Fort Mahone

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Fort Mahone (1864-1865) - A Confederate U.S. Civil War Fort established in 1864 near Petersburg, Petersburg City, Virginia. Captured by Union forces on 2 Apr 1865 and abandoned at the end of the war, reportedly leveled later in 1865. Also known as Fort Damnation and Battery No. 29 by Union commanders.

Fort Mahone Breastworks after Union Capture in April 1865.
Fort Mahone Mine Entrance after Union Capture in April 1865.
Fort Mahone Interior after Union Capture in April 1865.

History of Fort Mahone

Established in 1864 as a Confederate U.S. Civil War Fort in defense of Petersburg, Virginia. Built as a strong three sided earthen redoubt with a steep frontal glacis. The fort was located along the southern Confederate defensive lines across from Union Fort Sedgwick, only a few hundred yards away. It was manned by the 53rd Virginia and had only three artillery pieces and a few mortars in April 1965, even though it was thought to be the strongest fort along the Confederate line.

Pennsylvania Monument at the Site of Fort Mahone

The Union seige of Petersburg lasted about 9 months, ending in early April 1865. Fort Mahone was attacked at dawn on 2 Apr 1865 as the Union forces began to break through elsewhere along the Confederate lines. The Union IX Corps was ordered to take Fort Mahone with some 14,000 men going against about 1,500 Confederate defenders.

Fort Mahone defenses included wooden abatis, fraise and chevaux de frise all along the defensive line. The Union IX Corps faced a double row of abatis and Chevaux de frise and a waist deep ditch filled with muddy water before Fort Mahone. Union troops armed with only hatchets and axes had to cut through these obstacles before the dawn attack. These troops were easy targets for Confederate sharpshooters but they successfully cleared a path for the Union attack.

The initial attack overwhelmed the defenders and they fell back. The Confederates counterattacked and by 3 PM the Union troops were driven back. Union reinforcements arrived and both sides held parts of the fort into the night. Overnight the Confederates withdrew from their positions and by dawn the fort was in Union hands. Breakthroughs at other points along the line had made the Confederate positions untenable and an evacuation of Petersburg was ordered. Union casualties before the fort numbered 1,700 wounded or dead while the Confederate toll is unknown.

President Abraham Lincoln and General Ulysses S. Grant visited the fort the day after its capture on 3 Apr 1865, even before the dead had been removed. Lincoln was seen with a tear in his eye as he recognized among the dead, troops he had seen on guard just days earlier. Photographs of the fort include dead Union and Confederate troops and the victorious Union troops on the ramparts. The fort was reportedly leveled soon after the end of the war.

Current Status

Lincoln at Fort Mahone Interpretive Panel at the Site of Fort Mahone

No remains, an interpretive panel describing Lincoln's vist to the fort and a monument to Pennsylvania troops mark the site of the fort.


Location: 1964 Wakefield Street, Petersburg, Petersburg City, Virginia.

Maps & Images

Lat: 37.20207 Long: -77.38442

See Also:

Sources:

Links:

Visited: 2 Apr 2012


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