Fort Foote Park

Fort Foote Park

"A powerful enclosed work" protects Washington, D.C. Fort Foote was constructed in 1863 on Rozier's Bluff to strengthen the ring of fortifications that encircled Washington, D.C. Fort Foote helped protect Washington, D.C. with the thunderous powerful guns of its time. Two of the guns used to protect Washington are still there along with the remains of the fort's earthworks.

Fort Foote sits on high ground overlooking the Potomac River and offers a grand view of Washington and the Virginia shoreline. Today, only one silent gun stands behind the masonry wall-the last armament of the powerful fort that once guarded the water approach to our Nation's Capital. The old fort is one of the few U.S. seacoast fortifications still in its original form. When ocean-going warships had wood sides and carried smoothbore cannons, no enemy would attempt to ascend the river before destroying the fort.

History of the Fort:

After the Civil War our government began dismantling the defenses of Washington and turned the property over to their landowners. Fort Foote was retained and new building constructed to accommodate the garrison. The fort was used as a military prison during 1868 and 1869. Major W. R. King set up a 15-inch gun and began experimenting with recoil carriage in 1869. During the first trial he fired 22 rounds from a 15-inch gun with charges ranging from 25 to 100 pounds. Because of the problems clearing the river before shooting and the limited range, he moved his experiment to Battery Hudson, New York in 1871.

In 1872 plans to strengthen the fort were submitted and the government finally purchased the property in 1873. Only a small amount of work was actually carried out under the new authorization and work stopped when funds were withdrawn in 1875. The garrison was removed in 1878 and Fort Foote became an abandoned military post.

The post was used as a practice area for students from the engineer school from 1902 through 1917. Most of the guns were removed but one of Fort Foote's Parrott Rifles was sent to the Evergreen Cemetery in Leechburg, Pennsylvania. It now stands guard over the remains of 20 Civil War soldiers buried there. Two Rodman cannons were left at the post and are now on carriages overlooking the river.

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Image Credit: Mrs. Gemstone / Flickr Commons
Last updated: November 22, 2019