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Alexandria, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Northwest Bastion

 
 
Northwest Bastion Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 1, 2008
1. Northwest Bastion Marker
Inscription. The plan of Fort Ward consisted of five bastions with positions for 36 guns. The Northwest Bastion illustrates how the entire stronghold appeared in 1864. This bastion is armed with six reproduction weapons based on Fort Ward's original table of armament: three 4.5" Rodman rifled guns (#14,16,17), two 24-pounder smoothbore Howitzers (#13, 15), and one 6-pounder James Rifle (#12).

The cannons worked in concert to sweep the field toward Little River Turnpike (Duke Street) to the south, and Leesburg Turnpike (King Street) to the north. Artillery crews in teams of 5-7 men were assigned to each gun position. Infantrymen were stationed along the ledge (banquette) between the gun platforms.

A rifle trench extended from the point of this bastion to an outlying gun battery.

The Northwest Bastion was restored by the City of Alexandria, 1961-64.
 
Erected by City of Alexandria.
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Defenses of Washington marker series.
 
Location. 38° 49.847′ N, 77° 6.141′ W. Marker is in Alexandria, Virginia. Marker is on West Braddock Road. Touch for map. Located in 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.
Northwest Bastion Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 1, 2008
2. Northwest Bastion Marker
At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Powder Magazine and Filling Room (a few steps from this marker); Profile of Fort (within shouting distance of this marker); Fort Ward (within shouting distance of this marker); Bombproof (within shouting distance of this marker); Rifle Trench (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); a different marker also named Fort Ward (about 500 feet away); The Oakland Baptist Church (about 500 feet away); Southwest Bastion (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Alexandria.
 
More about this marker. On the lower half of the marker is a illustration of the operations of Civil War era artillery. Numbers reference the crew members manning the gun. The precise art of firing a cannon was the result of a skilled team effort. A well-drilled gun crew, consisting of 7 men plus gunner, could fire a field cannon 2-3 rounds per minute.
LOAD 6 & 7 cut fuses and distribute rounds to 5 who carries them to 2. 1 sponges barrel. 2 puts round in gun. 1 rams round into barrel while 3 closes vent with thumbstall.

READY 1 & 2 step clear. 3 pricks cartridge with priming wire. 4 hoods lanyard to primer, puts primer in vent and moves to the rear.

FIRE 3 steps clear. 4 pulls lanyard and fires gun.

An engineering plan of the fort on the upper right
Reproduction 4.5 Inch Rifled Cannon image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 1, 2008
3. Reproduction 4.5 Inch Rifled Cannon
This gun is retracted to the rear, in traveling position. During normal operation, the trunnions were placed in the seats on top of the carriage.
indicates the gun positions in blue. A blue line extending from the fort indicates the location of infantry trenches.

A chart on the lower right indicates Range of Fire at Maximum Elevation of the weapons in the bastion. A 4.5" Rodman weighed 9,700 lbs and fired a 25-30 lb. projectile with a 3.25 lb powder charge to a range of 1.75 miles. A 24-pounder Howitzer weighed 1,380 lbs and fired a 24 lb projectile with 2 lbs of powder to 0.75 miles. A 6-pdr James weighed 884 lbs and fired a 6 lb projectile with 1.25 lbs of powder to 1 mile.
 
Also see . . .  Fort Ward Historic Site. (Submitted on May 15, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
 
Additional comments.
1. Rodman Gun
The 4.5-inch Siege Gun Model 1861 is often incorrectly, as is in this marker's text, attributed to the Army ordnance officer Thomas J. Rodman. Rodman is not known to have any direct connection to this weapon's design or construction.
    — Submitted May 15, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.

 
Categories. Forts, CastlesWar, US Civil
 
Reproduction 24-pdr Howitzer image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 1, 2008
4. Reproduction 24-pdr Howitzer
Reproduction 6-pdr James Rifle image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, March 1, 2008
5. Reproduction 6-pdr James Rifle
The 6-pdr James rifle was based on the Model 1841 6-pdr smoothbore.
The Northwest Bastion image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain
6. The Northwest Bastion
During the Civil War, the fort overlooked open ground to the west.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on May 15, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 2,384 times since then and 47 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on May 15, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.
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