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Civil War Fort Expert to Speak at Manassas Museum | Events

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Civil War Fort Expert to Speak at Manassas Museum

The following was sent to us by the Manassas Museum:

At the start of the Civil War, all eyes turned toward Manassas and the vital rail lines that met here, connecting north and south, east and west. National Park Service Historian David W. Lowe will speak about the importance of a network of earthwork forts protecting those rail lines during a talk at The Manassas Museum on October 17 at 2 p.m.

Lowe, an expert on earthwork fort construction, says those forts that remain can tell us much about Civil War military operations. “Military earthworks, shaped by soldiers and sometimes slaves, are the most significant visible resources left to us from earlier wars,” Lowe explains.

Here in the Manassas area, the restored Confederate Mayfield Earthwork Fort and Cannon Branch Earthwork Fort, a Union stronghold set to open next June, have provided valuable research material for Lowe. “The abundance of resources in the region has been a boon to my research,” Lowe says. “On the other hand, I have witnessed the needless destruction of resources over the years, mostly because folks do not understand that an earthwork is more than just a pile of dirt.”

During his presentation, Forts Along the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, Lowe will talk about military engineering and the forms and techniques of constructing earthworks, illustrated with details from period photographs. He will also discuss his observations at Mayfield and Cannon Branch, comparing how the forts looked originally and why they look as they do now.

Lowe’s work has enabled him to study earthwork forts across the country. “Working as a historian with the National Park Service, I have had the opportunity to work in many battlefield parks in seven states,” Lowe says. “Our office (Cultural Resources GIS) was the first to use Global Positioning Systems technology for mapping military earthworks. At last count, I have helped put about 120 miles of surviving earthworks on the map, mostly for the first time. In 1992, a group of us founded the Civil War Fortifications Study Group, which encourages research and preservation of military earthworks.”

Forts Along the Orange & Alexandria Railroad will be a free presentation at the museum in anticipation of the opening of Cannon Branch Earthwork Fort. Call 703-368-1873 or visit www.manassasmuseum.org for more information.


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