May 14, 2011

Redoubt No. 2

I received an interesting call today from Dr Thomas Mountz. Tom discovered my blog and to called to tell me about the fort he has on his property. That's right, Tom owns an authentic civil war fort. But more importantly from my railroad's perspective is that Tom's fort is Redoubt No. 2, part of the Union defensive works protecting Aquia Landing.

This fort is on the Virginia register of Historic Sites. The North American Forts website says,

Redoubt #2 (two guns) a 95-foot square moated work at the eastern end of present-day Rt. 630 (Courthouse Road) on Old Fort Lane. Still exists in good condition on private property.
A quick search on google maps showed this winter time view of the remains of the fort. The fort is on private property and is in delicate condition, so don't try to visit without Tom's permission. But this is exciting news. The fort is located on the highest terrain around, so it should be quite prominent, especially considering how deforested the countryside was at the time of the war.

Tom has done a lot of research into the redoubt and has published a paper about it. You can get a copy of the paper by contacting him at He does not have a website.

Tom's research found this image from the Sketchbook of Private Henry Berckhoff at the Digital History Website, a collaborative partnership between the University of Houston, Chicago Historical Society. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the National Park Service and several other groups.

Note the railroad trestle in the foreground. This is probably the bridge over Accokeek Creek, though it could be a smaller trestle elsewhere on the line. Redoubt No. 2 is on the hill top in the background. 

Given that old civil war redoubts don't hold up well to the weather, Redoubt 2, which is still in good shape, is even more remarkable. There were also Redoubts Numbers  1 and 3, but both have been destroyed by commercial development. Redoubt No. 3 has a stone marker erected by the real estate developer after he learned his bull dozers had inadvertently destroyed the earthworks during construction of a new housing development.

Google Earth View looking east from Brooke towards Aquia Landing. The location of Redoubt two is indicated. It is actually on the highest point of the ridge, but appears a little lower due to foreshortening. The current CSX track is on the left side. The deforested look of Google Earth terrain is appropriate for civil war era views.

That Digital History web site has this, somewhat fanciful,  image of Aquia Landing entitled, "Homeward bound, Hops Landing on the Aquia Creek, 3 may 1863." "Hops" is probably "Haupt's" misspelled. I am not sure what we can take from this other than the clutter and busy appearance of the base, and perhaps the coloration of the locomotive.

In looking at my track plan redoubt No. 2 should be located somewhere on the hill over looking Brook. I can either paint it on the backdrop, or build a model of it.

I am leaning to building an actual model of it since good information, thanks to Tom's research, is available. This is also probably a good opportunity to use smaller scale items to force perspective.

Tom mentioned that other works left over from the Aquia defenses are still extant, so a field trip later this year when the leaves are down is in order.

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