|Fort Reno during the Civil War
Giles Dyer owned much of what was to become Fort Reno,
living on an estate there surrounded by fruit orchards.
The elevation and proximity to two important roads made
the land a natural site for fortifications during the
Civil War. In 1861, Dyer’s house was torn down, orchards
cut and fields were destroyed in order to build a battery
and fort. The fort was visited by President Abraham
Lincoln in September 1861 to view the new installations.
A soldier named A.S. Bray wrote to his brother from Camp
Tennally in August 1861:
We are buzy in building a battery it is mate wery
strong & goot to protect our soldiers it holds about
too thousand mens it is mounted with three canons one of
them wights 48 hundreds pounds we expect more canons yet
we cut down orchards with fine apple and peach trees
with fine peaches also some large corn fields we have
destroyed two houses that wer in our way to build the
Fort Reno was originally named Fort Pennsylvania, but
renamed to Fort Reno to honor Major General Jesse L. Reno
who was killed at the Battle of South Mountain, Maryland
The fort was the largest and strongest of the 68 forts
that encircled the city of Washington.
Local militias in Tenleytown were organized during the
Civil War, including the Tenleytown Rifles, a group of
sixty-four men who kept long-range rifles with them at all
times. The Rifles had to sleep at the camp, but could do
their usual work doing the day.
On July 11, 1864, lookouts at Fort Reno saw clouds of
dust, them Confederate army wagons moving towards the
city. President Lincoln had been visiting Fort Reno at the
time and had his driver take him downtown in order to
confer with General Henry Halleck.
A call for reinforcements went out and veteran reserves as
well as local men were quickly drafted into service.
Tenleytown residents gathered their valuables on carts and
raced into the city. When the Confederates got closer to
the city, they could see that the fortifications were much
too strong and retreated. The attack on Washington claimed
250 Union Soldiers and 2,000 Confederate soldiers.
Reno during the Civil War - Architect of the Capital
- Fort Wiki