Traces of War: Fort Ward, VA

Today was really the first day I was able to get out and walk around. It’s been so cold since about December that going out really wans’t much of an option. Though the snow from Thursday is starting to melt often (51 degrees today), the temperature still drops enough overnight to turn anything wet to ice. My front sidewalk was a sheet of ice, and is still icy in the early afternoon!

So I picked Fort Ward because it has wide asphalt walking paths for joggers.

It’s a Civil War military site, one of the many Union forts used to defend Virginia. The fort is the only one that is intact, though intact is strange word. It makes me think of actual wooden structures like what I might see on TV in an old TV show, hardly anything that would be accurate. The outer area is a lot of rolling hills — rifle trenches.

But the centerpiece is the fort itself.

It’s built up as part of an embankment, almost unnoticable at first because it blends in with the background. During spring, it’s all the grass and plants. During winter, snow.

At least until I spotted the cutouts for the cannons.

Because the grass was still covered by snow, I stayed on the paved walkway. In a way, it made that a difference experience because I looked at the outside of the fort in the way a Confederate soldier approaching would have seen it. Admittedly, it was still hard to picture because just a short distance away, I could hear a steady stream of cars on nearby I395 and see the tall buildings.

I had to imagine that there was probably a meadow, and maybe two dirt roads. This fort was to protect those two roads, though it never saw any battles. The soldiers who were there probably wouldn’t recognize it today.

Time moves on, but war stays with us.