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14th May 2013

Local Lynchburg History: Fort Early

Memorial Day is just around the corner. The holiday, originally known as Decoration Day, was created to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who lost their lives during the American Civil War. Memorial Day has since grown to encompass all Americans who have given their lives for the country in war. It is the perfect time to reflect on some of the significance Lynchburg played in the history of our great country.

During the Civil War, Lynchburg was lucky enough to avoid much of the death and destruction which befell many other cities in Virginia. The city did not escape completely however. In June 1864, the Confederate troops in Lynchburg held off an attack by the Union, thanks in part to General Jubal Early, in what is now called The Battle of Lynchburg. The battle made such an impact in the region that it is enacted each year in Bedford county. In 2002, Fort Early and the Jubal Early Monument were listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

General Jubal Early is the namesake to the Fort Early and Jubal Early Monument which can be found on Memorial Avenue in Lynchburg. The Fort was constructed just prior to the Battle of Lynchburg as part of the Confederate defenses from the Union. It is the only part of the original four outer defense line fortifications still in existence in the city today. In 1919, an obelisk was built to honor General Early and is located just outside the grounds of the Fort. The original stood 17 feet high and was made up of granite. The obelisk was knocked down in 2002 and replaced in 2004, it was knocked down again in 2011 by a drunk driver and has not yet been repaired.

The Fort Early site is home to not only the original earthen fort built in June 1864, but also contains the Fort Hills Woman’s Club Building. There is an archway at the entrance to the site, first erected in stone in 1924. The original arch was destroyed in 1971 and was replaced by the iron arch which is still there today.

Today Fort Early is open to visitors the first Sunday of each month from 1pm to 4pm and Wednesdays from 10am to 2pm from September to May. The Fort will be closing for the season in just a few weeks so if you are looking for way to participate in celebrating the history of our country aside from parades and family cookouts for Memorial Day, take a trip on down to Fort Early and learn about Lynchburg’s role in Civil War history.

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