Fort Reno Civil War
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 battery.

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 in 1862.

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.

Further Reading
Fort Reno during the Civil War - Architect of the Capital
Fort Reno - Fort Wiki