Fort Willard

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Fort Willard (1862-1865) - A U.S. Civil War Fort first established in 1862 near present day Alexandria in Fairfax County, Virginia. Originally Redoubt D near Fort Lyon and later named Fort Willard on 4 Sep 1863 after Colonel George L. Willard who was killed at Gettysburg 2 Jul 1863. Abandoned in 1865 at the end of the War.

History of Fort Willard

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

Fort Willard Development Plan

Fort Willard 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.

Established late in 1862 overlooking the low ground along the Potomac River as a six sided redoubt with a ditch and parapet facing to the south and open to the north. The fort had a perimeter of 240 yards containing emplacements for 15 guns, a bombproof and magazine. Two detached batteries protected the flanks. Outbuildings included three barracks, NCO Quarters a guardhouse and officer's quarters.

A 17 May 1864 report from the Union Inspector of Artillery noted the following: "Fort Willard, Major Abell commanding.–Garrison, three companies Tenth New York Heavy Artillery–11 commissioned officers, 1 ordnance-sergeant, 358 men. Armament, two 12- pounder field howitzers, four 6-pounder James, four 4_-inch ordnance, two 24-pounder siege guns (smooth), two 24-pounder Coehorn mortars, two 10- inch siege mortars. Magazines, one; dry and in good order. Ammunition, full supply and in good order. Implements, complete and serviceable. Drill in artillery, ordinary: needs improving. Drill in infantry, very indifferent; needs much improving. Discipline, indifferent. Garrison is of sufficient strength."

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

Current Status

Two markers and earthworks remains at Fort Willard Park in Fairfax County, Virginia. A reproduction cannon is in place. The remains of a magazine and cannon platforms can still be seen. The trace of the fort is almost entirely enclosed within Fort Willard Circle with the main entrance located where Woodmont Road intersects the circle.

USGS Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Database Entry: 1492971

Location: Alexandria, Fairfax County, Virginia.

Maps & Images

Lat: 38.78278 Long: -77.06639

  • Multi Maps from ACME
  • Maps from Bing
  • Maps from Google
  • Elevation: 148'

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