by City of Alexandria.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Defenses of Washington marker series.
 
Location. 38° 49.767′ N, 77° 6.114′ W. Marker is in Alexandria, Virginia. Marker can be reached from West Braddock Road, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Located between the parking lot and the museum at Fort Ward Historic Site. Marker is at or near this postal address: 4301 West Braddock Road, Alexandria VA 22304, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Entrance Gate to Fort Ward (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Fort Ward (within shouting distance of this marker); Bombproof
Park Headquartes and Museum image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 1, 2008
3. Park Headquartes and Museum
The building is patterned after the military headquarters building, but is of modern construction.
(within shouting distance of this marker); The Oakland Baptist Church (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Fort Ward (about 300 feet away); Oakland Baptist Church Cemetery (about 300 feet away); Within Its Walls (about 400 feet away); Southwest Bastion (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Alexandria.
 
More about this marker. On the left below the title is an engineering diagram of the main part of Fort Ward. On the right above the Defenses of Washington section is a map showing the fortification chain around Washington, D.C. A small caption in the center states, Please help preserve Fort Ward for future generations by walking only on designated pathways. Climbing upon the fragile earthen walls of the fort is very destructive to the site.
 
Also see . . .  Fort Ward Historic Site. (Submitted on May 8, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
 
Categories. Forts, CastlesWar, US Civil
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 8, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,154 times since then and 41 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on May 8, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
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