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Fort Harrison was a Confederate fort built on the eastern outskirts of Richmond to defend the capital from Union attacks during the Civil War.  At the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm (also known as New Market Heights) on September 29, 1864, Union troops attacked the fort and took it over.  They renamed it Fort Burnham, after one of their generals who was killed in the battle. On that same day, a few miles to the east, another battle was being fought along New Market Road.  African-American Union troops were trying to break through the Confederate defenses.  They succeeded, and 14 African-American soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor for their courageous fighting.  The next day, Robert E. Lee tried to retake Fort Harrison but was unsuccessful, and the fort was occupied by Union troops until the end of the war.  Nearby is the Fort Harrison National Cemetery where the Union soldiers who died in that battle were buried.  However only 239 of the 814 men buried there were identified.  The rest are unknown.  One soldier who was identified, Private George Buchanan, was awarded the Medal of Honor for bravely going ahead of the other troops to drive the Confederates away from their cannons at Fort Harrison so that the rest of the soldiers could attack. 

Updated 9/4/2011