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    Civil War Defenses of Washington

    District of Columbia

Fort Stanton

Secretary of War Stanton

Fort Stanton was named in honor of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Stanton resigned from this position in May 1868 and returned to his private practice as a lawyer. His wish to sit on the Supreme Court appeared to be fulfilled when President Grant appointed him and the Senate confirmed him on the same day, December 20. 1868. He died, however, four days later in Washington, D.C.

Photo Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Construction of Fort Stanton was begun in September 1861 to defend the Navy Yard. By October 22, the fort was completed and platforms were laid for ten 32-pounders, though none of the guns had been received. Fort Stanton's perimeter of 322 yards was to be armed with 18 guns. A garrison of 483 men would man the fort. By February 1862, the fort was fully gunned and garrisoned by companies of the 4th New York Heavy Artillery Regiment and the 88th Pennsylvania Infantry.

On June 23, 1865, General Order 89, listed Fort Stanton as a second level fortification and needed for defense of the city. By July, however, Fort Stanton was abandoned and material within it sold to the highest bidder.

Did You Know?

map of WDC and Atlantic Coastal Plain and Piedmont Plateau

The Civil War Defenses of Washington exist because of geology and topography. The strategic high ground where the fortifications are located stretches between two considerably different geologic terrains: the Piedmont Plateau to the north and west and the Atlantic Coastal Plain to the east.