• !5-inch Rodman Cannon

    Civil War Defenses of Washington

    District of Columbia

Fort Chaplin

Colonel Daniel Chaplin

Fort Chaplin is named after Col. Daniel Chaplin. He was commander of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery when he was struck down by a bullet from a Confederate sharpshooter at Deep Bottom, Virginia, on August 17, 1864. He died from his wound three days later, August 20.

Photo Courtesy of www.taylorsbattery.org

Construction of Fort Chaplin began in 1864. Its function was to cover the flank of Fort Mahan and force an enemy to detour around Fort Meigs by prolonging the obstructed line to that fortification. The work was never fully armed nor was it garrisoned, but it was a relatively important fortification. Colonel Barton S. Alexander, the second Chief of Defenses, placed it among the second class of fortifications for purposes of retention. He believed that it occupied a position "which must be held when the city is threatened by a land attack."

The work was completed in 1864 and had 12 gun emplacements. Eleven of them were empty and a single 24-pounder siege gun mounted and set in position (en barbette) was the fort's sole armament.

Fort Chaplin has a perimeter about 225 yards and was built at the altitude of approximately 180 feet. There were no buildings at the site when the army turned it over to the original land owner, Selby B. Scaggs, in the summer of 1865.

Did You Know?

Denis Hart Mahan

The design for the Defenses of Washington was based on a textbook published in 1836 called A TREATISE ON FIELD FORTIFICATIONS, by Dennis Hart Mahan. Mahan was a professor of civil and military engineering at West Point.