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Cockpit Point Battlefield Study

Introduction

The purpose of this study is to complete baseline documentation of the Cockpit Point Battlefield, located in Prince William County, Virginia. Prince William County was awarded a grant through the American Battlefield Protection Program, a division of the National Park Service (NPS), to continue identification and documentation studies of the Cockpit Point Battlefield. The Cockpit Point Battlefield is centered on the Cockpit Point Battery which was one of several Confederate blockade batteries on the Potomac River.

Today, Cockpit Point is the only Potomac River battery that remains. Significant data on the Cockpit Point Battlefield is absent, including detailed mapping of the earthworks, the results of military terrain analysis, and historic viewshed identification and documentation.

The data from the study was used to prepare:

  • Preservation and management goals and action strategies

  • Analysis and threat mitigation

  • Data for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places

Prince William County contracted URS Corporation to conduct this Study.

Brief History

Prince William County is home to eight Civil War battlefields. Cockpit Point is the only naval battlefield within the County. Cockpit Point Confederate Battery was one of four Potomac River blockade batteries built by the Confederate Army to interdict Union vessels. Cockpit Point is the only remaining strong battery and consisted of four gun batteries and associated defensive earthworks located at the top of a 70-foot cliff overlooking the Potomac River. The earthworks which formed these four massive batteries and their connecting trenches are readily apparent. For five months from October 1861 to March 1862 it succeeded in diverting almost all shipping from the Potomac River to Washington, D.C.  

For more information on the study contact Justin Patton, County Archaeologist, at jspatton@pwcgov.org or 703-792-5729.

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