Just across the Potomac River from the Union capital, Confederate Virginia was a major Union concern when the war began. In May 1861, federal troops seized much of present-day Arlington County (which borders the Potomac), and immediately began constructing an extensive network of fortifications to protect Washington. That network eventually became known as the Arlington Line. The pace of construction accelerated after the Confederacy defeated the Union at the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861.
The Arlington Line was quite strategically effective. It was never attacked, even after the Union's disastrous defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run in August 1862.
Major D.P. Woodbury was the Union engineer who designed and constructed the Arlington Line, and one of its forts, Fort Woodbury (which once stood in what is today Arlington's Courthouse neighborhood), was named for him.
Historical markers showing the locations of each of the former Arlington Line fortifications and providing brief descriptions of each can be found throughout Arlington County. For more information, see the External Links.
- Arlington Historical Society - Arlington Line
- Arlington Historical Society - Military-use structures