ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Mayfield Fort, Virginia
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Mayfield Fort, Virginia
|Mayfield Fort Historic Site
An important Confederate fortification that protected
Manassas Junction from Union attack, Mayfield Fort
is now a preserved historic site in Manassas, Virgnia.
Quaker Guns at Mayfield Fort
This exhibit at Mayfield Fort
shows how the Confederates
used logs disguised as
cannon to fool the Union army.
Mayfield Fort Historic Site - Manassas, Virginia
Quaker Guns of the Civil War
|Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Updated May 12, 2012
Historic Sites in Virginia
Cannon at Mayfield Fort
The Confederates fortified
Manassas Junction after the
Battle of Manassas or Bull
Run. Traces of the original
earthworks can still be seen
at Mayfield Fort.
The embankment at left is a
surviving remnant of the Civil
War fortifications of the vital
rail junction at Manassas,
Cannon Branch Fort
The earthwork remains of a
Union redoubt can be seen at
nearby Cannon Branch Fort.
Mayfield Fort Historic Site preserves one of
the few remaining portions of the Civil War
fortifications built to protect the vital rail
junction at Manassas, Virginia.
Covering 11 acres, the Mayfield Fort site is
located on high ground between Buckhall
and Russia Branches. Both are tributaries to
the Occoquan River and strategic point
between them was an ideal place for a
The history of the site, however, goes back
thousands of years before the Civil War.
Archaeologists have determined, for
example, that Native Americans first arrived
on this ground more than 2,500 years before
the birth of Jesus Christ. The artifacts they
found show that prehistoric people camped
here on their hunting and gathering
expeditions through the Virginia woods.
The first European settlers arrived in 1740
when Peter Hamrick (or Hambrick) received
a patent for the farm he called Mayfield. The
land was sold to Robert Hawson Hooe
during the American Revolution (1779) and
was still in the hands of the Hooe family
when the Civil War came to Northern Virginia
Confederate soldiers under General P.G.T.
Beauregard arrived at Mayfield in May and
June of 1861. The family was forced to
evacuate the property as the troops began
constructing fortifications on their land.
Realizing the significance of the important
rail lines that connected at Manassas
Junction, Beauregard oversaw the building of
12 key forts protecting the junction of the
Orange & Alexandria and Centreville
Mayfield Fort itself was built by soldiers from
the area and conscriped slaves. Colonel
C.H. Terret supervised the actual
construction work. Reinforced with logs, the
forts earthwork ramparts offered excellent
defense against a Union artillery or infantry
attack. Cannon for the fort were brought in
from the Norfolk Navy Yard.
The fortification was rather large. Its walls
were pierced by embrasures through which
cannon could fire and at least three wooden
structures were built inside the earthworks.
The original earthworks, much worn down by
time and the elements, can still be seen. A
low embankment surrounds the perimeter of
the fort, the only trace of the original fort and
one of the few surviving earthworks from
Beauregard's original twelve forts.
Mayfield Fort was held by Confederate troops
from June of 1861 to March of 1862. During
this time the Battle of Manassas (or Bull Run)
was fought nearby.
The Southern occupation of the fort ended,
however, in the spring of 1862 when Federal
troops attempted to take the Confederate
capital of Richmond by marching up the
Peninsula created by the James and York
Rivers. The soldiers and cannon at Mayfield
and its companion forts were summoned to
assist in the defence of Richmond and the
fortifications at Manassas Junction were
evacuated. Union soldiers then moved into
the works and held them off and on from
March of 1862 to November of 1864.
|Photos by Savannah Brininstool
|As the Confederates were evacuating the
Manassas forts they resorted to a unique bit
of trickery to keep the Federals from knowing
they were pulling out.
A display at Mayfield Fort shows two "Quaker
Guns." Because these "cannon" wouldn't
really fire, much like members of the pacifist
Quaker movement who were conscientious
objectors to military service, they were called
As Southern troops worked to remove their
cannon from Mayfield and the other forts at
Manassas, they put logs shaped like cannon
barrels into the place of the real guns. The
ruse worked and the Federals did not realize
the forts were almost defenseless during the
The exhibit at Mayfield Fort shows how these
Quaker Guns really looked and provides a
chance for visitors to visualize the work that
would have been taking place around them
as the fortifications were abandoned.
Mayfield Fort is one of only two surviving forts
of the original Manassas Junction defensive
complex. The earthworks of a Union one can
be seen at nearby Cannon Branch Fort.
Often overlooked by visitors who come to visit
the Manassas National Battlefield Park,
where the Battles of First and Second
Manassas (Bull Run) took place, the two
historic sites are nevertheless important Civil
Mayfield Fort Historic Site features a walking
path with interpretive panels placed as part of
the Civil War Trail effort. The faded earthen
ramparts of the fort can be seen, as can the
Quaker Guns exhibit. Stone markers also
note the site of the original Hooe Mansion.
The fort is open daily from sunrise to sunset
and is free to visit. It is located at 8401 Quarry
Road in Manassas, Virginia.
Please click here for a more detailed history
of Mayfield Fort.