Colonial Fort E-46

Historical Marker Text
The Virginia General Assembly authorized the construction of a fort built nearby along the Rappahannock River in 1676. It served as a defensive fortification for settlers of European descent on the frontier when periodic conflicts occurred between Virginia Indians and settlers. Maj. Lawrence Smith commanded the fort. Smith had patented 6,300 acres of property with Robert Taliaferro in the region in 1666. Smith later obtained more land nearby. The fort was abandoned about 1682, when the General Assembly ordered the dismantling of many of these structures. [2004]

Extended Research
In the middle of the 1660s the threat of Indian attacks caused fear among settlers, and in order to protect the colonists the Assembly authorized the building of forts in hopes that the Indians would attack the forts rather than the settlers (Warner 18). In order to combat the threat of Indian raids the Assembly, pushed by Governor Berkeley, authorized additional forts along major rivers in the area. Colonial Fort was built further up the Rappahannock River past the already existing fort at Corotoman. While Colonel Philip Ludwell was the titular authority for the fort, Major Lawrence Smith was placed in charge of it. As was often the practice in Virginia during the time, wealthy men were given large tracts of land free of taxes for fourteen years with the understanding that they would aid in the defense against Indians in the area (18). The fort was built on land patented by Smith and was specified “to contain one warehouse sixty by twenty-two feet and an ammunition house ten feet square” (Felder 4). There were also quarters for soldiers to reside in while protecting the fort (Warner 51).

Later in 1679, with maintenance costs proving costly, the Assembly devised an incentive plan to encourage people to settle in the frontier. They expanded Smith’s domain around the fort area and gave him “authority to govern the settlement and to make minor laws”(Felder 5). The new frontier establishments were not conducive to settlement, and a few years later the fort was dismantled.

For Further Reference
Felder, Paula S. Forgotten Companions: The First Settlers of Spotsylvania County and Fredericksburgh Town. Fredericksburg, VA: The American History Company, 2000.

Hening, William Waller. Statutes At Large. Vol. 3. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1969.

Warner, Thomas Hoskins. History of Old Rappahannock County Virginia, 1656-1692. Tappahannock, VA: Pauline Pearce Warner, 1965.

Department of Historic Resources map and directions


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