Fort Reno (1)

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Fort Reno (1) (1861-1866) - A Union U.S. Civil War fort originally constructed in 1861 as Fort Pennsylvania by the 119th Pennsylvania Regiment in Northwest Washington, DC. It was renamed in 1863 after Major General Jesse Lee Reno, (Cullum 1279), who was killed at the Battle of South Mountain in 1862. Abandoned in 1866 after the end of the war.

Fort Reno Site Marker with Washington DC Water Towers in Background
Fort Reno NPS Marker
Fort Reno Trace Overlaid on Current Streets

History of Fort Reno (1)

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

The fort with its reinforced earthworks along the 39th Street side mounted three Parrott siege guns, nine 27-pounder barbette guns and had a contingent of up to 3,000 men. It was the largest fort of those surrounding Washington.

Fort Reno (Pennsylvania) Plan 1862

Fort Reno saw action on July 10-12, 1864, when Robert E. Lee, (Cullum 542), sent 22,000 Confederates led by General Jubal A. Early, (Cullum 908), against the 9,000 Union troops defending Washington DC, (Ulysses S. Grant, (Cullum 1187), had depleted the Union defenses for his siege of Petersburg). The Confederates ironically attacked from the north in Maryland. The initial warnings came from Fort Reno lookouts spying movement by Rockville, Maryland. The attack itself was directed about 4 miles to the east across Rock Creek at Fort Stevens. The ensuing battle was known as "the Battle of Fort Stevens."

The battle for the most part was fought just across the District line in Maryland. Fort Reno's guns were used sparingly for fear of dropping shells on the Union side. However, one 100 pound shell from Reno is reported to have killed 4 Confederates near the present Bethesda Naval Hospital almost due north of the peak.

Abraham Lincoln watched the battle on July 12 from Fort Stevens - the only time in the Civil War in which he was actually at an ongoing battle. Union troops were able to regroup from other skirmishes in Maryland and repelled the attack.

Fort Reno & Battery Reno Detailed Plan

A 17 May 1864 report from the Union Inspector of Artillery noted the following: "Fort Reno, Col. Lewis O. Morris commanding.–Garrison, four companies Seventh New York Heavy Artillery–21 commissioned officers, 1 ordnance-sergeant, 602 men. Armament, nine 24-pounder barbette, one 24-pounder F. D. howitzer, two 8-inch siege howitzers, two Coehorn mortars, two 10-inch mortars, four 30-pounder Parrotts, one 100-pounder Parrott. Magazines, two; dry and serviceable. Ammunition, full supply and serviceable. Implements, complete and serviceable. Drill in artillery, indifferent; wants improving much. Drill in infantry, very indifferent; wants more energy and attention in the commanding officers. Discipline, too loose for efficiency. Garrison is ample strength."

The fort was abandoned in 1866 after the end of the war.

Current Status

No visible remains, several markers located in Fort Reno Park in Northwest Washington, DC.

USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 531620

Location: 39th and Fessenden, Northwest Washington, DC.

Maps & Images

Lat: 38.952768, Long: -77.077804

See Also:



Visited: 26 May 2013

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