Month: April 2015
Before beginning this project, I had never heard of the Fort Circle Parks. It is a 37-mile-long arrangement of fortifications that encircle the capital. They consist of 68 forts, 20 miles of rifle pits, and are connected by 32 miles of roads. Fort Stevens is one of those forts, built to defend the main approach to Washington from the north – 7th Street Pike (now Georgia Avenue).
In the 1900s, there was a plan to buy up land connecting all of the forts and create a green ring of parks and trails around Washington DC. Although not fully realized, there were some efforts made (and continue to be made) to realize the McMillan Plan. Today, nineteen of the fort sites are administered by the National Park Service, while four are administered by other local and state governments.
The video below is from a fantastic panel at the National Archives from 2014:
During the Civil War, the Union army constructed a series of earthen defenses in and around Washington to protect the nation’s capital from attack. The defeat of Confederate forces at one of these―Fort Stevens―helped keep Washington in Union control. Dr. B. Franklin Cooling, historian, author, and Professor of History, National Defense University, and Loretta Neumann, Vice President, Alliance to Preserve the Civil War Defenses of Washington, will discuss the development of Washington’s Civil War forts, their role in the war, and their ensuing transformation into the public parks and cultural resources known as the Fort Circle Parks. This program is presented in partnership with the National Capital Planning Commission and will function as the kick-off for the official commemoration of the 150th anniversary of The Battle of Fort Stevens.
For more information check out the Alliance to Preserve the Civil War Defenses of Washington.