On Friday, October 7, George Mason University dedicated a Virginia historic site and celebrated the university–community partnership that helped preserve it.
Just off Parking Lot K on the Fairfax Campus is a redoubt, an earthen fortification, which was one of three constructed by Confederate troops along Braddock Road in 1861. The nearby intersection of Braddock and Route 123 dates back to the 1700s, and has long been a vital part of travel in Virginia.
Among those speaking at the dedication were Blake Myers, Jim Lewis, and Brian McEnany of the Bull Run Civil War Roundtable, Virginia State Senator Chap Petersen, and Mason history professor Brian Platt, who brought the project to university administration.
The event included a performance by the 8th Green Machine Regiment Band, an ensemble of Mason's Green Machine that presents 19th-century brass band music on authentic 19th-century instruments and mouthpieces.
“This project is the culmination of many years of effort,” Platt said in his remarks as he outlined the steps that were taken to preserve the site.
The redoubt was built in the strategic location known as Farr’s Cross Roads, because it provided views of both Braddock Road, which was used to travel from the port in Alexandria into the Shenandoah Valley, and Route 123, a major thoroughfare for traffic from the Occoquan River to the Fairfax courthouse that was then near what is now Tysons Corner. The redoubt changed hands many times between the United States and Confederate forces during the Civil War.
The preservation and interpretation of this site is the result of a partnership between Mason and the Bull Run Civil War Roundtable, which began in 2016. Over the years, to promote intertest in the site, Roundtable experts led instructional visits for students taking the class HIST 373: The Civil War and Reconstruction, taught by Mason history professor Christopher Hamner.
The Roundtable and Mason’s Department of History and Art History submitted materials about the site to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources to get the site on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places.
Platt emphasized the people it took to bring this project to fruition, including Mason Facilities and the grounds crews which cleared the site of debris, built the pathways from Lot K, and continue to maintain the site for visitors.
“When the leaders of the Roundtable first showed up in my office to bring to my attention the fact that there was an important Civil War site right here on campus, my first thought was how lucky we were that this site was here on a campus and not on private land or within a real estate developer's view finder,” Platt said. “After all, if a preservation project were to happen anywhere in a highly developed suburban landscape, surely it would happen at a university, a place with a scholarly interest in preserving our historic and cultural heritage."
Learn more about the history of the redoubt and Farr’s Cross Roads