Exploring Fort Mulligan. A trail system with interpretive exhibits describe the Fort's construction, usage and strategic importance during the Civil War. Most of the site is wheelchair accessible, however several areas are inaccessible because of steep terrain. Visitors should also beware of poison ivy, ticks and snakes during the spring and summer months.
Help us to preserve Fort Mulligan Civil War Site by observing the following rules: Please stay off of the earthworks· No relic hunting· Only foot traffic or wheelchairsare allowed on the walking trails.
The Construction of Fort Mulligan.The Fort was constructed from August through December of1863, by Union troops under the command of Colonel James A. Mulligan, from Chicago, Illinois. infantry, cavalry and artillery from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Illinois carried out the backbreaking labor.
Known locally as Fort Hill, the Fort was to serve as protection for the South Branch Valley from Confederate forces and also as an auxiliary depot to supply numerous Union troops on their expeditions. The Fort was built on the same ground which had previously been fortified camps in October of 1861, and May and June of 1862.
Constructed of dirt earthworks, the Fort's inner walls were lined with timber. A defensive barrier of cut trees, known as an abatis, was on the outer entrenchment walls to prevent a major assault. There are indications of as many as three entrances and at least seven gun emplacements. Within the Fort were also four bombproofs which were used to store rifle and artillery ammunition.
The Joshua Winters Story.As you explore the Fort, follow the story of Joshua Winters, a private in the Union Army Company G, First Western Virginia Volunteer Infantry. Winters kept a diary of his military lifeand wrote to his sisters weekly. Excerpts from his writings give us glimpses into the life of a typical Union soldier at Fort Mulligan. This valuable historical information was provided by Elizabeth Davis Swiger who edited the letters and diaryof Winters.
A Struggle for Control.The valley of the South Branch of the Potomac River saw anincredible amount of troop activity and action during the CivilWar. Federal or Confederate troops occupied this hill and itssurrounding area as early as August of 1861, and were on thegrounds for at least part of every year of the war. Federal forcestime and again tried to use this strategic point as a chokehold against raids on the B&0 Railroad to the north, and as a"jumping-off" point for their own raids further south. Foragingwagon trains were continually sent out in all directions andalmost all of the Union expeditions against the Confederateforces were supplied from the depot at Petersburg. Manyexpeditions were reinforced with soldiers from Fort Mulligan.
The Fort was evacuated on January 31, 1864, by UnionColonel Joseph Thoburn due to an impending attack byConfederate General Jubal Early, who stated that his men"demolished the works...." For the remainder of 1864 and1865, sharp action continued sporadically in the area, butFort Mulligan was never again occupied as a garrison.
The rugged earthworks before you bear silent witness to thesacrifices of thousands of Americans who marched, dug, fought,froze and died here during the war. The tide of war ebbed andwaned across the South, but when troops were in the SouthBranch Valley, they were always "at the front."
In 1993, the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites acquired this nearly six-acre site through generous donations of Mr. William G. Van Meter. In 1999 APCWS merged with the Civil War Preservation Trust. This land has been preserved by the Civil War Preservation Trust in partnership with the South Branch Valley Civil War Society, Inc., McNeill's Rangers, SCV Camp $581 and 7th West Virginia SUV Camp #7.