On forested hills surrounding the nation’s capital are the remnants of a complex system of Civil War fortifications. Built by Union forces, these strategic buttresses transformed the young capital into one of the world's most fortified cities. These forts remain as windows into the past in the midst of D.C.’s urban green space, offering recreational, cultural, and natural experiences.
|Civil War Defenses Fort Circle Parks:|
Fort Greble & Battery Carroll
Fort DupontFort Bunker Hill
Fort Totten & Fort Slocum
Battleground National Cemetery
Fort Bayard at Boundary Park
Fort Circle Park Trail
In 1860, the Union capital, Washington, D.C., was a sleepy city of approximately 62,000 residents. The city sat almost completely unprotected, with Fort Washington, the lone fortification, being 12 miles south. Virginia, a Confederate state, lay on one side of the city, and Maryland, a slave-owning state, was on the other, leaving Washington dangerously vulnerable. Realizing the potential danger the city faced, the Union army constructed additional fortifications for the city. By 1865, the Defenses of Washington included 68 forts, supported by 93 detached batteries for field guns, 20 miles of rifle pits, and covered ways, wooden blockhouses at three key points, 32 miles of military roads, several stockaded bridgeheads, and four picket stations. Along the circumference of the 37-mile circle of fortifications were emplacements for a total of 1501 field and siege guns of which 807 guns and 98 mortars were in place. The defenseless city of 1860 had become one of the most heavily fortified cities of the world.
Not only did the defenses serve their purpose well by deterring Confederate attack on the capital, but they impacted the city culturally, socially, and politically. For example, many enslaved people came to the fort system for protection and settled nearby, changing the cultural landscape of the city. The population doubled in less than five years and changed in character from southern origin to northern newcomers.
The physical landscape was drastically affected, as well. Miles and miles of trees and many buildings were razed to construct the defense system--creating a fort-capped circle around the city. -NPS
Fort Circle Park Trail >
Civil War Defenses/Fort
Fort Foote | Fort Greble & Battery Carroll | Fort Stanton | Fort Dupont | Fort Bunker Hill | Fort Totten & Fort Slocum | Fort Stevens | Battleground National Cemetery | Fort Reno | Fort Bayard at Boundary Park | Battery Kemble | Fort Marcy | Fort Circle Park Trail
Official NPS website of National Capital Parks - East
All parks alphabetically
A Abraham Lincoln Birthplace NHS|Acadia NP|Adams NHS|Agate Fossil Beds NM|Agua Fria NM|Allegheny Portage Railroad NHS|Anacostia Park|Andrew Johnson NHS|Antietam NB|Appomattox Court House NHP|Arches NP|Arlington National Cemetery|Aztec Ruins NM
NM|Big Bend NP|Big
C Cabrillo NM|Cane River Creole NHP|Cane River NHA|Canyon de Chelly NM|Canyonlands NP|Canyon of the Ancients NM|Cape Cod NS|Capital Building of USA|Capitol Reef NP|Capulin Volcano NM|Carl Sandburg Home NHS|Carlsbad Caverns NP|Carrizo Plain NM|Casa Grande NM|Carter G Woodson Home NHS|Cascade-Siskiyou NM|Castle Clinton NM|Catoctin Mountain Park|Cedar Breaks NM|Chaco Canyon NHP|Chamizal NM|Channel Islands NP|Charles Pinckney NHS|Chesapeake & Ohio Canal NHP|Chickamauga & Chattanooga NMP|Chimney Rock NHS|Chiricahua NM|City of Rocks NP|Civil War Defenses of WA (Fort Circle)|Clara Barton NHS|Claude Moore Farm|Colonial NHP|Colorado NM|Congaree NP|Constitution Park|Coronado NM|Cowpens NB|Crater Lake NP|Craters of the Moon NM|Cumberland Gap NHP|Cumberland Island NS|Cuyahoga Valley NP
F FDR Memorial|Fire Island NS|Flaming Gorge NRA|Flight 93 NM|Florissant Fossil Beds NM|Fort Bowie NM|Fort Circle Parks|Fort Foote Park|Fort Laramie NHS|Fort Larnard NHS|Fort McHenry NMS|Fort Necessity NB|Fort Pulaski|Fort Scott NHS|Fort Stanwix NM|Fort Sumter NM|Fort Union NM|Fort Vancouver NHS|Fort Washington|Fossil Butte NM|Frederick Douglass NHS|Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania NHP|Fredrick Law Olmsted NHS|Friendship Hill NHS
G Gateway NRA|George Washington Birthplace N.M.|George Washington Carver NHS|George Washington Parkway|Gettysburg NMP|Glacier NP|Glen Canyon NRA|Glen Echo Park|Gloria Dei (Old Swedes' Church) NHS|Golden Gate NRA|Golden Spike NHS|Giant Sequoia NM|Gila Cliff Dwellings NM|Glacier NP|Grand Canyon NP|Grand Canyon/Parashant NM|Grand Portage NM|Grand Staircase/Escalante NM|Grand Teton NP|Grant Kohrs Ranch NHS|Great Basin N P|Great Sand Dunes NP|Great Smokey Mountains NP|Guadalupe Mountains NP|Guilford Courthouse NMP
H-I Hagerman Fossil Bed NM|Hampton NHS|Hanford Reach NM|Harmony Hall|Harpers Ferry NHP|Harry S Truman NHS|Hells Canyon NRA|Herbert Hoover NHS|Hohokam-Pima NM|Homestead NM|Hopewell Culture NHP|Hot Springs NP|Hovenweep NM|Hubble Trading Post NHS|Independence NHP|Ironwood NM
J-K James A Garfield NHS|Jean Lafitte NHP|Jefferson Memorial Jewel Cave NM|John Day Fossil Bed NM|John F Kennedy NHS|John Muir NHS|Johnstown Flood NM|Joshua Tree NP|Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks NM|Kenilworth Park|Kings Canyon NP|Kings Mountain NMP|Klondike Gold Rush NHP
M Maggie L Walker NHS|Mammoth Cave NP|Manassas NB|Manzanar NM|Marsh Billings Rockefeller NHP|Martin Luther King NHS|Meridian Hill Park|Mesa Verde NP|Minidoka Internment NM|Minute Man NHP|Minuteman Missile NHS|Mojave NP|Monocacy NB|Montezuma Castle NM|Morristown NHP|Mount Rainier NP|Mount Rushmore NM|Mount St. Helens NM|Muir Woods NM
P Padre Island NS|Palo Alto Battlefield NHS|Pecos NHP|Peirce Mill|Petersburg NB|Petrified Forest NP|Petroglyph NM|Pentagon NM|Pinnacles NM|Pipe Spring NM|Pipestone NM|Piscataway Park|Point Reyes NS|Port of Chicago NM|Poverty Point NM
S Sagamore Hill NHS|Saguaro NP|Saint-Gaudens NHS|Salem Maritime NHS|Salinas Pueblo Missions NM|San Antonio Missions NHP|San Francisco Maritime NHP|San Juan NHP|San Juan Island NHP|Santa Monica Mountains NRA|Santa Rosa - San Jacinto Mountains NM|Saratoga NHP|Saugus Iron Works NHS|Scott's Bluff NM|Sequoia NP|Shenandoah NP|Silos & Smokestacks NHA|Sonora Desert NM|Stanwix NM|Statue of Liberty NM|Stones River NB|Sunset Crater NM
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