Constructing Star Fort Historical

Constructing Star Fort Historical (HM1WL7)

Location: Winchester, VA 22603 Frederick County
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Country: United States of America
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N 39° 12.363', W 78° 9.864'

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“It was hard work”

Union Gen. Robert H. Milroy and his division entered Winchester on January 1, 1863. The abolitionist general, who vowed to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation aggressively, soon set to work strengthening the town's defenses. His soldiers rotated various tasks, spending one day per week working on Winchester's defenses, three days on guard duty, and three days dedicated to various camp chores. The schedule meant that on any given day during the first half of 1863, approximately 1,000 Union soldiers labored on Winchester's defenses. The strengthened Fort Garibaldi (renamed Fort Milroy) and West Fort and constructed Star Fort here. The fortification originated in 1861 as a series of gun emplacements.

The construction of Star Fort, called "the large fort," not only offered Milroy a sense of security but also satisfied his sense of justice. Some of the construction materials, in particular the limestone used for the footings on which the artillery pieces stood, came from the home of former U.S. Senator James M. Mason, author of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law. "Today the walls of Mr. Mason's house were pulled down," Winchester resident Cornelia McDonald wrote in her diary on January 20, 1863. "They have taken the stones ... to build their fortifications."

Milroy's soldiers found the labor here grueling. A soldier in the 18th Connecticut Infantry wrote that they were "working on the fort and rifle pits, with axe, pick and shovel. ... Many of the boys had never used or handled that kind of tools. It was hard work."

(left photo) Gen. Robert H. Milroy Courtesy Jonathan A. Noyalas Collection

(right photo) Sen. James M. Mason Courtesy Library of Congress

(map) Map of Winchester, June 13-15, 1863, with Union forts Courtesy Library of Congress
HM NumberHM1WL7
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, January 22nd, 2017 at 9:02am PST -08:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 744846 N 4343474
Decimal Degrees39.20605000, -78.16440000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 39° 12.363', W 78° 9.864'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds39° 12' 21.78" N, 78° 9' 51.84" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)540, 703
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling North
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 503 Fortress Dr, Winchester VA 22603, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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