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Built as a response to the 1863 Confederate invasion of Pennsylvania, the earthen walls of Fort Couch remain thanks to the efforts of preservationists. The fort, which was never completed and did not see any action thanks to the Union victory at Gettysburg, is located along the Susquehanna River. It was built in June, 1863 by railroad crews under direction of General Darious Couch who ordered the fort's construction to guard the river and protect Harrisburg as Confederates moved north. At the time of its construction, this land was part of a farm. It continues to offer a commanding view of the river and city, and is the only remnant of the Civil War defenses of Harrisburg.


  • The fort was built as the people of Harrisburg braced for an invasion.
  • These earthworks are all that remain of the defenses built as Confederate troops moved north in 1863.
  • Learn more about the history behind the fort with Cooper Wingert's book, The Confederate Approach on Harrisburg

The surviving earthworks that were part of the fort are located next to the historic marker. The fort was armed with cannons to fire on approaching Confederate troops, should they attempt to capture the city. Because of the steep slopes of Hummel Heights, the cannon couldn't be sufficiently positioned to cover the space at the foot of the heights. Fortunately for the would-be defenders of the city, their fortifications were never tested as Lee was forced to retreat after his defeat at Gettysburg. 

On June 28, General Albert G.Jenkins' Confederate Calvary occupied Mechanicsburg. They advanced out of Trundle Spring road to Peace Church. While a portion of his brigade moved east along Carlisle Pike. They bivouacked near the Rupp house after skirmishing. The next day they again skirmished with Yankee militia stationed at Oyster Point. They created a diversion which allowed Jenkins to investigate Union defences of Harrisburg. 

General Richard S. Dwell ordered commander Robert E. Rodes to March toward Harrisburg, overwhelm defenses, and capture the city. His troops would have assailed Hummel Heights, but the infantry attack never materialized. General Robert Rodes learnt of the Union army's advances in Pennsylvania, and told his ment to fall back and concentrate west of Gettysburg at Cashtown. After the battle of Gettysburg Fort Couch and Washington were abandoned and forgotten as the years passed. Today only a portion of the fort remains to remind locals of Rodes planned attack on the capital of Pennsylvania in June 1863.