Confederate Earthworks

President Jefferson Davis was an experienced military man, having graduated from West Point and served in various Indian Wars and the Mexican War. The day after arriving in Danville, April 4, 1865, he toured outlying earthen fortifications with Post Commander Robert Withers, who two years earlier directed the construction of rifle pits and redoubts to protect the town against would-be liberators of Federal prisoners. Since the Dan River was considered to be the town's principal northern defense, most earthworks followed a line just east of town (on Route 58 near Danville Public Works) running west beyond the town's southern border (to a point near the present George Washington High School at Central Blvd. and Memorial Drive). Davis ordered that these defenses, which he judged woefully inadequate, be strengthened. Soldiers, citizens, free blacks and numerous slaves from the surrounding countryside provided labor to improve these defenses. The largest and best preserved of these structures, which served as redoubts or observations posts, remain intact just east of Danville's surrender site on the Danville Public Works complex