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Posted December 18, 2012 | comments Leave a comment

Donations sought for Star Fort ahead of Sesquicentennial

By Sally Voth

Five years after its donation to the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, a Winchester-area Civil War fort is getting the star treatment.

Star Fort, located off of North Frederick Pike, is an 8.6 acre-site that was involved in the Second and Third Battles of Winchester, according to an SVBF news release. It is one of three forts that surrounded Winchester.

In 2007, the Middlesex Artillery-Fleet's Battery and local real-estate investors gave the site to the foundation, according to the release. Prior to preservation and clean-up work, the site was home to transients, trash and invasive trees, it states.

Besides cleaning up the site, SVBF staff and volunteers, along with the county, have fenced it, put up an interpretive sign, set up trails and restored its earthworks, according to the release. It states grants have been secured, but more money is needed.

SVBF Executive Director Denman Zirkle said Tuesday that the foundation hopes to raise about $110,000.

"What the remaining funds are for is to restore the topography of the fort to its 1863-64 condition, as well as to add interpretive signage and other visitor amenities so the site can be open for interpretation and visitation," he said.

The goal is to open the site up to visitors in June, Zirkle said.

"We want to go ahead and finish it for the Sesquicentennial anniversary next year," he said.

The Second Battle of Winchester was fought June 13-15, 1863, according to the release, and the Third Battle of Winchester was Sept. 19, 1864.

"Star Fort's elevated position afforded long views as far away as Harper's Ferry that were strategically important for protecting the town, the Valley Pike, and the nearby railroad lines," the release states.

Zirkle said the foundation hopes Winchester and Frederick County will donate to the fundraising campaign. Just a block off Va. 522, it's a great spot for school field trips, he said.

"It's a real opportunity for on-site visitation," Zirkle said. "Plus, the site is compact, and it's small. It's really easy to go there for an hour and grasp not only the geographical characteristics of the site, but to understand what happened there in terms of defense of that site during the Second and Third Battles of Winchester."

During the four years of the Civil War, WInchester changed hands at least 72 times, with 13 of those happening in a single day.

Those interested in learning more about or donating to the Star Fort Restoration Project, can go to www.ShenandoahAtWar.org, or call SVBF development coordinator Janice Hannah at 740-4545.

Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or svoth@nvdaily.com

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