Frequently Asked Questions

Operation and Management

Q: Is there a visitor center or other NPS contact station(s) at any of the fort sites managed by the NPS?
A: No. For questions, brochures, and literature, please contact us.

Q:Is there is a fee to visit any of the CWDW sites?
A: There is no fee.

Q: What are the hours of operation?
A:The forts and related trails are open 7 days a week from dawn to dusk.All of the areas are closed at dark, unless otherwise noted.

Q: Is Fort Stevens reconstructed?
A: Fort Stevens, which came under fire during the Civil War on July 11-12, 1864 was reconstructed to appear as it did in 1864 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1936. The NPS acquired Fort Stevens and many of the CWDW sites in 1933.

Q:Where is the Battleground National Cemetery located and what is its significance?
A: The Battleground National Cemetery is located at 6625 Georgia Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20012.The cemetery is located just a half mile north of Fort Stevens.The cemetery is the final resting place of 41 Union soldiers who died during the Battle of Fort Stevens (July 11-12, 1864) and were later interred on the dedicated grounds—just days after the war.

The last interment took place in 1936. Mr. Edward R. Campbell was the last veteran of the battle, from the second Vermont infantry. The lodge (building) which once housed the cemetery's caretaker serves as the administrative office for the CWDW staff.The building is not open to the public but if available, the staff are always happy to welcome and share information including related literature about the CWDW.

Q: Are Fort Marcy and Fort Foote managed by the NPS although they are located in Virginia and Maryland respectively?
A: Yes, both Fort Marcy, located on the George Washington Memorial Parkway in McLean, Va. and Fort Foote, located on Fort Foote Road in Fort Washington, Md. are managed by the NPS and are sites of the CWDW.

Q:Are schools, troops and other organizations welcomed to visit? How do I get make arrangements/reservations to visit for a tour?
A: All are welcome to visit the CWDW throughout the year. To ensure an interpretive staff is availableto conduct a tour or present an educational program, please contact us. Tuesdays –Saturday from 9am –4:30pm. We welcome all ages and home-schoolers as well. Please plan to inform staff of your schedule intentions at least a month in advance.

Q: Does the CWDW have a NPS passport stamp and if so, where can
I visit to have my book stamped?

A: Yes, the CWDW has an official NPS passport stamp.The stamp is located in several locations for
your convenience. Please call the sites located for their times of operation:

  • Battleground National Cemetery (202) 829-4650
  • Rock Creek Park's Nature Center (202)895 -6000
  • G.W. Memorial Parkway (Park Hqdtrs: Turkey Run Park) – (703) 289-2500
  • Frederick Douglass NHS –(202) 426-5961
  • National Capital Parks-East (Park Hqtrs:
  • Anacostia Park) –(202) 690-5185

Q: Where is Fort Ward? Who manages Fort Ward?
A: Fort Ward is located at 4301 W Braddock Rd, Alexandria, VA 22304. The site is managed by the Alexandria City government.

Historical Significance

Q:Who designed the Civil War Defenses of Washington and why?
A:The CWDW was designed by Major John G. Barnard. A graduate of the U.S. Military
Academy at West point with the intent to defend/protect the U.S. capital
between 1861-1865 after the onset of the American Civil War.

Q: Why were the CWDW fortifications unique in their design and strategic in their locations?
A:The military fortifications were constructed primarily with dirt (earthworks). Dirt produced
very strong structures that could absorb the impact of projectiles better than
brick or stone masonry.Soldiers and laborers worked with shovels and picks to build ramparts (walls), parapets (slopes) and bombproofs (shelters). A dry moat (trenches) and barricades of dead trees called abatis surrounded a fort. Each fort was strategically selected for its high elevations and other advantage points pending its purpose and intent of protection.

Q:Why was Washington considered one of the most fortified cities in the world?
A: By the end of the war, there were 68 forts, 93 gun batteries, 20 miles of rifle pits and 32 miles of military roads encircling the capital city, Washington.

Q:After the war ended, what happened to the fortifications, camp sites and etc.?
A:After the war ended in 1865, many of the soldiers were re-assigned. Many of the forts and camps were turned over to their original owners, except for Fort Stevens. Some forts like, Fort DuPont, DeRussy, Marcy and fort Totten were somewhat left intact and are now covered by mature woodlands.

Fort Stevens

Q: When did Fort Stevens come under attack?
A: July 11, 1864

Q: Why was Fort Stevens Built?
A:Fort Stevens was built to defend the 7th street Turnpike (Now, Georgia Avenue).

Q: When did Fort Stevens become property of the National Park Service?
A: 1933

Q: When did the Civilian Conservation Corps begin a partial reconstruction of Fort Stevens?
A: The Civilian Conservation Corps began a partial reconstruction of Fort Stevens in 1926.

Fort DuPont

Q: What was Fort DuPont before its use during the Civil war?
A: Fort DuPont was farm land prior to the Civil War.

Q: How many sides does Fort DuPont have?
A: Six, each 100 feet long.

Q: Who owned the earthwork site of Fort DuPont prior to the Civil War? And did he retain
ownership throughout the course of the war?
A: Michael Caton. Yes, he retained ownership during and following the war.

Q: Who was Fort DuPont named after?
A: Fort DuPont was named after Rear Admiral Samuel FrancisDuPont, who was an American naval officer, and served prominently during the Mexican-American War and the Civil War.

Fort Marcy

Q: When did the construction of Fort Marcy commence? And when was it completed?
A: The construction of Fort Marcy began September 24, 1861 and was completed the fall of 1862.

Fort Totten

Q: When was Fort Totten constructed?
A: Fort Totten was constructed in 1862.

Q: Who was Fort Totten named after?
A: Fort Totten was named after General Joseph Gilbert Totten, The Chief Engineer of the antebellum U.S. army.

Q: How many guns and mortars were mounted at
Fort Totten?
A: 20 guns and mortars were mounted at Fort Totten.

Fort Reno

Q: What was Fort Reno originally named?
A: Fort Reno was originally named "Fort Pennsylvania."

Q: Who was Fort Reno named after?
A: Fort Reno was named after Major General Jesse Lee Reno in 1863.

Fort Slocum

Q: Who was Fort Slocum named after?
A: Fort Slocum was named after Colonel John Slocum, who was killed in 1861 at the First Battle of Manassas.

Q: Who was Fort Slocum home to?
A: Fort Slocum was home to white soldiers and the African American foot soldiers of the 4th U.S colored infantry from Baltimore.

Don't see your question listed here? Contact us to ask your questions!


Last updated: June 23, 2016

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Civil War Defenses of Washington
3545 Williamsburg Lane N.W.

Washington, DC 20008



Contact Us