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Washington DC Area Forts, Washington, DC


Fort O'Rourke

Fort O

Battery between Fort O'Rourke and Fort Farnsworth
In the tree line in front of you are visible remnants of earthworks constructed by United States Army engineers in 1862 as a part of the Defenses of Washington. This earthen parapet closed the gap between Fort Farnsworth to the north and Fort O'Rourke to the south. Fort Weed, Fort Farnsworth and Fort O'Rourke were built to strengthen Fort Lyon and command the mount Vernon Road approaches to Alexandria. The forts were connected by rifle-trenches and batteries were placed in the intervals between them.

The battery between Fort O'Rourke and Fort Farnsworth was an "unnamed" battery, originally designed for six guns. The gun platforms stood vacant unless the defenses south of Alexandria were threatened. The parapet was arranged so that its face was almost perpendicular to Forts Weed and Farnsworth. When the battery was manned, the field guns would have provided crossfire, striking the enemy in the flank as they approached the forts.

By the end of the war in 1865 the Defenses of Washington included 93 such unarmed batteries with 401 emplacement for field guns. The arrangement and construction of the batteries was generally the same as within the forts. Unlike the forts; however, the batteries were open in the rear. Some were constructed with magazines to store ammunition. Earthen gun ramps were built to allow the transportation of heavy field guns onto the platforms which were typically made of durable wooden planks.

Garrison troops at Fort Farnsworth and Fort O'Rourke between 1862 and 1865 included the 34th Massachusetts Infantry, the 2d Connecticut Heavy Artillery, the 142d Ohio Infantry, and the 1st Wisconsin Heavy Artillery.

Website: https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=131553

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Patrick Henry O'Rourke

Posted By: Ray Gurganus

Updated: 9-23-2021