Arlington Historical Society

Join the Arlington Historical Society

Learn about events and places in Arlington’s history

-- Snapshots of history
-- Sites and properties
-- Magazine
-- Links to resources

Shop at our store and give a piece of Arlington to someone special

You are here: Home > Learn > Snapshots > Arlington line

Arlington line

When federal troops seized the Arlington heights, in May 1861, they immediately began the construction of Forts Runyon, Corcoran, Albany, and Scott for the protection of Washington. After the Union disaster at the First Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) in late July 1861, work was begun on Fort Ethan Allen, Fort Richardson, and a line of breastworks and lunettes called in general the Arlington Line. A similar line of redoubts and breastworks covering the valley of Four Mile Run was more properly part of the defenses of the main base of the Army of the Potomac at Alexandria. The permanent garrison of these extensive fortifications within the present bounds of Arlington County, at least 10,000 men, greatly out-numbered the resident population, then some 1,400 men, women, and children.

The Arlington Line was never attacked, not even after the federal defeat at the Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) — which means that it served effectively its strategic purpose.

See a list of forts and military installations in Arlington.

Other chapters


Arlington Historical Society
P.O. Box 100402, Arlington, Virginia 22210-3402

Send us e-mail at or give us a ring at 703/892-4204.

Subscribe to our e-mail announcement list:
(follow Yahoo sign-up instructions)

Your name and e-mail address will NOT be used for anything but AHS meeting and event announcements. See our Privacy Policy for more detail.