Fort Nonsense

Fort Nonsense (HM1F37)

Location: North, VA 23128 Mathews County
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 28.015', W 76° 26.678'

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Smart's Mill/North End Mill Fortifications

These earthworks are the remains of Fort Nonsense, first called the Smart's Mill or North End Mill fortification. Enslaved black laborers under the supervision of 2nd Lt. William Henry Clarke, an engineer who graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 1859, constructed the works in 1861. The fort was intended to block Union forces from advancing westward from the Chesapeake Bay through Mathews and Gloucester Counties toward the Confederate capital in Richmond. Never used as planned, the fortification became popularly known as Fort Nonsense.

Mathews County was important for its salt production and as a destination for Confederate blockade runners between Virginia and Maryland. In October 1863, Union Gen. Isaac J. Wistar and Lt. Cmdr. James H. Gillis led an army-navy task force to the county to eradicate Confederate supply trading and commerce raiding. Some of Wistar's troops camped here at what they called "an old Rebel breastwork."

(lower left) 2nd Lt. William H. Clarke Courtesy Virginia Military Institute Archives
(upper center) Provision Return for the men at Smart's Mill Courtesy National Archives and Records Administration
(upper right) U.S. Navy vessels pursuing a Confederate blockade runner, Harper's Weekly, Dec. 31, 1864
(lower right) "Position of U.S. Forces under General Wistar, to Cover Operations of Cavalry in Mathews County, Va., October 5-9, 1883," adapted from The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union Confederate Armies, Ser. I, Vol. 29, Pt. 1, p.1017
HM NumberHM1F37
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Year Placed2014
Placed ByVirginia Civil WarTrails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, October 19th, 2014 at 4:04am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 372248 N 4147650
Decimal Degrees37.46691667, -76.44463333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 28.015', W 76° 26.678'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 28' 0.90" N, 76° 26' 40.68" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)804
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1140-1198 Windsor Rd, North VA 23128, US
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