Fort Farnsworth

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Fort Farnsworth (1862-1865) - A U.S. Civil War Fort first established as Redoubt B of Fort Lyon in 1862 in present day Alexandria, Fairfax County, Virginia. Named Fort Farnsworth in September 1863 after Brigadier General Elon J. Farnsworth, 8th Illinois Cavalry, who was killed at Gettysburg on 3 Jul 1863. Abandoned in 1865 at the end of the war.

History of Fort Farnsworth

One of the ring of Union fortifications surrounding Washington DC during the U.S. Civil War, see Washington DC Fort Ring.

Fort Farnsworth was also one of 33 forts on the Virginia side of the Potomac River that made up an outer defense line for Washington DC known as the Arlington Line.

Established in 1862 as one of four redoubts in advance of Fort Lyon. After the battle at Gettysburg all four redoubts were were renamed for Union officers killed at that battle. The four newly created forts were Fort Weed, Fort Farnsworth, Fort O'Rourke and Fort Willard. Together with Fort Lyon these forts created a line across the southern approaches to the city of Alexandria.

Fort Farnsworth (originally Redoubt B of Fort Lyon (3)|Fort Lyon]]) was built by elements of the 34th Massachusetts Infantry under the direction of Captain William Bacon. The original redoubt was built with a perimeter of 255 yards enclosing one magazine, a bombproof and emplacements for 13 guns. Armament included four 24 pounders, two 12 pounder howitzers, four 4.5 inch ordnance rifles (2 vacant platforms).

A 17 May 1864 report from the Union Inspector of Artillery noted the following: "Fort Farnsworth, Major Campbell commanding.–Garrison, one company Tenth New York Heavy Artillery– 3 commissioned officers, 1 ordnance-sergeant, 128 men. Armament, two 12- pounder field howitzers (smooth), four 4-inch ordnance (rifled), four 24-pounder siege guns (smooth). Magazines, one; dry and in good order. Ammunition, full supply and good condition. Implements, complete and in good order. Drill in artillery, ordinary; needs improving. Drill in infantry, very indifferent; wants labor and attention to become efficient. Discipline, indifferent. Garrison of sufficient strength."

The fort was abandoned in 1865 at the end of the war.

Current Status

No remains

USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 1492962

Location: Alexandria, Fairfax County, Virginia.

Maps & Images

Lat: 38.78861 Long: -77.07361

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  • Elevation: 167'

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