Friends of Fort Ward to Honor City

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The Friends of Fort Ward will present the City of Alexandria with the second annual General John G. Barnard Award on Saturday, Sept. 20, commemorating a more than 50-year legacy of preservation activities at the Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site. Fort Ward, located on West Braddock Road, is the flagship of the Defenses of Washington, the system of Union forts that protected Washington, D.C., during the Civil War, now considered among the most threatened Civil War sites. 

The award will be presented at the museum during Fete at the Fort, a celebration from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. In addition to the presentation, Douglas Jimerson and the Civil War Comrades will offer a program of period music. Refreshments will also be served. The public is invited and may call 703.838.4848 to make a reservation. The Friends of Fort Ward is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation, advancement and public recognition of Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site and the Defenses of Washington. 

Private citizens and the city government were instrumental in saving Fort Ward in the 1950s. After acquiring the fort site and a 40-acre buffer for passive recreational use, the city funded a detailed archaeological study of the site and oversaw the construction of a museum building patterned after a Union Army headquarters, the officers hut, a ceremonial gate and outbuildings. Reconstructing the forts northwest bastion was the most significant and challenging preservation accomplishment, and earned Alexandria national recognition for its leadership in earthwork fort conservation expertise. 

At its dedication in 1964, Mayor Frank Mann summed up the significance of Fort Ward: The [Historic Site and] Museum with its Civil War relics will play a large part in keeping our citizens in touch with history. The history is yours. The artifacts and mementos housed here are articles your ancestors knew and even used. Enjoy your Museum. Take care of it. It belongs to you. 

Each year, the Friends of Fort Ward presents the Barnard Award in recognition of outstanding efforts to promote, interpret and preserve the Defenses of Washington. The forts faced only one direct attack from Confederate forces in July 1864 when troops under General Jubal Early engaged Union forces in the Battle of Fort Stevens, five miles north of the Capitol. A climactic event in the battle occurred when President Abraham Lincoln came under fire from Confederate sharpshooters, the only time a sitting U.S. President has faced direct enemy fire. 

Major General John Gross Barnard, the Father of the Defenses of Washington, was the Union Army engineer in charge of constructing the formidable defense system, and is the namesake of the preservation award. 

For more information, visit www.fortward.org

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